Qazwini, Hassan 1964- (Sayid Hassan Al-Qazwini)
Qazwini, Hassan 1964- (Sayid Hassan Al-Qazwini)
Born 1964, in Karbala, Iraq. Son of Ayatollah Sayid Mortadha Al-Qazwini (an Iraqi Islamic scholar); immigrated to United States, 1992. Education: Islamic Seminary, Qum, Iran, graduated 1992. Religion: Muslim.
Office—19500 Ford Rd., Dearborn, MI 48128. E-mail—[email protected]
Muslim religious leader and memoirist. Azzahra Islamic Center, Los Angeles, CA, director, 1992-97; Islamic Center of America, Dearborn, MI, resident scholar and religious leader, 1997—.
Young Muslim Association, founder, 1998.
(With Brad Crawford) American Crescent: A Muslim Cleric on the Power of His Faith, the Struggle against Prejudice, and the Future of Islam and America, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.
Also author of Meditation on Sahihain, a Critique of Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, and Prophet Mohammad: The Ethical Prospect. Served as editor for Annibras ("The Eternal Light"), an Iranian Islamic journal.
Hassan Qazwini is an Islamic scholar and the imam (religious leader) for the United States' oldest Shi'a mosque, the Islamic Center of America, in Dearborn, Michigan. He also founded the Young Muslim Association, which is among the largest Muslim youth groups in North America. A major focus of Qazwini's work, as a scholar, writer, and religious leader, is to dispell popular misunderstandings about Islam. He believes encouraging American Muslims to become more active in public life will help bridge the gap between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans. Aiming to teach the general public the "genuine and authentic teachings of Islam," Qazwini has spoken at over a hundred churches, colleges, and universities, has met with two U.S. presidents, and has been invited to speak before the State Department and Department of Defense, as well as speaking on Muslim and interfaith issues with countless media outlets, including CNN, NPR, BBC, the New York Times, Detroit News, and Detroit Free Press. According to Michigan's Congressman John D. Dingell, speaking after Qazwini offered the prayer opening the 108th Congressional session, "Imam Qazwini has become a leading voice for Muslims in America. He has spoken movingly of the need for reconciliation, for tolerance, and for the recognition of our humanity. He has worked with leaders in both the Christian and Jewish communities to help bridge the differences between us and to dispel prejudice."
Qazwini was born in Iraq, where his father was an influential Shiite cleric claiming direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad. Qazwini's family were terribly persecuted under Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime, and had to flee the country twice before resettling in the United States. Qazwini's memoir, AmericanCrescent: A Muslim Cleric on the Power of His Faith, the Struggle against Prejudice, and the Future of Islam and America, blends Qazwini's life story with an informative overview of the key aspects of the Islamic faith, and a road map for Muslims looking to fully integrate with American life while maintaining their religious identity and traditions. Writing for the International Herald Tribune Web site, reviewer Rashid Khalidi admired "how easily [Qazwini] glides from the personal to the religious, from accounts of his life and his family to those of the lives of the Prophet and the Shiite imams." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews hailed the work as "an interfaith dialogue seeking not converts but understanding."
American Crescent was very well received by reviewers. Ray Olson, writing for Booklist, called American Crescent "a genuinely American-friendly, personal introduction to Muslims and Islam; terrific current events and issues reading." Gary P. Gillum similarly praised the book in Library Journal, calling it "warmly personal and accessible in helping the American reader understand Islam," and strongly recommending the title be included in school and public libraries. Many reviewers especially valued Qazwini's clear, yet nuanced, explanation of Islam, which includes an overview of the religion's basic tenants (with glossary, time line, and a list of common "Questions Americans Ask About Islam"). Khalidi noted that "Qazwini not only explains basic facts about Islam, but also usefully delineates where Shiite interpretations differ from those of Sunnis." Khalidi concluded his review writing that "American Crescent is a useful book, especially for American readers who are unfamiliar with Islam or who wonder how Muslim Americans and Arab-Americans can be integrated into American life. It does not chart the only possible path to such integration, but it illustrates well the one that many have embarked on." However, Khalidi was put off by Qazwini's insistence on a sectarian Iraqi government, and occasionally suspicious that he glossed over some internal disputes among Muslims.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Qazwini, Hassan, and Brad Crawford, American Crescent: A Muslim Cleric on the Power of His Faith, the Struggle against Prejudice, and the Future of Islam and America, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.
America's Intelligence Wire, May 11, 2003, "Interview with Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini."
Booklist, October 1, 2007, Ray Olson, review of American Crescent, p. 20.
Detroit Free Press, December 31, 2007, "Sharing His Story: Muslim Cleric Writes a Book about Islam and His Family's Suffering in Iraq."
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2007, review of American Crescent.
Library Journal, October 15, 2007, Gary P. Gillum, review of American Crescent, p. 73.
New York Times Book Review, January 6, 2008, Rashid Khalidi, "Red, White, Blue and Green," p. 16.
Hassan Qazwini Home Page,http://www.qazwini.org (July 18, 2008).
International Herald Tribune,http://www.iht.com/ (January 4, 2008), Rashid Khalidi, review of American Crescent.
Muslim Observer Web site,http://muslimmedianetwork.com/ (February 22, 2007), Dana Inayah Cann, "Profile: Imam Sayid Hassan Al-Qazwini."