Joe Kaufman is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative. He was the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
There are no shortage of radical Muslim groups in Florida, and Muhammad Azhar Hasan has been involved in the leadership of a number of them. This includes: a mosque that teaches classes using a text that calls Jews and Christians “enemies”; an Indian Muslim outfit that mocks the Hindu religion; and an academy that hires an imam allegedly related to Taliban financing. Ironically, Hasan has acquired awards and accolades along the way. However, given the radical nature of his organizations as well as those that have showered praise upon him, none of this should be applauded, only investigated.
Muhammad Azhar Hasan was born in India and settled in the US around 1999. Today, he is an IT specialist at a well-known health insurance company. He is, as well, very involved with practicing and propagating his religion.
Hasan is a founding director of the Islamic Center of Weston (ICW), which was incorporated in July 2014. The mosque is a member of the South Florida Muslim Federation (SFMF), an umbrella group for the vast majority of radical Muslim institutions within South Florida. ICW, via SFMF, advertises tafsir (Quran interpretation) classes using a text, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, that refers to Jews and Christians as “enemies of Islam,” repeatedly calls for death punishments for gays, and sanctions domestic violence against women. In February 2018, ICW hosted a speech by Syed Ammar Ahmed, an individual who once joked about threatening to blow up a school.
Hasan left ICW’s board at the end of 2020. He had already founded a new mosque in Weston, the previous year, Masjid al-Zain, which according to corporation records, appears to be run out of a residential home at 16203 Opal Creek Drive.
Shortly before leaving ICW, Hasan and the mosque brought in a new director, Faisal Haroon. Haroon has used social media to promote videos featuring notorious anti-Semites TruNews host Rick Wiles and Kenneth O’Keefe. The videos contain much anti-Jewish bigotry: claiming the US government is owned by Israel; referring to the Holocaust as “the so-called Holocaust”; labeling Jews “dual nationals” and “traitors”; and saying 9/11 was carried out by “billionaire Jewish businessmen” (Haroon called this one “A Must watch Video.”) Last month, Haroon posted a similar themed video with the caption, “I wonder who really runs USA, Americans or Israelis?”
Hasan is not just involved in leadership of mosques. He has also served as President of the Florida chapter of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), a group that has a history of supporting South Asian extremism. As stated by the Middle East Forum’s Ben Baird, “[S]enior IAMC officials have empathized with the Taliban and justified its resistance against American armed forces.” IAMC has used social media: to mock the Hindu religion promoting fake ads “looking for Beef Tasters”; to post blood spattered photos of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; and to align itself with the bigoted BDS movement and anti-Semite Linda Sarsour.
As IAMC Florida President, Hasan was a contact for a March 2018 event run by Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD), the foreign social services division of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). Only a few months prior, HHRD had led an event featuring a leader of Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), a banned terrorist front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). For 30-plus years, ICNA has harbored a convicted death squad leader from the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. In August 2006, ICNA was top donor and partner to the Pakistan-based Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF), when AKF traveled to Damascus to hand $100,000 to the head of Hamas.
After a decade in existence, in September 2021, IAMC lost its Florida corporation. And just as when Hasan departed his mosque the year prior, Hasan had already moved onto his next project.
In March 2018, Hasan founded the Ar-Rayyan Quran Academy, an Islamist educational facility providing classes for both children and adults. Hasan serves as President and Secretary of the school. Up until at least January 2021, the academy used the identical Opal Creek house address as Hasan’s new mosque.
The main teacher at Ar-Rayyan, since the school began, has been Izhar Khan, imam of Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen (MJAM). In May 2011, Khan and members of his family made headlines, when they were arrested and charged by the FBI with funding the Taliban. Khan spent 20 months in a federal detention center, before being released by a sympathetic judge. Khan’s mosque promotes materials targeting women, homosexuals, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and fellow Muslims who do not prescribe to the same extremism. This includes the same ICW text that calls Jews and Christians “enemies,” mandates death to gays, and endorses wife beatings.
Ar-Rayyan has hosted lectures by Shafayat Mohamed, imam of the Darul Uloom Institute (DUI). DUI has been a haven for al-Qaeda operatives, including ‘Dirty Bomber’ Jose Padilla and al-Qaeda commander Adnan el-Shukrijumah, and Mohamed, himself, has been thrown off county boards for his anti-gay rhetoric. The academy also hosted talks by Ibrahim Dremali, an imam and professor who has spent time on the federal no-fly list. Sponsors of Ar-Rayyan events have included the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief (IR), a group that has been banned by several nations, due to its many ties to terrorist financing.
Hasan’s radical activism has garnered him praise. He was presented a Community Service Award from ICNA, and Darul Uloom has called him an “advocate for peace, pluralism and social justice.” However, receiving honors from an organization associated with South Asian terror and a mosque related to al-Qaeda and an anti-gay imam is indicative of his Islamist mindset and nothing to be celebrated or deemed trustworthy.
Indeed, Hasan’s role in leading fanatical Muslim groups linked to bigotry and incitement against others must be condemned and scrutinized. This is especially the case, provided that these organizations deal with impressionable youth. Furthermore, his immigration status ought to be questioned. Living in America should be taken as an opportunity to enjoy freedom and prosperity, not as a means to spread terror and upheaval. Law enforcement would be well advised to monitor these entities and their curriculums to determine the extent of the danger.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.