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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Great Imam of Dallas, Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci retires

URL - http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2013/10/great-imam-of-dallas-dr-yusuf-zia.html

The response has been positive and invite you to post your notes in the comment section. Thank you.

Dallas, Texas - October 16, 2013

At this moment, Dr. Imam Yusuf Zia Kavakci is flying over the Atlantic to his ancestral home in Turkey as a part of the early retirement. 

He is a simple man and did not cherish dinners and all the hoopla of going away parties. So he quitely moved out a few months earlier than the parties got to him.

I have known him for over 20 years, and have had many enlightening moments with him. He is one of the many great people I have come to know and admire.

Dr. Kavakci is listed in the roster of 500 most influential Muslims in the World.

He and I have had several conversations, and invariably he would perk up whenever I visited him, and would say, "Brother Ghouse, you are one of the few individuals I can openly talk about interfaith - you are non-judgmental". 

Much of my experience with him is about Interfaith relations and the issues that are critical to living amidst people of different faiths or no faiths, gay and lesbians and integrated societies.

Between 1996 and 2001, he was a frequent guest on my radio show on AM 1150 on the Muslim segment of the interfaith dialogue. He was a part of many a events like the Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations, and the Annual Unity Day USA.

It was a great honor for me to be a co-speaker with him at SMU on human rights in Islam, and again at the WD Muhammad Conference in Dallas. The SMU event was a joy, as he wanted me to answer the questions from the students first, and then would beef it up with verses from Quran on my take, it was flattering to me - that he appreciated and supported my take.

Dealing with Muslims across the globe,  I must say, that he is perhaps one of the few Muslims who responds to his emails. Most Muslim leaders don't do that. He read most of my writings and when he agreed, he said so.

He spoke at the celebratory event for Najma, my late wife, celebrating her spirit of volunteerism that I had organized.  He also performed our Nikah (wedding ceremony) in 1996. Thanks to Dr. Asif Syed for announcing our engagement at his ranch amidst several friends, that prompted Imam Yusuf Kavakci, Najma and I to take a stroll to resolve a few issues,  one among them was my request for my friends Kundan Sharma and DD Maini to be my witnesses, but the tradition required 3 Muslim witnesses, so he suggested 5 witnesses instead of traditional three to include my two friends. In the coming days, I will be sharing a few more good stories about him, and some of them are in the links given below.

In 2005, the Richardson Mosque was accused of links to the Brotherhood, PLO and Hamas. Then they came after Dr. Kavakci, he was the cleanest guy you can find on the earth, and thank God nothing stuck to him. It was during that time, that Hilali Khan's ugly translations of Quran were also removed from the Mosque. About 15 of us formed a Muslim Rapid Response Team and responded to the local television and Dallas Morning News regularly, and thank God things did calm down after about July that year. He was cool.

Every group has their own Ted Cruz's amidst them, so do Muslims. A few did not spare him either, and I have debated all day about writing this, then decided to go ahead and pen it. If I did not, I would be acting irresponsibly.

The next Imam has got to be a strong one like Dr. Kavakci, who cares less about appeasing the managers, than what is right. We cannot afford to have puppet Imams who will dance to the tune of the men who hire them, of course that happens in all faith traditions. The pay check is a humiliating thing! 

On the other hand, do we need an Imam? Anyone can lead the prayers, let the community take the turns. Let the Friday Sermons be delivered by common people with issues that affect us all on a daily basis. I ran into one my friends daughters today, who is going through a separation, she and her father had given me the updates, but today, she was down and was talking  with utter humility - the guy was beating her, she is pregnant!  This is the kind of issues we need to address in our Sermons and the Nikah ceremonies. Dr. Basheer Ahmed and Dr. Hind Jarrah meet the people first hand and they know the problems, and they need to give the Friday Sermons. We have interfaith issues, election issues, going to mixed party issues, we have enough people in the community to address them.

I have heard a few sermons with utmost patience, one of them had said that Muslims don't get aids because we don't have gays among us. Where did we import this guy from?  I watched the kids giving smirking smiles to each other and decided to get on their I-phones than listen to this man.  It was embarrassing, all sermons should be reviewed prior to delivery,  the mistakes are made by those who keep repeating the same mistakes. We need to count on the feed back to improve on things, it is a major responsibility. No one's sermons should be delievered without a critical review. 

The Outrage

What outraged me most was when a few Muslims took upon themselves to malign him; these are the right wing tea party kind of Muslims. These idiots *** had pulled most of his pictures from interfaith meetings, where he was sitting by individual spiritual leaders from different faiths. Some day, I will go into details, but for now, they questioned him - why should Muslims pray behind an Imam who is friendly with the Kafirs, that's how low they got.

*** Now the idiot part - these men were no different than those who accused Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) of many things. Thank God no photographs were available of Prophet Muhammad sitting shoulder to shoulder with Christian Ministers, if not they would have accused him of sitting with the Kafirs. He married a Jewish woman and a christian woman without converting them, what else do we need in interfaith?

Let it be clear, that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the first individual to initiate and conduct interfaith dialogue. Neither Zarathustra, nor Moses, Krishna, Jesus or others had people of multiple faiths around them to have an interfaith talk. Prophet Muhammad was the first one; he set some of the most profound examples of respecting the otherness of other faiths and carrying the interfaith dialogue respectfully. Mind you, he taught us to gave full value to the other without having to agree! 

As Muslims, we need to guard ourselves from a few Ted Cruz's among us who will do all, and every mischief to hurt Imam Kavakci and other Imams who follow the Prophet's example of interfaith dialogue.

Dr. Kavakci was a man of peace, he wanted to leave in peace and thank God, he left in peace.  God bless him a peaceful retirement life in his home town. It's good to be home!

I have written several pieces about him, here are a few:

  1. Honoring Imam Dr. Yusuf Kia Kavakci http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2010/04/honoring-imam-dr-yusuf-zia-kavakci.html
  2. There is only one Islam - http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2010/04/there-is-only-one-islam.html
  3. Dallas Morning News: Beyond King, who has had major Impact in Dallas community - http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/01/texas-faith-beyond-king-who-has-has-had.html
  4. Dallas Interfaith Imams - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/07/great-imams-of-dallas-fort-worth.html
  5. Ramadan day 2 Richardson Mosque - http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/07/ramadan-day-2-richardson-mosque.html
  6. Day 1 of Ramadan, August 2011 - http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2011/08/day-1-of-ramadan-2011.html
  7. Happy July 4th, my speech at Ahmadiyya Muslim Conference http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2011/07/happy-july-fourth-my-speech-at.html

More items to write:

Incident at first Unity Day USA

Quran conference

Mike Ghouse is a Muslim speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, Islaminterfaith and other topics. He is committed to nurturing pluralistic values embedded in Islam and building cohesive Socieities and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day, all his writings are at www.TheGhouseDiary.com   

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The following is from the website of the Mosque:
Imam Dr. Yusuf Ziya Kavakci


Alhamdulillah we are blessed to have Dr. Yusuf Ziya Kavakci as our Imam at IANT. Below is a short biography, plain text copies of some of his publications & works-in-progress, and a brief background of Dr. Kavakci’s teacher.


Dr. Yusuf Ziya Kavakci was born in 1938 in Hendek, Sakarya, Turkey. At an early age (8-9 years) he memorized the Holy Qur'an in an entirety (earning the title of Hafidh al-Qur'an), graduated from Hasircilar Qur'anic School (Adapazari) with training in Tajweed, Qira’ah, Arabic (Sarf and Nahw), Tafsir, Hadih, Fiqh, and apllied Islamic Sciences. He passed the national exams for Waiz (Preacher and lecturer in Islamic Sciences) and Mufti (ordained and authorized to give Fatwa and religious verdicts in Islam field) and qualified for those jobs. He worked as Muadhdhin (Professional caller to prayer, Hirka-i Sharif Mosque), Imam (Kara Ahmed Pasha Mosque in Topkapi), and Waiz in the governorships Fatih and Beyoglu in Istanbul.

Dr. Kavakci received his Bachelor's degrees in Law from The College of Law of Istanbul University and also in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Higher Islamic Studies, got his Ph.D. in Islamic History and Culture from Faculty of Arts, Istanbul University. After working as an Asst. Professor and as Associate Professor in the Institute of Islamic Research, Istanbul University, he helped to establish the first college of Islamic Studies in modern Turkey. The College of Islamic Studies is now a part of Ataturk University, Erzurum where Dr. Kavakci worked as senior faculty. He chaired the Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh and other departments and got full professorship in Islamic Law and worked as Dean of the College. His professorship in Islamic Law was the first such position in Turkey after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. He was educated in the traditional Ottoman way of Islamic Studies as well as in modern methods of teaching in today's universities.

He is a board certified attorney in Turkey and practiced Law in Libya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and attended numerous international conferences on Islam. He was involved in the activities of the Islamic Conference and was in charge of the Muslim Minority students sponsored by Islamic Development Bank in Turkey.

Dr. Kavakci currently resides in Richardson, Texas. He is the resident Islamic Scholar and Spiritual Leader of the Muslim community affiliated with the Islamic Association of North Texas.

To reach Dr. Kavakci, please email yzk@iant.com.


In addition to numerous books published in Turkish, he has published the following books in English:
  • Islam (Briefly), 1991, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Travelogue of my journey to the Cape of Good Hope by Omer Lutfi Efendi (translation from Ottoman Turkish), 1991, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Islamic Law of Inheritance, 1994, Dallas, Texas
  • Methodology of Islamic Research
His works in progress which have yet to be published include:
  • Al-Furuq by Al-Karabisi (Textual Criticism in Arabic)
  • Fiqh, Islamic Law, and Usul Al-Fiqh
  • America I Saw and My Impressions
  • Bibliography of Islamic Law
  • Multaqa' Al-Abhur by Ibrahim al-Halabi (translation from Arabic)
  • Islamic Issues of Muslims in America (an analytical study and suggestions for solutions)

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