In late January 2019, MEMRI released clips of lectures and sermons of Pittsburgh-based Iman Naeem Abdullah, of the Masjid Al-Mu’min mosque and the Nur Uz-Zamaan Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the clips, Imam Abdullah stated that the Jews are “running everything” and “have all the money,” and that Allah changed some of them into apes and pigs.

He said that according to the Koran “we are asking Allah to guide us on the straight path and [to not] make us like the Jews … ‘And not like those who go astray’—the Christians” and that Moses and Jesus and their true followers were Muslims, and went on to relate the well-known story, that he identified as from the Koran, about Allah transforming a group of Jews into apes and pigs. He added that Muhammad’s expulsion of the Jews from Medina “is clearly and obviously relevant to our situation” and that “we have to be the exact opposite” of those Jews. He also claimed that Judaism and Christianity had been co-opted by the “religion of white supremacy” and made into “white-supremacist religions.”

MEMRI also found, in Imam Abdullah’s broadcasts on Nur Uz-Zamaan’s Radio Station, a discussion of “offensive jihad,” and statements that he had shared a house in New York with Tarik Shah, “one of my wazirs [deputies],” who in 2005 was charged with conspiring to provide material support to Al-Qaeda, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy. He also claimed that 9/11 and most other terrorist attacks were false flag operations, and underlined that according to Islamic history, Jews and unbelievers could not be trusted, that their agreements “ain’t worth nothing,” and that Jews are cowards (read MEMRI’s Jan. 30 report on Imam Abdullah’s statements and view videos here).

Islamic Center of Pittsburgh: Imam Abdullah to deliver lecture, Q&A

According to an announcement by the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh (ICP), Imam Abdullah was to deliver a lecture on the subject of “The Importance Of Gathering at the Masjid [Mosque]” and lead a Q&A at the center’s January 26, 2019 community dinner. The announcement was posted January 24 and 25, 2019 on the Facebook pages of Naeem Abdullah and Masjid Al-Mu’min,[1] but MEMRI was unable to find it on the ICP website or ICP Facebook page.

In December, the Pittsburgh City Paper named the ICP “Pittsburgher of the Year” for its activity leading fundraising for the Tree of Life synagogue shooting victims; ultimately, over $238,000 was raised.[2]

Imam Abdullah’s response to MEMRI report

In response, Imam Abdullah released a 27-minuted video titled “Setting the Record Straight & Addressing the Slanderous Attacks Against Me #MEMRIslander,” posted on the Nur Uz-Zamaan YouTube channel on Feb. 4, 2019, and published the same day a similar “official statement” in text form on Masjidalmumin.org.[3] It should be noted that Imam Abdullah’s response follows the same pattern as other imams we have exposed: If their original sermon or lecture is in Arabic, they claim that it is mistranslated; if it is in English, they claim that it is taken out of context or misconstrued; following denunciation of MEMRI, they offer an apology of some kind. It is also notable that except for addressing his “apes and pigs” comments, Imam Abdullah did not mention the other allegations he made about Jews: “running everything,” “have all the money,” being untrustworthy, along with other unbelievers, that their agreements “ain’t worth nothing,” and that they are cowards. The same allegations against Jews appear frequently in statements by imams and sheikhs across the Middle East and also in the West.

Imam Abdullah began by calling the MEMRI report on his statements a “purposeful miscontextualization” of content “reworked in order to support this anti-Semitic, anti-law enforcement, pro-violence false narrative. Anyone, Muslim or not, who listens to the entirety … of any of these lectures would agree that they don’t promote any of the aforementioned negative stereotypes.”

He said that he does not “personally hate nor do I teach hate of any faction of the Jewish Community,” calling doing so “un-Islamic.” With regard to his Koranic reference to Jews being transformed into apes and pigs, he referred to the event as “something miraculous that happened long before the coming of Prophet Muhammad” and added: “Classical Koranic commentators and scholars in general have stated this transformation was not figurative but literal, [and that these Jews] didn’t live long, nor did they procreate.” He added that he has “always used this Koranic story to highlight” that “Muslims should not use the letter of the law to justify or to maneuver around the spirit of the law, and in the face of evil or wrongdoing, Muslims should not participate in the act [nor] remain silent or neutral.” He concluded: “I guarantee that if one were to listen to the entire section of that talk it would be clear that this talk had very little or anything to do with Jews. It was a Koran-based, historical reference which promotes Islamic morals and ethics.”

With regard to his mention of Muhammad’s expulsion of the Jewish tribes from Medina and that “this is clearly and obviously relevant to our situation,” and that Muslims should “take a lesson” from it, into which he interjected that “Jews have all the money.” He said: “Anyone who knows the Seerah or biography of the Prophet … knows that they were not expelled from Madinah because they were Jewish … [but] due to various acts of treason against the state.”

He said with regard to his reference to black nationalism, “living under occupation,” and other references that in his “original, unedited lecture” there was “nothing wrong, subversive or criminal” about his discussion of “black nationalism” and listed young black men killed by police in the United States.

Imam Abdullah then went on to state: “In conclusion, it was not my intention to address or untangle all of the less-than-half-truths used to construct this false narrative of antisemitism, etc. … My only intent was/is to go on record and challenge these false allegations.” Addressing “my Muslim family, Imams, Scholars and leaders,” he said: “If I have said anything that was Islamically incorrect, baseless, false or inciting to violence I’m more than willing to offer a retraction, correction and public apology!”

He added that he would not be writing directly to MEMRI, because he said “it was clear from the outset that they intended to distort my words and they are a bunch of liars” and that “their only intent was to slander Muslims and try to target us for all types of smear campaigns.”

[1] Facebook.com/photo.php, posted Jan. 24, 2019.

[2] Pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburghers-of-year-the-islamic-center-of-pittsburgh, Dec. 19, 2018.

[3] Masjidalmumin.org/memrislander and Masjidalmumin.org, Feb. 4, 2019. Other videos on the subject were posted on the Imamnaeem Facebook page, for example here and here.