The coronavirus pandemic is a “wake-up” call from Allah, sent because humanity is legalizing “abominations” such as usury, homosexuality and abortion, said Virginia-based imam Shaker Elsayed in a sermon uploaded last month to the Internet.

In the video, which was uploaded to the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center’s YouTube channel on April 3, Elsayed says that while Allah tests humanity every year with the flu, this year he sent the coronavirus as humanity had not “gotten the message.”

Citing a Koranic example in which Allah punishing the Jews for violating the prohibitions against usury and “devouring” people’s money, in which Allah said he had prepared “severe and painful torment” for the Jews guilty of this crime, Elsayed said that today, usury is practiced not just by the Jews, but by every nation in the world.

He criticized humanity for legalizing things Allah has prohibited, such as usury, homosexuality and abortion on demand, and said that the capitalist system amounted to slavery.

The Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Fairfax County, Va., where Imam Elsayed preaches, is known for being linked to former Al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-‘Awlaki, who was the imam of the center on Sept. 11, 2001. The center is also linked to some of the 9/11 terrorists, as well as to Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and other known jihadis.

Elsayed’s statements have been the subject of controversy in the past. In 2017, he endorsed female genital mutilation, saying it prevents women from being “hypersexually active.”

He also prayed that Allah “grant victory to His servants, the mujahideen, wherever they are.” He has also said that “Muslim men—when there is a price to pay, they are first in line … they are the first in the jihad line … they are last if anything is being distributed—except if it is arms for jihad.”

Despite these statements, some U.S. politicians have visited and held events at the center, including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.

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