It’s noteworthy that he is speaking at mosques, even as American officials largely assume that those mosques reject the teachings that Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari has repeated, which are, of course, not unique to him, but deeply traditional within Islam. But St. John’s University? Would they ever host a speaker who opposed jihad terror? If they ever did, there would be condemnations, denunciations, protests, boycotts, etc. But this? No one will mind.
On April 6, Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari, a British cleric from the Deobandi movement, a hardline South Asian Islamic sect, will commence a three-day speaking tour, speaking at five mosques in New York and New Jersey, as well as at St Johns University in Queens. His most widely-advertised lecture, at the Quba Institute in New York on April 7, is titled ‘Women’s Rights in Marriage.’ The hosts call on their audience to come along and “stand up against domestic violence.” But, with a dark irony so often a feature of Islamist events in the West, the cleric invited to give the talk on the dangers of domestic violence has previously justified domestic abuse.
Kawthari has written that a husband may hit his wife if she is “slanderous or violates Islamic rulings,” as long as it is a last resort and “a light blow that leaves no mark.” In addition, he has declared that women should not leave the home, may not refuse their husbands’ demands for sex, and should be stoned to death if they commit adultery.
Such views were likely inculcated at Darul Uloom al Arabiya al Islamiya, a seminary in the city of Bury in England where Kawthari studied. It is perhaps the most prominent Deobandi institution outside of South Asia. In 2016, The Times reported that the Darul Uloom “preaches contempt for non-Muslims and warns of the ‘repulsive qualities’ of Christian and Jewish women.”
After graduating from the Darul Uloom, Kawthari studied further under Taqi Usmani, one of the world’s leading Deobandi clerics. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Usmani issued a fatwa proclaiming that “jihad” was “obligatory” against Western troops in Afghanistan. This teaching evidently appealed to Kawthari, who has ruled that jihad in places such as Chechnya and Kashmir is compulsory for Muslims.
Kawthari’s other fatwas and lectures are similarly extreme. He advocates chopping off thieves’ hands, and warns Muslims against befriending Jews and Christians, citing religious texts that command: “Do not commence by greeting the Christians and Jews with Salam. If you meet one of them on a pathway, force them to walk on the side.” In 2014, the East London Mosque – considered by mainstream British journalists to be one of the most radical mosques in Europe – even banned Kawthari from speaking at its events….