US-based Guyanese imam "delusional sermons” creating rift in US Muslim community
A Guyana-born Houston Imam whose frequently strange and paranoid sermons drew the ire of many young Muslims in recent months has been reassigned and will no longer preach at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, though he remains a full-time employee.
"To avoid controversy, we reassigned him,” said Aziz Siddiqi, the organization’s president.
As the only paid full-time imam at the organization’s main center mosque near West Alabama and Kirby Drive, Omar Inshanally was often the face of one of the largest Islamic community groups in the nation.
Over the past several months, critics said the 57-year-old Guyana native’s sermons spiralled into delusional rants including accusing the government of dumping fluoride into the water "to control populations” and propagating "fringe” Internet conspiracy theories.
In an unusual step for a still very traditional faith, they complained – taping sermons, e-mailing leaders and speaking publicly about their discontent.
Initially, leaders said they had cautioned Inshanally that "he should not be discussing any of those things.” But as the issue blew up, the council spent the past two weeks debating whether or not to fire him. Supporters praised Inshanally’s back-to-back memorization of the Quran. The whole affair caused a passionate rift.
Culminating with the action the council took last week – tasking Inshanally to work instead on inter-faith relations – the dilemma may also signal a deeper issue within the organization. Serving a quarter of a million Muslims, some say it is struggling with how to appeal to its factions – from recent immigrants who tend to be conservative to the more liberal, third-generation.
Diversity a weakness? (...)