Great Imam of Dallas, Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci retires

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Dallas, Texas – October 16, 2013

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. 

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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! 

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.

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
  2. There is only one Islam –
  3. Dallas Morning News: Beyond King, who has had major Impact in Dallas community –
  4. Dallas Interfaith Imams –
  5. Ramadan day 2 Richardson Mosque –
  6. Day 1 of Ramadan, August 2011 –
  7. Happy July 4th, my speech at Ahmadiyya Muslim Conference
items to write:

Incident at first Unity Day USA


Quran conference

Mike Ghouse
is a Muslim
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

# # #

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

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


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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