Imam Tawhidi is a liberal Imam based in Adelaide. He sparked controversy after he uploaded a video of himself eating chocolate that did not have the Halal Islamic certification on it. This act was made controversial due to the fact that companies had quietly stopped paying for Halal certifications.
The Imam uploaded a video on Facebook of him buying chocolates without the Halal certification. He, then, proceeded to eat the chocolate and said it was ‘tastier without the Halal certification’. The Imam also says he does not need anyone to conform to his Muslim ideologies.
The video sparked a lot of controversy within the Muslim and non-Muslim community. Although, right-wing groups rallied to the Imam’s support. The Muslim community, however, was appalled at the idea of an Imam eating a non-Halal food item.
Halal certification is a hot topic in Australia right now. One-Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, has been pushing for a change in the system. This video came as a shock to the entire Muslim community which is pushing to retain the existence of Halal certification.
Islam is a religion with a wide room for interpretation. Australia’s Imam Tawhidi offers the view of Islam which he believes will solve the problems created by extremist interpretations of Islam.
He has devoted followers and critics too. Surprisingly, most of his critics come from his own community. Imam Tawhidi has been accused of having fake qualifications. He is also blamed for spreading the agenda of his teacher, Grand Ayatollah Sayid Sadiq Husseini Shirazi.
Imam Tawhidi received his Islamic education from Al Mustafa University in Iran. Many people ponder over his deeply liberated ideologies while having studied in a conservative environment.
Imam Tawhidi wants to modernize Shariah Law because he believes that norms of the World have changed. He also believes that modern Muslims now want to go for a more tolerant Islamic governing body which takes care of all their needs.
This ‘liberal’ approach caused a lot of resentment against him in the Muslim community.
He has also been accused of being a rigid member of the Shia sect of Islam because of his unfavorable comments on the Sunni sect.
Zuhdi Jasser of Asia Times Online has criticised Imam Tawhidi for subscribing to a ‘nefarious interpretation of Shia Islam’.
When we questioned the Imam as to what he thought of these allegations, he said:
“I criticize the hard-line Sunni version of Islam adopted by ISIS and the books they admire. Similarly, I criticize the radical Shia Muslim groups such as Hizbullah. I also agree with the statements of ASIO and International Intelligence regarding terrorist listed organizations.”
The Imam claimed that people who don’t actually know him have put these allegations forward. They have assumed a bad image of him in their minds. The image is very different from the person he is in reality. He also claims that he has Sunni family members and friends. The Imam has also engaged in events with the Sunni community.
While other right-wing groups support the views of Imam Tawhidi, the Imam has openly supports the One-Nation Leader, Pauline Hanson.
Journal Post asked him about his views on Pauline Hanson’s recent antic of wearing a burqa to the Australian Parliament.
He also clarified that wearing a burqa is not an obligation in Islam. As he believes, the burqa is not a part of the primary foundations of the religion.
In June 2017, Imam Tawhidi also backed MP Pauline Hanson’s call to ban Muslim immigration after the London attack. He was later accused of hypocrisy and fraud.
Critics have found the support insincere. The Imam received a lot of backlash from the Muslim World. The criticism on his support of the ban was partially due to the fact that he, himself, is an immigrant (The Imam immigrated to Australia from Iran.)
Imam Tawhidi stood by his decision to support the ban. He told Journal Post that his opinions on national security have nothing to do with his birthplace.
He further clarified “When I was born in Iran, there was no Al Qaeda, ISIS or Hezbollah. Due to my love and concern for my country I believe that a temporary Muslim ban to sort out the current problems at hand is reasonable.”
The liberal Imam also calls for a stricter monitoring of immigrants coming to Australia rather than a complete ban.
Finally, Imam Tawhidi said, focusing on his point that moderate Muslims are seeking a much more tolerant governing Islamic body to represent them and a reform has become imperative to Islam.
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