- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - Board members at a Detroit-area mosque that is among the nation’s largest and most influential say they are appealing to their religious leader to reconsider his resignation over a dispute with the organization’s board.

Imam Hassan al-Qazwini told members of the Islamic Center of America last week that he wanted to resign but would reconsider if the board dissolved.

It’s an “insurmountable condition,” said board Chairman Ron Amen, who told The Associated Press that he and other board members nevertheless plan to speak with Imam al-Qazwini and his family.

The board took symbolic action Sunday to reject Imam al-Qazwini’s resignation from the mosque in Dearborn, which is home to one of the country’s largest Arab-American and Muslim populations.

Amen said hundreds came to the mosque to express their support for Imam al-Qazwini, and the imam told them he would lead prayers one final time on Friday.

The Associated Press has left numerous messages for Imam al-Qazwini.

Last year, unsigned letters to members began appearing that accused Imam al-Qazwini of using donations from mosque members for projects run by his father in Iraq and also of having an extramarital relationship. Critics want the funds used to retire the mosque’s debt and for projects in Lebanon and other countries.

Imam al-Qazwini, who is of Iraqi descent and from a family of prominent American Shiite scholars, denies the allegations and said the rift is with board members of Lebanese descent.

Mr. Amen said Imam al-Qazwini’s nationality has “never been a bone of contention,” and the number of his critics is “infinitely small.”

Imam al-Qazwini has met with past U.S. presidents, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and with Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.

While he believes there’s only a “slim chance” of keeping Imam al-Qazwini, Mr. Amen said, “we’re hoping there’s some alternative measures we can take to satisfy him.”

Mr. Amen said he has been working with private investigators and the Dearborn police on the letters and leafleting last fall at the mosque and rejects the “cowardly attempt” to damage Imam al-Qazwini’s reputation. Still, he added, the imam’s “condemnation of the board is really way out of place.”

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