Muhammad Hisham Kabbani (28 January 1945) is a Lebanese-American Sufi Muslim. Kabbani has counseled and advised Muslim leaders to build community resilience against violent extremism. His criticism of extremism has stirred controversy among some American Muslims. In 2012 the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre named him one of the top 500 most influential Muslims. His notable students include Muhammad Ali, Shaykh Nurjan Mirahmadi, former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Hedieh Mirahmadi.
He is also the founder/chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America(ISCA), a non-profit, non-governmental educational organization dedicated to teaching personal moral excellence. ISCA has spearheaded a number of peace initiatives, hosted notable conferences, actively engages in inter-religious dialogue, and promotes traditional and moderate Islamic views.
He is the author of books includingThe Prohibition of Domestic Violence, Sufi Science of Self Realization, Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine and Beliefs, and Classical Islam and the Naqshbandi Sufi Order.
Activities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia
Kabbani is also a member of the Elijah Interfaith Institute Board of World Religious Leaders. Shaykh Hisham Kabbani has held meetings with numerous world leaders and has been a key speaker at various conferences, such as the World Economic Forum.
In 2011 Kabbani and Homayra Ziad (Islamic Studies, Trinity College, CT), wrote a fatwa using Quranic exegesis, a review of hadith, and linguistic analysis to determine that the Quran does not condone domestic violence. According to the authors of the fatwa, the broader message of the Qur'an is the promotion of harmony and affection between husband and wife so that they may develop amongst themselves a sacred bond of love and mercy.
Kabbani has also written a fatwa on the principles of jihad, which was translated into Arabic and distributed by the US military in Iraq.
Controversy and criticism
In 1999, Kabbani came into conflict with various Muslim groups including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) after he stated that 80 percent of mosques are being run by "extremist ideologies". Muslim organizations harshly responded, stating that Kabbani's remarks "could have a profoundly negative impact on ordinary American Muslims". Kabbani plunged into further controversy when he accused Muslims who advise the United States about Islam as being "extremists themselves". When asked during a conference whether he would name the Islamic groups he believed were "extremist", Kabbani answered, "after the program". When subsequently confronted with the question during the end of the discussion, Kabbani refused to answer. In a joint statement pertaining to Kabbani's accusations, several Muslim groups said that "Mr. Kabbani has put the entire American Muslim community under unjustified suspicion. In effect, Mr. Kabbani is telling government officials that the majority of American Muslims pose a danger to our society."
In his remarks at the State Department that year, Kabbani had claimed that 80 percent of the Muslim American population have been introduced to extremist ideology. His claim was based on his interviews with religious clerics, educators, community members and young Muslims in 114 mosques in the US over an eight-year period (1991-1999).  Although the "80%" figure has been widely cited by public officials, and has been repeated by several other reports, it has not been confirmed by a quantitative, peer-reviewed study.
In his 1999 State Department speech, Kabbani claimed that while the majority of Muslim Americans have been exposed to violent extremist ideologies, "not all of them agree with it." Later in the question and answer session he reiterated that the majority of the Muslim community which is "peace loving and tolerant" does not support extremism. In a 2000 interview with the Middle East Quarterly, he clarified his position that "the problem of extremism is not confined to the Muslim community... Extremism is an unwillingness to accept any viewpoint but one's own... Ideological extremism can result in an act of violence when an individual pursues his ideas to such an extreme that he thinks only his ideas are correct and must therefore be enforced on everyone else."
Works published by Kabbani include:
- Remembrance of God Liturgy of the Sufi Naqshbandi Masters, ISBN 978-1-871031-58-4 (1994)
- The Naqshbandi Sufi Way, ISBN 978-0-934905-34-3 (1995)
- Angels Unveiled, ISBN 978-1-930409-37-8 (1996)
- Fifty Days: the Divine Disclosures During a Holy Sufi Seclusion, ISBN 978-1-930409-72-9 (2010)
- Ask the graves, the mysticism way (1995)
- Love of Auliya and their help for true Sufi