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Features

Pop Star Jennifer Lopez Follows Shia Cleric, Sparks Controversy

May 13, 2024
Roghayeh Rezaei
4 min read
Last week, amid the ongoing government crackdown on women over mandatory hijab in Iran, news emerged of the Instagram account of Jennifer Lopez following a Shia cleric
Last week, amid the ongoing government crackdown on women over mandatory hijab in Iran, news emerged of the Instagram account of Jennifer Lopez following a Shia cleric
Qazvini, a young Iranian-Iraqi cleric living in Texas, is known for his fluent American English and for establishing an Islamic network in the United States
Qazvini, a young Iranian-Iraqi cleric living in Texas, is known for his fluent American English and for establishing an Islamic network in the United States
Mohammad Javad Qazvini was born in Iraq. His grandfather, Ayatollah Morteza Qazvini, was the imam of the third Shia congregation in Karbala and close to Ali Khamenei
Mohammad Javad Qazvini was born in Iraq. His grandfather, Ayatollah Morteza Qazvini, was the imam of the third Shia congregation in Karbala and close to Ali Khamenei
Mohammad Javad Qazvini likely made contact with the Al-Kowsar Society in Pakistan, an organization for promoting Shia Islam, which is reportedly financially supported by the Islamic Republic
Mohammad Javad Qazvini likely made contact with the Al-Kowsar Society in Pakistan, an organization for promoting Shia Islam, which is reportedly financially supported by the Islamic Republic
Pop Star Jennifer Lopez Follows Shia Cleric, Sparks Controversy

Last week, amid the ongoing government crackdown on women over mandatory hijab in Iran, news emerged of the Instagram account of Jennifer Lopez following a Shia cleric. 

The cleric is Mohammad Javad Qazvini. 

Qazvini, a young Iranian-Iraqi cleric living in Texas, is known for his fluent American English and for establishing an Islamic network in the United States. 

Following the revelation, speculations abounded on social media. Some treated the news with humor, while others pondered the possibility of Lopez's page admin following them inadvertently.

However, what particularly piqued the interest of certain Iranian media outlets is that Qazvini does not follow her back. 

Why Lopez's Interest in Mysticism Raises Questions

It seems there's a misconception regarding Jennifer Lopez following a Shia Mullah.

Between 2008 and 2012, numerous rumors were circulating on websites and forums suggesting that Lopez was converting to Islam. 

However, Lopez, born to Roman Catholic parents of South American descent in New York, has consistently been in the public eye regarding her religious beliefs.

During her Las Vegas concert in the fall of 2018, Lopez expressed her gratitude to God for her talent and abilities, shedding tears onstage while thanking the divine for her gifts. 

This moment was covered by outlets like the "Christian Post," which often reports on news relevant to Christianity.

Moreover, Lopez's interest in spirituality extends beyond her Christian faith. 

She follows Instagram pages focused on spiritual empowerment, including the page of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a popular Indian mystic and spiritual teacher. Vasudev also appeared in Lopez's latest film, "This is Me...Now".

Iranian journalist Fahimhe Kherzrheidari, who has interviewed Shia clerics known for innovative thinking, has made assertions where there seems to be a discussion about Western perceptions of Islam. 

She suggested that there is a sentimental misunderstanding about Islam in the West, where discussions on inclusion and defense of Muslim women's hijab are prevalent. 

She emphasized the need for an informed critique of Islam, particularly addressing issues such as homosexuals facing the death penalty and female genital mutilation.

Who is Javad Mohammad Qazvini

The website "American Muslim Youth Network," an institution founded by Qazvini in Houston, Texas, has published a short biography of him.

In the introduction of the book, he is described as a "religious leader" who "embraces change while still maintaining a firm hold on the tenets of Islam as a whole." 

It says he began his religious studies at the age of 16 under the supervision of his grandfather, Ayatollah Morteza Qazvini.

He went to Qom in 2007 and obtained his doctorate there.

According to the structure of the Iranian higher education system, students who pass eight interviews, prepare a thesis, and complete at least six years of religious education at this level graduate with a level four certificate. This certificate is equivalent to a doctorate.

Mohammad Javad Qazvini was born in Iraq. His grandfather, Ayatollah Morteza Qazvini, was the imam of the third Shia congregation in Karbala and close to Ali Khamenei. 

Ayatollah Qazvini thanked Khamenei on behalf of the people of Karbala and the Shia of Iraq in 2015 for what he called "helping to save Iraq from terrorists and extremists."

This likely refers to the presence of the Quds Force of the IRGC in Iraq, ostensibly to combat ISIS. 

However, it has been heavily criticized by the Iraqi people. Even the main slogan of one of the largest student and popular protests in Iraq in the fall of 2018 was "Free Baghdad, Iran Get Out."

Mohammad Javad Qazvini has studied under Mohsen Vahid Khorasani and Ali Milani, both from the Qom seminary, for years in Iran. 

He moved to the United States about 16 years ago.

Mohammad Javad Qazvini likely made contact with the Al-Kowsar Society in Pakistan, an organization for promoting Shia Islam, which is reportedly financially supported by the Islamic Republic.

A certificate for one of the Islamic courses he conducts is issued by the Al-Kowsar Society in Islamabad.

This religious institution, through the teaching of spiritual sciences, has extensive activities in Pakistan to organize the Shia community there and Pakistanis abroad in North America and Britain. 

Mohammad Javad Qazvini also organizes pilgrimages to Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. 

Qazvini's speeches from the pulpit, however, differ from the mainstream Shia religious positions in Iran, at least in the excerpts published on his Instagram page. His Instagram focuses on topics such as "loneliness," "ways of loving," "living together without marriage," "eating healthily in Islam and the Quran," "having anxiety," "being patient," and "happiness." These are subjects more relevant to the daily lives of Western citizens and less indicative of the heavy enforcement and severe punishments imposed on citizens under the guise of Sharia laws in Iran.

These factors likely hold the key to Lopez's decision to follow him, a singer known for her spiritual beliefs and free-thinking religiosity.

 

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