His address to worshippers at a Rochdale mosque was filmed for a television documentary.
Imam Irfan Chishti slammed as "abhorrent" crimes by a minority of young Asian men against women and called for a more open discussion on sexual relationships in the home to help tackle the problem of exploitation of young girls.
Imam Irfan Chishti has spoken out after two Rochdale men were jailed for raping two teenage girls after they were lured to a house by a friend, as reported in the Rochdale Observer.
His comments were filmed for a BBC documentary, Exposed: Groomed for Sex, where he is shown addressing worshippers during Friday prayers at the Jamia Chashtia Mosque on Milkstone Road about the horrific crime.
Speaking to the Observer Imam Chishti said: "They are criminals first and foremost, and Muslims after.
"There is only a very very small minority that carries out these crimes.
"I think we need to be a bit more open about relationships and parents need to grapple with the fact that their children are more sexually aware earlier on.
"Sexual discussions are usually very taboo."
Imam Chishti is also chairman of Rochdale Multi-faith Partnership which provides a forum for exploring faith issues and developing dialogue between and within faith communities.
He added: "It is not about me being brave and I am not out there to start trouble or to upset people.
"The reason why I spoke out was to show my abhorrence and to dissociate faith from this action.
"The mosque and the imams are handling a very sensitive issue openly.
"My position as imam I take responsibly.
"For a theft, robbery or murder there are clear Sharia rulings. But this is such a horrific crime and event that there are no clear cut rules.
"It is beyond the limits of evil."
The programme, shown on BBC3 on Monday night, was looking at 'on-street' grooming of young girls with Asian Muslim offenders making up 25 per cent of those suspected of this crime.
In the programme Imam Chishti tells worshippers: "What has happened to us as a community when we have Muslims who kidnap young, innocent lives and who rape them and pillage them, crimes that we can’t even define in the limits of the Qur'an?"
Speaking on screen afterwards he added: "It has devastated lives, it has devastated children.
"People like myself and others, we need to do more to educate this community of ours."
The documentary investigated the controversial subject of on-street grooming of young girls for sex by Pakistani men in the UK.
It saw him speaking to members of the Muslim Pakistani community, police and victims of abuse.