Music, Poetry, and the Muslims, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

MUSIC, POETRY AND THE MUSLIMS
In some of the pre-Islamic poetry of jaahiliyyah, there were glimpses of wisdom (hikma) and truths. The Prophet (SAWS) was not a poet per se. However, there are several instances when he himself uttered poetry, and many where he sanctioned it. However, when he did use it himself, he would either say something else before it, or something after it, or both, so he wouldn’t be characterized as a poet and so that poetry would not be confused with wahy (revelation).

The Prophet (SAWS) did not make any attempt to rid the Arabs of their poetry. Poetry continued to be an expression of the Arabs after Islam. Umar ibn al-Khattab, who was a poet in jaahiliyyah, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, and Aisha, the wife of Rasoolillaah (SAWS), all recited poetry. Hassaan ibn Thabit was a famous poet of Hijaz before his conversion to Islam. Afterwards, he became a scribe of the Prophet (SAWS), and a staunch, anti-jaahiliyya poet at the command of the Prophet (SAWS).

Imam Shaafi’ee was a poet before and after he became a scholar of Islam, and in Sahih Muslim, in the hadith of Abu Huraira, the Prophet (SAWS) said, “The most truthful word spoken by a poet are the words of al-Labeeb; “It is not that everything besides Allah is falsehood (baatil)”.  The Arabs used to refer to their poetry as shi’r, and as hikam (aphorisms). Still, the Muslims were advised not to be followers of poets, “It is the feeble minded who follow the poets” 26:224. However, we can still benefit from some of their words. It should be noted that music and song never left Muslims or the Arabs either. The Muslims were singing when the Prophet (SAWS) first entered the precincts of Madinah, they were singing about him (SAWS).

The annual Arab Music has been going on for nearly  30 years in different parts of the Arab world, mainly Egypt,  but also held in the United States.  In 2017 it lasted a full 10 days with 41 concerts at five different theaters including Alexandria and Cairo . In 2019 they set an attendance record with “Ninety-two singers and musicians from seven Arab countries performed in the festival with a total of 114 hours of musical enchantment’ [Egyptian newspaper al-Ah’ram]

In American pre-Islamic poetry, and song, there were, and are, many truths, as well as falsehood, just like with the Arabs. The Mighty Temptations spoke of the “ball of confusion”. And Earth Wind and Fire said, “And after the love game has been played, all our illusions were just a parade”. The group, the Undisputed Truth, said, Beware of the handshake, that has a face. The Arab poet al-Mutanabbi (915-965 CE) said, “And there is of friendship, that which can harm, and cause pain”, and no scholars opposed him in that. Marvin Gaye once said, “picket signs, and picket lines, don’t punish me, with brutality, come on talk to me, so you can see, what’s going on” Even in love songs and love poetry, there are lessons and wisdom. Smokey Robinson said, “and it would hurt, hurt me so, if you ever, were untrue”, and the visionary Muslim activist and philanthropist, Kenny Gamble, AKA Luqman Abdul-Haqq, wrote the song, “I’ll Always Love My Momma”, performed by the Intruders. Tupac, rapped about his mother. Honoring the mother is a high-level righteous deed in Islam.

As much as poetry was a means of expression amongst the Arabs of the Hijaz during the time of the Prophet (SAWS), music, and poetic expression, is, and has been an undeniable means of communication and narrative amongst Black American descendants of slaves in the United States.

Harriet Tubman used the song, “Wade in the Water” to help direct Black slaves, escaping to freedom, navigate away from slave catchers. Music, and poetry has been a major gateway to Islam amongst Black American converts. Even if credible arguments can be made to prohibit various kinds of music, poetry, or lyrics, there is not a single credible argument to be made that can prohibit all of it, or that can prohibit a people’s history or the telling of it. One more reason why we need to tell and understand our own history. And Allah knows best

Arguing Over Creed in Black Muslim America; Following the Yellow Brick Road. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Somewhere, over the rainbow, Dorothy and Toto are still on that yellow  brick road | Archive | tulsaworld.com

Most people, even scholars cannot tell you the difference, or even explain to you in detail the differences between Maatureediyya and Ash’ariyyah aqeeda (creed), or elucidate the details of each one. Some Ash’ari and Sunni scholars consider the Maatureediyya the people of bid’ah. (It gets messy) lol. Aqeeda wrangling is messy business period. It was always messy, and if you study Muslim history, deadly as well. In recent years, people have bombed masaajid full of worshippers, because the people praying inside were believe to have the wrong aqeeda.

In the United States, people don’t commit acts of violence over aqeeda, because it could land you in jail, and it would make you look like a depraved religious fanatic. However, that does not mean that the aqeeda wars amongst Black American Muslims has not been a roller coaster of fitna, and division, and a Yellow Brick Road leading to nowhere. If you go beyond the outward platitudes and theological blurbs that people think that they’re supposed to say to be creed compliant, it’s a can of worms. Most people, when they say that they follow so and so creed, don’t know what that creed entails, or actually follow a set of principles related to the creed, except a couple of points that has to do with anthropomorphism, because that anti- anthropomorphism is what’s trending as far as aqeeda is concerned. Oftentimes they do not even know the name of the founder of the creed that they ascribe to.

The study of aqeeda (scholastic theology) is a legitimate Islamic discipline of knowledge. However, most Muslims in the world don’t think in terms of aqeeda, they think in terms of faith. This aqeeda wrangling amongst everyday people and novices on the topic in the United States, was designed specifically for Black Americans and converts. It promotes civilizational dysfunction, and stagnation. It has no actionable conclusion or ending. You can’t say, “people who have the correct aqeeda do this or that”. People don’t say, “if we had the right aqeeda we could build a masjid or operate a school. Or, “if he had the right aqeeda, he would help the elderly woman cross the street. Muslim scholars since the second century of Islam, have always had differences surrounding aqeeda, but it was left almost exclusively in the hand of scholars.

Abu Faraj Ibn Jawzi (1116-1201 CE), who in my humble view is amongst those balanced and extremely smart scholars, and defenders of (prophetic tradition) Sunna, like Imam an-Nawawi, Jalaaluddeen as-Suyuti, and Imam al-Ghazali, voiced serious differences with Abu Ya’la (990-1066 CE), who was considered a Hanbali Mujaddid, on matters of aqeeda. There are untold numbers of aqeeda disputes amongst scholars, and betweeen governments, that are chronicled in history, some of which became deeply personal. Scholars were after all human beings. Taqī ad-Dīn Aḥmad Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328), one of the greatest and most prolific scholars who ever lived, and who was once a judge in Baghdad, was imprisoned over what they said amounted to having deviant aqeeda. He actually died behind bars.

There are dozens opinions by scholars about who any one of them, or group of them considers to be Ahlus Sunna. Aqeeda was always left in the realm of scholars and scholarship, and occasionally, in the realm of politics. The waning, yet still present aqeeda wars amongst Black American Muslims and converts is nearly entirely orchestrated by foreign influences domestically and abroad. When people could have simply believed in what was confirmed in our scriptures (Quran and Sunna) and have been much better off. Some people argue about aqeeda and barley know 20 Suras of the Quran.

Since aqeeda is essentially philosophy and not necessarily faith (eemaan), there are hundreds of Muslim philosophers and scores of aqaa’id (aqeeda). If you count the Sufis, with hundreds of different tariqas (Sufi paths), many, with different aqeeda, there is even more types of theology to wrestle with. Ash’ariyyah and Maatureediyya are the most common because that was the official aqeeda stated and adopted by various Muslim governments and powers, that ended up staying in power. For example, the Ottomans were Maatureediyya, and Hanafi, and the Ottomans ruled a big chunk of the Muslim world for about 600 years, so their aqeeda became dominant. Still, the Ottomans didn’t impose that everyone was aware, versed and adherents of it. When Muslim governments did that, or tried, it was considered oppressive.

When an Abbasid Caliph forced the scholars to say that the Quran was created, and jailed Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbali over that, it was considered an act of oppression by the Caliph, who was aligned with Mu’tazilizm, yet, another brand of aqeeda. In fact, the founder of Ash’ari aqeeda, Abu Hasan al-Ash’ari (874-936), was himself a Mu’tazilite for 40 years before he switched and created his own aqeeda, the very same aqeeda that some Muslims say people must a crime themselves to today. The people who follow the Quran and the Sunna are the people who follow the Quran and the Sunna. The people who do not follow, are the people who do not. Those who do their best but fall short, are those who do their best and fall short. Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala is the Best judge in these matters.

People have invested so much time and energy in arguing, debating, and worrying about people’s aqeeda, and touted this shaykh, or that shaykh as an aqeeda savior, and even went through three or four Islamic aqeedas in a period of less than twenty years in some cases, and each time they were certain they were on the haqq. It’s hard to admit that we’ve been chasing our own tail. It’s like Dorothy seeking out the Wizard of Oz, only to be told that what she needs is at home. What we need in deen is found in the Quran and the Sunna, All this aqeeda madness, we could have just followed the Quran and the authenticated Sunna, and been much better off.

According to the great scholar of Islam, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, who himself was a leader of philosophy, there are ten destructive evils arising from public debates (about religion); envy, arrogance, malice, backbiting and slander, selfpraise, seeking other’s faults, gloating at misfortune, hypocrisy, ostentation, rejecting the truth.[2] It ruins relationships, splits communities, breaks associations, tears away at the bonds of brotherhood, and greatly undermines the religious communal trajectory of Islam amongst Black American Muslims and converts to Islam o the United States, even when that is not the intention.


The problems, the disruptions, the splitting up of masjids, or brother and sisterhoods, the name calling, the labeling this or that person deviant, or unbeliever, the fitna of arguing over theology, multiplied by the thousands, has taken it’s toll. It’s too much for a person to admit. Part of some aqeeda is that you are right, and everyone else is wrong, So people become victims of their own after-market theology. That’s pretty self-evident. Like I said, it’s okay, if you don’t get it right away. Even better, if Allah spared you of the aqeeda wars. Why search for a Wizard of Oz when we have the Prophet of God (SAWS)?

Aqeeda wrangling amongst Black American Muslims is one of the most ill-thought out, civilizationally stagnating, and backward ideas of this age. It may had had some utility in the beginning, but has long since out-lived its usefulness here. Except to remind people to stay away from it. If the overall toll of aqeeda disputing on our ummah had not been so great, so consequential, so destructive of communities, relationships, and with it families, and so severing of trust, I would have left it alone. Unfortunately, the aqeeda wars still stands in the way for us here in the United States. I stand by my words, And Allahu ta’ala knows best. -Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, an associate Imam, khateeb, at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo, Ohio. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF). He is also and the author of the book, “Double Edged Slavery “, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

Is Legitimate Black American Muslim Independent Thought Possible? Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Black American Muslim Independent Thought.

For hundreds of years, even since the time of the Prophet (SAWs) the Muslim world were sworn enemies against the Christian and non-Muslim world and vice versa That hostility and conflict continued through the crusades. colonization, the toppling, and overthrow of Muslim states through western military and political hegemony, intervention, subjugation and dominance by world powers and manipulation by majority Christian nations. Hating non-Muslims became embedded Muslim political reality into religious teachings and aqeeda. In fact, hatred is part of much of our religious teachings that we get from abroad, especially the teaching of aqeeda. The result of all that is indifference, hate, opposition, and contempt towards anything, or anyone not labeled with the ‘pure Muslim’ label. That is how the majority of Muslims in America were taught for the last 50 years. Since, we essentially operate as a leaderless mob, with few exceptions, no one bothered to upgrade our thinking our adjust it to life, as American citizens, born of this soil. Many of this are simply just along for the ride down the raging rapids.

Black American Muslims are a new, and distinctly different civilization of the Muslim world. Although as descendants of slaves, we are aware that we come from Africa but the none of the countries of Africa do not assume ownership over us as other countries take ownership over their former citizens. Much of our thinking and approach to our own religion is not purely based on our scriptures, but an amalgam of scripture, theology, political and cultural norms, biases, of Muslims in the Muslim world and Muslim immigrants to the United States. Black American Muslims have inherited 1400 years of history, culture, politics, theology, religious teachings, politics, culture and thinking, dumped upon us in varying dosages all at once, without a direct line anywhere. The line was cut with slavery.  

Undoubtedly, there is an ancestral, anthropological connection between Black American Muslims and Africa. However, the direct connection of lineage, religious, culture and known ancestry was severed by slavery and import to the United States. Most Blacks, Muslim or otherwise have no idea which part of Africa they are from and have no direct chain of lineage or familial relationship with Africa, and when Black Americans were fighting vagrancy laws, Jim Crow, police brutality, civil rights violations, and institutional racism in the United States, the countries of Africa were nowhere coming to our aid, despite that we were sons and daughters of the great continent of Africa. They had their own struggles against colonialism, and for independence to deal with. Even after African nations became independent states, the state of the Black American was not on any of their lists of priorities.

Fortunately, there is an antidote; accepting that we are a new civilization. Black American Muslims are in fact, a new, yet frail, and emerging civilization. The newest civilization of the Muslim world. We are the bastards of the ummah at this point, and pretty much treated as such. Hardly noticeable because we’re used to it, but certainly consequential, and impacts nearly every aspect of our moral and civilizational trajectory in the United states. No one is claiming us, and no one is coming to our rescue. Not from Africa, not from the middle east, and not from the Muslim world.

A new type of independent, yet Islamic thinking is needed. The kind of thinking, critical reasoning, and analysis, that is required for us to break away from this zombie like stagnation of Black American Muslim independent thought. Legitimate and theologically compliant Black American Muslim thought is going to be audacious, partly liberationist and revolutionary in nature, and rejected by many. That is an evolutionary normalcy considering that Black American Muslims are descendants of slaves and have largely adopted an Islamic moral psychology that is born of subjugation, colonialism, a clash of civilizations, immigration, and racism. We’re still arguing over aqeeda. Someone has to sift through all this mess because as a group of people, a frail and emerging Muslim civilization, we are a basket case. In sha Allah, not for much longer.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, is an Imam and resident scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo, Ohio. He can be reached at imamabulaiuth@yahoo.com

The Bamboozling of Black American Muslims. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

This is not a difficult topic for me to write about. However, it is difficult for many to read about if addressed candidly and honestly. Censorship, is still very much an unspoken rule and a one sided conversation in Muslim America when it comes to issues of race and the relationship between Muslim immigrant communities and Black American and convert communities. Nevertheless, American Muslims. particularly Black Americans and converts, owe it to themselves to understand how we got were we are regarding our moral trajectory in this country. Especially as a new and frail part of Muslim civilization. Of course this article does not tell the whole story, but it is certainly part of the story. Pay attention.

After 9/11, the American Muslim community and the whole country went into panic mode for different reasons. Americans in general were shocked and horrified that such a large-scale attack, purportedly by Muslim terrorists, would hit so close to home. American Muslims were panicked because of the backlash, and potential backlash against American Muslims. By November 5th, more than a thousand American Muslims and Muslims living in the United States were detained. Many were deported. Some left the country on their own. Suspicion, in and outside of the Muslim community was everywhere. For many Muslims, the worst thing in the world was to be viewed as a potential terrorist, to be the object of criticism, or be rejected or ridiculed by the American masses.

After the World Trade Center bombing were the catalyst for the American Muslim community to embark on a massive, multi-billion-dollar, public relations campaign to temper the backlash, improve the image of Islam and Muslims in the eyes of the American public, and insulate American Muslims from any criticism, constructive or not.

The meaning of the word Islam was almost immediately replaced from submission to peace, and the newly invented neologism (Islamophobia) was hastily summoned into full currency as a push back against anti-Muslim sentiment, and all criticism of Muslims. Acts of charity work were carefully choreographed, recorded, and publicized for public consumption, Masaajid doubled down on half-hearted interfaith efforts, and words such as  jihad, the word bay’ah, and the word jamaa’at, were reinterpreted or removed outright from everyday Muslim dialogue.

The ambitious public relations campaign spread to every part of Muslim America and was financed by immigrant Muslim individuals, businessmen and organizations, who crafted the policy, the planning, and executed implementation or the massive PR campaign through a variety of venues. Fighting islamophobia was touted by major national Islamic organizations as the number one priority of Muslims in America. Billions of dollars flowed in from the Gulf states to assist in the anti-islamophobia campaign although hardly any of the money went to helping Black Muslim groups, organizations, and communities so they could join in the effort.

The image of Islam in the eyes of politicians and the American public took precedence over the actual moral essence and practice of the religion, and that image portrayed as a white or light skinned immigrant who is as American as apple pie, mostly middle class, and shares the values of our country. The image and narrative of the American Muslim convert in the inner city was nearly completely ignored, even vilified by some Muslims. In one report, co-authored by CAIR (Council for American Islamic Relations), we were characterized as being less patriotic than immigrant Muslims, and more likely to extremism.  That was the projected image then, as it is now.

Black American Muslims and coverts, an already marginalized population within Muslim America, who were less likely to suffer any backlash because of the events of 9/11, who had no national organizations of clout and finance that represented their interests, and who were less likely to be under threat of deportation since they were already citizens, had no choice except to go along for the ride.

Thus, the narrative, the political interests, and the voice of the American Muslim community of largely immigrants, became the narrative, the voice, and the politics of Black American Muslims, who very few, realized even until now, that they (Black American Muslims and converts) were and still are, an entirely new and different Muslim civilization. An entire generation of Muslims were raised on image, and imaging as representing what Islam is all about. This helped cement the colonized disposition of Black American Muslim converts, under the shadow of the larger, more affluent, more educated, and greater resourced immigrant Muslim population America. A situation that continues until this very day.

There is no validation whatsoever anymore for the Black American Muslim slave mentality. It cannot be justified at this point in our history. We know too much about the damage. We have paid too much of a cost. It gets in the way of too much. When we were barely out of slavery, it was understandable. During the Jim Crow years, it was understandable. In the beginning of the civil rights movement, it was understandable. When we were inundated with books on theology from overseas it was understandable, and when we found ourselves for the last 40 years, going back and forth bickering over fatwas, terminologies, shaykhs, and arguing other people’s arguments like fools, it became barely understandable.

At this point in time, it is simply senseless to give the Black American Muslim slave mentality any more oxygen. It’s time to let it die a slow death. Dismantling it may take an entire generation and will not be easy. However, it way past its expiration date. A new, free domestic Muslim ummah must and in sha Allah, will emerge, that is untethered by the now self-imposed colonial like hold from the multiple spheres of influence from the Muslim world abroad that still continue to suffocate Muslims and converts in America. And Allah knows best.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

imamabulaith@yahoo.com. support at Cash App @ $abulaitrh2

Imam Luqman Ahmad is an Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo Ohio. He can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com He is the author of the book “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, and the book, Double Edged Slavery, about the colonial disposition of Black American Muslims in the shadow of the American Muslim immigrant community.

Black American Imams Seen but Rarely Heard. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

In fact, Black American Imams aren’t seen that much either. Not speaking independently on any national stage. In Muslim America today, Black American Imams are rarely viewed as equal to other Imams, especially if they open their mouths with anything that rejects the prevailing narrative of Black American Muslim intellectual inferiority to immigrant Muslims. That is starting to change with this second and third generation of Muslims. However, we still have a long ways to go on both sides.

Racial bias has figured high in Muslim America, but self-hate, and self-deprecation on the part of Black Sunni Muslims, has figured high as well. Maybe even more. And please, no more Bilal stories. We already know that there were companions of the Prophet (SAWS) who were Black. However, the Prophet (SAWS) is not the one under indictment about racism. We have no issues with the conduct of Rasoolillaah (SAWS). It’s the subtle and not so subtle racism that still exists in the ummah that we’re most concerned about.

Nevertheless. As the issue of racism and racial bias continues to be at the forefront of American domestic dialogue, Muslim America needs to understand that they are not exempt from dealing with it. Am I risking backlash from this post? Of course, what else is new? However, backlash won’t make the problem disappear.

Keep in mind that with the teaching of ‘puritan’ aqeeda in the 1980’s, came the incessant debates and arguments about theology, and hidden inside Islamic puritanism, were the attacks on nearly everything, about our country, our way of life, and our culture. Nearly all of our celebrations, things like birthdays, baby showers, graduation parties, and even family picnics, were prohibited by one or another fatwa.

There were even fatwas against being happy during Christmas season, or being happy when a kaafir is happy, and accepting gifts from grandma . Then they went after our sports, I remember reading the fatwa haraming football, and co-ed sports. But that wasn’t enough, they attacked our clothing, our relationships with our neighbors and our families, our relationships with own country, our priorities as a free people, and even our politics, were all put in check by various fatwas coming from abroad, some of which we continue to argue about till this very day.

Then came the fatwas that haramed all of our music outright, which meant a good chunk of our poetry, which is part of our music. Even lullabies sung to babies were haram according to some. We were ordered to boycott Israel while Muslim countries have treaties and do billions of dollars worth of business with Israel. Then there was the fatwas prohibiting photographs, and sport trophies, and attending the funerals of relatives who were not Muslim, Then there was the fatwas calling for jihad against our own country. Incredulously, many of us fell for a lot of it. Even had some of us speaking with fake accents.

If you’ve been Muslim since the 1980s, you would know this. Scholars who used to weigh in on everything American, have evolved since then, but not after leaving behind considerable damage. Not even an apology. An entire generation of Muslims were lost in the morass of moral chaos. Some folks still cannot even tell the basic difference between right and wrong. Just a couple of weeks ago, Muslims were clamoring that a shaykh from abroad showed that a man knitting or sewing is permissible, when we come from a nation of men custom tailors and clothing designers.

The hijacking of Islam in America and the marginalization and indifference towards Black American Muslims by the now larger Muslim community, including scholars, is no laughing matter. But brothers speaking with fake accents, now that was funny. Nevertheless, Saudi based scholars, and scholarship have had more influence over Black American Muslims and converts, than scholars from any other region on the planet.

When vestiges of the post slave culture of the Arabian peninsula mixed with the pre-existing slave mentality of Black Americans who studied there, it was disastrous. You can still see the effects of it today in Black Muslim America, which is one reason why it’s important to know our history. I believe that it is inevitable that a new, and free domestic Muslim ummah must and in sha Allah, will emerge, that is untethered by the now self-imposed colonial like hold from the Muslim world abroad that still continues to suffocate Muslims and converts in America. If you don’t get what I’m saying now, in sha Allah you will. I stand by my words.

Iman Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

imamabulaith@yahoo.com

The Companions and Muslim Activism

ACTIVISM AMONST THE COMPANIONS OF THE PROPHET (SAWS)

The Prophet (SAWS) was a strong proponent of leadership development and a broad ranch of Islamic work and activism, in organization, leadership, follow-ship, accountability, delegation of authority, fealty, contractual agreements, treaties, military, and governance. That was the way of the Arabs even before Islam and of most cultures, and peoples of the world. Muslim America cannot be just about Imams, debating issues and one upmanship over one another on social media, it has to be about everyone who is able, doing their part to build, protect, and empower our domestic ummah here in the United States.

The Prophet (SAWS) never sanctioned lawlessness, absence of leadership, or absence of followship amongst the Muslims, not ever. Early companions of the Prophet (SAWS) and those that followed them, helped shape and codify the law of revelation into an operable system that could function in people’s everyday lives. They achieved this by dutifully attending to the various aspects of Muslim civilization and to the affairs of the Ummah, either by teaching, serving in the military, building, maintaining, and populating the masaajid, diplomacy, scholarship, collection of zakat, conducting the hajj, giving water to the hajjis, expansion of the two sacred sanctuaries, building masaajid, policing the cities and villages, prosecuting criminals, or serving in the capacity of government, public service and da’wah.

They were not all sitting around quoting hadith. When they had discussions about fiqh, it was usually pertinent matters that were taking place at the time. Debate was pursuant to actionable conclusions. For example, they debated about the burial place of the Prophet (SAWS) and ended up burying him in Aisha’s apartment. They debated about whether to go to war against Musailama the false prophet, or going to war with the deniers of zakat, and they chose going to war with the deniers of zakat first.

Young companions of the Prophet (SAWS) went on to serve the ummah in monumental ways. Ibn Abbas had barely reached puberty by the time the Prophet’s death (SAWS), however, in addition to collecting and narrating hadith of the Prophet and teaching hordes of people the Quran and the Sunna, he went on to be a member of Umar’s shura amongst the veterans of Badr. He also served as the Governor of Basra and helped negotiate a truce between the Caliph Ali and the khawaarij who were at war with him. The Caliph Ali, years before had been a boy in the care of the Prophet (SAWS) and was amongst the first persons to accept Islam.

Another example is Mu’adh ibn Jabal who was a major scholar amongst the companions of the Prophet (SAWS, and still served and led in the wars, was was a governor of that we know today as Bahrain and a Governor of Syria before he died of the plague in hijri year 18 AH. Abu Huraira did not convert to Islam until later and only spent about two and a half years with the Prophet (SAWS), yet he was amongst the major scholars and narrators of hadith in Medina and spent a short time as a governor of Bahrain under the Caliph Umar and served as a Governor of Medina during the Umayyad rule. Abu Huraira married one of his daughters to Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib, who was born during the Caliphate of Umar, was a favorite of the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) because of his zeal for knowledge and grew up to be called the Imam of the taabi’een. Abu Huraira lived to be 78, dying in the year 59 of the Hijrah.

Most, and nearly all of the companions that were close to the Prophet (SAWS) were veterans of wars and the battlefield. The veterans of Badr had the highest distinction. After the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattaab conquered Persia, he put all of the remaining “Bad’riyoon” (veterans of Badr) on yearly pension.

I cannot stress enough the importance of leadership development, generational continuity of our faith, cooperation and committed activism on behalf of our ummah, in what is left of our communities in Black Muslim America. Find where you fit in.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

What is an Ijaaza Anyway? Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

WHAT IS AN IJAAZA ANYWAY? (because someone asked)
The word ‘Ijaaza’ in the Arabic language, literally means ‘permission’. In the terminology of traditional Islamic knowledge and scholarship, ijaaza is when a student of knowledge seeks permission from a teacher or shaykh to listen or to receive narrations of knowledge from the shaykh that the shaykh possesses. Knowledge and narrations that are either retained by verified memory, or in writing.
Upon completion, when the shaykh is assured that the student has understood or retained the text by memory, the shaykh then gives the student permission to transfer or teach that information to someone else or to others. In Muslim tradition, this whole process is called ‘ijaaza’. Depending upon the shaykh, the student, the text, or the subject of narrative, the shaykh may have a greater or lesser degree of retention and proficiency which he (or she) would require of the student before the student is afforded qualified permission (ijaazah) to transmit the knowledge. Many times, ijaaza was implicit by virtue of the known relationship and length of time between a student and a particular teacher or because of narrative connection to him.
Historically, the process of seeking and receiving an ijaaza was not contracted from anyone who is not a qualified expert in the subject matter, and there was no formal ijaaza ceremonies or graduation certificates. Also, historically in Muslim lands, people did not dare to teach Islamic topics without having knowledge. Ijaaza was a way to trace the chain of knowledge back to a source
The first to start this method of transferring knowledge were Arab poets and genealogists during the latter part of the Umayyad and the beginning of the Abbasid dynasties (period) of Islam, followed by scholars and preservers of sacred knowledge. Eventually the process became widespread and varied throughout the Muslim world. Before the ijaazah process became wide spread, and before Islam, the Arabs relied on sheer memory and generational continuity of knowledge through people, to preserve information about lineage (mainly), history and poetry. The ijaaza process is different today from what it was originally, but remains the same in some places. That’s the short of it. There are different types of ijaazas. And Allah knows best. – Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad.

THE REAL UMAR IBN AL-KHATTAAB, THE COMMANDER OF THE FAITHFUL. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Image result for medieval muslim warrior

Abu Hafs, Umar ibn al-Khattaab, is regarded as the second closest companion to the Messenger of Allah after Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. If you only read two or three paragraphs of history about Umar ibn al-Khattaab, you might walk away thinking he was a brute or a barbarian as some Muslims have (ignorantly) described him. On the contrary, he was one of the most compassionate, God fearing and capable Muslim leaders in Muslim history.

Umar ibn al-Khattaab was one of the few of the Quraysh who was literate. He was one of the scribes of the Prophet (SAWS) and used to recite poetry. He had a brother, Zayd ibn al-Khattaab who converted to Islam before Umar, and was one of the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) as well. He was the second Caliph (successor) after the Prophet (SAWS). The Caliph Umar established yearly pensions for the widows of Rasoolillaah (SAWS), for the aging veterans of Badr and the remaining household of the Prophet (SAWS). He put the Imams and teachers of the major masaajid and learning centers on annual salary.

Umar used to remove or demote his commanders for tyranny or excess. He once removed Amr ibn al-Aaas, the wealthy Qurashite from his position as Governor of upper Egypt after he led the conquer of it on behalf of the Muslims, because of his excesses and accumulation of personal wealth.

Umar was the first Muslim in the prophetic era to establish the precedent of making salat at the Ka’ba, he used his “strongman” reputation to strengthen Islam. After he converted to Islam, he made it known to t, and went to pray at the Ka’aba. His actions, gave the Muslims the confidence to pray openly. Abdullah ibn Mas’ood said, “Umar’s embracing Islam was our victory, his migration to Medina was our success, and his reign a blessing from Allah. We didn’t offer prayers in Al-Haram Mosque until Umar had accepted Islam. When he accepted Islam, the Quraysh were compelled to let us pray (publicly) in the Mosque“. [at-Tabarani]

When Abu Bakr as-Siddiq became the successor of the Prophet (SAWS), they used to call him; ‘Khalifatu Rasoolillaah‘ (Successor of the Messenger of Allah). When Umar succeeded Abu Bakr, they started to call Umar Khalifatu Khalfati Rasoolillaah (The Successor of the Successor of the Messenger of Allah). Umar thought that the title was too long, so he changed it to ‘Amir al-Mu’mineen‘ (Commander of the Faithful). Umar (RA) ordered the freeing of thousands of slaves and prisoners from the war with the apostates. His reign lasted about 10 years, and he ruled over roughly a third of the civilized world during and he sought to ensure that there were people in position to see to the affairs of the ummah.

Amir al-Mu’mineen Umar divided the Caliphate into provinces. Each province was administered by a governor or Wali, and divided into about 100 districts. Each district was under the authority of an Amir, and under each Amir was a Katib, or Chief Secretary, the Katib-ud-Diwan, the Military Secretary. the Sahib-ul-Kharaj, the Revenue Collector, the Sahib-ul-Ah’dath, the Police chief, the Sahib-Bait-ul-Mal, the Treasury Officer, and the Qadi, or Chief Judge.

In the hadith of Abu Sa’id Al-Khudari (RA), the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said, “Whoever hates Umar hates me. Whoever loves Umar loves me. Allah boasts about the people at the evening of Arafat generally and boasts of Umar specifically. Allah did not send a prophet except that his nation had a speaker (clairvoyant)and if there was one of my nation it would be Umar.” They asked, “O Messenger of Allah how does he speak?” He said, “Angels speak upon his tongue.” [at-Tabarani]

Imam Ahmed, Al-Bazzar and Al-Tabarani all report that Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (RA) said, “The virtue of Umar ibn Al-Khattab over the people is because of four things; when he spoke about the captives on the battle of Badr he gave the opinion that they be killed and Allah (Mighty and Majestic) revealed, “Had it not been for a previous ordainment from God, a severe penalty would have reached you.” (Quran Al-Anfal 8:68).

By his mention of the instruction for the Hijab for women by the Prophet (SAWS). Zaynab said to him, “You are with us O son of Al-Khattab and revelation descends in our home.” Then Allah (Mighty and Majestic) revealed, “And when you ask of them anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain.” (Quran Al-Ahzab 33:53).

By the supplication of the Prophet (SAWS) said, “O Allah support Islam by Umar.” There is an opinion that this was before Abu Bakr took allegiance. Al-Tabarani reports from Tariq ibn Shihab that Umm Ayman said on the day Umar was killed, “The day Islam became frail.”

Anas ibn Malik (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) supplicated on Thursday night saying, “O Allah strengthen Islam by Umar ibn Al-Khattab or Amr ibn Hisham.” On Friday morning, Umar became Muslim. [Al-Tabarani in Al-Awsat.] In the hadith of Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said, “Allah, Mighty and Majestic, boasts with his angels about his servants on the evening of Arafat generally and boasts about Umar specifically.” [at-Tabarani].

In the hadith of Abu Sa’id Al-Khudari (RA) he narrated that the Prophet (SAWS) said, “If Allah was to send a messenger after me it would be Umar ibn Al-Khattab.” Yet, Umar ibn al-Khattaab was a simple man who dwelled amongst the common people. That was the Umar that we know. The first Muslim ruler to hold the title; “The Commander of the Faithful”. Hardly a brute or a barbarian, he was a champion of truth and justice, may Allah reward him. Ameen.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Arguing Over Aqeeda in Black Muslim America, a Disaster in the Making, Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Actually it’s more like a disaster already made. Our obsession with aqeeda inquisition and aqeeda wrangling is not something we came up with on our own. In fact, the role that aqeeda plays in our division, in our domestic dialogue, in our masjid politics, and in our priority assignment, is not organic; it is totally engineered by programing, colonial type influence over our narratives, by foreign spheres of influence, and by a deeply rooted and conspicuous pre-existing slave mentality. A mentality that presupposes that Black people are fundamentally incapable of knowing Allah without knowing Arabic.

Nearly the entirety of the current aqeeda debate amongst Black American Muslims is imported, choreographed, relies on our incessant self-hate, a latent slave mentality, colonized thinking ad disposition, and sheer stupidity to give it energy and to keep it going, It does not, has not, and will not solve a single problem or issue in Black Muslim America. It amounts to Black American Muslims, an ex-slave community of new Muslims, in precipitous decline as a civilization, arguing over pre-selected and politicized snippets of Muslim theological history and politics.

Theological (aqeeda) debating amongst Black American Muslims, a people who are largely without Islamic governance, who have a relatively short history as a civilization, and who are in a precipitous state of communal decline, has proved disastrous. Its a tempest in a tea pot, a failed paradigm at best. Understanding aqeeda is necessary, and understanding the scholarly and philosophical minutiae and ramifications surrounding scholastic theology, is vital for some. However, arguing about it is not. The religion of Islam does not require, especially for everyday Muslims, that we debate and argue about Islamic scholastic and speculative theology.

It is necessary to know truth from falsehood. This becomes critical when Muslims become influenced by outside ideologies that contradict and compromise Islamic monotheism (tawheed). Only Allah be He Exalted, can render guidance to a wayward heart. Still, arguing over who is, and who is not rightly guided, has never been part of prophetic methodology; “So remind! For verily you are a Reminder, you are not an authority over them” [al-Ghashiya:21]

When theological differences first started to appear in Muslim civilization after the death of the Prophet, it quickly escalated into splintering of the ranks, accusations of heresy, killing, fratricidal warfare amongst the Muslims, and oppression. In Black Muslim America, amongst people who believe in Allah and His Messenger, who pray the same prayer, pay zakat, and fast Ramadan, differnces in theology, or ‘creed, have not lead to warfare, except the verbal kind. Not yet.

The rules of law and civility prevents us from fighting and killing each other over creed as is done in some Muslim lands where order is subordinate to lawlessness. In this current climate of division, and spiritual toxicity, It takes about 5 minutes for a Muslim to accuse another Muslim of being a heretic, a deviant, or an unbeliever, after differing with him on a matter of aqeeda. It takes just a few moments after that to consider his blood, and his honor as violable (halal).

Since the early 1980s, when the terminology ‘aqeeda’ gained currency amongst Black American Muslims, we have discovered a myriad of ways to argue about it, and splinter over it. People came up with the bright idea that it was their God given duty to examine and purify the hearts of Black Muslims in America. That was the start of the aqeeda wars, and we’ve been at it ever since, with very little to show for

Aqeeda, the study of Muslim scholastic theology that details the variant orthodox and heterodox philosophies existing amongst Muslims, is a discipline that has evolved over a span of more than 1200 years. Some people call it ‘creed’ for short. Its not something you reduce to a social media event, over points of creed. Teaching aqeeda is one thing, scheduling debates about it, or debating about, and drawing lines of demarcation over it is something entirely different. Most of the time we’re arguing arguments that aren’t legitimately ours to argue in the first place, but merely debates thrust upon us. Many of our debates are puppeteered. It’ll probably take most folks another couple years to figure that out. Reading history is a good place to start.

Although people don’t like to admit it, since aqeeda is the ‘in thing‘ these days, the modern aqeeda frenzy is very much a fad. I don’t see how a person can be so gung ho about this or that aqeeda without understanding or knowing the history or politics surrounding it. People become belligerent when you even mention the need to know something about the history. None of these aqaa’id (aqeedas) are scripture (wahy), even if wahy forms the basis for much of it.

In previous times, theological debates were engaged in by scholars and theologians, or enforced by enforcing armies, religious and political authorities and tribunals and designated inquisitors. Everyday people were left out of the fray. Today, especially in the wild wild west of Black Muslim America, it is a virtual free for all. Unchecked, unmoderated, and un-proctered. There is no one designated to enforce aqeeda. There is no aqeeda czar in America, and we should not pretend that there is.

Today, there are thousands of individual Muslims, bickering and debating with each other over issues of creed, often declaring each other to be deviant, astray or heretics. People champion one brand of aqeeda or another as correct, only to come years later adopting another brand of aqeeda, while repudiation the formerly held notion and group. Its like arguing over democracy and socialism,  but there is no government,  no elections, no public policy, and no actionable consequences to the discussion. Tantamount toputting Muslims on trial without having an actual trial. Trial by street style philosophical brawls, and theoligical lynch mobs. That’s what it’s become in America.

There is negligible evidence that all this debate has moved Black American Muslims forward in any appreciable way. People who say that it has are simply not familiar with Black American Muslim history over the last half a century.

The Prophet ﷺ  did not teach aqeeda he taught faith, and the faith that he taught ﷺ to his companions, was basic; it was conclusive, not speculative. It remained that way for a century and a half.  The word ‘aqeeda’, commonly used today, and translated as ‘creed’, was not in circulation during the time of the Prophet ﷺ. The Prophet ﷺ spoke of faith (eemaan), he did not dabble in creed.

There is nothing authenticated about the Prophet ﷺ where he said, ‘correct aqeeda is such and such’.  However, there are many ahaadeeth where he described faith. For example, the hadith, “Faith (eemaa) is seventy something branches, The highest of which is the statement that there is no god except Allah. The lowest of which is the removal of debris from the road, and bashfulness is a branch of faith“. Or in the hadith, “None of you believes until I am more beloved to him than his son, his father, and all other people”. Or in the hadith, “none of you believes until his whim is in agreeance with what I’ve come with.” That is how the Prophet ﷺ taught. He taught faith, not philosophy. Muhammad the Messenger of Allah, was a Prophet, not a philosopher. There are many verses that mention faith as well, “verily the believers are those who believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and their persons, such are the truthful”.

Converts to Islam are not used to arguing over religion. Prior to Islam, we did not argue with each other on street corners, basketball courts or college campuses about the creed of the Catholics versus the creed of the Baptists, or the creed of the African Methodists or the Jehovah witnesses. Aqeeda wrangling has become a spectator sport, done mainly amongst common, everyday people. Ironically, most of the time, people argue and debate with no actionable conclusion except to see who is the best at debating. it takes about 4 minutes to explain Islam to the average person, including the names of the 5 prayers. It takes about 7 minutes to explain the basic principles of eemaan (faith). It takes about 3 months of classes, rhetoric and slogans to explain the different aqeedas (creeds), and people still be confused.

As a rule, the Prophet ﷺ disliked people arguing about religion. In the hadith of Abu Amaama, the Prophet said, “No people ever went astray after guidance, except that they resorted to arguing (about religion)” [at-Tirmithi]. And in the hadith of Aisha, she said, “the Prophet ﷺ said, “the most hated of men to Allah is the contentious arguer” [Bukhaari], and in the hadith of Abu Hurairah, the Prophet said, “I am the guarantor of a house in the bosom of paradise for the one who leaves alone arguing even if he is right“[Abu Dawud]. Abu Hamid al-Ghazali. (d.1111 CE) who himself was a scholar of philosophy, mentions ten destructive evils arising from public debates (about religion); envy, arrogance, malice, backbiting and slander, selfpraise, seeking other’s faults, gloating at misfortune, hypocrisy, ostentation, rejecting the truth. [Ihya Ulum al-Din, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, 1/45-47]

Arguing over religion ruins relationships, splits communities, breaks associations, and tears away at the bonds of brotherhood, as we have seen in our own experiment with it in the United States. Muslim scholars, even those who themselves were theologians and wrote books on issues of creed, disliked the practice of arguing over religion. Imam  Abdul-Rahmaan Al-Awza’ee, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “If Allah desires evil upon a people, he will force them to argue, and prevent them from working“. [Sharh Usool al-I’tiqad]. Arguing over creed greatly undermines the religious communal trajectory of Islam amongst Black American Muslims and converts to Islam o the United States, even when that is not the intention. Imam Malik, may God have mercy on him, said: “Debating about religion creates malaise, it removes the light of knowledge, hardens the heart, and inherits weakness.” (Nuzhat Al-Fadhila: 2/623).


Black American Muslims and converts to Islam constitute the newest civilization of Muslims in the world and are already above all other Muslim peoples in the world, most at risk of extinction. At the time of this article, most of the masaajid  in the United States are closed for services, and person to person contact is at an all-tie low because of the Corona Virus pandemic. That people would still be involved in public, non-scholarly, microwave debates over creed, is beyond lunacy in my opinion. It represents a terrible low point for Black American Muslims.

Scholastic philosophy. Which was not developed as an independent science until 150 years after the death of the Prophet (SAWS). Before that, there were people who believed just fine. Just like today, there are millions of Muslims who don’t know the details of aqeeda, who don’t argue about aqeeda, and don’t set up alliances and demarcation lines over aqeeda, yet they have faith, and believe correctly. Believing in what the Prophet ﷺ believed in, and rejecting as falsehood, what he rejected as falsehood, constitutes correct belief at its core. The notion that it does not, undermines the message (risaala)  of the Prophet ﷺ, and suggests that the Prophet ﷺ did not leave behind sufficient knowledge for guidance.

It has been authenticated in prophetic tradition that the Prophet ﷺ said, “I am leaving you with two things, that if you hold fast to them both, you will never go astray, after me, the Book of Allah, and my Sunna”. [Bukhaari]. That is my point in a nutshell.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Philadelphia born, Shaykh Luqman Ahmad is an Associate Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam Toledo, Ohio where he teaches and delivers Friday sermons. He is the author of the new Book, ‘Killing Marriage in Black Muslim America’. He can be reached @ imamabulaith@yahoo.com. Support at Cash App to: $abulaith2

What Every Muslim Man Should Know About Being a Man, Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

A lot of sisters came out of the dunya ready to practice Islam to the fullest, but when brothers started to play games and act like little boys, things went sour. Let’s not forget that part. Too many of our men these days, especially Black Muslim men in Muslim America, are falling apart. That is not good. I’m not making light of men’s feelings and emotional and mental issues. I’m just saying that it’s not good, and it’s not good for our children to see so many of our men falling apart and broken. I guess it could happen to any of us. I just hate to see so many of our men go out like that. We’ve even started to applaud men for speaking publicly of their brokenness, and at the same time, we attack men who show strength. The culture of man-bashing and self deprecation is starting to tale it’s toll. Weakness is the new normal, giving up is the new Muslim vogue. I don’t understand how we let this happen. Something is terribly wrong. Black American Muslims have an absence of manhood pandemic on our hands.

Don’t think for a moment that the Prophet (SAWS) and his companions (RA) didn’t suffer from grief, from loss, from hunger, from fear, trauma, from depression, from anger issues, from marriage issues, from suffering or from oppression. However, they did not give up, and they did not abdicate their manhood and sense of responsibility. Sometimes they came close to giving up, but they held on. What they didn’t do though, is act as a mob. They had amirs, imams, teachers, workers, soldiers, builders, businessmen and women, who made commitments, made pledges and took responsibility for things. They actively participated in the affairs of the Muslims. So whenever we talk about getting things done, and men being men, following the methodology of the Messenger of Allah is a good start. Seriously, if Muslim men went sahaba style, it would greatly mitigate our manhood problem. There is a reason why the Prophet ص called them the best generation. Despite their hardships, struggles and shortcomings, I can find nothing in seerah or early Muslim history that indicates that Muslim men or the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) simply gave up from striving in the path of Allah. Men can be rebuilt by Allah’s permission but it’s very very difficult, once they are broken. Once a grown man is rendered a child, it is hard to come off of that. You don’t get too many chances in life to become a man. This is why it’s important that males learn to be men early on, especially before they get feminized.

I was taught that a Muslim man is supposed to stay strong despite adversity and hardship. To trust in Allah and keep moving forward no matter what. To maintain courage, do what is right, and obey Allah and His messenger to the best of your ability, to have good character and repent often, and to speak the truth, even if the people don’t like it, or don’t like you for it. That is what my father Shaykh Abdulkarim Ahmad, taught me. Jazaaka Allahu khairan Abu. May Allah reward and preserve you.

We should not be a people who celebrate weakness. During the time of the Prophet (SAWS), the weak were led, aided, and championed by the strong, The Prophet (SAWS) acknowledged both and place each in his proper place so that the train could still move. When Bilal was a slave under torture, the Prophet (SAWS) commanded Abu Bakr to purchase and free him. When Umar ibn al-Khattaab (strong) converted to Islam, the Muslims established the salat at the Ka’aba. When the weak and appressed were not safe in Mecca anmore, the Prophet (SAWS) ordered the Muslims to made hijrah to Abyssinia, their Amir was Ja’afar ibn Abi Talib, and the strong stayed in Mecca.

When the time came for battle, the weak and the sick were excused but the strong had to go forward and fight. And at no lime were people left without a head except for the provisions of the treaty of hudaybiyyah where a weak Muslim outside of the community could be left alone and not join the jamaa’aat (congregation). After that treaty was broken by the Meccans, the women who made hjrah were not allowed to return to be under their kuffar husbands.

During the time of the Prophet (SAWS) and hence forward, the Muslims did not move and act as a mob. Even when Muslims (sadly) fought each other, each side had an amir (leader). A strong Muslim man can carry ten weak men, and help strengthen them by the permission of Allah. Although there is good both, a strong Mu’min (believer), is better and more beloved to Allah than a weak Mu’min.

Now if you were not taught that, or not taught how to be a man, then that is not my fault. And if you don’t know these things, then you should learn them now. These are things that every Muslim man should know, Period. Muslims in the 15th century of the hijrah, should not be going back and forth about who, and what is a real man like they don’t know what a man is, when we are supposed to be following the best man in the messenger of Allah. And Allah knows best.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad delivers the Friday Khutba, and is an Associate Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid of Islam in Toledo, Ohio, He is a writer, lecturer and the author of the book; “Double Edged Slavery“, a book about the condition of African American Muslim converts in America, and   ‘TheDevil’s Deception of the Modern day Salafi Sect’.  You can support this project through Cash app to: $abulaith. He can be reached at, imamabulaith@yahoo.com

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