An Open Letter to American Muslim Imams Regarding The San Bernardino Incident, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

minbarIn light of the recent attacks in San Bernardino which were declared as acts of terror, we as American Imams and khateebs must resist being swept away by the wave of emotions and fear of backlash from dedicating our Friday prayers or our Friday sermons to anything or anyone except Allah Be He Exalted, for this would constitute a breach in our commitment to tawheed (Islamic monotheism). For our Lord has declared;

فَمَنۡ كَانَ يَرۡجُوۡالِقَآءَ رَبِّهٖ فَلۡيَـعۡمَلۡ عَمَلًا صَالِحًـاوَّلَايُشۡرِكۡ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهٖۤ اَحَدًا

“And whoever wishes to meet his Lord then let him work deeds of righteousness and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord”. 18:110

Our Lord demands, and our congregations have a right that Imams are honest, forthright, sincere, and unhindered in what we impart to our communities in the way of scriptural exhortations, religious instructions, and advisements on the sacred day of Jum’ah. The faithful congregations that we serve in our nation’s mosques have placed in each of us their trust that we speak as free men. It is their right that we speak according to our knowledge of the Book and of Prophetic tradition (Sunna) and not according to the talking points suggested by Muslim politicians.

We should be reminded that Allah has ordained the Friday prayer to be for the remembrance of Allah. Thus it cannot serve as a memorial for any person living or dead;

 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِي لِلصَّلَاةِ مِن يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَى ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“O you  who have attained to faith! When the call to prayer is sounded on the day of congregation,  hasten to the remembrance of Allah, and leave all worldly commerce: this is for your own good, if you but knew it.” 62:9

Therefore, speak as you will dear brethren, on whatever topics that you see beneficial at this time, but deliver your sermons as free believing men of conscience, inspiration and choice, being obligated to no one except Allah, be He Exalted and Glorified. For it is hypocritical, and disingenuous for any of us to say that we stand for freedom of choice, freedom of speech, or liberty, and for the best interests of our religion, and our country, if we allow anyone, including Islamic organizations, Muslim leaders outside of our congregations, law enforcement agencies, the media, or politicians, to control the messages we deliver from the pulpit.

Lastly one of the most egregious forms of tyranny, is to restrict the words of a khateeb while he is speaking on Friday inside of the House of Allah. The message we deliver in the Friday sermon, should never be compromised, sold, auctioned or bartered, or loaned to anyone, at any time, in any mosque. If we allow that to happen, then we have betrayed our country, our community, our religion and ourselves.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Imam and Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, California. He is also a founding member of COSVIO (Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations). This article represents his views, and not those of any other person or organization. He can be reached at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com

 

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The Conning of the American Muslim, Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Ask your child or teenager the meaning of Islam. If they say ‘peace’, then you have deceived them already, and if we think that on the Day of Judgment, Allah will accept the excuse of Islamophobia for not praying, not giving charity, and not fasting, we have deceived ourselves

bamboozledNo one likes to admit that they’ve been conned. Nevertheless, there comes a time when you have to cut your losses and get out of the game which is what most victims of scams are advised to do. It seems that many American Muslim leaders have trouble recognizing a con job; even when they are conning themselves.

Just for the record; the practice of speaking on behalf of others without their permission, and without authority, is fundamentally un-American, not withstanding that it is wholly un-Islamic. When one or two Muslim organizations speak on behalf of all American Muslims about our fears, our politics, our emotions, our faith, our patriotism, or our response to this incident in San Bernardino, it undermines, and contradicts everything previously expressed about wanting to assimilate, or having already assimilated, or that we are just like other Americans, that we’re not a fifth column, or that we believe in freedom.

It says that we all think the same, feel the same, are of the same mind, in the same condition, have the same priorities, and accept the same absurdities. It also sends the message that we are disingenuous, and not to be trusted. When have you every seen or heard of a Christian or Jewish political or advocacy organizations get on national television and say they are speaking for all Christians or all Jews. Even our beloved Prophet (SAWS) allowed the Arab tribes to speak for themselves in many matters.

American Muslims are the only so-called religious demographic that allows their political and advocacy organizations to speak on behalf of their religious congregations. When these organizations bring along highly respected scholars such as Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqui and religious leaders to a press conferences as window dressing while they do all the talking, it confirms for many Americans that Islam is a political ideology more than it is a religion. It says that we are fundamentally secular with little moral fortitude.  It also s the message that we are dishonest, have no stable identity and that we practice a moral code other than what our scriptures teach. All of this is dangerous and fuels the very thing [islamophobia] that we say we trying to stamp out.

Now I’m a Muslim, I love Muslims and this is all abundantly clear to me. Imagine those who are not Muslim, or those who never had a problem with Muslims but come to a negative conclusion about us because of the way our politics have hijacked our morality. You may not agree with me but you do not have to look very far to read what many ordinary Americans say about Muslims as they bring up these very points as well as many others. The sad irony about us is that we are so arrogant, so pompous, so blinded by ego and wanting to be accepted we do not even believe anymore that we could possibly share some culpability for the anti-Muslims sentiment that plagues us so much.

We complain so much that they do not understand Islam while we make it abundantly clear that perhaps we do not understand Islam. Not even enough to know that the word Islam means submission and not peace. We think that the press is doing us a favor when they convey our message to the entire country how all Muslims Americans are now in fear, dismayed, disheartened, disappointed, that America has let us down, that we’re bracing for the backlash. When in reality what the media is doing is showing the extent of our moral immaturity.  We may be cheering, but others are seething with disdain, many are laughing, and some of us are crying.  At least if we took an Islamic approach to these matters we would have the hope of spiritual growth, and reward from Allah. Attempting to craft a pre-packaged sanitized Muslim identity through the very media that we blame for distorting our identity is like trying to beat the devil at his own game; we have nothing to show for it except disappointment. I know that certain groups of American Muslims have a lot of education and we think we’re really smart, and maybe some us are, but not that smart if we think we can play poker with Shaitaan and win.

We have our children and teenagers crying that we cannot practice our faith anymore because of all this islamophobia. People read these types of statements and conclude that Muslims are so full of themselves that they cannot see the forest for the trees. There is nothing, nothing at all that prevents any Muslim living in the United States from believing in Allah and the Last Day, from praying five times a day, from giving zakat, or from fasting during Ramadan. People practiced Islam here while they were slaves! Yet we cry anytime our ego is bruised. The sad reality is that we’ve raised a whole generation of Muslims Americans who cannot distinguish between Muslim political hype, and actual Islam. Ask your child or teenager the meaning of Islam. If they say ‘peace’, then you have deceived them already, and if we think that on the Day of Judgment, Allah will accept the excuse of Islamophobia for not praying, not giving charity, and not fasting, we have deceived ourselves. – imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad

imamluqman@icdph.org