What it Doesn’t Say in Our Scared Scriptures, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we should work so hard to change others and not admit or even entertain the idea that perhaps we need to change.

quran laid out.jpgIt doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we should condemn some atrocities while remaining silent about others. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we try to convince people that Islam is a religion of peace; and not try to make peace between the Muslims who are arguing fighting and killing each other in such large numbers. It doesn’t say in our scriptures that we should work so hard to convince people how tolerant we Muslims are when we all know full well how intolerant we are of each other even in things such as beards, hijabs, birthdays, and having a personal opinion. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we pretend to be unified knowing full well that we are woefully divided according to race, ethnicity, class, tribe and economics.

It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that liking something is better than doing something. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that getting people to like us is a praiseworthy goal. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that wealth, fame and material success are the ways to obtain Allah’s pleasure. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we should blame all criticism of Muslims and islam on islamophobia and not consider that perhaps there are some things about our own behavior that contribute to people’s negative attitudes.  It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that the dead and living scholars about whom we fuss and argue and sever relationships are infallible or have been promised paradise.

It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that the best of you is the one who is the cutest, most handsome, has a perfect body or has the most money. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that men should assume the roles of women and women should assume the roles of men. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we need to refute every detractor, chase after every insult, or complain about every hardship. It doesn’t say anywhere is our scriptures that we demand our rights from society and ignore the rights of the poor, the needy , the oppressed and the indigent.

It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we question the words of Allah, and His Messenger (SAWS) but do not question the words of our politicians. it doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that one race of people are better than the other. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we curse each other, and reveal what goes on in our bedrooms on the internet.  It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we should work so hard to change others and not admit or even entertain the idea that perhaps we need to change. Our scriptures are the Quran, and the authentic sunna of the Prophet (SAWS), and It doesn’t say any of that. – Imam Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a life long Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, patriot, and until recently, has been the Imam of a Northern California mosque for twenty years. Recently he headed up a new organization (Islamic Center of Del Paso Heights)to address the needs of Muslims, specifically new Muslim converts in the City of  Sacramento CA. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at salafiyyism the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He has written blog posts challenging ISIS, Anwar Awlaki, and BOKO Haram on his blog, imamluqman.wordpress.com. The sentiments shared in this article are his own and not representative of any of his professional affiliations. He can be reached at imamluqman@icdph.org

 

Advertisements

What Muslim Americans need to understand about America, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

“America is more than what many Muslims think of her. I’m not blind to her faults but it is wrong to believe that our country and our history is without virtue’. – Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmadfreedom of speech

These are the United States of America, and I respect the right of every American to have his or her own opinion, and to speak their mind.  The Prophet (SAWS) said: “Amongst those receiving the most severe punishment on the Day of Judgment, is the two faced person. The one who goes to one group bearing a face, and to another group bearing another face“.

Speaking of having your own opinion, I personally do not like it when people immigrate to America, benefit immensely from what our country has to offer, make a few dollars, buy a house in the suburbs, and then starts trashing our country saying that America does not live up to their expectations. I’m not knocking anyone for expressing their views or criticisms. I’m talking about the one who completely trashes everything about our country and insinuates that there is no good here and thesis just an awful evil place. That’s just my personal opinion, and some of you may have your own opinions about my opinion and that’s your right. There’s no need for anyone to be offended, to be in a tizzy, or to unleash upon me a tirade of indignation. However, you can if you want to, just try not to make it personal. If you have a problem with my previous statement, then you’ll probably feel some kind of way about what I’m about to say next. Especially those to whom it applies.

New American Muslims should stop complaining so much about their new country and perhaps use the freedom and liberty afforded to them as American citizens to to ask the hard questions about how we practice Islam outside the din of polemical debate, political rhetoric, and public relations considerations.  Immigrant dominated national Islamic political and advocacy groups as well as the new class of Muslim activists — while advancing the argument that American Muslims are as American as apple pie — demonstrate in many ways, especially in the way they confront islamophobia, that they do not quite understand America.

While declaring that the principle cause of islamophobia (a term that I do not agree with) is that Americans do not understand Muslims and Islam, there needs to be a parallel acknowledgment by American Muslim immigrants, and anyone else who supports such an oversimplified, nonsensical notion, that there are lots of things they need to understand about America, and Americans whose acceptance they crave.

There is hardly any other personal liberty dearer to us than the right of every individual to speak his or her mind and to have our own personal views or opinions. To put it simply, we do not like being told what to think, or who we can like or dislike, or which religious group we can or cannot talk about. In America, if someone talks negatively about Christians, the whole of Christian America does not come down on them. It doesn’t elicit a nationwide, multi-denominational Christian rebuke, nor does it catapult the matter onto the American Christian agenda as the suggested topic for next Sunday’s sermon. That’s just not the way we do things in this country. Jews are criticized just as much as Muslims and are probably the most parodied religious group in America. The whole Jewish nation does not come down on every alleged anti-Semite, or scour the news hunting down people’s campaign worthy biases. Even if some Jews address it or some organizations say something (and that’s a big if), it doesn’t become a nationwide rabbinical campaign.

However, if someone, especially a prominent person or politician says something about Muslims, or God forbid articulates what Muslims activists believe to be an islamophobic sentiment, Muslim advocacy organizations capitalize on it and feeds it to the Muslim community as a campaign worthy issue, and from there it wafts into our nations mosques. That’s not cool. Not cool at all. If someone talks about Muslims, the whole Muslim community should not come down on them. That’s so freakin un-American.

When some people in our country demonized Muhammad Ali, he withstood it with dignity, now he is loved by some of those same folks. We excoriated al-Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), he withstood our criticism and we ended up making a movie about him. We said bad things about the Mormons. They withstood it and got their own state. I could go on and on but the point is, no one in the history of the United States has succeeded in silencing their critics simply by complaining and calling them bigots, racists, islamophobes, nigger-lovers, or any other verbal counter-punch.

With all the degreed and advance degreed professionals we have in the American Muslim advocacy department,  it should be well understood that American Muslims will never succeed in shutting down all criticism of Islam and Muslims in America. We love that freedom of speech clause in the constitution and we’re not going to give it up. Even though some people may hold their tongue just to avoid the drama, Americans will continue to think and believe as we please, and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. For every so-called islamophobe who cowers, or is silenced though bribery, professional censure or public pressure, another one pops up under the radar; in part due to the censure of the former. Some Muslims are still responding to statements made by Donald Trump more than three weeks ago.

During his Farwell Sermon, the Prophet (SAWS) re-emphasized Islam’s moral stance against racial and ethnic prejudice, and never once mentioned that we should concern ourselves with public image, chasing after peoples’ negative statements, or seeking acceptance of the people.  What a pathetic irony, that more than 1400 years after the Prophet’s last sermon, some American Muslims find themselves obsessed with the image of Islam, having to challenge every act of bigotry, and getting approval of the people, while almost completely ignoring our own debilitating racial, and ethnic prejudices that violate the moral code of our religion, and fuel the negative images of Islam and Muslims, that we find ourselves so obsessed with. – Imam Luqman Ahmad

Epilogue: So what do you suggest we do Imam? Answer: I suggest that we shift from responding to things politically to responding according to the dictates of our scriptures (Quran and Sunna). Simply put, we need to shift from political Islam to the religion of Islam and understand that they are not entirely the same. Yes, politics is a part of our religion, however, politics should be subordinate to religion, not the other way around. As Muslims we need to be more concerned with obeying Allah, and following the Prophet than we are with obeying our egos,  and following our political action handbooks. It’s that simple. More on this later. In the meantime, God bless the United States of America.

American born Luqman Ahmad is a life long Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant,  patriot,  Imam of  the Islamic Center of Del Paso Heights in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at salafiyyism the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He has written blog posts challenging ISIS, Anwar Awlaki, and BOKO Haram on his blog, imamluqman.wordpress.com. The sentiments shared in this article are his own and not representative of any of his professional affiliations. He can be reached at imamluqman@icdph.org

 

 

 

 

American Muslim converts; looks like you are on your own. By Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Allah did not bring you to Islam simply to fight the same fights, argue the same arguments, and perpetuate the same bigotries that have plagued Muslims worldwide. He didn’t guide you to Islam to buy into anyone’s sect, schism, or parochial version of Islam, or to be second class Muslims in your own country.

basmala

The Prophet ‫ﷺ said, “No people ever went astray, after they were guided, except that they were overcome by  arguing”. [at-Tirmithi]

Indigenous American Muslims seem to have developed an unhealthy appetite for arguing amongst one another, and it is certainly not just limited to us living here in the United States. Arguing and disputing with one another takes up an incredible amount of time.  We argue about aqeeda, we argue about food, we argue about clothes, we argue about family ties, we argue about who has the most hate for the kuffaar, who is imitating the kuffaar, and we argue what constitutes kufr and who’s faith is at risk. We argue about who is on the haqq, and who is not. We argue about Allah, we argue about His Holy names and attributes, we argue about His mercy, who deserves it and who doesn’t. We argue about who is guided and who is astray, and we don’t stop arguing, night or day.  We argue about the length of our pants, the shortness of our beards, and we even argue about the sajda marks on our foreheads.

Historically, everyday  Americans do not argue back and forth a whole lot about religion and religious doctrine. We live in a country where people are free to believe in whatever they like, and if a person is comfortable with his or her faith, they don’t feel the need to argue about it or defend it over and over to others. Baptists and Methodists don’t go back and forth arguing about doctrine, calling each other names, and neither do Jews and Christians.

Arguing back and forth about religion is a relatively new phenomenon that entered Muslim America along with the culture of sectarianism which Muslims have yet to resolve. The culture of arguing and sectarianism has made it pass our borders, and found a home amongst indigenous American Muslims. It seems that fourteen century’s worth of debates around theology, Islamic law, worship, faith, heresy, Muslim politics, and who should be in charge — which have taken place during the course of Muslim history — have all been resuscitated and given new polemical life here in the good ole USA.

We argue about groups, we argue about gatherings, and we argue about saying hello to a stranger. We argue about alliances and disavowal and we argue about friends as well as enemies. We argue about sects of Islam that do not even exist anymore. We argue about words, we argue about the meanings of words, and we argue about the meanings of the meanings of words. We argue about class, we argue about race, and we argue about titles that we make up and proclaim to be sanctified. We invent new titles and then argue about those.

So while we were busy arguing

So guess what Muslim American converts? While we were busy arguing amongst one another about shoes and socks, and madhhabs and minhajis, and sparring with one another using the views of your sheikhs as if you’re playing Rokem Sockem robots, something extraordinarily consequential has occurred. Actually, a few things have happened, but I don’t want to drop it all on you in one reading. It didn’t happen overnight, so you might not have noticed at all, but while we were engaging in theological proxy wars on the internet, trying out different identities, different paths, tariqas, movements, and championing every Muslim cause that was handed to us, (except our own of course) something has happened. And for many of us, it slipped right by without the slightest notice. Are you sitting down? Okay, I’m going to tell you.

A new group of Muslims leaders, communities and organizations have arrived on the scene who are better educated, have larger, stronger communities, are more organized, have more money (lots of money) and spread out across the nations cities and suburbs. They are the new American Muslims. Many of us complain that the narrative of Muslim America portrayed in the media, on national television, in commentaries, from the pens and mouths of many national Muslim leaders, activists and pundits, does not include the American Muslims who’ve converted to Islam. You know the ones I mean; The ones who are not searching for an identity, are not trying to figure out how to assimilate , who are not afraid of deportation, who do not have a “back home” to go to. Yeah, the converts to Islam and their children, and children’s children, and their children’s children.

The convert narrative is missing  because the convert community, many of whom are African American, are not included in the future plan being concocted for Muslim America. In fact, you are hardly mentioned except anecdotally. And you, the American Muslim convert community; of African American, White and Latino Muslims, are more of a novelty, a showpiece and a passing mention, than a serious part of any national conversation about Muslims. The tremendous amount of monetary and other resources coming from inside and outside of the United States in support of the new Muslim America, is not being funneled into your communities.

You should have seen this coming

Now don’t be alarmed, you should have seen this coming but you were preoccupied worrying about everyone else except yourselves. Some of you even believed them when they said you cannot be yourself, think for yourself, do for yourself, or even love yourself.   Some of you believed it when it was said that its not necessary to build your own masaajid, establish your own local communities, and to be honest, there was some Kool-Aid served and yes, some of us did take the drink. So while many of you were trying to figure this out, the new American Muslims, through their powerful organizations, began to speak for you (even though they don’t know you), tell you what issues should have priority, and even out the kindness of their hearts offered you a new identity. Now isn’t that nice.

It is appreciated that you were kind enough to put your own issues and more immediate needs on hold,  such as family issues, building Islamic schools for your children, building masaajid in your neighborhood where you live, addressing poverty issues were you live, crime in your communities where you live, and partnering with people and organizations where you live,  just to support the causes of the international Muslim community. That was darn good of you. Your service and commitment to the causes and agendas of Muslim peoples all around the world is duly noted. You championed Palestine, you championed Egypt and the Arab spring — which ended up being the Arab nightmare — you championed Darfur, you championed Libya, and when they told you to curse Gadhafi, you cursed him. When they told you to worry about ISIS, you started to worry, even though we have the strongest military in the world to handle ISIS. All in all,  your dedication and your commitment to the greater good of the world’s Muslims is admirable. It would have been needed if the world’s Muslims were just as concerned about you. Sadly they aren’t, except for a few. Today’s American converts to Islam will be remembered and recorded in the annals of history. At one point in history there was a need for you by the greater body of Muslims, and there is still a need for you in photo ops, cameo appearances, and of course a must item for every mega masjid to have at least 1 or 2 token African American or Caucasian Muslims.  However, at this point the convert community has outlived our usefulness to the larger community of the new American Muslims.

Yes converts, you are on your own but you are not by yourselves

Now you must deal with the reality that you are on your own as converts to Islam. Your communities are declining, many of your masaajid have closed its doors, and in the last 20 years as hundreds of new masaajid have been built around the country, there have been less than five new masaajid built in your communities. Some of you al-humdu lillah have stuck to the Masaajid and communities, and have stuck it out through thick and thin. Others amongst you who have converted to Islam found yourselves in a state of shock. You were immediately told that you have to give up your identity, give up your reasoning, give up your spirituality, your common sense, and even your Americanism, and for that we owe you a sincere apology. The Islam you were invited to is not the Islam that was shown to you after you converted.

So dear convert community, understand that you are on your own. However, you are not by yourselves. Remember that it was Allah who guided you to Islam, and it was His divine will that you become a Muslim. He didn’t do it because He wanted you to to be a colony in your own country, or a slave to anyone else besides Him. Allah did not bring you to Islam simply to fight the same fights, argue the same arguments, and perpetuate the same bigotries that have plagued Muslims worldwide. He didn’t guide you to Islam to buy into anyone’s sect, schism, or parochial version of Islam, or to become second class Muslims in your own country. He didn’t bring you into Islam to ague back and forth with islamophobes while your children are dying in the streets, or to spend your time trying to change people’s hearts, when you could be working on your own hearts. Allah called you to Islam to lift you, to purify you,  to dignify you, to strengthen you, and for you to be true to the principle that religion belongs to Allah, it is for His sake, and that we worship Allah alone without partners.  Believe that He will continue to guide you if you remain true to Him. You must realize that you are free to think, free to challenge, free to ask questions, free to resist any so-called Islamic authority that is not of your ranks and who does not represent your best interests.

I do see light on the horizon. It has to start with raising consciousness which is what many of us are working to do. Once African American Muslims and converts realize that that they are free to work in their own self-interests according to Islam, without looking at things through the lenses of immigrant Muslims who mean well, but in most cases do not have a clue about our needs, then we will be better off. This is not meant in any way as a slight towards immigrant Muslims; we are all brothers and sisters in islam, at least on paper we are. It is simply the reality of our condition and it is not a matter of placing blame on this or that group. Muslims come to this county to make a better life for themselves and their children, they have their own pre-existing mindsets, emotional and historical issues and dysfunctions, biases, and challenges, and African American Muslims have their own as well. However, we have enough problems already than to take on other people’s dysfunctions as our own while forgetting our own condition.  Then there is the issue of Muslim politics in America; a vicious, I mean vicious cycle of power wrangling, misrepresentation, opportunism.  True, many of us are simply naïve to the realities of Muslim history, and the way that Blacks are treated and have been placed in many Muslim societies, even until this very day. There is light at the end of the tunnel because Allah is Light, but this is a uphill struggle and many of our people do not yet know or believe that they are free and their are many others who fear that indigenous Muslims would wake up.

There are many Muslims in America from all backgrounds who agree with me. Some people get it,  some people are in denial, and some people will catch up later in sh Allah. Many Muslims are just as sick of Muslim sectarianism  and marginalization of the American convert community as I am. There are many Arabs, Pakistanis, Indians, Afghanis, Asians, Africans and European Muslims, who understand the need for real unity and equality amongst Muslims, and they are plenty. They will stand with you but you as the convert community must speak your mind, you must not be afraid to work for what’s in your best interest in this life and in the hereafter, speak for yourself, and stand for yourself. You might have you go into rebel mode. The slave traders took away your identity once, and you got it back through Islam, don’t let other Muslims take it away now. It is okay if you disagree with me, it s okay if believe that I am rocking the boat.  It’s okay if you want to argue, but please argue with yourself, or with someone else besides me. This is only my advice. I am a free American Muslim man and I am liberty to speak my mind and offer my advice to my fellow Muslims. Wal Allahul Musta’aan, wa sallalaahu alaa Muhammad wa alaa aalihi wa sah’bihi wa sallam.

Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a Philadelphia native, a writer, consultant, patriot, and until recently, has been the Imam of a Northern California mosque for twenty years. Currently he delivers the Friday sermon (khutba) at the Islamic Society of Folsom in Folsom California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the new book “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States. He also authored, “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at modern-day extremist salafiyyism, the ideology which in part formed the mindset of ISIS. He blogs at, imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

Top Ten Priorities For American Muslims in 2016, by Imam Luqman

image2016 Top Ten Priorities for American Muslims

(faith based list)

  1. Remove politics from the practice of our faith, and give the religion back to Allah. Everything we do in the name of our religion should be for the sake of Allah and not for the sake of our public image, for the sake of popularity, or for the sake of defraying criticism.
  2. Have an open and honest discussion about the racial divide in Muslim America. We have to be true to our faith and candidly address the issue of racial division in Muslim America. This will be a sober conversation. However, we can get through it and we will be much better off at the other end. It will free us from denial.
  3. Separate politics from the religion. We cannot serve two masters. In the midst of decrying that ISIS has hijacked our religion, our politics seems to have hijacked our morality.
  4. Give American Muslim Imams the autonomy to shepherd their communities according to what their own knowledge and experience tell them and not based upon some national consensus. The ones in America who need to be representing Muslims are the imams, not our political leaders. We need to let our imams assume their rightful roles as stewards of our faith, and not silence them or control what they can and cannot say.
  5. Stop emphasizing ‘American’ in everything we do and say. It doesn’t have to be; American Muslims do this, or American Muslims did that, or look at us; we are American Muslims! We need to stop that. At this point it’s overkill, and It getting old.
  6. To national Islamic, political, advocacy, and policy organizations; Stop presenting a single narrative of Muslim America that excludes indigenous African American, White, and Latino Muslims. No one has to right to represent all American Muslims. We are too diverse of a group with a diverse history, sentiments, understanding of moral priority and  different sense of politics.
  7. Stop sloganizing our religion and cease from using these stupid slogans and talking points; “somebody hijacked our religion”, “Islam is peace”, “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam”, “Islam is as American as apple pie”, “Islam is just like Chistianity”.
  8. Give up the idea of crafting a singular identity for American Muslims. Each Muslim American, if they don’t already have one, needs to simply get their own identity. It’s not that difficult you know. Making or crafting an identity summons images of Frankenstein, the Borg, or impersonating God, and I’m pretty sure its haram anyway.
  9. Stop denying that there are two Muslim Americas, one for immigrants and one for indigenous Muslims. The sooner we can accept our reality and deal with what needs to be dealt with, then the sooner we can move on as a people of faith.
  10. Stop thinking that you have to respond to every insult, and every criticism of Islam and Muslims.
  11. Find out the true identity of the person or persons who are in charge of the anti-Islamophobia campaign.

Top Priorities for American Muslims (Politically based list)

  1. Defeat islamophobia and crush the islamophobes once and for all.
  2. Do more networking with non-Muslim organizations so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  3. Do more charity work and get good press and pictures so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  4. Register one million voters so that we can create a Muslim voting block to target islamophobic politicians and defeat islamophobia.
  5. Make sure that America knows that Muslims are afraid of islamophobia so that people can take pity on us and we can defeat islamophobia.
  6. Hold more conferences with themes centered around islamophobia so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  7. Get more people to say good things about Muslims and perhaps target some celebrities and prominent Americans for this so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  8. Shut down any dissent from within the American Muslim community about the insanity in how we fight islamophobia so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  9. Keep talking about islamophobia so that Muslims will stay focused on islamophobia so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  10. Do more interfaith work, pray in more churches, consider celebrating Easter, and get better at denouncing terrorism, so that we can defeat islamophobia.

American born Luqman Ahmad, is a life long Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, and has been the Imam of a Northern California mosque for twenty years. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at salafiyyism the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He has written blog posts challenging ISIS, Anwar Awlaki, and BOKO Haram on his blog, imamluqman.wordpress.com.  The sentiments shared in this article are his own and not representative of any of his professional affiliations. He can be reached at, imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com