My Strong Hijabi Girls. One Fathers Story, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

hijabiAccording to a recent Muslim civil rights group [CAIR] report, anti-Muslim bias in our public school system is on the rise. As a Sacramento area Muslim parent with five children still in local public schools, the report only confirmed what our family already knew and what our kids have experienced, each in their way, for quite some time.  In 2003, when my oldest daughter Wadia graduated from Grant High School in Del Paso Heights, she was the only graduate crossing the stage wearing hijab. They told me she was the first in Grant history.  In 2015, when my daughter Aneesa graduated from Rio Linda High School, she too was the only one who crossed the stage wearing hijab.

I have six daughters who’ve attended Sacramento public schools and all six of them were the only ones in their schools who openly identified their faith by wearing the Muslim headscarf, hijab. All of them endured the pressure, the name calling, the stares, and the disparaging comments that sometimes accompany bigotry and religious bias.  When my daughter Aaliyah played softball on the Rio Linda Bobby Sox softball team, she was the first young Muslim woman to wear her hijab while starting as a pitcher.  She got stares  too but she, like the rest of my daughters, always carried their Muslim identity with dignity. My daughter Aaliyah persevered and became one of the beloved members of her softball team, and successfully served as secretary for her 8th grade class at Rio Linda Preparatory Academy. My oldest daughter Wadia became a very popular senior at Grant High School and walked across the stage as the only hijabi amid the cheers, and accolades of her class-mates. My daughter Aneesa is now a student at American River College. My daughter Huda who years ago was the first Muslim girl allowed to wear a hijab at Hiram Johnson Junior High school as part of her basketball uniform, is now a college graduate.

I still have three daughters and two sons attending Sacramento public schools this school year. All my girls proudly wear their hijab. Because my children are as I am, African American, they have faced occasional bouts of racial prejudice as well. We deal with prejudice of all kinds as a family. As parents, my wife and I listen to our kids, support them, and have even had occasions where we’ve spoken to school officials who have always been open minded and helpful.

We raise our children to be proud of who they are, to stand by their faith choices, and to know that there is a long way to go in ending bigotry and misunderstanding of Muslims.  We don’t tell them to get used to it, but we do teach them how to effectively deal with it, and learn from it.  We know that even though we or someone else can intervene on their behalf, they must go back to those same schools and face the same occasional hate and bigotry as individuals. I am so proud of my girls and my boys, for the graceful way that they have handled bigotry and anti-Islamic sentiment throughout their young lives.

Children, like adults, can be very cruel at times, and advocacy groups like CAIR and NAACP do a lot to help educate the public about discrimination and bias against Muslims, Blacks and others. Still, most incidents go unreported. As the Imam of a local mosque for twenty years, I have heard dozens of stories about racism, anti-Muslim sentiment, and misunderstandings about Muslims. I believe that we need to do everything we can as parents to teach our children and young adults how to mitigate hatred and bias using kind words, education, and just being proud of who they are. While we are waiting for society to change, there are things that we can perhaps change in how our children react to prejudice and bigotry.

Our precious children will one day be adults, and they will inherit a polarized, fractious world.  I know that my wife and I as parents will always be there for them, but we realize that they will face these challenges alone most of the time. We have confidence that they can survive bigotry, hate, racism, and bias by holding fast to the principles of patience, steadfastness, and perseverance; values that Islam teaches.

As a father, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect my children from harm, but I know I can’t follow them around and stand guard.  It is important that we teach our children that there are more good people in our schools and in our country than there are bigots.  we need to teach them to be vigilant and aware but to not give in to fear, and to put their trust in Allah. As we empower them to stand up against bigotry, let’s make sure we give them hope for the future.  There is still a long way to go before we all are treated with dignity, but I believe that as a nation, and as a people, there is still hope. And Allah knows best.

Imam Luqman Ahmad (Abu)

Imam Luqman Ahmad is a writer, public speaker, consultant, and President and CEO of Mosque Without Borders. He is also the Imam of a Northern California Masjid and the author of the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect”, a book about Muslim radicalization and theological extremism in Islam, available on Contact him at Read his blog at



Combatting Domestic Muslim Sectarianism by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

So just what is Muslim sectarianism, and what is the view of sectarianism according to the sharia? What do Muslims need to know and understand about sectarianism, especially Muslims living in the United States? Muslim sectarianism is a complicated notion with complicated consequences. So for starters, know that there is no one single brand or type of Muslim sectarianism.

What is sectarianism?

Muslim sectarianism has many forms, many categories, numerous tentacles and many manifestations. Some extremely harmful, and some not as harmful. It reveals itself in varying ways according to time, place, people and sub-ideology. Some Muslim sects are relatively new and some are hundreds of years old. Some sects are built around individuals and some are built around ideas or supplemental philosophies. Some are hyper cultish with elaborate rituals and liturgical nuance, and some are very simple. Some sects require initiation, some don’t. Some sects are descriptive but not necessarily sectarian and some sects are sectarian at their core but vague in their description. Some are both. Some sects are regional and some are international. Some are all over the place and change with the changing of the times. So let’s first take a look at the meaning of the word.

  • Sect: According to the New Shorter Oxford Dictionary; A body or group of people subscribing to views that are divergent from other people of the same religion.
  • Sectary: a person who is zealous in the cause of his sect.
  • Sectarian: According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th, sectarian (adj.) characteristic of a sect. Also, having limited character or scope. (n.) adherent of a sect., narrow, bigoted.
  • Sectarianize: is to make sectarian
  • According to Wikipedia, sectarianism is: a form of bigotry, discrimination, or hatred arising from attaching relations of inferiority and superiority to differences between subdivisions within a group. Common examples are denominations of a religion, ethnic identity, class, or region for citizens of a state and factions of a political movement.

That’s on the English side. However, we need to look at the Arabic side of the meaning of sectarianism because our primary scriptures are in Arabic, and the foundations of codified traditional knowledge in Islam are in Arabic. Thus, In the Arabic language, there are several words and phrases in the Quran that are used to denote sectarianism; for example; hizb (حزب), as in the verse:

وَإِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاتَّقُونِ فَتَقَطَّعُوا أَمْرَهُم بَيْنَهُمْ زُبُرًا ۖ كُلُّ حِزْبٍ بِمَا لَدَيْهِمْ فَرِحُونَ

“And surely this your religion is one religion and I am your Lord, therefore be careful (of your duty) to Me. But they cut off their religion among themselves into sects, each part (hizbin)rejoicing in that which is with them.” (Quran, 23:52-53)

Hizb however, could also simply mean a group of people; as in the verse:

وَلَمَّا رَأَى الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْأَحْزَابَ قَالُوا هَٰذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَدَقَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ۚ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا

“And when the true believers saw the clans (ah’zaab), (confederate forces) they said: This is that which Allah and His messenger promised us. Allah and His messenger are true. It did but confirm them in their faith and resignation.” (Quran, 33:22)

In modern-day parlance, some groups use the word hizbee as a pejorative term meaning someone who is a sectarianist, or a party loyalist as in political party, or a specific Muslim group, representative of a specific ideology.

Another word used to describe sect in the Quran is shi’ite. I’m not talking about Shiite Muslims here, I’m talking about the word shi’ite, as in the verse:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُوا دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُوا شِيَعًا لَّسْتَ مِنْهُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ ۚ إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُمْ إِلَى اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ

“Surely they who divided their religion into parts and became sects (shiya’an), you have no concern with them; their affair is only with Allah, then He will inform them of what they did.” (Quran, 6:159)

The above aforementioned verse is not referring to any particular sect; it’s talking about breaking into sects and sectarianism in general. However, this conversation is not about semantics, and every Muslim sect can present their arguments why they are not a sect, why they are not sectarian or why they are the saved sect, or the best sect of all.

Allah forbid the Prophet ﷺ from supporting sectarianism in our religion, and the Prophet forbade the people from arguing about doctrine.  The Prophet ﷺ said, “No people ever went astray, after they were guided, except that they were overcome by arguing”.[1]

The general rule of Islam with regards to sectarianism is to avoid it:

“وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ “

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.” (Quran 3:103).

The purpose of Mosque Without Borders is not to debunk or analyze the ideology of every orthodox or heterodox sect of Islam but to empower and teach those Muslims who don’t want to belong to any sect, and who prefer not to practice a sectarian styled Islam, in ideology, or in spirit.  This is not about semantics, or polemical acrobatics. This is about the lives of real Muslims who are concerned with living their religion and not arguing with each other about it. This is about sectarianism and the negative impact it has on the lives of Muslims.

The Prophet’s ﷺ view on sectarianism and it’s by products

The Prophet ﷺ outlined many of the principles of non-sectarianism throughout his life as well as during his farewell sermon when he said; “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab nor for a non-Arab over an Arab except by piety”.[2] He ﷺ further elucidated the foundation for actionable non-sectarianism when he said: “verily your blood, your wealth, and your honor is sacred, like the sacredness of this day, of this month, and of the place”.[3] He cemented his disdain for sectarian practices when he said: “do not return after I’m gone to being like unbelievers, some of you striking the necks (fighting) of others”.[4]

Sectarianism also has to do with abandoning the principles of islamic brotherhood, disregarding the idea of racial equality, and lack of respect for the sanctity of life, honor and wealth as outlined by the Prophet ﷺ in his farewell sermon. Perhaps the most obvious and widespread manifestation of sectarianism is racism, but it is not the only manifestation of it.

no to sectarianismMuslim sectarianism has been around ever since shortly after the death of the Prophet ﷺ. The Prophet warned us against it, the Quran warns us against it, and the Muslim world has suffered by it in the worse ways. The first social issue relating to sectarianism addressed by the Prophet ﷺ was racism. He addressed it by freeing slaves and elevating the status of the ex-slave to that of an already free non-slave Arab. He reiterated this principle thought out his tenure as a prophet of God. Even at the end of his life, he appointed Osama ibn Zayd as general of the Muslim army who included Umar and Abu Bakr and Osama was barely eighteen years old.

Sectarianism brings out the very worst in the Ummah, from the wars between the companions of the Prophet ﷺ, to the massacre of Muslims by other Muslims in so many countries, to the fratricidal warfare between Muslim groups throughout the ages, and even what we see today in many Muslim countries and now in the United States and elsewhere. Different groups calling the other unbelievers, mosques being bombed. Violent extremism, petty mosque politics, racism within the ummah in many Muslim countries and even her in the unites states. It can all be traced back to racism, sectarianism and the notion of the other.

Muslim sectarianism in the modern sense;

There are many faces of Muslim sectarianism. Sectarianism in the modern sense is the belief that your particular sect represents the whole of Islam, or that the addendums of faith, belief, and practice, representative of your sect, embodies the whole of Islam or the entirety of the message of Allah and His Prophet ﷺ whereas someone not subscribing to your additions, is considered less of a Muslim or even not a Muslim.

For example, if you believe that the sheikh of your sect is the only one that possesses true guidance of Islam and that believing in him and following him is necessary to obtain salvation, then you are sectarianized. If you believe that you must call yourself by the name of your sect, or a group in order to be rightly guided, then you have been sectarianized. If you believe that your brand of Islam is the only true brand of Islam in exclusion to all other brands of Islam, then you are sectarianized. If you cannot pray behind this or that person because they do not ascribe to your sect, then you are sectarianized.

Example of some types of sectarianism are people who ascribe to the terms, Salafi, Ahlul hadith, and Atharaee, Tijaani, Qaadiri, Naqshabandi, and Ikhwaani, just to name a few; if you consider calling yourself by these names as a religious obligation and that those who don’t ascribe to these names are less of a Muslim than you, or that you are a better Muslim than they, simply because of the sectarian title, then this is sectarianism. If you as an adherent of a particular sect, believe that only people of that sect are rightly guided, then that is sectarianism. If you are a member of a Muslim ideological group and believe that your group represents the totality of Islam in exclusion of other groups than you are a sectarianist. If because of group or sub-ideological differences, you declare the other to be an unbeliever your calling yourself. One of the hallmarks of sectarianism is to direct anything ranging from simple disdain or hostility, or the grand charge of heresy towards the other group that is different from your sect.

Combating Sectarianism:

Granted, combatting Muslim sectarianism is no simple proposition. Some people have already crossed the line and need to be un-sectarianized. Sectarianism is taught, and it can be un-taught. There is a sectarian mindset, and there is an unsectarian mindset. It’s a monumental problem for converts because Muslim converts come into Islam pure of faith and are then taught sectarianism as they come along. Another problem is the colonial mental hold that the intellectual molestation that occurs through the multiplicity of different spheres of influence and teaching methodology thrust upon convert Muslims. I break it down in my book Double Edged Slavery. This stuff didn’t happen overnight and it was very methodical, which on the one hand makes it a multi-layered problem but on the other hand makes it easy to trace how we got to this point, especially if you understand Muslim history. It is possible for a person to back his or her way out of sectarianism; it’s called deprogramming.

De-programming is not for everybody, but there are a lot of Muslims who do not want to be a part of a sect, there are a lot who do not want to be racist, and there are many who do not want to be an extremist in their religion, and who do not want to be jumping from one sub-ideology of Islam to another, and who do not want, groupie- type Islam, following someone who doesn’t have clue who you are. Problem is, not many Imams, or teachers are equipped to deal with this issue. Many Imams have no training whatsoever in the classical sciences of Islam which is problem also because you end up making stuff up, making up ideology, and jumping on ideological bandwagons with little or no training. That doesn’t help much either.

There is no one way to combat sectarianism since sectarianism and people who practice it or believe in it differ from time to time and from place to place. Fighting sectarianism is not so much as deconstructing every Muslim sect and polemicizing ideological arguments against it. It has more to do with promoting unity in spite of sectarianism and giving Muslims a clear choice on how not be stuck in a sectarian modality whereas you believe your sect offers the only path, or the best path to salvation. Unity is not for everyone; it’s for the people who want to be unified.

This is about the disruption of lives, the breaking of the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood, about fratricide, incessant debates about micro-doctrine, splitting of communities, arguing, fighting, fitnah in our masaajid. There has to be a better path for people who want to escape the boundaries, the hubris, and the sometimes insanity of Muslim sectarianism.

I believe that there are Muslims out there who don’t want to sectarianize, who believe in what Allah says in the Quran, who believe in the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and what was reported from him according to authentic sources and believe that they will someday meet Allah, and want to meet Him as a Muslim, and not as an adherent of any sub-sect of Islam. That is their choice and people should be made aware that there is such a choice.

Changing the sectarian narrative

The United States of America is a new frontier for Muslims. Most organized Muslim communities are less then 40 years old. There is still time to address Muslim sectarianism in our country in a sane, healthy, and rational way.  We have to create Muslim communities that are equally open to everyone; White, Black, Latino, Arab, Pakistani, Indian, Asian, African, low income, high income, educated and undereducated. This is the legacy of the Prophet of Islam ﷺ. This is the picture of non-sectarian Islam, and this is the conversation that we must have. In my 50 years of observing the trajectory of Islam amongst Black American Muslims and coverts, micro-sectarianism has never worked for us, and I doubt if it ever will.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is a writer, consultant, and Associate Imam and resident scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo Ohio. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), 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 is also author of the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect“. The Imam blogs at, and can be reached at

[1] Collected by Abu Eesa at-Tirmidhi.

[2] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[3] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[4] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

Malik Ambar; an extraordinary convert to Islam, by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Malik Anbar and his master Chengiz Khan

Little is known by Muslims about the millions of East African slaves bought to India between the 10th and the 18th century who lived in and help build and maintain Muslim dynasties in what we know to be modern day India and Pakistan. Many of them converted to Islam and their descendants still live in many parts of India today. One of the most famous of them was Malik Anbar. He was born in 1549 or 1550 in Harar Abyssinia. His parents named him Shambu but because of poverty, they like many other parents during those times, sold him into slavery in the Red Sea port of Mocha, which is in modern day Yemen. Later he was transported to the Baghdad slave market where he was purchased by Mir Qasim al-Baghdadi who treated him like a son, taught him Arabic, finance, and public administration, and eventually sent him to the Deccan Sultanate of India to serve as the slave of Chingiz Khan or Malik Dabir. Chengiz Khan just happened to the Regent Minister of the Sultan of Nizam Shahi Dynasty which was part of the Ahmadnagar Sultnate. Chingiz Khan also happened to be a black Ethiopian who had converted to Islam. He treated Anbar, who had converted to Islam by then, like his own son, even though he was his slave.

Ambar served as a slave with distinction under Chingiz Khan for 20 years. During this period, Ambar took on various duties in the Nizam’s court where he witnessed and learned military strategy, political organization, and diplomacy; essential training that would serve him later as a free man. When Chingiz Khan died in 1594, Malik Anbar’s days as a slave were over. Being no longer a slave, he left the employ of the Sultan to seek his own path. He ended up gathering a mercenary army that consisted at first of about 150 Arab immigrants, but grew to an army of thousands who were ferociously loyal of him. His command of such a large force of mercenaries earned him the title of Malik (king)  Anbar.

The greatest regional power at the time was the Mughal empire. By the year 1600 Malik Anbar was a major figure in the resistance movement against Moghul expansion of their empire into the Deccan (in modern day Pakistan). His mastery in guerilla warfare techniques prevented the Mughals from capturing the southern half of India, he repeated fought back their invasion and the empire’s rulers called him the “rebel of black fortune.” By 1620, Malik Anbar commanded an army of 50,000 soldier mercenaries. About 10,000 of them were black ‘habashis’ Ethiopians. He was considered a political and military genius who effectively took control of the Sultanate of his time. He lived to be 80 years old and is hailed as a hero across the Deccan. Till this day Malik Anbar remains one of the best-known African Muslims on the Indian subcontinent. He died on the 18th of Sha’baan in the year 1035 of the Hijra. His tomb still stands in the city of Khuldabad in modern day Pakistan.

The Gujarat coastline is also home to significant numbers of Siddi, otherwise known as Zanji or Habshi, descendants of Africans. Some are Royal Habashis who are descendants of ex-slaves from Africa who intermarried with Indian aristocracy.  Hundreds of years ago such Africans living in communities on the west coast of India were called Sidis, (higher class) and those living in the interior were called Habshi. Today, the terms refer generally to Indians of African descent and are used interchangeably.

Sidi Haidar Khan
Sidi Mohammed Haider Khan, 1930.

Note: The bulk of the Muslim world had huge numbers of slaves from mainly east Africa who helped build cities, work the land, served in armies and governments, and took care of households. From Yemen, to Oman, to India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Libya and other places, there are black Muslims today who, similar to African Americans are descendants of slaves and who are at the bottom of their societies. I know that this is part of Muslim history that we are encouraged to forget about but believe it or not, these histories have a great impact on our current situation as Muslims living in the United States. And that’s how it happened folks. Our history has lessons for all of us.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad a graduate of Omdurman Islamic University, is the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, and Imam of 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 is also author of the book: “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafi Sect“. The Imam blogs at,, and can be reached at

Dimantling the Culture of Muslim Sectarianism, by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

This article was originally written about in 2004 for Q-News. I’ve made minor changes in this version. Here we are in 2017, and sectarianism is worse than ever. Things will not change, until we change. To read the original, go to;

The Lotus Tree Blog

By Imam Luqman Ahmad

In Afghanistan it’s dreadful enough that the U.S. military machine has blown the country to smithereens, now obvious obstacles to rebuilding has been augmented by the violently competitive warlords, fighting each other for power. In Iraq, intermittent violence between Sunnis and Shiites boils like a volcanic crescendo waiting to erupt should the American forces ever decide to leave. In Kurdistan another powder keg is slowly igniting between the Kurds, the Arabs and the Turkmen.

In Tajikistan after the recent fall of the Russian empire, the country capitulated into a vicious civil war. Tens of thousands of Muslims were killed and close to a million were displaced in a conflict that although ostensibly was between fundamentalist Muslims against Marxist Muslims, was really about clan rivalry and ethno-nationalism. Whether it is civil strife in Uzbekistan, sectarian violence in Somalia, Wahhaabi-Shi’ite, or Tuareg darker-skinned Muslim clashes in Mali, or…

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THE TALE OF TWO CITIES:  Portland and Philadelphia on ‘Memorial Day’ One Sister’s Story during Ramadan,by Umm K. Rashad Bey

Ramadan is the month of Quran, the month of mercy, and the month of reflection. This is one sister’s story of a troubling incident that occured during this month of Ramadan. There are hundreds of stories like these. It underscores that we need to do better in the way that we treat our women folk. – Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

By Umm K

Yesterday, there played a story in the TV news media- where a ‘colored’ teen, with a baseball hat and hair stuffed under it- some hanging out- tearfully spoke about the men who were stabbed to death for standing up for herself and a friend.  I later learned that she was not necessarily Muslim, but accompanied her friend that was Muslim and wore a headscarf (veil) and were riding on public transportation when the horrible incident occurred.  The murdered men were not Muslims but can they be considered Martyrs, non-the-less???  Or would they be considered like Ansars– or helpers or friends of the Muslims?

Also last night, I traveled to a masjid in Northeast Philadelphia.  My heart was set on attending iftar and prayers in North Philadelphia, at Masjid Mekka, but because of where I was traveling from and the time of the evening- I went to a closer mosque.  I saw a big tent set up- so I figured that they had items with which to breakfast.

The women’s area had been changed since I had last visited, and when I asked a man, he took me around to the basement entrance – an area that was not handicapped accessible, but had been nicely remodeled.  There was only water available, which is fine for iftar– but I discussed with some of the sisters there- whatever the men have, we should have the same.  Eventually, some young sisters came with a plate of dates and we all broke fast and offered Maghrib.

Another of the young sisters asked if there would be food for dinner.  I went up and out and got in my car to go home.  I saw a man unloading a van of food under the tent.   So I parked my car and saw about 6 females sitting in the dark on a concrete step, while the men lined up under the lighted tent and sat comfortably at tables and chairs with additional carpets.  A boy shuffled the women away with “bisquits” (from Popeyes) as instructed by the man who provided the food.  Meanwhile, the men had steak sandwiches, rice and peas, pizza and chicken, teas and drinks.  So I stood at the tent and asked the boy to keep asking for food for the women.  Eventually, after he told me that the food was for the men only, to which I responded ‘astaqfirullah’ we were brought pizza and then I told him just put some of everything that they had on a tray and we would all share together.  The boy, through his cooperative assistance, and repeated urging, was successful in getting this concession.  I later learned that the helpful boy was the son of the oldest female sitting outside the tent.

Which is the better behavior?  To give your life for females who are not in your faith practice- or to refuse to feed females who are in your faith practice?

Umm K. Rashad

Umm K. Rashad Bey is a licensed professional counselor, and a very active Muslimah who resides in the Philadelphia area.


How American Muslim Converts/Reverts Are Affected by Muslim Sectarianism, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

No-sectarianismGlobally, Muslim sectarianism affects almost all Muslims in one way or another. Many Muslim groups would not thrive as a sect or be able to keep their adherents in check without having a sub-ideological focus, or without being in opposition to another Muslim group. The modem day Salafist phenomena in the United States is just one example of that. At their height, they would ascribe medieval, and early islamic sectarian labels to other Muslims and then proceed to demonize them. They would attach the title Mu’tazilite, Raa’fidee, Juhamee, and Khawaarij to everyday converts who have never even heard of such titles and groups, and of course to many of them; to be a true Salafi, you must call yourself a Salafi.

This methodology is not only a characteristic of some modern day Salafists, it’s typical of many islamic groups who came to the country already sectarianized. Sectarianism works better in a small village somewhere where everybody is of the same tribe, or believes the same, thinks the same, and has the exact same values for generations. However, in Muslim America, sectarian Islam creates an entirely different dynamic. Especially for the convert or revert to Islam. It means a march towards near total fragmentation.

Sometimes converts/reverts come across one or another of these sectarianized versions of Islam and don’t even realize what hit them until much later when they try to raise their children on the sect’s sub-ideology or on veneration of the sect’s founder or leader, or until they go and try to integrate with another group of Muslims and then they discover that one group hates the other. This can be a pretty mind blowing, faith shaking discovery for someone who just recently entered into the religion of Islam. Which is why those who stay in Islam for a long time and survive the twist and turns of sectarianism become so strong in their faith and grasp on tawheed. When confusion sets in, believers tend to resort to the foundation of Islam; laa ilaaha illa Allah Muhammad Rasoolu Allah.

It’s not that sectarianists are trying to mess with your head, for many, sectarianism is the only Islam that they know and understand. The simple Islam of the Prophet ﷺ for many sectarianists is a betrayal of their sect’s sub-constitution. But it is the simple Islam of the Prophet which attracts converts to Islam in the first place, which is why sectarianism is not compatible with the convert. It ruins faith more than it enhances it.

When people convert to Islam, they are completely vulnerable. The nature of true conversion is that sins are forgiven, faith is untainted, and previously held ideology is discarded wholesale.

Converts Muslims come into the religion without belonging to, or yearning to belong to any particular sect; they come in on pure tawheed without sectarian alignment and simply want to belong to the Muslims. They are natural marks for sectarianists and easy targets of post conversion proselytizing because they are trusting, they are open and they, in many cases, are very naïve to the nuances of Muslim sectarianism and in fighting. It’s like; okay, now that you are a Muslim, what kind of Islam do you want? Even worse, some people are presented with the notion that they really aren’t a true Muslim until they join this or that sect, or initiate into this or that tariqa, or follow this or that sheikh. People are in essence, taking two shahadas; the shahaadah of Islam, and then, the shahaadah of the sectarian group.

Extreme Salafism has had its heyday amongst American Muslim converts, but it is waning. There are more ex-Salafis now than there are Salafis. A lot of Muslims have discovered that you can follow the ways of the Salaf [righteous predecessors] without having to call yourself a Salafi. That realization for many, was an eye opener of cathartic proportion. These days, Sufism is the hot craze amongst many indigenous American Muslims. This is not a condemnation of Sufism as a discipline within the legitimate islamic practice. It’s just an honest assessment of where we are in Muslim America.

People are using their Sufi affiliation and titles like gang signs. Many of the more popular Sufi tariqas maintain that if you leave the order, or disengage from the sheikh, then you have left true Islam, and will fall into disfavor with Allah. That’s a pretty hefty psychological burden to lay on an unsuspecting, impressionable, recent convert to Islam. Even more so if the sheikh lives thousands of miles away and you’ve never even met him face to face. Ironically, many Muslims are discovering that you can embrace and practice Islamic spirituality according to what the Prophet ﷺ practiced and taught, without having to call yourself a Sufi and without being a so called Sufi.

Converts come into the religion believing in tawheed, Muslim unity, and in the simplicity of Islam, and are then betrayed on so many levels. Sometimes, they are literally chased away from Islam by racism, marginalization, or by the pressure to give up their critical reasoning, their common sense, and their identity. Other times it is the sheer confusion and perplexity of sectarianism that leaves their heads spinning. There are many Muslims who convert to Islam, and gradually understand and practice the faith, get married, perhaps, have children and produce healthy Muslim families that continue into the next generation. However, that’s not the way it is for many converts during these times we live in today.

Many new Muslim converts in America these days are a one shot, single generation deal. They convert to Islam but it doesn’t really spread to their children or next generation. The average convert today is simply subject to too many fluctuations, and quirky influences in his or her faith and ideology in the name of Islam to keep up.

It’s interesting to note that most American Muslim converts to Islam already believed in god before they converted to Islam. In fact, most of them believed in one god. For these new Muslims, Islam only confirms and gives deeper meaning and definition to what they already believed before they converted to Islam. Which in part, is what lead them to Islam in the first place. Many converts to Islam where already honoring their parents, being kind to their neighbors, keeping family ties, giving charity with their hard earned money and were already truthful and honest before they ever knew about Islam.

There is nothing purer for the one that Allah Himself guides to Islam than the Islam that was practiced and taught by the Prophet ﷺ. Sectarianism for the Muslim convert is a demotion of faith, not a promotion of faith. It is imperative for converts to Islam to understand it’s damaging effects and to extricate themselves from the cyclical morass and confusion of modern Muslim sectarianism. In my humble opinion, there is no better Islam for them, than the original version, without supplemental editing or ideological appendixes. I believe and will in sha Allah, continue believe that Islam is best practiced when it is independent of sectarianism. Which is why Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala said; “Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving Clear Signs: For them is a dreadful penalty“. (Quran 5:105)

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

[Taken from the up coming book; ‘The Dilemma of the American Muslim Convert’ by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad]. American born Luqman Ahmad is the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, and Imam of 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 is also author of the book: “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafi Sect“. The Imam blogs at,, and can be reached at

Who and what are the Salaf, and who are the modern-day Salafis? by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

salafi-1It is difficult to define just who exactly is a Salafi. The word Salafi, [from the Arabic word Salaf, is a relative noun [ism nisbee]. According to the Arabic dictionary, al-Bahr al-Muhit, a Salafi is someone who ascribes one’s self to the Salaf.  And by Salaf, it’s meant the first three generations of Muslims starting with the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) , then the following generation of Muslims (the Taabi’een), and then the generation after them, (the Taabi’ Taabi’een).

The period of the Salaf (the first three generations) is not a madhhab of fiqh or a singular madhhab of aqeeda. It is a period of time with many variances and scholarly nuances within the scope of what people refer to as “traditional knowledge”. There is no one ‘Salaf” school of thought when it comes to Islamic law. Lol. The Salaf period comprises over 257 years of history from the first year of the hijrah, to the death of the last of the taabbi taabi’een (the generation after the generation after the companions of the Prophet (SAWS). You can even add the previous 13 years in Mecca, but most scholars don’t for historical recording purposes.

The last of the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) to die was Abu Tufail Aamir ibn Waathila al-Laithee who died in Mecca in the year 110 of the hijrah. He was 107 years old. The last of the taabi’een to die was Khalf ibn Khaleefa who grew up in Kufa and died in Baghdad in the year 181 of the hijra, he was over 100 years old, The last of the generation after the taabi’een (the third generation) to die was al-Hasan ibn Ar’fah who was from Baghdad. He died in the year 257 of the hijra, he was the last person to narrate from Khalf ibn Khaleefa, he was about 110 years old.

The Muslims and scholars of these three generations did not call themselves Salafis. None of them did. Infact, you’d be hard pressed to find any traditional scholars of Islam who lived more than a century ago who called himself a Salafi. Abdul-Rahmaan ibn Abdullah as-Salafi is cited by al-Fairuzaa’baadi as an example of a Salafi. Imam Adh-Dhahabi used the term Salafi in a descriptive sense when he said, “bal yakoona salafiyyan” [no, he should be Salafi]. However, the modern definition of a Salafi is inexplicit and Saafi was ever used as a pre-fix to someone’s name or an appellation, or attribute until very recently.  Historically there was no such thing as “Salafi scholars”.

A Salafi in the general sense

In a general sense, a Salafi is someone who claims that he or she follows the way of the Salaf as-Saalih. He attributes and ascribes to them by using the term “Salafi” or “Salafiyyah’ which supposedly indicates that he is following their way in understanding religious matters. By religious matters we mean creed and ideology, jurisprudence, understanding of the Quranic verses, character, virtue, etc.
In such a rendering we can define the person who claims to follow the Quran as a Qurani, or the one who claims to follow the Prophet (SAWS) as a Muhammadi. Of course, these are unacceptable terms, not used by Muslims. However, were we to use the line of reasoning employed by the modern-day Salafis, such terms become plausible.

Traditional scholars of Islam did not use the term “Salafi” as a label; they did not go around saying, “I am a Salafi”. They did not name their schools madrasa Salafiyyah or claim to follow or propagate da’wah Salafiyyah. The well-known scholar of Azhar, Shiekh Abu Zahara [d. 1974] says in his book, Taarikh al-Madhahibi’l Islamiyya, that some people who dissented from the Hanbali Madhhab named themselves Salafiyyin [Salafis]. However, Abu Faraj ibn Jawzi [d. 506/1114] stopped their mischief from spreading by proclaiming them people of bid’ah.

The scholars of Ahlus Sunna wa Jamaat do ascribe themselves to the way of the Salaf. However, they used to reference the Salaf by saying things like, “this was agreed upon by the Salaf” or “this did not exist among the Salaf” or “the way of the Salaf is better”. Some would even refer to the madhhab of the Salaf. However, this was mostly done when discussing issues of creed and it was almost exclusively used in reference to things that the Salaf agreed upon. Otherwise, scholars would say, “some of the Salaf used to do so and so” or some of the Salaf used to say so and so”.

Some contemporary Salafi scholars have attempted to establish definitions for a Salafi such as “a true Salafi is one who values Tawheed and fights against shirk” or “a true Salafi is one who is not of the Khawaarij, and not of the Mu’tazila”, etc. However, these definitions and those like them can also apply to a true Muslim. As ibn Taymiyyah says,

“There is no fault upon the one who exhibits the way of the Salaf, ascribes himself to it, and refers to it. In fact, that should be accepted from him by agreement [of the scholars], because the way of the Salaf is only the truth. If he is in conformity with it outwardly and inwardly, then he is in the same category as a believer [Mu’min] who is upon the truth outwardly and inwardly. If he is in conformity with it outwardly and not inwardly, then he is a hypocrite [munaafiq]. We accept his outward appearance and leave his secret condition to Allah”[1].

Some of modern-day salafis say, “a true Salafi is one who adheres to the methodology of the Salaf in understanding the Quran and the Sunna.” This definition however, also applies to a true, sincere Muslim; it even applies to someone who adheres to a traditional school of jurisprudence such as a Shaafi’ee, a Maaliki, a Hanbali, or a Hanafi. Since the Muslim scholars unanimously recognize these four Imams and the schools of thought established by them as representing a sound and accurate interpretation of Islam, following any one of them would be essentially following the true path.
Thus, defining just who is a Salafi in an authoritative, conclusive way is an elusive undertaking. May Allah give us tawfeeq (success).

A Salafi in the specific sense

One problem encountered in describing a Salafi is the sheer novelty of the term. The scholars of the khalaf (latter-day scholars), who followed the way of the Salaf, such as the four Imams and those who came after them, did not go around saying I am a Salafi. They did not attach the ascription “Salafi” to their names, their publications, their schools etc. They would simply say, “I am a Muslim and I follow the way of the Salaf ‘as-Saalih. Thus, a “Salafi” as a separate sect is a contemporary conception. Defining who is a Salafi is not just a matter of determining what they say, but what they do. One must consider not whom they say they follow, but whom do they actually follow?

Describing a Salafi is not like describing a Muslim. One can easily look at the Quran and the rigorously authenticated traditions of the Prophet (SAWS) and find plenty of definitions for a Muslim. “If you have believed in Allah, then it is upon Him you depend if you are Muslims”. [10:84 Yunus] Here Allah says that Muslims are the ones who believe in Allah and depend upon Him. He does not say that a Salafi who believes in Him and depends upon Him! “And who is better in speech than the one who invites to Allah, does righteous deeds, and says I am of the Muslims”. [41:33 Fussilat] Here Allah says that a Muslim is one who invites to Allah and performs righteous deeds. This is the best of speech. He does not say that a Salafi does this.

The Prophet (SAWS) describes the Muslim in the hadith, “The Muslim is one who the Muslims are safe from his hand and his tongue”[2]. In another tradition, the Prophet (SAWS) describes a Muslim as, “A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. He should not wrong him nor surrender him to his enemy”.[3]

Likewise, the sacred texts describe in detail what is incumbent upon the believers with respect to belief, worship, character, law, action, social intercourse, and other things. If the verses in the Quran, and hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) regarding the Muslim were taken together, we would see conclusively in sha Allah, what the description of a Muslim or a Mu’min (believer) is. However, there is no mention in the sacred texts of what is required upon the Salafi, or what the Salafi believes, or who is a Salafi.

The Prophet (SAWS) never foretold of a people who would call themselves ‘Salafi’, hence, the descriptions of the modern day Salafi are all ijtihaadi [deductively] based, and not nassi [textually[4] based. Nass or nusoos [plural] are revealed and associated text of hadith. Ijtihaad on the other hand is the result of human deduction. The two cannot be intelligently equated. All the scholars of Ahlus Sunna wa Jamaat agree that an ijtihaad, particularly that of a latter day scholar, is subject to error. They also agree that ijtihaad which contradicts established texts from the Quran and the authentic Sunna, are frivolous at best and heretical at worst. This fact alone unmasks the true alien nature of the term Salafi, notwithstanding the obvious impossibility of determining a conclusive description for them. However in sha Allah, we shall attempt to delineate the current variety of so-called salafis.

The view of the Salafis by the general public

A perception has emerged amongst the general Muslims population that the salafis are a troublesome bunch. On the east coast of the United States, many of them are regarded as hoodlums. That is because they will accost you in the masjid because your pant leg is not rolled up high enough and then they’ll curse you out in the street because they think you didn’t give them the correct change for their sandwich! I am not saying that these perceptions are true to life. However, in recent years, based upon their interaction with them, Muslims in the United States and other parts of the world have solidified a perception of them as cold, arrogant, rude and prone to hasty interpretation. Many view them as extremely comfortable with chaos and controversy.
For some, the Salafis are those brothers who wear their pants up to their shins. For others, the Salafis are the ones who love to argue and call everybody deviants. Others regard the Salafis as those calling for a return to purity of Islam, but feel they are not quite ready for the rigors of modern hard core Salafi life. For some, the Salafis are the only true Muslims. For others, the Salafis are themselves deviant. Some people view them as a sect, a cult or simple another madhhab. Others regard them as neither of the three.

To some, the Salafis are an annoying thorn in their side. They are especially bothersome to some of the modernists, who try to carve out a modern version of Islam, congruent to the ideas of new pluralism and secular humanism. To adherents of traditional Islamic knowledge and methodology, the Salafis are considered perhaps well intentioned but grossly unscholarly and over simplistic in their approach. If you ask one hundred people concerning their opinion of a Salafi, you may get a few dozen different answers.
Since they are a new group, they are always changing and altering their views. For example, some of them used to say that you must call yourself a Salafi. Later, they modified their stance and said that it is only recommended to call yourself a Salafi. Another example is that one of them will find another hadith and then something else becomes haram or bid’ah. Then a few months later they will find yet another hadith and the ruling will change.

Since many of them reject the idea of learning from traditional chains of scholarship or adherence to any of the accepted schools of thought, they are always involved in what some of them call “progressive scholarship”. This means that while they are in the process of finding all of the hadith on an issue, they issue rulings. Then, they come back after some years or months or even the next day and change the ruling or view. There is nothing wrong with progressive scholarship; however, progressive scholarship cannot ever be considered the absolute truth, free from any error. Imam Shaafi’ee issued many rulings on issues that he later changed after he was apprised of more information. Imam Shaafi’ee was a scholar of the highest caliber. In the case of Imam Shaafi’ee, it was reported that he used to say when arriving at a disputed conclusion; “I am right, with the possibility that I am wrong, and you are wrong, with the possibility that you are right”. However; progressive scholarship when practiced by novices, and people prone to acrimonious dispute and fitna, is reckless.

It is difficult to define the Salaf as a whole. They were different. And which predecessors are we talking about? The ones in Hijaz, the ones in Basra, the ones in Kufa? The ones in Samraquind? Khorosan? Which Salaf. We’re talking about hundreds of scholars, spanning nearly two centuries. There are certainly many from amongst the Salafis who may be applying Islam in the character, temperament, and true understanding of what the Prophet (SAWS) intended. Much of what this author is referring to are the extremists of the Salafiyyah those primary targets are new Muslims. At the common level, regarding relationships amongst the average Muslims and masaajid, particularly those predominately frequented by American Muslims, the worst of the Salafiyyah is what seems to attract the most adherents. Islam as practiced by converts or reverts in the United States is mostly at the common level. As ibn Taymiyyah said,

“From that which is well-known about what occurs when people gather together upon some matter, is that any group which becomes strong and has many followers, then you will definitely find in them the pure and the impure, the justly balanced and the unbalanced, the extreme and the moderate. Moreover, a well-established fact is that the extremists are more vocal and have greater acceptance, since the ones who are justly balanced follow a middle course. And those who seek this balanced approach are few in numbers, in every age and place. As for extremism, then this is what most of the people thrive upon, and what the over-whelming majority inclines towards – and this has been the path of the various sects and religions as well. So the extremists try to monopolize their being mentioned among the people and to single in their da’wah. And they did not find any way to gain a monopoly over the people, except by extremism, which they achieve by degrading people and belittling them at every opportunity; either by their tongues, or other than that.

The first to open this door – the door of unleashing their tongues against those who oppose them – were the Khawaarij. And this is the route by which they came to the masses, through the door of takfeer (declaring a Muslim to be a disbeliever), in order that the masses would flee from other than them, so that they could secure a relationship for themselves with the masses. Then this disease was transmitted to others, such that the extreme elements of each group started unjustly declaring Muslims to be unbelievers, sinners, innovators, or deviants”. [Maj’moo’a fataawa]

Arguing about creed has early obliterated Black American Muslim communities in the United States, and now we’re dealing with the extreme anti-salafi movement. Salafis have become weary of arguing about creed. There are now more ex-salafis in America than there are salafis.  Many of the new anti-Salafi movement in the Black Muslim county, ascribe to Sufism. Not real Sufis though, they just ascribe to it.

[1] Majmoo’a a-fataawah.

[2] Collected by Muslim.

[3] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[4] Based upon the Quran and the Sunna.

[Taken from the book;The Devil’s Deception of the Modern-Day Salafi Sect’ (except for the last paragraph), by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad. American born Luqman Ahmad is a Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, and Associate Imam of Masjid al-Islam Toledo Ohio. 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 book “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the colonial condition of Black American and convert Muslims in the United States. The Imam blogs at,, and can be reached at Support @ cash app to $abulaith2

Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktoom, The Blind Companion with Keen Insight, by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

Several verses of the Quran were revealed regarding this companion of the Prophet (SAWS). Some of the scholars of tafseer say that 10 verses were revealed about him.

The Lotus Tree Blog

This is a short story about one of my favorite companions of the Prophet (SAWS). What I love about him is that despite being born blind, he showed a dedication to our faith, a desire for knowledge, and love for the Prophet (SAWS) that was so profound that Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala spoke on his personal behalf from above seven heavens in verses in the Quran. One of the things that I love about him is that he did not let his disability (blindness) prevent him from service to our faith, allegiance to our Prophet (SAWS), or from being and a true servant of Allah.

His name was Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoom. He was also known as Amru Ibn Umm Maktoom, as well as Amru Ibn Qais. His mother’s name was Aatika and her surname was Umm Maktoom which means (mother of the concealed). They called her that because she gave birth to a blind…

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A Short History of the Fast of Ramadan, by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

ramadan-comment-030This is a true account of the mercy of Allah be He Exalted and Glorified, to the believers. Fasting the month of Ramadan was prescribed in the early years after the hijra of the Prophet (SAWS) from Mecca to Medina. However, the rulings regarding fasting were not all revealed at once; there were several incremental updates from Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala that were sent down to the Prophet (SAWS) as revealed texts, and appearing in verses in the Quran.

For example, when the Prophet (SAWS) first came to Medina, they used to fast three days out of every month and they use to fast the day of Ashooraa. After that, Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala made it incumbent upon them to fast Ramadan, by revealing the verse: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint, (Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.” [2:183-184] observing the month of Ramadan became incumbent, but they had a choice; they could either fast, or they could ‘ransom’ their fast by feeding a poor person for every day instead of fasting. “For those who can do it, is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent.” [2:184] Still it was better for them to fast, by the verse; “But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him”. [2:184] Despite the choice of either fasting or feeding, fasting was deemed the better of the two options; “And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.” [2:184] In either case, it was better for them to do extra, such as feeding more than one person for each day or by fasting and feeding a person based upon the verse; “But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him” [2:184].

After that, another verse was revealed which made fasting incumbent (fard) upon everyone; “So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting”, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful. [2:185] After this verse was revealed, it was incumbent on every person who was present when Ramadan came, to fast the month except for who was sick, or traveling.  The dispensation of being able to ransom by feeding, instead of fasting, remained for the frail and the elderly, until this day. The companion of the Prophet (SAWS), Anas ibn Malik when he became a very old man, would have a big feast during Ramadan and feed thirty people at a time.

The companions of the Prophet ﷺ used to, if a man was fasting, and the time of iftaar came but he fell asleep, or prayed ishaa before he ate a meal; he wouldn’t eat for the rest of the night and continue to fast until Maghrib the next day. So one day Qais ibn Sir’ma al-Ansaari was fasting and when the time of iftaar came, he said to his wife; do you have any food? She said: no but let me go and see if I can get some for you He had been working that day, so he ended up falling asleep (while he was waiting). She finally came and when she saw him asleep, she said: ‘you missed it’.  It was reported in another narration that when his wife came to him with the food, he said to her: “I feel asleep”, she replied: “no you didn’t” and he insisted that he did. Nevertheless, he slept that night without eating anything, and the next day, when he got up in the morning, he was fasting.  By the middle of the day, he lost consciousness. This incident was mentioned to the Prophet (SAWS) and then the verse was revealed: “Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and ye are their garments. Allah knoweth what ye used to do secretly among yourselves; but He turned to you and forgave you; so now associate with them, and seek what Allah Hath ordained for you,” [2:187], when this verse was revealed,  the Muslims were extremely happy because as they understood it now, they were able to continue to eat, drink or have relationships with their wives throughout the night without restriction, whereas before, if they happened to fall asleep, or if they prayed ishaa, they wouldn’t eat afterwards until sunset the next day.

Right after that, the versed was revealed: “and eat and drink, until the white thread appear s to you distinct from the black thread; then complete your fast Till the night appears”. [2:187] However, the words; (of the dawn) were not revealed yet. So the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) updated their fasting according to what was revealed and would consider it permissible to continue to eat, drink, or have relations with their wives throughout the night until the dawn came, and many of them would tie a black and white thread around their leg.

It was reported about Sah’li ibn Sa’d, who said: the verse: “and eat and drink, until the white thread appears to you distinct from the black thread”, and the words; (from the dawn –min al-fajr) were not revealed. So when men wanted to fast, they would tie a black thread and a white thread around their leg, and continue eating in the morning, until they could distinguish one from the other. After that, Allah revealed the words: “of the dawn” and they knew then that what were meant were (the threads of night) and day. This is how Allah showed his mercy to the companions of the Prophet (SAW) and heralded in the fast of Ramadan as we know it today, step by step.

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

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,, and can be reached at

Reviving the Lost Art of Forgiveness in Islam، by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad 

FORGIVENESSBy Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad   

“Ali ibn Abi Taalib once said; “You will begin to heal when you let go of past hurts, and forgive those who have wronged you”

For many Muslims, the idea of forgiving a bigot, pardoning an aggressor, or a harsh unflattering critic, or letting a so-called Islamophobe off the hook, is much easier to conceptualize or articulate than it is to actually put into practice. Exacting revenge, seeking recompense, or holding a grudge, simply requires a dash of anger, a pinch of indignation and a tablespoonful of knee-jerk emotional reaction. Even hurt feelings are enough to spur a person to take punitive or compensatory action against another. Forgiveness, on the other hand, requires a particular measure of spiritual courage, moral fortitude, and emotional intelligence. Forgiveness requires a charitable heart.

While Islam recognizes the concept of retribution; forgiveness and forbearance have always been the higher and more magnanimous moral option. “O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave penalty. (2:178).

Without diverging into a separate discussion about criminal justice policy, I’ll just say that people who murder people need to be prosecuted and brought to justice. That being said, it stands that in the religion of Islam, it is still meritorious to forgive, even if the perpetrator is prosecuted.

However, we’re not talking about murderers here. The people who have murdered or committed violent acts against Muslims in America because of their faith need to be condemned for their actions. However, they constitute only a fractional percentage of those whom we have regarded as anti-Muslim or islamophobes. What we’re talking about are the thousands upon thousands of everyday interactions, the minor skirmishes, the contemptuous glances, the unwanted comments, the simple acts of dishonor and disrespect that are aimed at Muslims and Islam. Sometimes it’s simply a case of misunderstanding but many times there is no ambiguity at all. There are the people who make it perfectly clear that they hate you because you are a Muslim.

The moral high ground in Islam affirms that it is okay to forgive such instances of bigotry and ignorance and to continue to walk in dignity. This is the higher moral ground that the Quran speaks about; “And the servants of the Merciful; they who walk on the earth in humbleness, and when the ignorant address them, they say: Peace.” (25:63).

So what we are talking about here is attitudinal change, a paradigm shift, an increased output of good old fashioned moral fortitude. For lesser infractions such as someone calling you names, criticizing your faith or your religious group, or insulting your honor, forgiveness is a praiseworthy option. There is nothing immoral, cowardly or demeaning about forgiving someone who has wronged you; nothing at all.

The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loveth not those who do wrong”. (42:39-40).

In the ongoing back and forth of American Muslims mitigating anti-Muslim sentiment in our country, we seem to be neglecting the part of our religion that encourages forgiveness.  I’m not saying that it is easy to forgive; I’m saying that it’s good to forgive, and that forgiveness is a grossly underused option considering how prominently forgiveness ranks in our religion. It’s even okay to forgive when there is violence but that might be a bit much to ask of our community because we’re not that used to forgiving to begin with, and if we do forgive, we’re likely to make a full-fledged media event out of it.

The customary behavioral reaction in the Muslim community anti-Muslim sentiment is to fight fire with fire, to counter attack, to counter debate, polemicize, or to react to nearly every disparagement with either complaining about it, reporting it to the authorities, seeking some kind of redress or revenge, or amplifying our self-victimization. Many of our responses to bigotry are aimed more at getting people to see us as victims of injustice, intolerance, and oppression, than they are at being forgiving, patiently gracious, and magnanimous under fire.

I’m not suggesting that Muslim-Americans entirely overlook religious intolerance and bigotry directed towards them, or that we do not maintain vigilance against unwarranted verbal, institutional, political or violent attacks against Muslims. There have been enough incidents of violence directed towards people thought to be Muslim that warrants vigilance and awareness. Nor am I advocating that we abdicate common sense in assessing the public image disadvantages that we sometimes encounter as Muslim Americans.

What I am saying is that being Muslim brings with it a certain standard of moral fortitude standard to aim for that encourages us to withstand a fair amount of nuisance as we work to educate people and educate ourselves, and that it is okay to forgive sometimes; “You (believers) will certainly be tested by the loss of your property and lives and you will hear a great many grieving words from the People of the Book and the pagans. If you will have patience and piety, it will be a sign of firm determination and steadfastness (in life)”. (3:186)

It’s also important that we don’t overstate the problem of anti-Muslim sentiment, nor fail to recognize that the majority of people in this country do not show hatred and bigotry towards Muslims. Many Muslims are still learning about the United States and there are many areas of improvement in how we, as Muslim Americans handle bigotry. We are a fairly contentious and thin skinned people when it comes to criticism, bigotry, and anti-Muslim sentiment, and we can do a lot better in the way we deal with what some of us call islamophobia. Forgiveness and taking a high moral ground should not be taboo when it comes to our critics, detractors, and our shameless antagonists.

Our faith requires a higher degree of moral fortitude and spiritual maturity that would preclude us from feeling the need to counter every affront or criticism of Islam or Muslims. We should own the fact that we have within our communal body, cultural and historical predilections that make us particularly sensitive to any hint of criticism or rejection. The Muslim culture of revenge and outrage and holding grudges is legendary and make the Hatfields and McCoys look like Donald and Mickey. Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse that is.  However, we have better examples to choose from.

When the companion of the Prophet Mistah ibn Athaatha participated in the awful slander of the Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisha, at the time, his only income was the regular charity he was getting from Aisha’s wealthy father, Abu Bakr, who was a distant relative of Mistah by way of Mistah’s grandmother, Ru’haita bint Sakhar.  Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq, clearly ruffled by Mistah’s role in spreading the terrible rumors about his daughter Aisha, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ, Abu Bakr swore by Allah to never to give any more money to Mistah. It was about this matter that the verse was revealed;

Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah’s cause: let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. (24:22).

After this verse were revealed to the Prophet ﷺ, he summoned Abu Bakr and asked him; “would you like that your sins be forgiven”? Abu Bakr replied; “yes”. Then the Prophet ﷺ informed him that this verse was revealed about him. After that, Abu Bakr forgave Mistah, and swore that he would never withhold help from Mistah, ever again.

Another example is that when the Prophet ﷺ conquered the holy city of Mecca on the 20th day of Ramadan in the Julian year of 630, there were many Meccans who had fought against him in previous battles. Polytheist combatants had violently opposed the Prophet ﷺ, and persecuted, tortured and Killed many of the Prophet’s companions over the years. Many of those killed were people close to the Prophet ﷺ and people even made attempts on his life ﷺ.

The Prophet ﷺ had plenty of reasons to exact revenge on his enemies and he ﷺ could have easily done that. However, that’s not what he did once he was in power. What he did was to forgive everyone. He even paid some of them in order to sway their favor.

A young Muslim recently asked me about what should a person do when they are confronted with anti-Muslim sentiment or an islamophobic act. My response to his question was to see if he could find a way to overlook the slight and forgive them. That’s what the Prophet ﷺ used to do; he used to forgive people. Forgiveness is a much more redemptive act than revenge and holding onto anger and contempt. As Allah has mentioned; “The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.” This verse was revealed about Abu Jahl, who was a staunch enemy of the Islam and of the Prophet ﷺ.

Certainly, American Muslims should address islamophobia, although it would help significantly if we conclusively defined the word; something that has yet to be done, but that’s the topic for another discussion perhaps. However, we should deal with anti-Muslim sentiment using the tools of faith. “Those who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good”. (3:143). We should forgive at least some of the time.

When we fail to employ the full breadth of moral tools and principles in our religion when defending our faith and ourselves against bigotry, it gives the distinct impression that perhaps we really don’t understand our religion.  American Muslims are long overdue for a major metanoia in our approach to what we call islamophobia. Perhaps If we were more forgiving and showed more fortitude in the face of the bigotry that we occasionally encounter here in the United States, people who have negative views of Islam and Muslims would begin to see and perhaps understand another side of what it is to be a Muslim.  In the process, maybe we too would start to see and realize another, higher minded side of ourselves.

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, and Imam of 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,, and can be reached at





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