The Islamic Ruling on Peaceful protests and Demonstrations against Racism. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Praise is to Allah and may the salutations of Allah the Almighty be upon His Prophet. The purpose of this ruling is to provide clarity for Muslims going out in the streets and peacefully protesting or demonstrating their angst or opposition against oppression of Black people in the United States. There have been a couple of rulings they have popped up, prohibiting American Muslims from participating and or supporting these demonstrations. Additionally, I myself have discounted in a past statement or two, the effectiveness of these protests which have now gone global. Some may have mis-interpreted my statement as a ruling. On a personal level I’ve never been a street protest kind of guy. I tend not to like big crowds and parking can be a nightmare. That’s me. Nevertheless, the ruling below may shed some light on the matter for inquiring minds. Wal Allahul Musta’aan.  

Racism is a scourge upon the land. It is an abomination and anywhere it is found it is oppressive. At it’s very least it is oppressive to the soul because it supposes that one person is better than the other simply because of the color of his or her skin. Or it’s an expression or harbor thought of hatred or disdain for person simply because the color of his or her skin about which they have had no control. Skin color is determined by genetics, and by the decree of the almighty God be exalted and glorified. “It is he Who fashions you in the womb however He wishes”. 

Racism at his school core is oppression of the soul, at it’s worse is expressed by oppression against people, violence and killing a person simply because of their color. In each case it is oppression. The Islamic ruling about oppression in general is that oppression is expressly prohibited. The Islamic ruling about racial oppression is that is it even more prohibited. Anyone who believes that one person is better or more beloved of God than the other person simply because of the color of their skin, or their race is considered to be a heretic after they have been given clear evidence from our scriptures (Quran and Sunnah).  

The Islamic Ruling on peaceful demonstrations against racism: 

Peacefully demonstrating, protesting and marching against racism and racial injustice is permissible according to the scriptural and moral laws of Islam. Such acts, based up the intention of the individual, constitute a righteous deed (amal saalih).  

The proofs (daleel) for the ruling is that such protests fall into three categories:   

The first category. 

The first category:  falls into their arena of enjoying good and forbidding evil (al-amr bil ma’roof wa nahy en al-munkar).   

Let there be amongst you a group (of people) calling to a good and enjoining the good and forbidding the evil”. [3:104 Quran]. Fair treatment of people is good because Allah commands it; “And when you judge between people, judge in fairness” [4:58, Quran].  And oppression against people is bad because Allah forbids it:  in the hadith of Abu Tharr al-Ghaffaari, the Prophet (SAWS) said about Allah that He said; “Verily I have forbidden oppression upon myself, and I have made it amongst you prohibited” [Muslim].  

The second category: 

The second category falls into arena of making open testimony, or bearing witness (shahaadah); “And in this manner we have made you a righteous community so that she would bear witness over the people and so that the Messenger would be a bear of witness over you.” Demonstrations, rallies, and marches for a cause are considered public testimony and bearings of witness (mashaahid).  

The third category: 

The third category represents the supplication of the oppressed, about which there is no screen between it, and between Allah. The Prophet (SAWS) said in this matter; “Beware of the pleas of the oppressed, for verily there is no screen (hijab) between in, and between Allah. It also involves the seeking of rights (huqooq) that are justly and legitimately due. The seeking of rights that are legitimately due is permissible by consensus of Muslim scholar’s past and present. Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, came to the Prophet (SAWS) seeking her right of maintenance from her husband, and the Prophet (SAWS) obliged her.  

Conclusion:  

Nonviolently demonstrating in the streets, protests, rallies, and marches for racial justice for Black Americans and against racial injustice, is permissible for a Muslim, and Allah knows best.  

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad  

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

Tackling Racism in Muslim America; Mending Without Offending. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

One of the goals in addressing racism in Muslim America is mending rifts between Black American Muslims and converts and the rest of the American Muslim population and for the politically correct minded, not to offend anyone in the process. Mending when it comes to Muslims, can occur almost instantaneously by the grace of the Almighty God, Allah, because Allah joins the hearts. However, mending is not the immediate goal. Mending is a divine by-product that spontaneously or gradually occurs according to the grace and decree of Allah.  “And remember the favor of Allah upon you when you were enemies and He joined between your hearts and you became after that, brethren”. Mending is indeed one of the long-term goals and part of our hope in addressing this situation. However, in my opinion, it is a subsequent goal, an eventual goal, but not at the top of the priority menu. It’s not the main course. When Muslim leaders come out the box and talk about healing, without even getting an acknowledgment from Muslims who engage or have engaged in racial bigotry against Black Muslims, I cringe.

The main goal at this juncture in my view is to identify and limit the harmful and civilizationally destructive effects of racism in Muslim America because for all intents and purposes, multi-dimensional racism in Muslim American is a major contributing factor to the decline of Black American Muslim communities in the United States and to our precipitous march towards extinction. You cannot snap your finders and suddenly racial bigotry, disdain, and sentiments of civilizational irrelevance aimed at Black American Muslims and converts disappears into thin air. We all know that is does not work that way. I also know from recent, personal experience that in addressing this issue candidly and publicly, there are people in the Muslim community both immigrants, as well as indigenous Blacks, who are going to be offended.  So not offending, even if it were a central priority, is an inevitability.  If we approached the topic based on not offending anyone, we would never be able to even begin the conversation. Racism in Muslim America has so many tentacles, its tentacles have tentacles. So, is it possible to address racism in Muslim America without offending anyone? Not likely.   

Principally racism in and of itself is offensive as it gets. It goes against the foundational principles and ethics of Islam and that is offensive, especially if it’s directed at you or you are the victim of it. Muslims who are not even racist or who may be oblivious to racism within our ranks may be offended because it is a counter narrative to the sanitized version of Muslim America that has been fed since 9/11 to the American public.

We must keep in mind that since 911 American Muslims, especially the immigrant community, has been fostering a narrative of the American Muslims as largely middle class, educated, civic minded, patriotic, and supportive of good causes. All the fluffy stuff. Enough fluff to take over the teddy bear industry. We have advanced the notion at great expense, that racism in Muslim America does not exist because after all, there is no racism in Islam. To suggest that there is a problem of race in Muslim America is like telling a 5-year-old on Christmas eve teething with excitement and anticipation, that there is no such thing as Santa Claus.  

In many ways, we seem to have dug our own hole here. In our acquired hypersensitivity to not be offended, nor to offend in any way, we have undermined our ability to candidly address matters that make us uncomfortable. Racism in Muslim America is at the top of that list. This is not going to be a walk in the park, but with faith, there is hope. After all we are Muslims.

Imam Abu laith Luqman Ahmad

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

There’s more power in the drug game and in the liquor store business, then there is in the local Black American Muslim imamate. By Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Black Imams are seeking power” That’s rhetoric from an ancient internal anti-Black, self-hate, slave mentality playbook. One that should have been discarded along time ago. Over the last 50 years or so, many Black American Muslims have been convinced that their Imams are good imams as long as they are struggling, not able to do much outside of giving sermons, teaching a class, maybe a little of counseling and nowadays, looking good on camera. The Imam’s ideas according to many, must be in line with those of the larger, immigrant Muslim community. Independent thinking by a Black American Imam, is still looked down upon by many Black American Muslims, and I’m speaking from personal experience as an Imam and Muslim first responder of 24 years, as taboo.

Black American Imams who seek greater resources for themselves in order to work, are thought by some to be power hungry. Well I got news for you, if Back American Muslim Imams were out for power, then we are in the wrong business.. There’s more power in the local drug game and in the neighborhood liquor stores then there is in the local American Muslim imamate. Besides, all power is to, and from Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala.

What Black American Imams (including myself) are seeking however, are resources. That’s what we talk about amongst ourselves and that’s what we lack the most. We never talk about getting power, we talk about getting resources. -We talk about how we’re viewed in our communities as sincere, and brave, but weak when it comes to local politics and influence. Despite the obvious powerlessness and lack of resources, Black American Imams have been the target of much blame from a non-committed Black American Muslim demographic.

In deen just like in politics, you can’t move very far without navigation. That’s why you have imams in the first place. “And We made from among them imams, guiding by Our command when they were patient and [when] they were certain of Our signs.” [32:24] Having Imams is a necessity of Muslim life, anywhere on the planet. When the Imam lacks resources, it weakens the entire community. Our own history in the United States has shown that to be true.

Perhaps the greatest of resources available to Black American Imams are the Muslims who work with him, who aid him, who supports him in what is right. These are the basic building blocks of jamaa’ah (congregation), which is a fundamental concept of Islam that seems lost upon many Muslims today.

It is arguable that one of the biggest problems to beset Black American Muslim and convert communities by far are that most are not part of any communities. A lot of things have been done over the last twenty-years to undermine Black American Muslim communities such as multiple spheres of influence that owe allegiance to a foreign entity, scores of fatwa that undermine social and family cohesion, millions of pamphlets, books, cds and propaganda which promoted mutiny within Muslim communities, and many Black American Muslims pinning there futures on Muslims who were not looking out for their interests.

This is created a very unstable religious environment; especially for someone new to Islam or a first generation convert to Islam. The basis of success for a community is enjoining upon each other truth and patience. This is best done with congregation (jamaa’at). When there is no jamaa’at, there is no leadership, when there is no leadership then there is no cohesion, and when there is no cohesion, people are left to their own individual machinations and when they are left to their own machinations, there is no religious order, and when there is no religious order, chaos almost always ensues. The Prophet (SAWS) said; “Whoever among you wants to be in the middle of Paradise, let him cling to the Congregation.” [Sound, collected by Abu Eesa at-Tirmithi]

In my view, people should want their Imams and leader that they trust have their best interests at heart, be adequately resourced. Communities with an Imam or an Amir, and a shura (council) and people designated to attend to the affairs of the ummah, is better than a mob based free for all system. Muslims who reject a basic Islamic system of communal stability and governance which is the jamaa’ah (congregation) are just blowing smoke. Moral anarchists without even knowing it. And Allah knows best.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is a associate Imam and resident scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam, housed in the first building built originally as a Mosque in the state of Ohio.  He can be reached at: imamabulaith@yahoo.com You can support him @ cash app, to: $abulaith2

Open Demand that Islamic Scholars be Clear On the Race Issue. By Imam Abu Laith ibn Abi Hussain Luqman Ahmad

Racism and racial bigotry is not just an American problem. It is a problem felt around the world; including the Muslim world. Black people are treated unjustly because of the color of their skin all over this globe, including the holy lands of Islam, which all belongs to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. In Islam, an Arab has no superiority over an non-Arab, nor a White person have any superiority over a Black person, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab or a Black person have any superiority over a non-Black or White person except by Taqwa (piety).

The shuyookh have weighed in on volumes regarding aqeeda over the years. Islamic books stores in the United States have been flooded and overrun with books on aqeeda. Some scholars have even declared some of us as heretics. We have fought with one another and masaajid have spilt over what was written in aqeeda books and fataawa sent to the United States. We let most of that slide, even though the aqeeda wars have resulted in the loss of an entire generation of Muslims in these United States of America.

Enough is enough. Black American Muslims are the same people who are matching in the streets demanding an end to racial injustice. They are our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, our cousins and uncles who are being killed, beaten, denied unjustly here in the land which we helped build as slaves. If we reject racism in in America, then we also reject it in the deen of Islam in America, and the deen of Islam in America, is the deen of Islam everywhere on the Earth because it is one deen. .

We demand to know the position of the vocal mashaayikh (scholars) on racism because it is a determinant of their own aqeeda. I’m not trying to start trouble here. But Shuyookh who so boldly prohibited birthdays, Thanksgiving, baby showers, football, living in America, working with the kuffar, and family picnics without partitions between the men and the women, need to articulate their expressed position on racism in Muslim America and the blanketing of Muslim owed liquor stores in America.

People have a basic right to know whether or not the scholars that we take knowledge of religion from are racists, or are bigoted in any way against Blacks. I raised this issue many years ago, and I’m raising it again now. Racism is a human rights issue, it is a justice issue and it is indeed, an aqeeda (creed) issue without a doubt. Are scholars of Islam biased against Blacks and Black American Muslims, yes or no? We demand to know. Wal Allahu Musta’aan. – Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is a associate Imam and resident scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam, housed in the first building built originally as a Mosque in the state of Ohio.  He can be reached at: imamabulaith@yahoo.com

As America Talks About Racism, is Muslim America Ready to Talk About It’s Own Racism? Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Muslim Senegalese American Fatou Goumbala takes part in a World Hijab Day rally held in front of New York City Hall in Manhattan, New York, US, February 1, 2018 [Amr Alfiky/Reuters]

Has the time finally come for Muslim Americans where they have to Address Racism in their own community?

As American battles its own racial problem, Muslim America has its own festering racial problem between Black American Muslims and converts, and between the larger Muslim American immigrant community. The question of Racism in Muslim America has never been fully unpacked as a national American Muslim conversation. Sure, it has been hinted at, pointed to, glossed over, generalized, and even headlined in articles here and there. Still, the issue has never been domestically unwrapped and laid bare so it could be subject to critical and compartmental examination.

One of the challenges facing American Muslims in dealing with racism in our mosques and in our own communities is that you cannot approach racism with a one-size fit for all method. Our own dealings with race and racism in the United states should have taught us that. Racism in Muslim America lives in the trappings of Islam and under cover of the masaajid (mosques). It is as delicate as it is insidious, it’s refined as much as it is profane. It is a wide topic that spans the globe in breadth and is as diverse in its manifestations as the rainbow of races, and colors of the peoples who inhabit the nations mosques. If America is an experiment, then Muslim America with two distinctly different civilizational trajectories; one Black and indigenous, and the other, recent (50 years or less) immigrants, is even more of an experiment.

Racism in Muslim America has its own historical evolution. It has cracks and crevices where it hides, masquerades and blends in with the scenery. It can act like a chameleon and go undetected until you look closely, or it can unabashedly bite you in the face. It will migrate from one institutional host to another institutional host.  Sometimes you must hunt it down like a wild animal and corner it, and even then, it will fight you back. Racism does not back down easily except where there is taqwa (piety).  It takes a certain amount of moral courage the likes of which we as Muslims I am afraid, are in short supply for now, to tackle racism in our ranks. We can only do it in my view, as a morally mature people, but tackle it we must, and tackle it we will if it be God’s will.   

Racism in Muslim America may not look exactly like racism in America in general or racism in the Arab world or in Europe, or in Asia, Africa or anywhere else. Racism in Muslim in America has its own unique historical and civilizational nuance which is why it deserves more than just a casual, anecdotal glance. Racism in Muslim America is the proverbial elephant in the room, and that elephant is poised to let out a big fart that will stink from New York to Washington state, if we do not take the time and courage to meet it head on.

My first article about racism in Muslim America[i] was published in 2002, on the heels of 9/11. It was a taboo topic then, and admittedly I was very careful in the way I worded the topic, and here we are 18 years later, and the issue of racism in Muslim America sits on our door step, like unopened mail.

Racism Muslim America is a heartfelt letdown for Black American Muslim converts and their accompanying generations. While at the same time, marginally acknowledged by the American Muslim immigrant community. Within the Black American Muslim and convert community, the conversation about racism in Muslim America has been well under way, but relatively one-sided.  Any Black American Muslim will tell you unequivocally that racism is alive and well in Muslim America, as well as any other Muslim who is willing to be honest and not bound by the chains of political correctness.

As the conversation about race again take center stage in the national news feed of the United States with the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis MN the opportunity has again presented itself for Muslim Americans to catch up with the rest of the country on the matter of race, racism and race relations within our domestic faith practice. If we don’t rise to the occasion, we threaten to undo years of carefully orchestrated public relations portrayal of American Muslims as a new an unblemished citizenry who are part of the American experiment.  

American Muslims are an accepted part of American society. However, we are not the go-to community for moral leadership. The main deterrent to that is our failure as a general body, to openly address the issue of racism within our ranks. Black American Muslims are willing to have this conversation and have been having it amongst ourselves to the point of disgust, protest and revolt. Imams and leaders of the American Muslim immigrant community must be willing to reciprocate in a way that is past lip service photo-ops, and billboards. If we are to ever have hope in being an advanced civilization, we must be willing to engage in advanced conversation, no matter how painful.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is a associate Imam and resident scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam, housed in the first building built originally as a Mosque in the state of Ohio.  He can be reached at: imamabulaith@yahoo.com


[i] https://www.islamicity.org/1813/racial-politics-in-muslim-america/

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