American Muslim Converts and the African Connection; A Viable Solution? By Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

african Muslim.jpgIf the purpose of exploring, and learning about sub Saharan African scholars and their timeless and monumental contributions to Muslim history, was to give African American Muslim converts a greater appreciation of Black scholars in history, especially in light of the racist climate in some parts of the Arab and Muslim world, and to offset the negative emotions that some African Americans have as a result of being marginalized, and disrespected by other Muslims, then there is a whole lot of benefit in that. Jalaaludden as-Suyooti (1505 C.E.) made a similar attempt when he wrote the book; “The Raising of the Status of the Ethiopians”, and so did Jamal al-Din Abu’l Farj ibn al-Jawzi (d. 1208 C.E.) when he wrote the book; “The Lightening of the Darkness on the Merits of the Blacks and the Ethiopians”. These books were written according to Dr. Bernard Lewis, “to defend both groups against the various accusations against them”.[1]

However, if the current trend of associating attachment to Africa or to African scholars and their scholarship is somehow put forth as an essential solution for reversing the downward spiral of convert communities, or a packaged panacea for the African American, Muslim convert dilemma in the United States, then such is just another example of misplaced, wishful thinking. Looking towards Africa for answers is not the answer in my view. It’s not even close to the answer. I fail to see how building a connection or a bridge to Africa in itself is a solution or even a part of a solution other than for the reasons of maybe building some self-esteem, or augmenting historical knowledge of Africa and Islam. Otherwise, how does building this connection Africa improve the lives of converts and convert communities as a whole? How does it impact our future? Furthermore, what exactly is the African connection?

The first question that I have about building on the African connection is; what is meant by it? Africa is a pretty big and complex continent. How can we even come to a consensus on what we mean by an African connection? As if we don’t already have enough to argue about. Africa has scores of different Muslim cultures, 140 different languages, different ways at looking at the world, different ways at looking at Black Americans, and different ways at looking at the United States. There is no clear indication that as a rule, African Muslims respect us as equals, and there is very little evidence, if any, to indicate that Africans, whether here as immigrants or those still in Africa, are prepared to invest in convert America, or have made any appreciable investment in terms of material support, or serious problem solving. The way that some of us fawn over them, I’d doubt that behind closed doors, African brothers and sisters extol, or look up to Black Americans.  If anything, it would seem that Africans do all that they can not to end up like African Americans.

According to data by compiled in 2010 by sociologists, including John R. Logan at the Mumford Center, State University of New York at Albany, “black immigrants from Africa averaged the highest educational attainment of any population group in the country, including whites and Asians.”[2] While according to the Journal of Blacks in education; “in 2008, 19.6 percent of all African Americans over the age of 25 held a college degree’.[3] So while Black immigrants hold the highest averages of educational attainment in the United States, African American born blacks, hold the lowest. So if we want to make an African connection and follow the African way, I would start by taking better advantage of what the United States has to offer, because that is exactly what Africans who live in America are doing.

In fact, if it was permissible for me to gamble, I would lay odds that Africans in general, look at African Americans as a degree or two below them in class, except for a few exceptions. Now, if the people of mother Africa want to come over and take the same political risks that we have to take in order to move forward, and build masaajid and schools to be controlled and operated by the convert community, without any strings attached, then I’ll go out and buy a couple of dashikis, some new African sandals, and be all ready to make that connection. Otherwise, we need to consider severing all umbilical cords, not establishing new ones.

If we want to establish an African connection then I suggest we take note of how Africans come to the United States, work hard and take advantage of what the country has to offer. Otherwise we can do research, hold forums, conferences, write books and engage in a variety of low budget intellectual, spiritual or cultural pursuits, we can even have educational exchanges, or teach African islamic history in our schools (if we had more of our own schools). But first we have to have something of our own that serves our immediate needs and interests as Muslims and that’s not going to happen running in the wind to feel some Africa.

There’s are thousands of reports and documentaries on Africa, there are planes that fly to Africa (about $1000 for a ticket), as well as African Embassies, African cultural, religious, and political organizations, as well as thousands of African artists, academics, and artifacts for us to look at and hang in our homes. I’m hearing a lot of brothers talking about this undefined ‘African connection’, and that’s just the point. It is undefined.   What exactly do we mean by building on the African connection. While many of us seem to be day-dreaming about an African connection, other Americans outside of our Muslim communities, are way ahead of us.

Millions of Americans visit Africa each year. Many do business, buy property, and engage in a large variety of religious, commercial, educational and cultural exchanges. American Christians have built and are maintaining hundreds, if not thousands of churches, orphanages, and schools in Africa. What do we as African American Muslims have to offer? Are we just talking about connecting with a few shaykhs, learning some African religious treatises, learning African languages or adopting some African cultural practices as our own? If that’s all we’re talking about then we need to go back to the drawing board on this African connection thing, and we need to make sure that the interest in such a connection is reciprocal.

There are like 1.2 billion people in Africa.  There are less than one million of us (AA Muslims). We don’t need to remake ourselves in anyone else’s image, or reach out and have hardly anyone reach back. We just did that remember? W’ve been doing it for the last 40 years or more, and it turned out too well for us. Knowing our history should tell us that we need to learn to fend for ourselves and build, support, plan and run our own communities. We are a part of this society and no one is taking up the mantle to help us except for some social and educational institutions, (at least some), the safety nets, the welfare system that many of us depend on and perhaps some other entities that I’m not thinking of at the moment. Making nice with a few Africans, having them come and lecture us about Islam, bless us with their awliyaa (saints), or teach us how to be authentic, is not going to affect our condition. However, building communities, building a few more decent masaajid, with leadership, responsible congregations, families with some generational continuity and taking advantage of the good that our country has to offer, will more than likely affect our condition. Even the Africans are doing that.

We want to romanticize about having an African connection which so far has not amounted to much more than getting to know a few African Sheikhs, learning about some remarkable islamic scholars of history, some brothers marrying some African sisters, some from Africa marrying some of our sisters, and a whole bunch of pictures and selfies from Africa and with Africans, (and it is a beautiful continent). Hoorah!  If we really want to connect to our ancestry like that then we need to get DNA testing for our people, and at about $300 a pop, you do the math.  In fact, instead of that, how about 10,000 of us put up $300 bucks and build 3 or 4 quality nice sized masaajid where they are most needed?

It seems like we always want to do the feel good stuff, the selfie stuff, the showy stuff, and the bandwagon stuff that does not change a thing on the ground.  In the meantime, there are 3.1 million African immigrants living in the United States and they are interacting in our country on all levels. Just check to see how many African dentists, engineers, academics, business owners, psychologists, and even farmers, there are in this country, and we talking about establishing an African connection with little or no resources of our own? Not too many are even paying attention to us on this African connection thing. Africans who hear rumors about it are probably looking at us like; whaaaaaat????? All the while they are reminding their children to steer clear of us, unless it could lead to a green card, or a following.  Many Muslims whom I love and respect have embraced this African connection craze. I happen to disagree and think that it is a wrong direction; another faze. We seem to keep avoiding the reality that it is us who need to come up with our own plan. The African Muslims that I know, are smart, incredible people who know the difference between strength and weakness. If you ask them, they would likely say that we have to put in our own work, with our own people, with our own home grown plan. Sadly, many of us just don’t get it. Yet. And Allah knows best.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a Philadelphia native, a writer, consultant, and Imam and khateeb at the Islamic Society of Folsom in Folsom California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the new book “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States. He also authored, “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at modern-day extremist salafi, the ideology. He blogs at, imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

[1] Race and Slavery in the Middle East. Bernard Lewis, 1990, Oxford University Press, p. 33

[2] http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-03-18/news/0703180344_1_black-immigrants-high-achieving-immigrants-biracial-couples.

[3] http://www.jbhe.com/news_views/64_degrees.html

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The Effects of Muslim Sectarianism on American Muslim Converts, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Sects

Globally, Muslim sectarianism affects almost all Muslims in one way or another. It is a terrible scourge and blemish upon the ummah. Muslims in many places outside of the United States and in many Muslim countries are already sectarianized in one way or another. People are born in a state of fitra (natural submission) but they are raised upon whatever the prevailing sect, group, or sub ideology of their family, their tribe, their country or their village. If they’re from Pakistan, it could be Deobandi, Barweili, Tablighi, Ahmadiyyah, or Ahul Hadis. If it’s Egypt, it could be Ikhwani, Salafi, jamaa’ah islamiyyah, or any one of a number of Sufi groups. If it’s Algeria it could be Maliki, it could be ibaa’dhiyya and so on.

Many Muslim groups could not thrive as a sect, raise money 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 of factionalization is not only a characteristic of some modern day Salafists, it’s typical of many islamic groups who enter the United States 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 becomes especially problematic when the new Muslim convert is compelled by pressure or by what they presume to be the requirements of faith to join or belong to a particular Muslim sect. I recall having some brothers who joined a particular Sufi sect telling me that according to their sheikh, Islam was not enough, that there was some secret knowledge that needs to be acquired and that can only be gotten through the sect and by means of the sheikh that they now pledged allegiance to.

Sometimes converts/reverts comes across, or initiates into one or another of these sectarianized versions of Islam, and do not even realize what hit them until much later (sometimes years) 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, or is in opposition to the other. This can be a pretty mind wrenching, faith shaking discovery for someone who just recently entered into the religion of Islam.

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 Muslim convert, just like it wasn’t compatible with the companions of the Prophet who themselves were converts to Islam. It ruins faith more than it enhances it.

When people convert to Islam, they are excited about being Muslim and are ready to do whatever it takes (at least in the beginning) to be a true Muslim. This is generally a good thing, but it also makes them vulnerable to the culture of Muslim sectarianism. Convert Muslims come into the religion without belonging to, or yearning to belong to any particular sect; they come in on pure tawheed (monotheism) without sectarian alignment and simply want to belong to, and be with the Muslims. This trusting disposition can make them natural marks for sectarianists and easy targets of post conversion proselytizing. Many if not most new converts to islam 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. Granted, there are many people who are part of a group or sect, but are not hardcore sectarianists. However, make no mistake about it; within every major sect of islam in America, there are hardcore ideologues who police the beliefs of its members.

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 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 belonging to a Sufi sect or group.

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 viable Muslim families that continue into the next generation. However, that’s not the way it is for many converts during the 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 whom 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 to 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)

We cannot understate the effects of Muslim sectarianism on American convert communities. I imagine that one of the biggest drawbacks to Muslim sectarianism for converts is that you’ll have people living in the same city or the same are of a city and there will be so many foreign (and domestic) spheres of influence that get in the way of them working together while at the same time, they all share the same space and deal with the same problems and obstacles. Their sectarianism creates a reluctance and sometimes an ideological impediment to work together.

It may take an entire generation for the American Muslim convert community to recover from the negative effects and consequences of sectarianism and that’s only if we begin now, and that’s only if we recognize the damage that has been done.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, a researcher and Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the CEO of ‘Mosque Without Borders’, an organization that address Muslim sectarianism in the United States. He is also 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, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

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, imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

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

basmala

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

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

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

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

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

So while we were busy arguing

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

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

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

You should have seen this coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luqman Ahmad

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

Seven out of every ten converts, leave Islam, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

I wrote this post more than two years ago and it is just as relevant now as it was then, if not more.

The Lotus Tree Blog

enter and exit We are constantly being told that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States. We are also being told that the Muslim population is anywhere from 2 million, to six million and that a third of them are converts. That would put the number of converts from around 700,000 to 2,000,000. However, I’m not sure if those numbers are accurate because many converts are leaving Islam, and or never even begin to practice Islam in any appreciable way other than take their shahaadah (declaration of conversion), and you don’t see anywhere near those numbers reflected in the nation’s masaajid.

Nor do you see too much evidence that people who became Muslim say, 20 years ago have stayed in the religion, raised their children upon it and started a second generation, or even third generation. The overall estimates of the Muslim population may be accurate, but the stated percentage…

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A guide for Muslim converts: How to give your children a strong moral foundation, by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Me and MaryamI cannot stress enough beloveds, the importance of strong families. Never neglect family ties, regardless of what religion family members have. Don’t even play around with it when it comes to strengthening and preserving the family. “O Mankind! Fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allaah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allaah is ever, over you, an Observer”[1].When communities fall short, become fragmented, or fail, the religion can be preserved on the family by holding onto and passing down the values and teachings of faith to the next generation. and the next after that.  When you invest in the family, what you end up with, in sha Allah is, generation after generation of eemaan. You can’t buy that at a halal store, you can’t download it from the internet, and you can’t mix it up in a mixing bowl. You have to strive for it, pray for it and make it a priority. In order to have strong believing families, you must build your immediate family structure upon belief in Allah and in His oneness (tawheed).

It is important from the very beginning that everyone in your immediate family; your wife, your children, and all other members of your household are aware without a doubt that the reigning law and source of order within your home, is Islam.  With that in mind, you must establish the prescribed prayer with your family, your wife and the children of your household. Your children must see that you bow your head down to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. In doing so, they will know that you as parents, are accountable to Him (Allah). If they see that you are accountable to Allah, they will find it easier and more palatable to be accountable to you as parents. If there is no prayer in your home, then it is almost assured that Shaitaan will soon become the imam of your household.

It is the sunna of the Prophet (SAWS) to call yourself a Muslim. Therefore, try not to teach your children to attach themselves to tightly to a sectarian, or strict madhhabi  designation such as, Shaafi’ee, Qaadiri, Tijaani, Tablighi, Salafi Hanbali, Maaliki, or any other designation. Teach them that they are Muslim. Even if you happen to follow a particular school of thought or a tariqa be it Shaafi’ee, or Maaliki, or Shaadhili, or if you ascribe to a group such as Salafi, or a Tablighi, or anything else, do not, and I repeat, do not teach your children that anything represents the totality of Islam, other than Islam.  If you teach them that your group are the only true Muslims, or that if they follow this or that tariqa or madhhab, there Islam will be better than everyone else’s, then you will only confuse and mislead them; as many people are already doing.

The best of the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) loathed sectarianism and ran away from it. They sahaba never called the people to follow anything other than the way of Allah and the way of the Prophet (SAWS). They didn’t call themselves salafi, Shaafi’ee, Qaadiri, or any other designation except Muslims. Don’t be fooled beloved; in today’s global environment, people who raise their children based upon a particular sect are just experimenting; there is no evidence that such a thing has worked. We don’t pray to grandpa in America; that’s someone else’s path. The true religion of Allah will always be Islam and the only one of our ummah who is ma’soom (free of error) is Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, the Last Prophet (SAWS). Teach your children to live according to the Quran and the Sunna beloveds, anything else is just someone else’s experimentation, for which Allah has revealed no authority.

Claiming the religion of Islam as your religion has more depth, longevity, and spiritual potency than any of the other sectarian additions to it. This is because Islam, in its pure form is sanctioned from above seven heavens and is supported by the authority of wahy (divine revelation) .

إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللّهِ الإِسْلاَمُ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ الَّذِينَ أُوْتُواْ الْكِتَابَ إِلاَّ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ

The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will):  And the People of the Book did not differ except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account[2].

 The Prophet (SAWS) was, without a doubt, sent to all of mankind, as Allah states:;

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا

“Say; O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah”[3]

The Prophet’s way and path of faith (sunna),  is applicable for all Peoples and for all times. However, this or that sheikh, companion, taabi’ee, or imam , were not dispatched to all people as a mercy to mankind. Therefore, the cultural, ritual, and spiritual additions to our religion that are practiced elsewhere in the world, are not necessarily    beneficial for American Muslim converts who wish to practice the religion in its pure, unadulterated form.

Most of the people who have convert to Islam, didn’t sign up for all the polemics, infighting and sectarianism that exists today. They didn’t envision that the ummah would become stagnated because we are too busy arguing and fighting over someone else’s point of view. It’s a shame that people come into Islam out of sincerity to worship Allah alone without partners and are almost immediately met with a litany of groups, scholars and positions that they are pressured to pay homage to, when in reality; people are only commanded to worship Allah Alone, and to make the religion for His sake only.  .

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاء وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَذَلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ

And they have been commanded no more than this: To worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to practice regular charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight[4].

The point is, that if you teach your children the truth, (the Quran and the sunna), you don’t have to spend a lot of time teaching them about all the falsehood that they may or may not encounter during their lifetime, or teaching them about all the different sects and ways that people do this or that. There is no end to the amount of falsehood, difference of opinion, deviant and orthodox ideology, and opinions in circulation amongst the Muslims. Of course as things come up, you may comment upon it to your kids, (if neccessary), or explain it to them but in most cases, children will depend upon the parent to simply raise them right and teach them correctly the first time. Their time on earth is limited just like ours, and the more truth they know (from the Kitaab and the Sunna) and the more they are aware of what is important; (prayer, fasting, family bonds, goodness to neighbors, charity, honesty, loyalty, taqwa, kindness, family, the Masjid, brotherhood, and so on), then the more time and energy they can devote to practicing it and preparing for their hereafter. There are so many aspects of deen that children grow up and know nothing about.  Whether it is family issues, moral value issues, character issues, adaab issues, belief issues, fiqh issues, social issues, or simple lifestyle issues upon which Allah and His Messenger have rendered guidance.

The idea is to pass the religion and foundational knowledge of Islam down to your children in a way that will help them to remain firm in their faith, and in their practice of Islam, and not find themselves going from sub-ideology of Islam to another. Ultimately what you want for your family is generational continuity of Islam as a way of life.  Or constantly questioning this and then questioning that, and questioning what they believe, every time something new comes on the scene, like many Muslims are doing today. It’s really a sad situation. When children are put upon firm and true deen from the very beginning, it is likely that they will not be swayed or moved by anything different. Whether it be a different madhhab, or a deviant ideology. You don’t want your children to end up being like the people who spend more time arguing about the deen, than they spend practicing it. Children are born in a state of fitrah, The Prophet (SAWS) said: “Each child is born in a state of fitrah, but his parents make him a Jew or a Christian”.[5]  Muslim parents have the opportunity and are charged with keeping their children upon the straight path that Allah has created them upon; the prophet (SAWS) reported about Allah be He Exalted and Glorified, that He said:  “I created My servants in the right religion, but the devils made them go astray.[6]” Children by their very nature are predisposed to take the path that their parents put them on. When they are exposed by the parents to too many different truths, or too many different religious ideologies, they will not be secure in their faith. Once they become insecure in their faith, they are likely to fall for anything.

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, a researcher and Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the CEO of ‘Mosque Without Borders’, an organization that address Muslim sectarianism. He is also 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, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.


[1] Quran, 4:1.

[2] Quran, 3:19

[3] Quran, 7:158

[4] Quran, 98:5

[5] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[6] Collected by Muslim.

Essential Tips for Raising Muslim Children of Converts, by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

There is no perfect way to raise Muslim children in America, or in anywhere else, and in a complex society such as the United States, there are a lot of different elements which factor into the overall process of healthy child-rearing for Muslim American children; neighborhoods, education, background, family support, community participation, parental involvement, income, experience or lack of, knowledge of the deen, common sense, the role of father, as well as other factors.  Some of these things we have control over and others, we have no control over. However, there are principle elements of child-rearing that are based upon the Quran and the Sunna, and that have proven effective for children of American Muslim converts to Islam. Similarly, there many things that have proven not to work and that have shown to be destructive to their religion.

Imam al-Qurtubi says; “knowledge is acquired through two means; nusoos (textual evidence) and tajriba (trial and error)”. Something very disturbing is happening in Muslim America amongst children of converts; many of them are either leaving Islam altogether, or at least abandoning the meaningful practice of Islam.  Some of them are speaking out about how growing up in dysfunctional Muslim homes where there was extremism, abuse, conflicting religious messages, moving from sect to sect, or living under ridiculous, imported fatwas and rulings made their lives difficult. Some are even converting to Christianity and heading for the churches, and others grow up confused about their identity which is something that should never befall a Muslim child. This generational backlash is widespread, and warrants that we need to take a look at what has and hasn’t worked as far as raising Muslim children in America because judging by the lack of the generational continuity of Islam in many new Muslim American families, we indeed have a problem.

Islam has been in the United States for a long time now, and people have been converting to Islam in high numbers for the last fifty years or so. Since that time, what we have seen is that a high percentage of the people who converted to Islam, failed to pass it down to their children in a healthy, seamless way that their children continued to practice the faith into the next generation and the generation after that. There is a great disconnect between those who convert to Islam and the ability to pass it on to the next generation. At this point in our juncture it is only prudent that we take a good look at what we are doing and how we are going about raising our children and what are we raising them upon.

From what I have seen over the last thirty years, parents who have had the most success in maintaining Islam within their children have been the ones who kept their Islam simple and emphasized following the Quran and the Sunna, without any additions. The parents who complicated their Islam with too many foreign elements, or who neglected their Islam, and replaced it with secular teaching and ideas, or who mixed their Islam with Christianity, tend to raise children who are very confused about their Islamic identity (if they still have one), and who opt not to practice their religion. By simple Islam, I mean the emphasis upon what was contained in the hadith of Jibril (AS) regarding the five pillars, and basic beliefs; (Allah, the Prophets, the angels, the Day of Judgment, and the Books). When the importance of the primary foundations of Islamic belief and behavior such as prayer, fasting, family bonds, goodness to neighbors, charity, honesty, loyalty, taqwa, kindness, family, the Masjid, and brotherhood, were stressed, children seemed to have an easier time coping in the long term, and maintaining a healthy and active Islamic identity. I’m not talking about a perfect Islam or perfect child because there is none, but there is such a thing as an active and healthy Muslim identity.

It is important for Muslim parents to keep in mind that it is absolutely vital that you make sure that your children have a secure foundation in their deen. Giving children a foundation in their religion usually takes the entirety of their growing up under you. It is not something achieved in one sitting, one experience, in one month, one summer, or one year, and it’s not something that you can buy, or contract someone to do for you. You as a parent must do it yourself, starting at home. Children are born in a state of fitra, and by their very nature they are predisposed to take the path that their parents put them on. When they are exposed by the parents to too many different truths, or too many different religious sub-ideologies, they will tend not be secure in their faith. Faith insecurity is something that you do not want to happen with your children under any circumstances because once they become insecure in their faith, they are likely to fall for anything.

The Prophet (SAWS) wasn’t a complicated person. He didn’t preach or teach in a complicated style, and he didn’t like excessive questioning about matters which is why he said; “It was only their excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their Prophets which destroyed those who came before you[1]  He (SAWS) never liked when the deen was made burdensome, and he said; “The practice of religion is easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will be overpowered by it. Therefore, be moderate, try to be near perfection but within your capacity and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded.” [2] Instead, our beloved Prophet (SAWS) preferred simple messages of guidance that were simple to grasp and easy to implement, as long as you didn’t complicate it. For example when asked what the best type of Islam was, he replied: “Feeding food, and spreading salaams[3], when asked for advice he simply replied in one tradition: “don’t get angry”.

When children are put upon simple, firm and true deen from the very beginning, it is likely that they will not be swayed or moved by anything different; whether it is a different madhaahib, deviant ideologies, or faddish Islamic sects. You don’t want your children to end up being like the people who spend more time researching and arguing about the deen, than they spend practicing it. This is why the Prophet (SAWS) said: “I’m leaving you with two things that if you hold fast to them you will never go astray after me; the Book of Allah and my Sunna”. [Bukhaari] Holding fast to anything else after that is just a gamble, and gambling is haram in Islam. Keep in mind is that the true religion of Allah will always be Islam and the only one of our ummah who is ma’soom (free of error) is Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, the Last Prophet (SAWS). So teach your children to live according to the Quran and the Sunna beloveds, anything else is just someone else’s experiment, for which Allah has revealed no authority. Let your children identify themselves as Muslims. It is the Sunna of the Prophet (SAWS) to call yourself a Muslim, and that is the best possible identity for them.

وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَى وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ

[“And strive in His cause as ye ought to strive, (with sincerity and under discipline). He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the cult of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular Prayer, give regular Charity, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protector – the Best to protect and the Best to help![4] ]

Indigenous American muslim converts, mostly whom are African American, have a unique and distinct history in that we are the descendants of slaves and are historically and fundamentally cut off from the rest of the Muslim world to a very significant degree, and we need to recognize that and stop trying to fit into everyone else’s reality. Indigenous American Muslims ascribe to groups and ideologies in different ways that people generally do from the Muslim world, which is a subject by itself that I won’t address here, and I’m not saying this in a good or bad way except to say that the American Muslim convert community has a uniqueness that warrants we keep our assimilation of Islam, very independent and progressively simple. Principally because since many of us are converts, and second generation, we should assimilate into Islam in the same simplistic incremental way the first converts of our Umma i.e. the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) did.  This was to keep their Islamic identity, simple enough to minimize complication and flexible enough using principles from the Quran and the Sunna, that it was inclusive of everyone who came to believe laa ilaaha illa Allah and accepted the basic principles of Islam.

Therefore, do not teach your children that they are, Shaafi’ee, Qaadiri, Tijaani, Tablighi, Salafi, Hanbali, Maaliki, or any other designation. Teach them that they are Muslim. Even if you happen to follow a particular school of thought or a tariqa be it Shaafi’ee, or Maaliki, or Shaadhili, or if you ascribe to a group such as Salafi, or a Tablighi, or anything else, don’t let these designations become your children’s principl identity. Do not, and I repeat, do not teach your children that anything represents the totality of Islam, other than Islam.  If you teach them that your group are the only true Muslims, or that if they follow this or that tariqa or madhhab, there Islam will be better than everyone else’s, then you will only confuse and mislead them; as many people are already doing.

Islam, as an identity, has more depth, more security, more longevity, and more spiritual potency than any of the other sectarian additions to it. This is because Islam, in its pure form is sanctioned from above seven heavens and is supported by the authority of wahy (divine revelation). The Prophet (SAWS) was sent to all of mankind by agreement of the scholars. قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعً” [Say: “O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah,][5] However, this or that sheikh, or that companion, or that taabi’ee, were not dispatched to all people as a mercy to mankind. In reality; people are only commanded to worship Allah Alone, and to make the religion for His sake only, and that is the most important message that we must pass on to our children.

The point is, that if you teach your children the truth, (the Quran and the sunna), you don’t have to spend a lot of time teaching them about all the falsehood that they may or may not encounter during their lifetime, or teaching them about all the different sects and ways that people do this or that. Truth is stronger than falsehood, and there is no end to the amount of falsehood, differences of thought, deviant and orthodox ideology, and opinions in circulation amongst the Muslims. It takes years for most people to sift througfh all that. Their time on earth is limited just like ours, and the more truth they know (from the Kitaab and the Sunna) and the more they are aware of what is important, then the more time and energy they can devote to practicing it and preparing for their hereafter.

There are so many sunnan and vital aspects of deen that Muslim children grow up knowing nothing about.  Whether it is family issues, moral value issues, character issues, adaab issues, belief issues, fiqh issues, social issues, or simple lifestyle issues upon which Allah and His Messenger have rendered guidance. The idea is to pass the deen down to your children in a way that they will remain firm in their faith, and in their practice of Islam, and not find themselves running from one thing to another thing to another thing. Or constantly questioning this and then questioning that, and questioning what they believe, every time something new comes on the scene, like many Muslims are doing today. It’s really a sad situation. However, it can get better in sha Allah but we have to go back to the basics.

You don’t need advanced and complicated aqeeda books to teach children their belief. People have been doing it for years, with simple, basic instruction and by word of mouth from parent to child. If a parent really wants their child to learn aqeeda, then read the Quran to them. Everything they need to know about Allah is contained in His Book, and whatever essentials that are left undisclosed in the Book, the Prophet (SAWS) has covered it abundantly. When they grow up and want to get deep down in theology, or if they want to become polemicists when they get older, and debate back and forth about aqeeda on the internet, then let them do that on their own, but let not you as the parent, be the one to start them off on this path. For most parents, you will find that the Quran and the Sunna is more than enough for your children. When it comes to religion; teach them exactly what the Prophet (SAWS) taught us.

Simplicity and the fundamentals are the first step in restoring order amongst indigenous American Muslims, and most vital in that is in establishing the prayer with your family, your wife and the children of your household. Your children must see that you bow your head down to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. That way, they will know that you are accountable to Him.  If they see that you are accountable to Allah, they will find it easier and more palatable to be accountable to you as a parent. If there is no prayer in your home, then it is almost assured that Shaitaan will soon become the imam of your household.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

imamabulaith@yahoo.com


[1] Collected by Bukhaari.

[2] Collected by Bukhaari.

[3] Collected by Muslim

[4] Quran, 22:78.

[5] Quran, 7:158

Advice to Converts: Preserving Islam in Your Family; A Case for Muslim Congregations. By Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

The true religion of Islam is more than polemical rhetoric, or wearing a thobe, a hijab, or short pants, or getting your picture in the paper. It’s about submitting to Allah, obeying Him, and establishing a lineage of belief, worship, family, brotherhood (love for the sake of Allah), prophetic tradition (Sunna), honor, and morality and character (akh’laaq), which is passed down from one generation, to the next, and to the next.

It is tragic when people enter into this faith and fail to pass it down to their children, or sometimes not even fully embrace it themselves. even worse when people live their Islam through someone else’s reality without never having experienced its core beauty. In order to fully engage your Islam so that it becomes more than a bevy of regurgitated slogans, and faddish adaptations that you pick up and then discard later, you have to believe in it in its totality, and practice it as a lifestyle. However, the secret to it all which is reality is not a secret at all is that you must be engaged with Allah; that you must worship Him Alone without partners.

To a true Muslim, Islam is not part of your life; it is your life.    قُلْ إِنَّ صَلاَتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ [“Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds” 6:162 Islam is a lifestyle that you, yourself, must establish for yourself and your family. No one can do it for you; no Imam, no sheikh, no scholar, and no saint. It is up to you to believe in it, embrace it, and practice it, or you can play with it. If you play with it, you are bound to lose it. The reality is that many people who convert to Islam, are losing their religion, and are failing to pass it down to their children and the next generations. Our faith is amongst the most valuable of gifts, and we need to do everything that we can to preserve it and pass it down to our offspring.

I was talking to my father, Sheikh Abdulkarim about the issue of people leaving the religion and he reminded me of the verse; “وَاللّهُ أَخْرَجَكُم مِّن بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ شَيْئًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْسَّمْعَ وَالأَبْصَارَ وَالأَفْئِدَةَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ[It is HeWho brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when ye knew nothing; and He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affections: that ye may give thanks (to Allah..][1] We have to value our Islam and realize that we came into this world with nothing, yet, now we are Muslims and have the guidance of Islam. This is a tremendous gift and there is nothing more beneficial than you can embrace for yourself, and pass down to your children, than Islam.

Success as a Muslim, without a doubt is a matter of tawfiq (divine enablement), and fadh’lillaah (divine grace). Guidance is up to Allah; “Verily Allah guides and leads astray who He pleases”; وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلكِن يُضِلُّ مَن يَشَاء وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء وَلَتُسْأَلُنَّ عَمَّا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ. [If Allah so willed, He could make you all one people: But He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions. 16:93]  However, there is the matter of whether or not we engage causative factors (as’baab) which are determinants to the type of outcome that will occur.   We cannot blame Allah for the condition of our religious practice and the loss of our children to the ways of the world. Parents have to take responsibility for how, when and to what degree we practice our faith.

It is arguable that one of the biggest problems to beset African American Muslim communities by far are that most are not part of communities. A lot of things have been done over the last twenty-years to undermine African 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 African 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. 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]

Americans have been converting to Islam in large number since the 1960’s, and some say that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States. I have no reason to dispute that claim, Yet despite the phenomena of mass conversion to Islam spanning half a century, it seems that for many converts to Islam, the religion is not passed down to subsequent generations of Muslims. So if Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States, it can be argued that amongst converts to Islam, it is the religion with the fastest turnover rate. Many converts today are without community and end up being stray sheep, and the Shaitaan (Satan) is picking them off, one by one, family by family, household by household.

Why is this important? [2]Well, it matters because as each subsequent generation of practicing Muslims evolve within the family, the moral and religious values of Islam takes hold and are reinforced within the family unit, the extended family, and then it impacts the society at large.  When Islam is not sufficiently passed down to the next generation, our children are left at a great spiritual disadvantage. More often than not, a person converts to Islam, has children, and the children grow up not to practice it, and take on social ills like teenage pregnancy, incarceration, social dysfunction and blatant immorality as if they have no guidance at all.  There is a conspicuous malfunction in the methodology of religious practice and thinking for much of the convert community, which resulted in impeding the generational flow of the religion to many of our children. The number of children of converts to Islam who have either left the religion, are dead because of wanton gang or drug related violence, or are incarcerated, ex-felons, or non high school graduates, or single unwed mothers, are staggering. The question that we have to ask ourselves is; now that we are aware of our circumstances and the consequences of our actions and inaction, what is it that works, and what is it that doesn’t work for us?

If we examine our history as Muslim Americans for the last forty years, we will get a firsthand snapshot of where we have been successful and where we have made mistakes with respect to passing down Islam to our children. When people do not know the critical mistakes of their history, they are doomed to repeat them, and by all accounts, we as indigenous American Muslims, are making the very same mistakes, over and over again. One of the greatest errors during the last half a century is when people become detached from the masaajid which are the houses of Allah, from the congregations of Muslims, and from the salat.

Muslims are brothers and sisters to one another in the global sense. However, in the fragmented world that we live in, Muslims are need to practice their religion in a local sense in order to preserve its practice within the individuals and families who share the same neighborhoods, and cities. There is no single determinant which ensures that a convert to Islam, stays in the faith, practices in and successfully passes it down to their offspring, but there is a methodology based upon the Quran and sunna, which has proved to be most successful for converts to Islam over the last 40 to 50 years or so, and that is the establishment of jamaa’aat (congregations), of a person having n imam and teacher that he or she can see and interact with and who are their to own the words and own their teachings.

American Muslim congregations are one of the few places where you will find, two, three, and four generations of Muslim family, still in the practice of deen.  People who are attached to the masaajid, and are part of religious congregations are much more likely to keep their Islam, and practice it, than those who aren’t.

Congregational communities, centered within a Masjid, with an imam, and a community of people who establish the salat, have specific loyalty, commitment, and accountability to and with each other, and who have a communal focus, is a formula that has worked for American Muslims.I didn’t say that it works perfectly; however, it does work and it does offer some sense of order, communal routine and stability.  Such communities offer prayerful consistency, fraternity, cooperative spirit and effort, religious teachings, and spiritual support, which are all healthy and contributive factors to the good practice of Islam and being a Muslim in America.  Such an environment is critical for the convert to Islam. It doesn’t produce a perfect Muslim, for there is no such thing. However, it does create an environment of measured and consistent growth, as well as singularity of focus and religious message.

For more and more Muslim converts to Islam,  Islam has simply become a fad, and not an actual way of life and practicing Islam for many people these days is optional for them; not mandatory. For others, Islam is something to argue about more than to practice. They will argue about the Quran and the Sunna while ignoring the actual principles and teachings of the religion. There are others who will only practice Islam as long as it does not require any sacrifice, or require them to go out of their way. These are the types of people who end up losing their religion all together.

However, there are those who sincerely believe that Islam is the guided way to live your life and can be applied to everything you do, and they are willing to submit to it all. These are the true ahulus Sunna wa jamaa’at [the people of sunna and congregation], and they are the ones who will find their way by Allah’s permission through the madness, the fitna, the sectarianism, and the turmoil of our times. These are the people who will in sha Allah; benefit the most from congregation, and being in communities. To these people, I am saying to you that until there is a caliphate that is for all Muslims, and until the return of Jesus the Christ, the son of Mary (AS), the awaited Messiah[3], the best places to be are with a congregation of practicing Muslims, with a just Imam.  This will aid you in the preservation of your religion, and your children’s religion. Here are just a few of its benefits. Wallahul Musta’aan.

  1. Prayer in congregation.      Congregational prayer is the primary institution of a worshipful family      and community, worship itself is the purpose of our creation; and it is      the first extension of Islam’s value system.وَمَا خَلَقْتُ      الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ [I have only created Jinns      and men, that they may serve Me.] 51:56 during      my sixteen years as Imam of the Masjid, I have seen many brothers come      into Islam and stay within the faith and practice it, teach it to their children, who grow into adults as Muslim. At the same time, I have seen      many of them convert to Islam, and go for years without engagement in the masaajid and with communities all the while their children grow up without  the knowledge of the practice of Islam, and as adults are alien to the teachings of Islam. Of course there are a lot of reasons for this but  almost in every case, the ones who left Islam, and whose children were alien to the deen were people who did not attend the masaajid, were not  part of communities, and did not attend Jum’ah with regularity. The Prophet (SAWS) said; “If there are three men in a village or desert and salat is not established among them, then the Satan takes  mastery over them. So be with the congregation since the wolf devours the remote (stray) sheep.”[4]   Anytime there are Muslims living in any vicinity, it is incumbent for them to establish the salat. When this does not happen, it is inevitable that the Shaitaan will overpower them.  “(They are) those who, if We establish  them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity,  enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the end (and decision)  of (all) affairs” 22:41 Establishing the salat is perhaps the single most significant factor that ensures that a person stays Muslim, and that there is trans-generational Islam. When people pray, they tend to stay in Islam, when they pray together; they tend to stay in Islam together. This  seems to have been the pattern over the years; those who pray, stay, and  those who don’t pray, leave the religion.  Leaving the salat and abandoning the  masaajid is one of the principal reasons that people leave the religion; the Prophet (SAWS) said, “Between man and polytheism and unbelief is  the abandonment of salat.”[5]      It is important that every Muslim child sees their parents, or step-parents going to the Masjid for prayer, getting up for Fajr, calling the athaan in the home, experiencing that precious family moment which occurs after they have finished the congregational prayer. There is nothing that can replace that. Children need a distinct, moral  and spiritual foundation, in order to thrive as practicing Muslim adults in America, and there is no better foundation than the salat. When there is not a strong foundation, the dunya will tear them apart.
  2. Cooperation and Familiarity.    Congregational life, and lifestyle, plants the seeds of  cooperation in righteousness and piety; تَعْتَدُواْ وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبرِّ   وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَاتَّقُواْ  اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ [“and cooperate with one another in righteousness and piety, and do not cooperate with each other in sin and transgression”]. Cooperation in righteousness and piety is fundamental to our faith is the methodology which engages group action for good. Allah has created people to depend upon one another in the handling of their affairs, both religious and temporal.  When people are in communities, they develop familiarity with each other, understand each other’s nuances, become more inclined to cooperate with one another, establish shared goals and aspirations, as well as develop a sense of belonging and accomplishment  when they achieve these goals, whether it is building a Masjid or a school, upgrading their facilities, feeding the poor, or engaging in religious projects to help people. Their children get to know and befriend each other,  and they see each other’s children grow, and thrive. Cooperation and building upon successes breeds more cooperation. These things are easier facilitated through congregation than through unanchored individuals,  going it alone.  This union develops to trust, willingness to support and do business with, and a better  resolve to solve problems that arise amongst each other, because they have invested in the relationship. These things are essential for our children to witness. When there is no cooperation, perseverance, spiritual bond, and loyalty in the religious group, it sends a message to our children that there is no stable future for them being amongst the  Muslims.
  3. Spiritual and moral support.  Being a committed part of aMuslim community fosters an atmosphere of support for one another through many means; social, financial,  moral, and intra-personal. The strongest method of support is to enjoin upon each other truth, and patience; “Verily Man is in loss, except such as      have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy[6]      Without spiritual support, and righteous actions, mankind suffers a devastating spiritual loss. Personal interaction and moral support that is  found in congregation, eases the burden of isolation.  In today’s world, it is difficult to know  who you can trust, and who you cannot, who is sincere and who isn’t.  When people are engaged in a Masjid,      participating in the salat, in reminding, in fellowship, and doing good      acts, they naturally begin to support each other morally over time.
  4. Collective      accountability. Within the jamaa’at[7]  there is a certain degree of shared accountability that is not present outside of it. When brother and sisters in Islam hold each other accountable, transgression is lessened. Spousal abuse is widespread in our      communities, but when sisters are a part of a congregation, there is more recourse and direct help from within the community. When Muslim children see that their parents are true to their religious and communal  obligations, and have spiritual focus and goals in life, it is easier for  them to do the same as adults because such experiences, and rearing serves  as their foundation in life. When our children see that their parents have  no real commitment to our faith, to our institutions, to our communities,  or to each other, it sends them a message that there is no real future for   them as Muslims, and that it’s not worth the effort. We are seeing this occur time and time again.
  5. Leadership. Having communities with Imams is part of the tradition of Islam that has helped preserve our religion in America, dating back to the late 1800’s Being under some sort of religious leadership, whether it be an Imam, an Amir, a Khalifa, or a Sultan, is the sunna of our Prophet (SAWS); The Prophet said, “Whoever notices something which he dislikes done by his ruler, then he should be      patient, for whoever becomes separate from the company of the Muslims even for a span and then dies, he will die as those who died in the Pre-islamic      period of Ignorance (as rebellious sinners)”[8].       The ideal communities are those who      have leaders who are fair, just, and knowledgeable of the religion so that      can correctly teach people what is right and guided according to the Quran      and Sunna.  However, any leader is      better than no leader at all. When Muslim people do not have religious leaders, there is chaos. Brothers who have imams and are under some direct Islamic leadership tend to be more focused upon their religious priorities than those who aren’t. Imams are of varying qualities; some more knowledgeable,  and more pious than others. Still this should not prevent someone from the  benefit of praying behind an imam in the congregational prayer; The Prophet (SAWS) said: “If the imam leads the prayer correctly then he  and you will receive the rewards but if he makes a mistake (in the prayer)  then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be his.”[9]      We are living in the last days, and many of the major signs of the hour      have passed. In the hadith of Huthaifa, he was asking the Prophet (SAWS)      about the trials of latter-day times; “What do you order me to do if such a state should take place in my life?” He said, “Stick  to the group of Muslims and their Imam (ruler).” I said, “If  there is neither a group of Muslims nor an Imam (ruler)?” He said, “Then turn away from all those sects even if you were to bite (eat)  the roots of a tree till death overtakes you while you are in that state.”[10]   Ibn Taymiyyah said, “It is better to endure under a tyrannical leader for  100 years than to go one night without one.”

Granted, we are all American Muslims, and brother and sisters in Islam. However, if we take a closer look, it is evident that there are clearly two, distinctly different, Muslim Americas. One comprised primarily by immigrants from Muslim countries, and their children, and the other from American Muslim converts. As immigrant communities are growing, thriving, and blanketing the landscape with multi-million dollar masaajid, schools, and cultural institutions. African-American Muslim communities are struggling, lack physical resources, lack influence, and are very small in comparison. The future looks very bleak for the American Muslim converts unless we re-establish congregation with just and knowledgeable imams. Religious congregations are not perfect, but it is a lot better than chaos. For many American Muslim converts, there is hardly any religious order in their lives. Imperfect institutions that teach, regulate, and fulfill the order of the deen of Islam, are better than no institutions at all.

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Shaykh Luqman has been the Imam Of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento California for the last 16 years.

He can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com, or imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com.

 


[1] Quran: 16:78.

[2]

[3] The return of Jesus (AS) is very soon, as the majority of the major signs of his coming have already past

[4] Related by Abu Dawood with a good chain.

[5] Related  by Muslim

[6] Quran 103:2-3

[8] Related by Bukhaari. He dies the death of jaahiliyyah (ignorance).

[9] Related by Bukhaari

[10] Related by Bukhaari.

Seven out of every ten converts, leave Islam, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

enter and exitWe are constantly being told that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States. We are also being told that the Muslim population is anywhere from 2 million, to six million and that a third of them are converts. That would put the number of converts from around 700,000 to 2,000,000. However, I’m not sure if those numbers are accurate because many converts are leaving Islam, and or never even begin to practice Islam in any appreciable way other than take their shahaadah (declaration of conversion), and you don’t see anywhere near those numbers reflected in the nation’s masaajid.

Nor do you see too much evidence that most people who became Muslim say, 20 years ago have stayed in the religion, raised their children upon it and started a second generation, or even third generation. The overall estimates of the Muslim population may be accurate, but the stated percentage of converts does not seem reflected on the ground. In almost every major city in America except for maybe Philadelphia and to a certain extent, Atlanta, you don’t see too many large communities of converts to Islam. You see a lot of young people who are recent converts and that’s great but where are the thousands upon thousands of Muslims who converted ten years ago? Twenty years ago? Thirty years ago? Where are their children, their grandchildren?

We need to re-evaluate the statistics that are being fed to us, because it has lolled many of us into a false sense of accomplishment to the point where we brag about how well Islam is doing amongst converts in America while in reality, it seems converts, by and large, are not faring that well and that the largest concentrations of Muslim men in America are those in our nation’s prisons. When I used to volunteer at Folsom prison in California, there were hundreds of male converts in attendance, and I have never seen hundreds of Muslim male converts at any Masjid anywhere in California.

muslim-review-compact-jpeg-poster-w-jumah-pic
THE MOST AUTHORITATIVE MUSLIM RADIO SHOW IN AMERICA!

Converting to Islam is one of the most significant life changing events that will ever happen during your time on this earth.  To a true Muslim, faith is central to his or her entire being. How they understand and practice Islam will impact virtually every area of life; family, children, profession, character, marriage, and most importantly, the afterlife. So whatever you do, if you are a convert to Islam, do not ever take your Islam for granted. You have been given a gift that is more valuable than you may realize. You owe it to yourself as a Muslim to follow the guidance of the religion you have accepted as your way of life, as do we all. You also owe it to yourself to take the necessary steps in order to preserve your faith, spread it to your family, and pass it down to your children.

Statistically, there is a great chance that after a year or two, you will not be practicing Islam at all. Chances are that the euphoria that accompanied your conversion to Islam will be gone. Chances are that you won’t be attending a Masjid on a regular basis, and may not even have learned your prayers or how to purify yourself. Chances are that you will not be grounded anywhere in particular, not part of any Muslim community, and just floating from here to there, picking up bits and pieces of information when you can. All the while not finding specific the specific answers to your life’s problems that you need.

Of course this is not the case for every convert to Islam, and it may not be the case for you. However, based upon recent history, the chances are high that if you are a Muslim convert, and have been Muslim for less than 5 years, you will not be a practicing Muslims 5 years from now. 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 the majority of converts during these times we live in today. Most Muslim converts in America these days are a one shot deal. They convert to Islam but it doesn’t really spread to the 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.

If you are one of them, it is likely that even though you still believe in Allah, and His Prophet (SAWS), you still have not been able to connect the dots. You are still searching for what is the best Islam; one day something is haram, the next day it isn’t.  Maybe you’ve put your heart into one or the other popular brands of Islam and then realized that it didn’t give you all the relevant answers you needed for your life as a Muslim convert, born and raised and living in America.  Perhaps you’ve tried your hand at salafiyyism, and really believed the fatwa from 10,000 miles away that told you that you must be saddened by the happiness of any non Muslim, or that told you that you have to spend an inordinate amount of time debating with other Muslims, or that told you that you can’t wish your mother happy birthday or buy her an anniversary gift .  Or maybe you tried Sufism and found that even though you sat around doing thousands of thikrs, paid hundreds of dollars to attend seminars of a visiting shaykh, or traveled hundreds of miles to kiss somebody’s hand, has not removed your inner demons.  Or maybe you’ve simply given up and just kinda hold on to the basis of faith while having no real spiritual feeling or propulsion in your life. If you’ve been particularly unfortunate, you jumped on the bandwagon of Muslims who spend so much time arguing with each other, and trying to uncover faults in one another that they have lost track of their own spiritual health. If any of this is the case with you.  then know that you are not alone. These are the things that happen to the majority of Muslim converts in America. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the dots can be connected and there are answers to morally dysfunctional Islam, and if you can hang on for about 5 to 7 years, you’ll have realized that the simple Islam of the Prophet (SAWS) was all you needed in the first place. If you’re still new to the deen and don’t have the time to do the merry go-round approach, it should please you to know that these faith fatalities can be avoided if you are aware of the obstacles before you. You don’t have to make things up on your own as you go along, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel, and you don’t have to grope around in the dark, hoping you’ll figure it out in sha Allah. None of the above methods work, and all three contribute to moral dysfunction which contradicts the whole purpose of your accepting Islam in the first place. Islam works wonders for the soul when practiced correctly. When it is not, the results can be devastating. Islam is a path, not a destination. Don’t assume that you can travel the path of Islam, without any direction, and do not ever assume that you can lead yourself. Once you do that, the devil takes the reins.  Even Dorothy, had to follow the yellow brick road in order to reach the wizard of Oz.

Islam has been in America for more than 400 years and people have been converting to Islam in relatively large numbers since the seventies. Unfortunately, many new converts to Islam are deprived, and sometimes deprive themselves the opportunity to benefit and learn from people who accepted Islam 10, 20, or 30 years ago, and are still practicing it. This is due partially by the absence, or scarcity of Muslim communities, which contributes to the generational disconnect between Muslims. Not only are new Muslims, not benefitting from seasoned Muslim converts, in many cases, largely because of foreign influence, newer Muslims show less and less respect for Muslims who have practiced Islam in this country for decades. It’s not uncommon to find a two year convert to Islam, condemning an Imam or Muslim who fasted thirty Ramadans! Muslim Americans are finding themselves dealing with issues that have long been settled by their predecessors.

In virtually every human discipline on earth, new members learn from the ones who immediately preceded them and benefit from their experiences. Scientists, educators, people in the military, law enforcement, doctors, lawyers, builders, scholars of Islam, artists, carpenters, and even athletes learn from the ones who immediately preceded them in their craft. Sadly, the same is not true for many converts to Islam. Many converts to Islam are making the exact same mistakes, attempting the same failed (un-Islamic) methods of deen, falling for the same cons, arguing about the same issues, running into the same brick walls, and repeating the same misdirected actions that some Muslims have been doing for nearly half a century or more. The difference now is that we are heading into the last days and things are deteriorating very rapidly. Subsequently, the condition of the convert is steadily worsening, and the amount of confusion is much higher. It’s time that we have honest discussions about our journey so that we can learn from our mistakes. In the age where our country has elected its first African American President, American muslim converts, most of whom are African American, are third class Muslims in their own country.

I have been a Muslim for half a century. My parents converted to orthodox Islam in the fifties. I’m certainly not the best Muslim, and make no claim to be the quintessential example of everything a Muslim is supposed to be.  That job has already been covered by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). I have managed however, through the years, to pay close attention to what was and is going on in Muslim America. After teaching classes on Islam and lecturing to Muslims and non-Muslims for nearly three decades, serving as an Imam of a Muslim community for nearly fifteen years, administering the shahaadah to hundreds of American Muslims from all walks of life, speaking with thousands of Muslim converts, I’ve started to notice recurring patterns of how Muslim converts in America have fared. Most of them seem to not practice the religion, leave it all together, or hold on to the central theme of Islam (monotheism) and languish in bewilderment about the rest. Many just wait around to see what the next CAIR inspired protest is going to be. It is interesting to note that Muslim Americans endured discrimination, torture, name calling and abuse decades ago only to arrive in the 21st century and we can’t endure a cartoon, or a simple disparaging remark. A great scholar of Islam, imam al-Qurtubi once said: “knowledge is acquired through two things; nusoos (textual evidences from the Quran and the Sunna), and tajriba (trial and error). The goal here is to learn from our experiences, connect the dots, pinpoint specific problem areas of deen practice and provide solutions based upon the Kitaab and the Sunna.   Islam is a system of faith that works, when you believe sincerely, employ correct measures of knowledge, and stay focused on the prize, which is eternal bliss and salvation.

Nevertheless, it still remains that nearly seven out of ten Muslim converts, end up either not practicing the religion or leaving it all together. The most common causes are information overload, coupled with too many different directions of instruction, and spheres of foreign influence, and a woeful lack of facility and resources amongst indigenous American Muslim communities (most of whom are struggling). The new Muslim is often given conflicting information about what they should do, which group they should join, who and what they should love and hate, and where they can and cannot go to worship. The average muslim convert spends about 5 to 7 years literally going around in circles with their religion, sometimes embroiled in research, or dispute with other Muslims about what is haram, about  what is halal, or the meaning of this or that verses in the Quran or this or that prophetic tradition.  Other times they are busy trying out different types of Islam, different labels, each one requiring that he or she re-adjust their faith foundation, while repudiating the other group. One day a Salafi, the next day a Soofi, the next day a Maaliki, the next day a Habashi, the next day a Tablighi, and so on.

Multiple intra-faith changes in fundamental spiritual foundation can take its toll on any Muslim. For the children of converts, it can be devastating. Children are born in the state of fitra (natural godly disposition). No one embodies the pure fitra in his being, character and path, more than Rasoolillah (SAWS). This is why Aisha (RA) the wife of the Prophet (SAWS), has said; “His (The Prophet (SAWS)) character was the Quran”. This is the truth. If you care to believe it, al-humdu lillah, otherwise, my response is; Allahumma salli alaa Muhammadin WA alaa aali Muhammad

All of the aforementioned sub groups of Muslim, and Islam have some benefit in them. Following a madhhab can give order and stability to practicing Islam, especially in areas of technicality such as inheritance, marriage and divorce and other matters. Salafiyyism has reinvigorated the spirit of learning, despite its drawbacks. Many Muslims have learned humility and simplicity by association with Jamaa’atul Tabligh, and Sufism has its benefits as well as it directs one to focus on his or herself. However, like the other aforementioned, it is not all-encompassing. In fact none of the secondary sub-groups of Islam can offer as much as Islam itself, as a total faith. Furthermore, no one, no Imam, no sheikh, no teacher, no Sufi path, no faqih, or amir can equal the guidance found in the unadulterated sunna of the Prophet (SAWS). The best Islam for American Muslims and all Muslims across the globe is the Islam of the Prophet (SAWS). Islam can exist without Salafiyyism, Sufism, the schools of thought, the Habashis, the Shehu, the Saabiqoon, the Wahhaabis, and the Qaadirees, but none of these groups or disciplines would exist, or could exist without Islam. Laa ilaaha illa Allah!

None of the sectarian versions of Islam are good enough for us here in America. We are a free, independent, and fairly educated people. A third grade level kiddy fatwa is not good enough for us. We don’t believe that language and a foreign accent is tantamount to being better than us (well, some of us do). However, the point is that one third of American Muslims are a convert community (at least that’s what they say but the numbers are questionable), and as converts, guidance to Islam was a personal decision of Allah. Converts by nature are more spiritually intuitive upon their conversion than the average Muslim. First of all, their sins are all forgiven on the spot so the convert is operating as a person without the stain of sin, at least in the beginning of their Islam. The only Islam that will suffice us in the long run is the Islam of the Prophet (SAWS) in its original form, without the added on names, the added on ideas, and the added on culture

The second most common cause of leaving the religion or not practicing it for the convert is the ill treatment, and indifference they receive from other Muslims. Many Muslims have complained of walking into a Masjid and receiving less welcome than they would if they walked into a local Wal-Mart. Some Masaajid in America do not even allow women to come in to pray! When Umar ibn al-Khattaab wanted to prevent his wife from entering the Masjid for prayer the Prophet responded by saying; “Do not prevent the bondmaids of Allah from entering the houses of Allah”. The divide between immigrant Muslims and indigenous American Muslim converts is wider than it has ever been in our domestic history. As institutions (including masaajid) that are run by, cater to, and controlled by immigrant Muslims and their communities are flourishing whereas institutions of means that pay attention to the needs of our nations converts to Islam are virtually non-existent.

Unfortunately, Islam in America is ruled by political Islam which is built upon the agenda of fear and reaction, not faith and pro-action. Political Islam does not offer the same nurturing environment that spiritual/moral Islam does. Much of Muslim America has become a colony of one or more Muslim groups or ideological platforms from abroad. Many of whom are embroiled in conflict, fratricide and power struggle. It is a harsh environment, as Americans are learning to cooperate with one another, and live side by side with one another without conflict and chaos, the Muslim world is still struggling with basic civility and respect for differences. Much of that has crept into the American Muslim reality so we too, have become harsh, unforgiving, extremely sensitive, and impatient with each other and so on.  Converts usually expect a nurturing environment when they become Muslim and often find the contrary. It is the right of every Muslim to find safety amongst his or her brethren. “The Muslim is one from whom other Muslims are safe from his hand and his tongue[1] Without safety, there is  no co-operation, or forward movement, except by force, and we as Americans are free, and force does not work for us in areas of faith, thus, many of us are stuck.

The third major cause of people leaving and not practicing the faith is arguing back and forth over every petty issue they can find. A decent teacher will also instruct his students not to argue with people about deen because any Muslim leader should know the damage that it causes;  ”And obey Allah and His Messenger. and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: For Allah is with those who patiently persevere” 8:46 It was reported about the Prophet (SAWS) that he said;  and if your are comfortable enough in your faith to fight and argue about it, you would be practicing it and not trying to beat it over someone else’s head. History has shown that teachers, who are more familiar with the student, and his or her condition and environment, are more suited to teach the religion to American Muslim converts. Unfortunately many indigenous American Muslim converts are still under the delusion that in order for information to be correct, it has to have an accent, thus, the few American teachers that we have, as a whole get a lot of push back from indigenous American Muslims.
Lots of Muslims bicker back and forth on the internet; most of them bicker on behalf of their group. African Americans tend to bicker on behalf of themselves since most of us are floaters without an Imam, a community, a shaykh, or a communal foundation. Many of them bicker back and forth on behalf of one of the dozen or so foreign spheres of religious, sectarian influence that has blanketed our nation’s converts to Islam. Of all the peoples in the world who share the same language, same socio-economic and demographic conditions, same race, religion, and national identity, African American Muslims are arguably the most fractionalized of them all. That’s why we have nothing, and our communities whatever is left are crumbling before our eyes like huts made of sand.

The fourth major cause of people leaving Islam is the lack of congregation , and Muslim congregations that cater to, or are at least welcoming to American Muslim converts. The Prophet ﷺ said: “I enjoin you to be in congregation for verily the wolf devours the stray sheep”. It is imperative to have to have congregations and communities of Muslims who share the same localities, the same problems, the same conditions and the same or similar backgrounds. It will be nearly impossible for African American Muslims converts to be duly served without institutions that cater to their needs. It is difficult and nearly impossible to establish viable institutions that serve their interests without critical mass, and you can never have critical mass without having congregations, and I’m not talking about Facebook congregations either. I mean real congregations with leadership, people who are focused, and willing to put in the work required to rescue a civilization. It is only through congregation that we can make use of our own elders, scholars, experienced Muslims who were also converts, and seasoned imams, and leaders who know us, care about us, and are accessible to us. Granted, there may not be many in these categories, but they are there, and they are underutilized.

The fifth cause, which I alluded to earlier in this article, and which may, or may not contribute to the hemorrhaging of the convert community, is that masaajid and communities where converts usually attend in high numbers tend to be small, poor facilities, with scant resources or funding. Converts communities are almost exclusively in the inner cities, and in the poorer neighborhoods of America. Of the billions of dollars that have been raised and spent on building and upgrading masaajid in the United States, hardly any of it was spent on indigenous American Muslim communities. It would be illogical to believe that this reality does not negatively impact converts, and convert communities in some way. These problems that I mention in this post will not go away by themselves; and what I posted here is just the tip of the iceberg. May Allah help us…..

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, a researcher and Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the CEO of ‘Mosque Without Borders’, an organization that address Muslim sectarianism in the United States. He is also 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, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.


[1] Collected by Muslim

 

Why American Muslim Convert Communities Are Headed Towards Extinction, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Humanity-Extinction.jpgTo put it bluntly, convert Muslim communities in the United States, or what’s left of them, are headed for possible extinction. Well, perhaps not total extinction but certainly headed for nearly total marginalization and at risk to nearly disappear into thin air. This is a tough topic and at this juncture, it is still pretty much taboo to speak about it in candid terms. The mere fact that people like myself and many other Muslims are starting to address the issue of convert marginalization, is unsettling for a lot of people.

Many folks prefer that American Muslim converts are oblivious to their own realities, especially when it comes to the decline of convert communities. Which is why there is such a push for converts to be narcissistic and exuberant and assume that everything is fine. People would rather that the convert community looks at the world through the eyes of others, and not through their own reality.  Nevertheless, there seems to be data that shows that the American Muslim convert community, a community already fractionalized and marginalized, is at great risk of extinction, and here’s why.

The Pew Research Center, a well-known respected organization that has accumulated highly credible amounts of research and data about Muslims in America, estimates that there were “about 3.3 million Muslims of all ages living in the United States in 2015”.[1]  Which amounts to about 1% of the U.S. population (322 million) at the time of the study.  They estimate also, that by the year 2050, Muslims will constitute 2% of the American population, doubling their current percentage of 1%. which is why some people say that Islam is the fastest growing religion in America. So all indications seem to indicate that there is a clear trajectory of growth of Islam and Muslims in the United States; numbers of Muslims, growth in new masjid construction, new Islamic schools, and institutions. Except in the African American and convert community where new Masjid construction is at a virtual standstill. In fact, the number of African American Muslim communities and masaajid that cater to converts is on a decline.

Convert Muslims used to believe, and many still do, that the glowing numbers of the Muslim increase in the United States meant that people were converting to Islam in droves, and that although the immigrant community was growing, the convert community was growing in similar proportion. That might have been the case 40 years ago. However, today, Islam is growing in America today largely through immigration of Muslims from Muslim lands, and in people having children, not through conversion. Over half of the projected growth of Muslims in America from the years 2010 to 2015 were from immigration.[2] New data released by the Pew Center in July 2017 states that excluding African American Muslims who are in prisons or otherwise institutionalized, American born blacks make up just 13% of the American Muslim adult population, which is less than half the 20 years ago number of 33% which places the current number of African American Muslims (excluding children) at around 266,000.[3] That’s down from just a few years ago. Still we would be hard pressed to locate that many AA Muslims because of the increasing scarcity of African American or convert masaajid in the United States.

There is other data as well which suggests that the American Muslim convert community is not growing in net numbers. Dr. Besheer Mohamed, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, and a Muslim himself, concluded in a January 2016 report that; “people leave Islam at the same rate that people convert to Islam”. He also concluded that; “There has been little net change in the size of the American Muslim population in recent years due to conversion.” (Mohamed, 2016)[4] This would seem to indicate that the American Muslim convert community is pretty close to zero net growth right now if you look at the raw numbers. My numerous conversations with imams, activists in the convert community, individuals on the ground who work in da’wah, and people paying attention to these trends, seem to confirm Dr. Basheer’s and the Pew Research Center’s conclusions.

If these conclusions and observations are even close to correct, and I believe that they are, then we have to consider that the convert community is headed for possible extinction. If such is true, that means that the demographic landscape of Muslim America over the next 30 years will change drastically. It already is changing faster than many people, especially coverts to Islam, realize. One of the reasons why you do not see African American, White American, or Latino American Muslims presented too much in the national narrative is because the numbers of people simply aren’t there. Thirty years from now, if there is no change in the trends, the American Muslim convert community, and their children will be probably be around 5% of the total population of Muslims in America.

Think it can’t happen? Then let’s consider something else; according to a 2011 CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) report, between 2000, and 2010, the number of masaajid (mosques) in the United States increased from 1,209, to 2106. An increase of 74%[5]. The overwhelming majority of new masaajid built from the ground up (estimated 90%) have been built, run and sustained by and primarily for Muslim immigrants. The American Muslim immigrant community is moving forward in leaps and bounds on many fronts wal al—humdu lillaah.  In addition to that, according to another 2015 CAIR report; “The USA’s estimated 2.4 million Muslims – are mostly middle class and willing to adopt the American way of life”.[6]

This characterization of American Muslims as mostly middle class however, is not true of the American Muslim convert community. The American Muslim convert community, the majority of whom are African American, are dead last in virtually every barometric indicator that measures well-being in this country; employment, access to health care, two parent families, college education, business ownership, incarceration rates, and access to capital. This is the reality, and this is why the convert community is being left behind on many fronts.

At this point, the political will for (immigrant Muslims) to address or be concerned about socio-economic, spiritual, developmental, or da’wah issues related to the American Muslim convert community is almost non-existent. The obvious moral imperative is to look at Islam in America as an all for one, one for all situation and to look at ourselves as a single brotherhood working together across the board. However, the operational and historical reality suggests otherwise.

The reality is that there are two distinct Muslim Americans separated by Muslim converts, of all races on one side, and the immigrant community on the other side. Sure, there are plenty examples of integration, mixing, and some amounts of local cooperation, but for the most part, we’re talking about two distinctly different communities, with two distinctly different trajectories. In the midst of it all, Immigrant communities by and large are growing and convert communities are declining pretty much across the board.

Immigrant Muslim communities are doing what they view are in the best interests for their constituents and for the people who help build, fund and support their masaajid and communities. Convert Muslims and communities that serve their needs, have been stuck in decline for a long time, not even realizing or openly discussing that they have issues that are specific to them, or acknowledging the demographic decline. All that is starting to change as a new awareness is setting in, but it’s happening in a somewhat awkward way. Just seven to ten years ago, it wasn’t acceptable for converts to even mention that their condition overall as Americans, differ from that of the general immigrant community.

Not too long ago you couldn’t talk about the racial divide, about the influence of foreign Muslim groups, sectarianism and confusing sub ideology on the convert community, or the sense of abandonment that many converts to Islam feel when they come into the faith. 10 years ago, people did not talk about the fact that there is a high turnover rate of converts to Islam and those who end up leaving the religion. So now all of that is coming out at once, so it’s a halting conversation that is a little disjointed and seems to go all over the place.

Let’s be honest. There are in fact, two distinctly different Muslim Americas; one made up of immigrants who are better educated, more affluent, more organized and more poised for upward mobility as citizens and as a Muslim community, and the other are the converts and largely African American Muslim counterparts, who are poorer, less educated, higher percentages of ex-convicts, single parent homes, less family support as far as their Islam is concerned, and very naïve to the realities of Islam in America and the quest for power and control.

There are plenty of moral reasons, but virtually no practical, or political reasons for immigrant communities to look back and lend a hand to the convert community. If you think that politics do not figure prominently in the inner workings of Muslim America, then you are woefully out of touch. Still, even if there was a a national spiritual catharsis and a serous concerted effort to attend to the needs of the American Muslim converts, it would run into numerous challenges as long as the American Muslim convert community does not do and think for themselves and determine their own self intersts as Muslims.  The groundwork has been laid for the success of immigrant Muslim communities and the groundwork has been laid for the failure of convert communities. I spell out some of the main challenges of the convert community in my book ‘Double Edged Slavery’, as well as other articles on my blog.

American Muslim Immigrant communities have done pretty well in overall in building up a viable religious and social infrastructure of masaajid, schools, institutions, legal, engineering, scientific and medical professionals, as well as research, service, and professional organizations, business men and women and strong intergenerational families. The generation that is coming are very educated, engaging, focused, and more and more are distancing themselves from some of the rigidity and backwardness of the old country. These are viable building blocks for any religious community in America, Muslim or otherwise.

Black Muslim and convert communities on the other hand, have not fared as well. There is a huge generational disconnect between one generation and the other. There are scant institutional vehicles in the convert community (including masaajid), to pass anything along to our younger generation. Interestingly enough, the American Muslim convert community has spent much of the past thirty years under the inspiration of a dozen or so foreign spheres of religious influence. Whether it’s been salafiyyism, the different brands of Sufism, jihadism, the caliphate ideology, groups like Hizb ul Tah’reer, the Jamaa’aat ul Tabligh, the Ikhwaan ul Muslimeen, a phalanx of African Sheikhs, and others. Add to that, the roaming cheerleader section of Muslim converts who move from one issue to the next, providing the cheerleading or groupie section on a variety of global islamic issues that have little to do with their condition at home. Yet, there are negligible examples where convert loyalty to these outside groups, or dedication to outside and global issues have benefitted indigenous convert communities. There has been very little reciprocity.

Another unfortunate phenomenon that has occured is that the American Muslim convert community has spent a great deal of the last three decades arguing over religious minutia, debating over micro-doctrine, and looking overseas, sometimes to failed societies, for answers to their problems here at home. The Prophet ‫ﷺ said, “No people ever went astray, after they were guided, except that they were overcome by arguing”. [at-Tirmidhi]

Arguing and disputing with one another has taken up an incredible amount of time and energy and has not bode well overall for the convert community.  So while we were busy arguing amongst one another about shoes and socks, and madhhabs and minhaj, and sparring with one another using the views of our sheikhs as if we’re playing Rokem Sockem robots, something extraordinarily consequential has occurred. Time has elapsed, and a lot of time was wasted

Additionally, we’ve created a very confusing, hostile and contentious climate in many masaajid, and too many masaajid have been overrun with foreign sectarianized ideology that dismisses cultural and physical realities on the ground. That trend is changing but the effects are already in place and has had generational consequence. People are waking up, but they are waking up to a deeply entrenched chaos. Like someone bragging about and admiring their house for years and they suddenly realize that the contractor misled them, and that the house is infested with termites, the electrical system were the wrong specs, and that the septic system has been backed up for months.

This is not to diminish at all the good that is taking place in convert communities, and I do see light on the horizon in sha Allah. However, it is an uphill battle. It has to start with raising consciousness which is what many of us are working to do. Once African American Muslims and converts realize that that they are free to work in their own self-interests according to Islam, without looking at things through the lenses of immigrant Muslims who mean well, but in most cases do not have a clue about our needs, then perhaps there can be forward motion. That’s just for starters and that’s starting to happen slowly.

This is not meant in any way as a slight towards immigrant Muslims; we are all, at least in principle, brothers and sisters in islam. It is simply the reality of our condition that we be realistic and truthfully forthcoming, and it is not a matter of placing blame on this or that group.  There is light at the end of the tunnel because Allah is Light, but this is an uphill struggle and many of our people do not yet know or believe that they are free and there are many others who fear that indigenous Muslims would wake up.

One more thing we have to keep in mind is that the convert community is lacking in institutional presence. Just add up the numbers of Jum’ah attendees or the number of people who are connected to actual physical masaajid or communities. You need the critical mass in order to have protracted forward motion. That’s the physics of Muslim communal growth. In fact the basis of Muslim community centers around things like congregation, an Imam, a shura, establishing prayer in congregation, and responsible individuals who are in charge of dealing with the different religious as well as temporal affairs of the Muslims. Nearly every immigrant community that I know of, has these elements. Without them we are simply a scattered community that only comes together on the Eids maybe. Then there are talented, willing, energetic and intelligent people in our midst who have no where to plug in. the doors of inclusion are locked to them in many fledgling convert communities. Thousands of individual Islands can not sustain communal growth. That’s the math. Islam is a way of life but it’s also a system and if we ignore the systems aspect of our religion, then we’re just reduced to wishful thinking. Then there’s the issue of religious knowledge (a whole separate topic) which many of us completely ignore.

It’s not so much worrying about who Allah will hold accountable for it because Allah will hold all of us, everyone for everything according to how He sees fit. It’s more a matter of recognizing the trend, and the decline of our communities and coming up with strategies, working for change, and rebuilding. Too many want to sit around and chant slogans, and rallying cries, or wallow in denial while the community is crumbling. Now is not the time for that. Wal Allah Musta’aan.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a Philadelphia native, a writer, consultant, and Imam and khateeb at the Islamic Society of Folsom in Folsom California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the new book “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States. He also authored, “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at modern-day extremist salafi, the ideology. He blogs at, imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/06/a-new-estimate-of-the-u-s-muslim-population/.

[2] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/06/a-new-estimate-of-the-u-s-muslim-population/.

[3] http://www.pewforum.org/2017/07/26/demographic-portrait-of-muslim-americans/.

[4] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/06/a-new-estimate-of-the-u-s-muslim-population/.

[5] https://www.cair.com/images/pdf/The-American-Mosque-2011-part-1.pdf

[6] https://cair.com/press-center/cair-in-the-news/4804-cair-american-muslims-reject-extremes.html

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