This article is a generalization but it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fabrication. I happen to be from Philadelphia, and even though I have not read the entire book, “The Philadelphia Negro”, By W.E.B. Dubois, I always liked the title. So I used the title for this article although my article here has little if anything to do with the book written by W.E.B. Dubois. This article is about growing up as a Muslim in Philadelphia. One thing about growing up in Philadelphia is that you never forget where you came from. Now that may be true for many places but if you are from Philly, no matter where you move to in the country or the world, you still consider yourself from Philly and a Philly person. There is something that can be said that is the Philly vibe. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so.
It is not one characteristic. It is many characteristics rolled up into one. And all those characteristics do not go for everyone. It all depends where you grew up, and how you grew up in Philadelphia; what kind of home, what kind of lifestyle, what kind of parents, what neighborhood, and one combination of home and street values where you raised upon. All that goes into who you are as a Philadelphian, and of course like I said, this is not just for Philadelphia, but I just happened to be from Philadelphia.
I grew up in a working-class, two-parent Muslim household. For the most part, we were always the only Muslims in the schools, the only Muslims on the block and for most years the only Muslims in the immediate neighborhood. Both of my parents were heavily involved in Islamic work. Our lives as I remember it, revolved around Islam. Does that mean that we were perfect Muslims, or the perfect Muslim family? No, of course not, and there’s no such thing by the way. It is just that Islam was a focal point of our lives and our identity growing up in Philly. Every city and region has it’s own personality when it comes to culture, politics, and religion. Philadelphia is no different, and when it comes to the religion of Islam in the United States, to IslamI grew up in the area of the city called Germantown. I grew up at a time where we had gangs in the neighborhood, and if you did not know anything else, you had to know how to fight, you had to know how to stand up for yourself and to stand up for your religion which was frequently under attack. Philadelphians tend to speak straight to the point, and tend to take a stand on things; for or against, with you or against you, agree with you or do not agree with you, your friend or your foe. I do not know about now, but back in the day people did not tend, at least the people that I know, to be wishy-washy.
Then there were always the con artists, and the con games, and the people who would always like to BS. I never had too much of a stomach for those types. Once you are known as a con artist and everybody tends to look at you as a con artist, and if you were a con artist you had to take your chances, if you got over, got over. If he got caught, then there were consequences and you just had to live with that. Those were the rules back then, and I do not know what the heck the rules are today. If you had a butt whuppin coming, (or worse) because of your actions, the police couldn’t save you. If you conned somebody, set someone up, or where treacherous, most likely, you had to pay the consequences for that.
I do not ever recall having to live under the guise of political correctness. I do not even think that they had the terminology back then. You would say what you meant, and you meant what you said. One of the worst things that a person could be back then was to be two-faced, to run your mouth too much about other people’s business, to be wishy-washy, or to be a coward.
Philadelphia was always a city of uppity Negroes who would dare to speak up, to keep coming back, and to not give up, and the Philadelphia Muslim Negro is an uppity Muslim who will fight off the yoke of second-class Muslim citizenry. There were times when our city was very racially polarized and we used to fight for respect. Many brothers from Philadelphia have went overseas and study Islam. There are many graduates from Islamic universities who were from Philadelphia.
The first indigenous American Muslim who memorized the Quran, Shaykh Anwar Muhaimin, is from Philadelphia. Some of the oldest indigenous American Muslim families who have four, five, and six generations in Sunni Islam are from Philadelphia. Our country was founded in Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. The underground railroad came through Philadelphia. Frederick Douglass and the abolitionist movement thrived in Philadelphia. Martin Luther King was influenced by Philadelphia during his time in Chester, Pennsylvania. Noble Drew Ali and the Moorish American Science Temple flourished in Philadelphia. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded by Richard Allen in Philadelphia. John Coltrane settled in Philadelphia. Will Smith is from Philadelphia, Pattie Labelle settled in Philadelphia, Grover Washington Jr. was from Philadelphia.
The religion of Islam has a very rich history in Philadelphia. We were taught from a very young age to take our Islam seriously. Although much of the history has yet to be written, Islam in America amongst indigenous American Muslim converts has a lot to do with Muslims in Philadelphia who spread out and strengthened other communities, and established communities. Philadelphia is a city of courage, and
So when I wrote the book Double Edged Slaveryabout the modern-day colonization of African American Muslims, you have to keep in mind that I am very much a product of Philadelphia. You may or may not understand what that means but Philly people understand what I’m saying. I was raised not to be afraid to say what I have to say. I learned this from my mother and my father, and this is what you see reflected in my writings. Much of the passion that I drew upon in writing my book, had to do with me growing up and being a son of Philadelphia, and about the willingness to call a con-game, a con-game, and that what my book is about. It’s about liberation, and removing obstacles from between you and Allah.
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, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
[The purpose of this article is not to disparage the legitimate wali [ولي], plural; awliyaa [اولياء] of Allah whomever they may be. This writing is a defense of the awliyaa of Allah [friends of Allah, or saints] and to clarify what a wali is and what wilaaya [ولاية] of Allah means based upon textual evidence [the Quran and the Sunna], the statements of our scholars, and the recognized standards of tawheed [monotheism] upon which the religion of Islam is based].
The first question is; is there a such a thing as a wali of Allah or a Saint? Do we have saints in Islam? The answer is yes, there is such a thing as awliyaa [friends] of Allah, based upon the verse; “Now surely the friends [awliyaa] of Allah– they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve. Those who believe, and are god-fearing”. So who and what are the awliyaa [plural of wali] of Allah, who are the saints, and why is it important for people to know about them? Firstly, it is not incumbent for a Muslim to know all the recognized awliyaa of Allah or saints. It is not a requirement of religion. Your knowing them, knowing their names, and their history will not by itself bring you closer to Allah, raise you in degrees, or secure for you a place in paradise.
Faith and knowledge are what raises people in degrees; “Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do”. Knowing the awliyaa of Allah can be a means to expand your understanding of islamic history and broadening your options in how you pursue knowledge of the religion, and knowledge of suluk [inner character]. Knowing and understanding who are the awliyaa of Allah is a tool of the many tools available to a Muslim in pursuing his or her path to Allah, which is a path that each of us must take. “Verily, this is an admonition, therefore whosoever will, let him take a Path to His Lord!”
We all have our shuyookh, our teachers, our imams, or our elders who we take from or have taken knowledge and examples from. If you are a murid [seeker]on the Sufi path, then it is very likely that there will be those regarded as awliyaa in your chain. The reason that some people follow a particular school of fiqh or take a particular tariqa or Sufi path is to help them in their journey to Allah and an understanding of Islam. The problem occurs for some when they take their madhhab, or their Sufi path as an end goal in itself, and not simply as a means to an end. The confusion sets in when a person believes that his sheikh, or his chosen wali or saint has knowledge and spiritual gifts that exceed that of the Prophet ﷺ, or they come to believe that Islam alone is not enough for them. One of the things that I have heard said to me by some of the followers of these paths isay and that you hear more and more from impressionable new Muslims who decide on a Sufi path, is that Islam is not enough for them; they need something more than Islam. This underscores the potential danger and of being lead astray, by the promise that there is something greater than Islam to aspire to.
Belief in awliyaa
What is incumbent upon the Muslim, is to believe in Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, to obey Allah and His Messenger, to establish the prayer, pay his or her zakat, observe the month of Ramadan, and make pilgrimage to Mecca if and when they are able. Knowing and learning from the learned and righteous awliyaa of Allah, that which will help in seeking Allah, is what benefits a Muslim, not simply knowing of them. Still we should keep in mind that the best example for the believing Muslim is the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. “Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much”. The highest, most authentic form of religious knowledge is the Book of Allah, and the authentic ahaadeeth [traditions] of the Prophet ﷺ.
Although knowing awliyaa is not incumbent upon the Muslim, the belief that there are such persons who are the awliyaa of Allah is a requirement of deen simply because the Quran affirms it. Furthermore, seeking and acquiring knowledge of religion is incumbent on us based upon the hadith; “Seeking knowledge [of religion] is mandatory upon every Muslim”. With respect to that, there is no doubt that amongst the awliyaa of Allah were scholars of Islam and individuals in whom Allah has preserved the knowledge of religion, and placed examples of how to obey Allah and His Messenger, how to understand and practice the principles and injunctions of the Quran in detail, how to follow the Sunna, and how to persevere when tested in our faith. Thus knowing and attaching to the awliyaa can be a great source of benefit. Just like knowing and attaching oneself to the Salaf of our ummah has benefit, or knowing and attaching yourself to your teacher has benefit, or knowing and attaching yourself to your parents could be a benefit.
Those who came before and have preceded us in faith and the believing people preceding us is faith, is part of the generational continuity of Islam. As Muslims, we are required to take a certain disposition regarding those who preceded us in faith; “O our Lord, forgive us and and forgive those who preceded us faith, and make not any rancor in our hearts towards those who believe”. Therefore, we take a disposition of love, respect, and fraternity and the absence of rancor with those who have came before us in this religion. We take the approach of having husnul thann [good assumption] or [حسن الظن] as far as they are concerned. This good assumption is due for all Muslims, not just those regarded as awliyaa. Which is why the Prophet ﷺ said; “Do not revile the dead for they have already went to face what they put forth”. However, with respect with those who change the religion, those who insert detestable innovation, set themselves up as idols to be worshipped, obeyed, or venerated above Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, we tend not to be as generous with them.
The connection that most people have with a wali of Allah is the result of their taking a spiritual [Sufi] path. Outside of the community of Sufism, not a whole lot is said concerning the awliyaa of Allah. Within each Sufi tariqa, there are personalities who are considered to be awliyaa of Allah. Usually the one who founded that particular Sufi order was himself considered a wali of Allah as in the case of Sheikh Ahmad al-Badawi [d. 1276 C.E.] who was the founder of the Badaawi order, or Ibrahim ad-Dasuqi [d. 1296] the founder of the Dasuqi order, or Abu Hasan al-Shaadhili, the founder of the Shaadhiliyya order, and the famous wali of Allah Junayd al-Baghdaadi [d. 910 C.E.] Some of the awliyaa were very strict in following the sharia, others, not so much.
What is it that makes a person a wali of Allah?
All of the aforementioned were considered to be awliyaa of Allah. All of them were scholars of Islam who possessed great insight about the religion, about Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala and the path to become close to Allah. They all were high examples of piety, steadfastness and taqwa, but how, and why were some considered awliyaa of Allah and others were not? The answer is more than anything else, the appearance of karamaat [miracles]. The appearance of karamaat in most cases is a condition for conference of the title wali of Allah. When such persons would die, their students and the people who knew them would remember their lives, their piety, their teachings, their benefit to others, their sacrifices for the religion, and most notably, their miracles, or miracles attributed to them, and confer upon them the title wali of Allah or saint.
The miracles, called karamaat would be what put them over the top in obtaining recognition as a wali of Allah. Sometimes the people of knowledge in that time or region would come to that unanimous conclusion. More recently there was Sheikh Aamadu Bamba [d. 1927], who is becoming particularly popular these days and considered by many to be a wali of Allah. My father Sheikh Abdulkarim, first told me about him about 30 years ago. He was the founder of the spiritual city of Tuba in Senegal. He himself was a disciple of the Qaadiriyya order founded by the great scholar and mystic, sheikh Abdul-Qaadir al-Jailaani [d. 1166 C.E.], and many miracles are attributed to him. Such as, while in chains on a boat, he broke his chains and prayed upon the water without sinking. Many other miracles are attributed to ones whom I have mentioned and to other awliyaa of Allah from amongst the companions of the Prophet ﷺ down to our present age.
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali places awliyaa into two categories. The first are those who become awliyaa of Allah by dutiful performance of the faraa’id [incumbent acts]. This includes the five prayers, zakat, observance of Ramadan, the Hajj, kindness to neighbors, fulfilling our social responsibilities to our family, our brethren, the poor, the wayfarer, and everything else that would constitute that which Allah has made incumbent upon His servants. In fact, there are no better paths to Allah except by what Allah has commanded and deemed praiseworthy. Umar ibn al-Khattaab said; “the best of deeds is to perform what Allah has made incumbent, respecting away from what Allah has made prohibited, sincere intention about what Allah be He Exalted, has in store”. In this sense, anyone who does what Allah commands, avoids what Allah says to avoids, and fulfills the rights of others as Allah has prescribed and the rights over himself and the rest of creation as prescribed by our religion is a wali of Allah.
This is why ibn Taymiyah said that; “Anyone who believes in Allah and has taqwa is a wali of Allah”. Based upon the evidence, this is correct. “Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light;”. This is also why we should not overstate the status [maqaam] of the awliyaa of Allah over what is mentioned in the Quran and authenticated in the Sunna of the Prophet ﷺ. Amongst this first category are perhaps millions upon millions of believers who have come and gone, and have fulfilled their obligations to Allah and gained the status of wilaaya with Allah.
Most of these awliyaa of Allah we will never know about, and not even know their names. Abu al-Farj Ibn Jawzi [d. 1201 C.E.], in his well-known book, Sifatul Safwa [صفةالصفوة] tells the story of unknown, unnamed, righteous people and their examples. He calls them maj’huloon [unknowns]. He demonstrates by their mention that amongst the pure-minded and righteous are these who are famous, such as the companions of the Prophet ﷺ, and the Taabi’een, those who are well known, such as our early scholars, those who are hardly known and those who are not known at all, even their names.
The second category of awliyaa are those who by performing the extra, supplemental duties, the nawaafil [نوافل] they become closer to Allah. This is based upon the statement of Allah; “And My servant continues to draw nearer to Me with supererogatory (nawaafil) prayers so that I shall love him. When I love him, I shall be his hearing with which he shall hear, his sight with which he shall see, his hands with which he shall hold, and his feet with which he shall walk. And if he asks (something) of Me, I shall surely give it to him, and if he takes refuge in Me, I shall certainly grant him it”. This is the classical and correct description of a wali of Allah. When people talk about the well-known and famous awliyaa of islamic history, they are usually referring to people of this category, except that they add to that, the attribution of miracles to them.
A person does not become a wali of Allah except by the means that are explained in our sacred texts i.e. the Quran and the Sunna. Each well known wali of Allah has their own history of struggle, or leaning, of faith and of action. No two is exactly alike. If we do not use the Quran and the Sunna to understand what a wali of Allah is, then anyone can declare himself or anyone else to be a wali of Allah and use that distinction to reign over the ignorant like lords. Such as we see today. This amongst other reasons is why we have to look at the Kitaab and the Sunnah regarding what is a wali of Allah, and what it takes to become close to Allah. After all, we are Muslim, and Allah has not revealed any other religion for us except Islam.
That being the case, we are bound by law to look at matters from the view of the Quran and the Sunna and not make up religion or religious practices. The Prophet ﷺ said, “anyone who introduces in this affair (religion) of ours that which is not [originally] from it, then it is rejected”. Scholars of Islam paid special attention to not allowing the awliyaa of Allah to become some sort of elite, protected class of people who reign over other people. Because that’s not what wilaaya is all about. Wilaaya is not a public thing; it is a personal thing. According to the Quran, the qualities of a wali of Allah are two; faith and taqwa [piety]; Those who believe, and are god-fearing. The Prophet ﷺ when asked about who is a wali of Allah said; “They are whom when they are seen, [people] are reminded of Allah”.
Walking on water does not make a person a wali of Allah. Flying or floating in the air does not make a person a wali of Allah. Walking through walls, telling your fortune, self-transport to far away lands, claiming knowledge of the unseen [ghaib], or accurately surmising what someone had for breakfast that morning does not make a person a wali of Allah. If that was the case, then demons, who claim the same abilities and possess some of them, would be awliyaa of Allah. The famous magician David Copperfield walked on water and you could get a local soothsayer or Tarot card reader can tell your fortune. Magic is prohibited in Islam, as well as getting your horoscope read, and none of these things makes a person a wali of Allah. Neither does being a descendant of the Prophet ﷺ make a person a wali of Allah. A wali of Allah is first and foremost exactly what Allah has described in the Quran; “those who believe and have taqwa”. Anything above that should be subject to scrutiny and proofs because there is a fine line between miracles and magic. Some of the Sufi’s that are floating around today practice magic, advocate the use of magic spells and openly proclaim that magic is permissible to achieve one’s objectives. Many brothers, and sisters have found themselves caught up in this.
Performing a miracle or a supernatural action does not make one a wali of Allah. However, awliyaa of Allah are recorded as having performed actions that are regarded as miracles. These miracles are divided into two categories; mu’jizaat [miracles], and karamaat [blessed feats]. Miracles for Prophets are called mu’jizaat, and for the righteous and the awliyaa, they are called karamaat. Sheikh Bin Baz (RA) explained this issue succinctly by saying that what is regarded as a karaama is when Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala renders His assistance to save someone from his enemy, or lifts off a burden from them or extracts them from a bad situation in a way where it is not normal, or in some way defies physical laws. This happens by the grace of Allah and sometimes it happens in full view of witnesses. Such events are called karamaat and yes karamaat of the awliyaa is something real and factual according to the consensus of our scholars.
It is important to understand just who are the awliyaa of Allah and something about their history and teachings because to take an adversarial position to a wali of Allah without just cause is considered a sin based upon the Qudsi hadith where Allah says; “Whoever shows hostility to My wali, then I have declared war upon him”. Since hostility towards the awliyaa is considered a sin, love and religious fraternity with the awliyaa is a virtue. Here is where a lot of people become confused. Loving the awliyaa is a virtue but so is loving a Muslim. Loving the awliyaa does not mean elevating them above what Allah has granted them, and it does not mean deifying them, worshipping them, worshipping through them, or ascribing to them unique powers to grant you superior status with Allah.
A lot of people misunderstand what it means by loving the awliyaa. It’s not a matter of a metered comparative love where people are tested by the degree how much they love a certain wali of Allah over another, or over another Muslim. For example, you can’t test a person and ask him; “who do you love more? Sheikh Abdul-Qaadir al-Jaylaani [d. 1166 C.E.], or the black woman who used to sweep the masjid during the time of the Prophet ﷺ? Or test a person and ask; “who is preferable? Ibn Ataa Allah, or Hasan al-Basri? Or ask them; who do you love more? Ahmad ibn Ajiba [d. 1809], or Moinuddeen Chisti [d. 1230 C.E.]? Such associative comparisons are nonsensical and totally out of sync with what is meant by love for the awliyaa of Allah.
This is how people get tricked up into sheikh jousting and find themselves defending this or that sheikh or wali of Allah or cutting off relationships because you feel that someone is not showing enough reverence for your chosen wali of Allah [because there are tens of thousands of them]. This is madness. Some of the Arabs tried to get the Prophet ﷺ to specify his love and affinity for one tribe over the other but he wouldn’t.
Sufism is a legitimate pursuit and many of the great scholars of Islam following a Sufi past. However, Sufism has great trial in it as well because it is so varied, and some of its branched ideology goes directly into shirk [polytheism]. We live in a time where we are pressured to be politically correct in everything, even in holding on to our faith. To accept anything and everything regardless of what our scripture says about it. I get it, but I don’t subscribe to it. I believe that we should follow the Quran and the Sunna to the best of our ability and that Islam by itself, is enough for us as a religion.
The fact is that we are Muslims. We love what Allah loves and we hate what Allah hates or tells us to hate. We love those who love Allah, who support Allah, who support our religion and religious principles, who are just, who are kind, who are patient, who are benevolent, and who are merciful to others, and we hate those who hate Allah, who slaughter the innocent, those who are unjust, those who murder, and spread fitnah amongst the earth. We don’t get into who they are specifically, that’s not our job. Nor it is our job to be judge and jury over people by person unless we are real judges and real juries in courts of law. We leave the righteous in the hands of Allah; He will give them their due, and we leave the wicked in the hands of Allah, He will give them their due. In the meantime, we love Allah more than anyone else, and our greatest enemy is the devil, and we ask Allah to make us from amongst the rightly guided. This is how it goes beloveds. We are all just passing through this world; we don’t want to get stuck on personality, except the personality of the Last Prophet of Allah, Muhammad ibn Abdullah ﷺ, Rasoolullaah. We’re stuck on him, we love him, our hearts are attached to him ﷺ.
Unfortunately, we hear more and more these days about people who claim that their sheikh or their teacher is a wali of Allah or that they are following, or a disciple of a wali of Allah, which is fine, but now there is competition. As more and more people are gaining and even competing for disciples based upon their alleged close connection [wilaaya] to Allah, people have the right and obligation to know just who and what is the wali of Allah. Some people are selling choice seating on the Day of Judgment by following this or that sheikh, and this is wrong. This is completely wrong. Reported claims of some awliyaa border on the outrageous. Such as the ability to self-transport themselves every Friday to either Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina or Masjid al-Aqsa to perform salaatul Jum’ah, or the claimed permission granted to them to commit fornication, lie, steal and kill based upon their alleged closeness to Allah.
One common exaggeration about the awliyaa of Allah is that they are infallible. For example, Abdul al-Wahhaab al-Sha’raani [1565 C.E.], who incidentally was a Shaafi’ee jurist from Egypt as well as a Sufi said that; “Of the more splendid miracles of the awliyaa is their divinely granted success to be in a constant state of obedience to Allah where they enjoy total protection is’mah [عصمة] from committing acts of disobedience [to Allah] or doing anything contrary [to the religion]. The idea that a wali of Allah is infallible is a widespread notion. Even questioning their infallibility makes some wali lovers go ballistic. Unfortunately, wali’ism [new word, meaning loving and accepting anything from awliyaa without question] is a new fad that is on the rise. Muslims of today have no idea what they are getting into when they embark on blind discipleship of so-called awliyaa of Allah that takes them outside of the boundaries of scripture. Many are attracted to the mystique and novelty of wali’ism but end up committing shirk.
Superfluous sheikh veneration has become an industry in many parts of the world and has now come nearly full throttle to the United States. Some people erect shrines in their homes and plaster their walls with pictures of individuals claiming that he is a wali of Allah. Some people travel hundreds or thousands of miles just to see or touch a so-called wali of Allah or someone associated with him; to kiss his hand, or be in his presence, to benefit from his touch. Some of them argue and fuss with each other on behalf of their sheikh who claims to be a wali of Allah, or the disciple of a wali of Allah. This is not only incompatible to the principles of our religion which promotes individual striving and accountability before Allah, not accountability through the sheikh, it is incompatible with American culture and the culture of the convert to Islam. We were never really that good at sheikh veneration, and I doubt if we ever will be.
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 email@example.com.
What’s better in the long run for a Muslim? Homiehood or brotherhood? the obvious answer is brotherhood but brotherhood is getting harder and harder to find these days. As we enter deeper and deeper into the Dajjaal age, brotherhood and sisterhood are becoming scarce and have been replaced by homiehood which is a much lessor version of brotherhood. Brotherhood in Islam has unchanging and virtuous principles established by Allah and His Messenger Brotherhood is genuine and brotherhood has rules. There are many verses in the Quran and ahaadeeth of the prophet (SAWS) that talk about brotherhood. Brotherhood is a lofty station in Islam. It’s not for the petty, it’s not for the foolish minded and it’s definitely not for the true seasoned hater. That’s haterism and we’ll talk about that in a moment. There was a time when people were taught what brotherhood in Islam was, and meant but these days homiehood is often mistaken as brotherhood and the two are worlds apart. We need to reurn to the original standard of what brotherhood in Islam really is.
The Prophet (SAWS) said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever shield a Muslim, Allah will shield him on the Day of Resurrection”. This is brotherhood. In homiehood, these rules do not apply. Homiehood is haphazard and exists just for the sake of the homies. Islamic brotherhood exists for the sake of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. Homies frequently like to come through the back door. Your homie will tell you what you want to hear and not what you need to hear. Brothers prefer to come through the front door; they tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. [“It is not a righteous act to enter houses from the back. Righteousness is to be pious and enter the houses from the front door. Have fear of Allah so that perhaps you will have lasting happiness”.] Brotherhood is a lofty station that is so high, even the Prophets envy it; The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “There are people from the servants of God who are neither prophets nor martyrs, (but) the prophets and martyrs will envy them on the Day of Resurrection. . .They are those who love one another for the sake of Allah. . .I swear by Allah, their faces will glow and they will be (sitting) on (pulpits of) light. They will have no fear (on the day) when the people will have fear, and they will not grieve when the people will grieve.”
Homiehood is a spiritually lazy man’s version of brotherhood and it’s whatever the homies decide on. A homie will lie to his homie, lie for his homie and lie about his homie depending on the circumstance. Homiehood is a temporary state that changes from condition to condition. One day he’s your homie and the next day he’s your enemy. Homies have no problem coming together behind closed doors to plot, plan and execute that which is prohibited in the Book of Allah without any of them paying mind to prohibit each other or themselves from it. This is why Allah says; “O ye who believe! When ye conspire together, conspire not together for crime and wrongdoing and disobedience toward the messenger, but conspire together for righteousness and piety, and keep your duty toward Allah, unto whom ye will be gathered”. [58:9].
When brothers get together whether publicly of behind closed doors, it is to support, uphold, and establish what’s right. “The believers, both male and female, are each other’s guardians. They try to make others do good, prevent them from committing sins, perform their prayers, pay the religious tax, and obey God and His Messenger. God will have mercy on them; He is Majestic and All-wise”. [9:71] Homiehood is when you support your homie, good, bad, right or wrong, you stick wit da homie most of the time unless of course your homiehood descends into haterhood. Haterhood is when people act like friends but in reality are jealous or hateful of each other but keep up homie façade for appearances sake because people don’t like to be homieless. Homies like to get together just to kick back and chill but when it comes time to put some constructive work in, homies are nowhere to be found. Brothers like to work together to get things done but they might take some time off here and there to relax. Homiehood without brotherhood is empty dreams but brotherhood can easily survive and thrive without homiehood.
Now haterhood is a different animal altogether. Haterhood is an association built on hating, jealousy, envy, backbiting, and wishing bad on someone. Haterhood is the evil-eye. Haterhood is when the thing that you have most in common is not your love for Allah, love for Islam or love for doing good but instead you are connected by your hate or dislike for someone, or your jealousy of that person. This is also called hasad [envy] and envy is bad news for a believer both for the one who harbors it in his heart and for the one to whom it is directed. When you are glad when you see or hear about something unfortunate happening to your so-called brother, then what you have is not brotherhood, and not even homiehood, but rather haterhood.
Haterhood is the evil eye and is born out of jealousy. Haterhood is one of the diseases of the heart and it is fueled by envy and dissatisfaction with the decree of Allah for another person. It is also your wish that whatever Allah has decreed for someone else, you don’t want that person to have it, but instead want it for yourself. One of the key elements of haterism and one that every hater cannot do without is two-facedness. The Prophet (SAWS) said, “You will find that the worst of Allah’s slave on the Day of Resurrection is the two-faced person. He comes to some people with one face and to others with another face”. Two-facedness and haterism go hand in hand. The hater doesn’t want you to know that he or she hates your guts; on the contrary, the hater will try to convince you and everyone else that they love you and they are your friend and blah, blah, blah, blah. However, in reality the hater wishes your misfortune and relishes in it. In Islam haterism is part of the evil-eye.
The evil eye is real. “And verily, those who disbelieve would almost make you slip with their eyes (through hatred).” [68:51]. The Prophet (SAWS said, “If there were anything that would overtake the qadr, then it would be the evil eye”. The Muslim should guard himself against the shayaateen [demons] from amongst the jinn and humans. By Believing in Allah, putting trust in Him and seeking refuge with Him from Iblis and his allies. Also it behooves the believing Muslim to avoid those who hate them or wish ill upon them. Of the best du’aa and incantations [ruq’ya] to protect yourself from jealousy and the evil-eye is reciting al-Mu’awwadhatayn [the last two suras of the Quran], Sura al-Ikhlaas, Sura al-Fatiha, and ayat al-Kursi [2:255].
Other du’as for protection from jealousy and the evil-eye are:
The Prophet (SAWS) said, “There is no ruqyah except in the case of the evil eye or fever”. Jibril (AS) used to do ruqyah for the Prophet (SAWS) and say, “Bismillahi arqeeka min kulli shayin yudheeka, min sharri kulli nafsin aw ‘aynin hasid Allaahu yashfeek, bismillahi arqeek (In the name of Allah I perform ruqyah for you, from everything that is harming you, from the evil of every soul or envious eye may Allah heal you, in the name of Allah I perform ruqyah for you).” Also, the Prophet (SAWS) instructed people to say; “A’oodhu bi kalimat-illah il-tammati min sharri ma khalaqa (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allah from the evil of that which He has created)”. He (SAWS) also taught, “A’oodhu bi kalimat-illah il-tammati min ghadabihi wa ‘iqabihi, wa min sharri ‘ibadihi wa min hamazat al-shayateeni wa an yahduroon (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allah from His wrath and punishment, from the evil of His slaves and from the evil promptings of the devils and from their presence)”.
You may also recite the words of Allah be He Exalted: “Hasbi Allahu la ilaha illa huwa, ‘alayhi tawakkaltu wa huwa Rabb ul-‘arsh il-‘azeem, [Allaah is sufficient for me. La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He] in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne). [9:129]
May Allah protect us all from envious people, the evil-eye, and any type of harm that threatens us or our families. Ameen. Wa billahi tawfiq. Imam Luqman Ahmad
Yeah, I know it’s a long title. Nevertheless, this is a really complex and deeply problematic topic. When people become Muslim, they’re not thinking; I’m becoming a Tijaani, I’m becoming a Shaafi’ee, I’m becoming a Jihadi, a Tablighi or a Salafi. They’re thinking; ‘I’m becoming a Muslim’. It’s only after they take their shahaadah that people indoctrinate them into this or that sect or group, at a time when no less when they are most vulnerable. I’m not knocking your group here but darn, can’t we just let people get used to being a Muslim first before we sectarianize them? If you think about it, that’s a really cruel trick to play on someone; have them enter Islam thinking unity, and then induct them into sectarianism. This article could have been titled ‘American Muslims and the Oftentimes Perplexing Sectarian Identity Politics’ but that’s heck of a long and confusing title so I settled for a shorter and slightly less confusing title.
Still, this is really a complex topic because for many people, entering Islam is awesome; it’s one of the greatest things that ever happened to them in their lives, but what comes next can be a let down. Especially after they’re ushered through the labyrinth of supplemental isms which have become attached Islam. Hey don’t misunderstand me; I get it that one man’s ism is another man’s source of enlightenment. However, considering that according to a Pew Research study published earlier this year, the American Muslim convert community is at a zero growth rate, meaning that for every ten people who converts to Islam, ten other people end up leaving Islam, I wonder whether all these isms confronting the new Muslim might have something to do with it. Hey, we are human beings and we need to have groups for a whole bunch of reasons, we just don’t need a whole bunch of groups thinking that they have the monopoly on the truth. The haqq, if you will.
First of all, if you choose just to be a regular Muslim, you might not get much love in the first place because just about every sect, sub-sect, tariqa, group, or movement is looking to increase membership. If you end up as part of a sect or a particular group, you have to become indoctrinated not only in basic Islam from the Quran and the Sunna, but now you have to become indoctrinated and taught again, the tenants, beliefs and practices that are particular to your sect or group. This is not to say that every group is inherently bad, evil or wrong. I already mentioned that as human beings we need groups, Not every group is wrong and the Muslim ummah agrees to the legitimacy of the four orthodox schools of islamic legal doctrine as well as the Ja’fari and the Zaidi schools from amongst the Shiite, and there are all kinds of groups who follow the Quran and the Sunna. So let’s just say that right now, I’m not referring to any particular group; I’m just talking about sects and sectarianism. Just a little chat. Additionally, it is well known at least in what I believe that as Muslims, we are to follow the methodology of knowledge as set forth by the scholars of the first three generations of Muslim or the Salaf as-Saalih.
Still, you have to admit that sectarianism is an encumbrance on the new Muslim, and in my humble opinion, it’s hit us pretty hard, especially for the American Negroe. We come from a people that’s been pre-programmed for self-destruction, and a culture where our young men (and women) routinely fight and kill each other on the streets for next to nothing. We have people who fight over turf that they don’t even own and then we give them Muslim sectarianism to fight over. That’s the last thing we need; something else to fight over. I’m not seeing where that really worked for us, or where sectarianism has built anything for indigenous African American or convert Muslims. Sectarianism can produce a Crip versus Bloods mentality. People ready to argue and fight with someone over their sect, their sheikh, even over their madhhab or tariqa. When you join a sect, and of course most every sect has its protagonists and antagonists, you have to learn all the tenants of your sect that makes your sect different or better than the other sects, and different from the Islam that existed before your sect or group came into being. If seem people kicked out of their sect because they didn’t want to follow the rules. The Prophet ﷺ and the Salaf, preceded all of these sects. Then, every sect has their particular reasons why their sect is better than the other, otherwise there is no reason for people to be in the sect in the first place. Then once you become in full doctrinal mode then you have to be appraised of the sects (if any) that your sect or group is opposed to, as well as the ones that are opposed to your sect.
Most every self-respecting sect these days has its enemies and detractors to gather people against. The nature of sectarianism is that it is easier to gather people in opposition of something than it is to get them together in favor of something unless its some bid’ah. Sectarianists love them some bid’ah. Not just them. Any one of us can get caught up in some bid’s these days if we’re not careful. If the bid’ah is exciting enough and you’re going to get good news coverage, people will flock to some bid’ah. If someone belongs to a sect, then best believe if you look hard enough then you will likely find some religious innovation. Sometimes just a minor smidgeon of bid’ah, but sometimes you find the weird stuff. I mean real weird stuff. I remember a recent group that some brothers belonged to where they do turn off the lights to do thikr. Now that some weird stuff to me. Why turn off the lights? Unless maybe you’re trying to save money on the light bill, but why do it at thikr time? I wasn’t there and I’m not part of that group and it could be totally innocent, just trying to save money on electricity. I just have a thing when men and women gather together and then turn out the lights because it reminds me of back in the day house parties.
Once you enter into sectarianism you can easily find yourself in the unappealing position of attacking anyone who criticizes your sect, your sheikh, your madhhab, or your particular group. Or even worse, taking it personal. As you become deeper and deeper indoctrinated as happens to many people, they find themselves defending their sect even when the criticism is warranted and upholding the views of their sect and their shuyookh even when those views contradict the Book and the Sunna. This is how sectarianism gets out of control and for Muslim converts, it gets out of control quite often. Bottom line, if you think that your sect is the way to go, then al-humdu lillaah. If you think your madhhab is the way to go then al-humdu illah. I follow the Shaafi’ee madhhab in most every issue of fiqh but I’ve been known to take a Maaliki position here and there. I know that some people say that’s not allowed and they are free to try to bring it up when we all stand before Allah on the day of Judgment. I’m still of the view that if it agrees with the Book and the Sunna, I’m all for it, and if it doesn’t well… not so much.
Sectarianism may have its benefits and of course like I said, all groups, tariqas, islamic political parties, and movements aren’t bad and they all aren’t 100% pure good either. So don’t go off half cocked because you think I insulted your group or your sheikh. My advice is that if you’re going to be Muslim then learn the basics. Learn your prayers, do your prayers, pay your zakat, fast your Ramadan, and if you get a few dollars, or excuse me, a few thousand dollars to spare, go ahead and make Hajj. Do the five pillars. If you want to go deep into one sect or another, okay ma sha Allah, but still try to stick to the basics and keep your options open. If we can pay dues to all of these groups and spheres of foreign influence in our communities and still manage to all work together to address our problems with family, Islamic communal infrastructure, our many fatherless homes, and the other problems in our shared communities then fine. If not, we should think a little more about the impact of Muslim sectarianism on what’s left of our fragile communities. In the meantime, obey Allah and His Messenger ﷺ and your leaders that you are connected to in matters that are right, but remember, you have to trek your own path to Allah. No one else can do that your you. Not your sheikh, not your group, not your Imam, just you. Above all else, keep your loyalty and your sincerity to Allah and to Allah Alone. Wal Allahul Musta’aan.
Imam Luqman Ahmad
Shaykh 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The word aqeeda comes from the Arabic word aqd [عقد], which means knot, or something to bind around. The word also means contract; as mentioned in the verse: “O you who have believed, fulfill [all] contracts [عقود]. The derivative word aqeeda [عقيدة], does not appear in the Quran, nor was it mentioned by the Prophet ﷺ. The terminological meaning of aqeeda in the religion of Islam is creed, or belief system. The word aqeeda is also sometimes used synonymously as tawheed, sharia, even Islam. The discipline and knowledge of aqeeda is a critical and important part of Islamic knowledge and of the sharia [Islamic law]. Aqeeda has to do with your belief system as a Muslim. Aqeeda in the classical sense constitutes the boundaries of faith and heresy. If you are a Muslim, then you should know what you believe. You do not have to be an aqeeda scholar to have proper aqeeda. If a person believes that there is no god except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and they agree wholesale with everything that is in the Quran, and everything that is authenticated in the words of the Prophet ﷺ, [the Sunnah], then that person has the correct aqeeda, even though they do not know all the details. This is based upon the hadith, “Whoever witnesses that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger, Allah forbids the Fire from touching him“.
The central foundation of what we know to be aqeeda is la ilaaha illa Allah [there is no god except Allah], and to worship Him alone without partners. This was the message of all the Prophets starting with the Prophet Adam; وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ [Verily We have raised from amongst every nation, Messengers (proclaiming) to worship Allah and to avoid the taaghoot], [16:36]. During the time of the Prophet (SAWS) the companions did not argue with each other about the issue of Allah and His oneness. If there was ever a disagreement or misunderstanding, on a point of faith, they referred it the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and it was settled.
After the era of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ heretical and idolatrous beliefs and practices started to make an encore into Muslim society after the Prophet ﷺ had rid idolatry from the Arabian Peninsula. These false beliefs and heretical notions returned to Muslims lands either by Arabs who went back to their pre-islamic practices or influences from foreign and conquered lands. Hence the need for more specificity about aqeeda and what constitutes kufr and eemaan. The first books about aqeeda were written during the time of the taabi’een starting with Imam Ibn Shihaab az-Zuh’ri. The written discipline of aqeeda further evolved during the first part of the second century of the Hijra when Imam Malik wrote the Muwattaa. He organized hadith into chapters dealing with aqeeda such as the chapter on emaan, and the chapter on tawheed, and the chapter on knowledge. Imam Malik’s work was the budding of the independent discipline of aqeeda.
What prompted the scholars to delve into specialization on the topic of aqeeda were the ideological splits that started to appear during the latter period of the companions of the Prophet (SAWS). One of the major clashes in aqeeda was in the appearance of the khawaarij [kharajites] and the practice of declaring a person to be an unbeliever because of a sin he committed. Hence, the scholars of the Sunna saw the need to elucidate just what is the creed of ahlus Sunna in detail. One of the first books devoted to belief clarification was the book al-Fiqh al-Ak’bar by Imam Abu Hanifa. Imam Shaafi’ee wrote a book with the same title [al-Fiqh al-Akbar] where he addressed specific issues of aqeeda point by point. Over the years, scholars of the sunna developed variant views on issues of aqeeda but agreed with the foundation. These scholars became known as the Ahlul Sunna.
Amongst the Ahlul Sunna are the aqeeda of the Ash’aris, the aqeeda of the Maatureedis, the aqeeda of the Salafis, and the aqeeda of the Sufis. Within these groups are points of agreement that are the foundational principles of faith, and then are there are points of divergence. Sometimes the differences are scholarly, and civil in nature; at other times differences lead to name-calling, anger, killing and bloodshed. In many Muslim countries, people have blown up masaajid, and killed innocent men, women and children while they celebrated the Prophet’s birthday, or murdered people in cold blood simply over differences in aqeeda. There has been a lot of that in our ummah, and t hasn’t stopped, even until this very day. It continues.
There is nothing new about aqeeda wars except that in the past these ideological skirmishes were waged by scholars, jurists, politicians, and people who had knowledge. Now days, it’s largely an internet, free-for-all where anyone, regardless of knowledge or training, can participate. Al-humdu lillaah we haven’t had any violent aqeeda clashes in the United States yet, and were it not for the rule of law and the mercy of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, we would see it here. The undercurrent for it is pretty strong. Aqeeda wrangling keep American Muslims very busy. Busy enough to have split masaajid and communities, severed long standing relationships, and caused crippling stagnation within Muslim communities, especialy amongst converts and African American Muslim communities. People are very quick to pronounce takfeer on others because they regard their aqeeda heretical. People will sever long standing relationships over a fine point in aqeeda. In my opinion, it’s gotten completely out of hand.
Throughout history, aqeeda was used primarily as a topic of learning, but also as a political and sectarian hatchet and an avenue for extreme discord and transgression.
Some of the greatest scholars of Islam were persecuted, imprisoned, and killed on the charge that their aqeeda was amiss. When scholars had issues with other scholars, the easiest way to shut them down was to accuse them of an aqeeda breach. Imam Shaafi’ee was once accused of supporting Shiite rebels in Yemen and was arrested and taken to Baghdad in chains. The Turkish scholar of Islam and intellectual, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was once arrested for violating secularist laws; in other words, thinking as a Muslim and teaching Islam. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was persecuted by the Caliph Ma’moon and imprisoned and tortured for 28 months under the Caliph al-Mu’tasim because he refused to accept the notion that the Quran was created. Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, whom people today regard as amongst the greatest scholars of Islam, were both prosecuted and jailed on the charge of having heretical aqeeda. Ibn Taymiyah died in prison on those accusations. If we didn’t have the rule of law in the United States people would probably be pulled off the pulpit amid trumped up charges of violating aqeeda. Aqeeda is a scholarly discipline but it is also a political tool to sow discord and to silence dissent.
The word aqeeda did not find it’s way into American Muslim dialogue until the mid to late ‘70s, and it didn’t gain traction in the America Muslim community until the early ‘80s. It started with simple education about Tawheed and helping people in the United States, mainly new converts to Islam, understand Muslim orthodox theology. It quickly escalated into a war of words. Since the ‘80s we have seen the incessant aqeeda wars rage on amongst Muslims in America, primarily African American Muslims, continuing until this very day. Other than a long trail of character assassination, split communities, torn apart friends, and a nation of young Muslims who argue with each other over their sheikhs and who is or is not an not an infidel, tell me, where is the net benefit?
Aqeeda is an in-depth and highly specialized topic. Anyone with advanced knowledge of Islamic theology and creed and can look into another Muslim’s belief detail and find where he or she has technically stepped outside of standard Islamic orthodoxy. People who engage in candlelight vigils have gone against our aqeeda. Individuals who declare that everyone who has a criticism of Islam or who does not like Muslims or Islam is an Islamophobe have diverted from our aqeeda. Anyone who thinks that their race is superior to others has gone outside of our aqeeda. Anyone who thinks that a person declaring the shahaadah performing the five prayers, paying zakat, fasting the month of Ramadan and making Hajj has not done enough to be regarded as a Muslim, has stepped outside of our aqeeda. There are dozens of examples where one person can declare another person to be outside of our aqeeda if you dig deep enough. That’s why we have aqeeda wars.
One of the casualties of the aqeeda wars is that people become obsessed with it to the point that they don’t choose their battles wisely. Declaring people to be kuffaar after they take shahaadah, pray the five prayers, pay the zakat, fast the month of Ramadan, and make the hajj is closer to kufr than giving them the benefit of the doubt. After they do all of the above, we should leave their hisaab to Allah. The Prophet ﷺ said: “I have been commanded to fight against people until they testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, perform the Salah ‘Prayer’, and pay Zakah ‘obligatory charity’. If they do that, their blood and property are guaranteed protection on my behalf except when justified by Islamic law, and their affairs rest with Allah.”. Sheikh Bin Baaz (RA) said, in explaining this hadith: “All Muslims have thus, to fear Allah, worship Him Alone, and believe in His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) as being sent to all Jinn (creatures created from fire) and mankind and as being the final Prophet. All Muslims have to perform the Obligations of Allah, abandon His Prohibitions, help one another in righteousness and piety, enjoin one another to truth and patience, and renounce all Deens (religions) of Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship). Whoever dies in the state mentioned above will enter Jannah without being reckoned or punished”.
Bonding in aqeeda versus bonding in Islam
The bond of aqeeda advanced by the Prophet ﷺ was the bond of laa ilaaha illa Allah. When people talk about the bond of aqeeda, they have to be clear what they are talking about. Do they mean the bond of laa ilaaha illa Allah? Or do they mean bonding based upon the specific, individual points of Islamic theological doctrine? If they mean the latter then it is very difficult for Muslims to unite and we will always be in a state of internal conflict. If they mean the former then this is the sunna, that we come together on the basis of laa ilaaha illa Allah, Muhammad Rasoolullaah. The different points of Islamic creed number in the hundreds. It is impossible to sit down with someone and go over point by point to see if you agree on every detail. It is highly improbable that Muslims in America will bond on every point of aqeeda. This is why there is no such thing as the ‘bond of Islamic creed’. The Prophet ﷺ never spoke of any bond of Islamic creed, nor is it mentioned in the Quran. This is a modern-day terminology that gives people the license to dig into everyone’s detail of what they believe to call this or that one a kaafir or a mushrik. What the Prophet ﷺ did say was: “Whoever prays our prayer, faces our Qibla, eats our thabeeha, then that is the Muslim. He is under the protection of Allah and His Messenger, so let not any of you betray Allah in His protection (of people)”.
You cannot be brothers and sisters in creed since faith is internal, point specific and people’s individual creed varies from person to person. You can, however, be brothers and sisters in Islam. The Prophet ﷺ did not advocate the examination of every individual’s personal creed outside of them declaring the shahaadah and establishing the prayer. This is the bond of Islam. In the hadith of Abu Hurraira the Prophet ﷺ said: “I was commanded to fight the people until they say that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and that they establish the prayer, and pay the zakat, and If they say that their blood and their wealth are safe from me except in the right of Islam and their reckoning is with Allah”. Sheikh bin Baaz (RA) said that this hadith on the surface means that if a person does these things, they are to be considered Muslims unless they come with something (specifically) that will nullify their Islam. He further stated that: “Anyone who comes with Tawheed and belief in the message then he has entered Islam. Then after he is requested to fulfill the rights of Islam such as the salat, the zakat, the fast, the Hajj and things like it then performs what which Allah had made incumbent on him, then he is entirely a Muslim”.
Now as far as picking apart people’s aqeeda, you could do that with just about anyone and find glitches and inconsistencies in their belief system. Even the notion that a person can perform the five pillars, and openly declare the shahaadah, yet still, be considered an unbeliever such as some Muslims apply wholesale to some groups, this itself is an issue that contradicts the aqeeda of Islam.
The concept that after taking their shahaadah, a Muslim has to openly denounce every belief, and every principle he previously held, or denounce every idol, every ideology, every thought that is counter to Islam, is not something established or practiced by the Prophet ﷺ. This added requirement contradicts the aqeeda of Islam. The aqeeda of Islam is that whoever comes with the two testimonies, establishes the prayer, pays the zakat, fasts the month of Ramadan and accepts and performs the hajj, they are a Muslim, and their reckoning is with Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. This is the Islam of the Prophet ﷺ. Anything outside of that, then a person needs to produce daleel.
We as Muslims living in the United States should stop letting people tell us who we can work with and who we can’t can’t; which firemen we can have help us put out the fire and which one’s we can’t. People dial 911 and accept anyone to come and help settle their dispute or help with their problem without asking about their aqeeda. But when it comes to getting help fixing up the neighborhood, stemming crime, and making the streets and the people safer, you have to worry about their aqeeda?
There is no greater word on the scale, nor stronger bond between believers than the bond of لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله [There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah], Hostilities were ended because of this word, blood was spared because of this word, protection was given by our Prophet to the inhabitants of Mecca because of this word. People enter Islam with this word. Sins are forgiven because of this word. If this word is not a strong enough bond for Muslims, then let whoever wishes, seek their bond. Let them seek their own word.
The modern-day politics of aqeeda in Muslim America is that aqeeda can become a built-in incendiary device, detonated anytime someone wants to cause discord between African-American Muslims in the United States. Anytime anyone wants, they can only (and selectively), inject the aqeeda card and all of a sudden, African American Muslims are stuck. We’ve been stuck for the last forty years.
Islam and our practice of it in this modern pre-Dajjaal age are mired in politics, power, public relations and scheming. We have to get back to the basics of our religion which is the five pillars, the seven beliefs, and the simple religion as practiced by our beloved Prophet ﷺ who said: “The religion is easy, and the religion is never made harsh to anyone except that it will overpower him.”
If the shahaadatain [the two testimonies] the establishment of prayer, the paying of zakat, the fasting of Ramadan and the agreement to the hajj as an obligation, is not enough to consider a person a Muslim, then those who disagree should take their argument to Allah.
Imam Luqman Ahmad
American born Luqman Ahmad is a life long Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, and until recently, has been the Imam of a Northern California mosque for twenty years. He is the CEO of Mosque Without Borders, an organizations that that works to reduce sectarianism, and to address the needs of Muslims, specifically new Muslim converts in the United States. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at salafiyyism the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He has written blog posts challenging ISIS, Anwar Awlaki, and BOKO Haram on his blog, imamluqman.wordpress.com. The sentiments shared in this article are his own and not representative of any of his professional affiliations. He can be reached at email@example.com.
No one likes to admit that they’ve been conned. Nevertheless, there comes a time when you have to cut your losses and get out of the game which is what most victims of scams are advised to do. It seems that many American Muslim leaders have trouble recognizing a con job; even when they are conning themselves.
Just for the record; the practice of speaking on behalf of others without their permission, and without authority, is fundamentally un-American, not withstanding that it is wholly un-Islamic. When one or two Muslim organizations speak on behalf of all American Muslims about our fears, our politics, our emotions, our faith, our patriotism, or our response to this incident in San Bernardino, it undermines, and contradicts everything previously expressed about wanting to assimilate, or having already assimilated, or that we are just like other Americans, that we’re not a fifth column, or that we believe in freedom.
It says that we all think the same, feel the same, are of the same mind, in the same condition, have the same priorities, and accept the same absurdities. It also sends the message that we are disingenuous, and not to be trusted. When have you every seen or heard of a Christian or Jewish political or advocacy organizations get on national television and say they are speaking for all Christians or all Jews. Even our beloved Prophet (SAWS) allowed the Arab tribes to speak for themselves in many matters.
American Muslims are the only so-called religious demographic that allows their political and advocacy organizations to speak on behalf of their religious congregations. When these organizations bring along highly respected scholars such as Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqui and religious leaders to a press conferences as window dressing while they do all the talking, it confirms for many Americans that Islam is a political ideology more than it is a religion. It says that we are fundamentally secular with little moral fortitude. It also s the message that we are dishonest, have no stable identity and that we practice a moral code other than what our scriptures teach. All of this is dangerous and fuels the very thing [islamophobia] that we say we trying to stamp out.
Now I’m a Muslim, I love Muslims and this is all abundantly clear to me. Imagine those who are not Muslim, or those who never had a problem with Muslims but come to a negative conclusion about us because of the way our politics have hijacked our morality. You may not agree with me but you do not have to look very far to read what many ordinary Americans say about Muslims as they bring up these very points as well as many others. The sad irony about us is that we are so arrogant, so pompous, so blinded by ego and wanting to be accepted we do not even believe anymore that we could possibly share some culpability for the anti-Muslims sentiment that plagues us so much.
We complain so much that they do not understand Islam while we make it abundantly clear that perhaps we do not understand Islam. Not even enough to know that the word Islam means submission and not peace. We think that the press is doing us a favor when they convey our message to the entire country how all Muslims Americans are now in fear, dismayed, disheartened, disappointed, that America has let us down, that we’re bracing for the backlash. When in reality what the media is doing is showing the extent of our moral immaturity. We may be cheering, but others are seething with disdain, many are laughing, and some of us are crying. At least if we took an Islamic approach to these matters we would have the hope of spiritual growth, and reward from Allah. Attempting to craft a pre-packaged sanitized Muslim identity through the very media that we blame for distorting our identity is like trying to beat the devil at his own game; we have nothing to show for it except disappointment. I know that certain groups of American Muslims have a lot of education and we think we’re really smart, and maybe some us are, but not that smart if we think we can play poker with Shaitaan and win.
We have our children and teenagers crying that we cannot practice our faith anymore because of all this islamophobia. People read these types of statements and conclude that Muslims are so full of themselves that they cannot see the forest for the trees. There is nothing, nothing at all that prevents any Muslim living in the United States from believing in Allah and the Last Day, from praying five times a day, from giving zakat, or from fasting during Ramadan. People practiced Islam here while they were slaves! Yet we cry anytime our ego is bruised. The sad reality is that we’ve raised a whole generation of Muslims Americans who cannot distinguish between Muslim political hype, and actual Islam. Ask your child or teenager the meaning of Islam. If they say ‘peace’, then you have deceived them already, and if we think that on the Day of Judgment, Allah will accept the excuse of Islamophobia for not praying, not giving charity, and not fasting, we have deceived ourselves. – imam Luqman Ahmad
A lot of pundits are weighing in on how we should raise our children these days. I say; let the pundits have their say. Because as Muslims, we already have our way. (Didn’t really mean to rhyme but…) The beautiful thing about raising Muslim children, or raising your children to be Muslim, is that your children will one day, in sha Allah, grow up to be adults, and end up being not just your children, but your brothers and sisters in Islam. Now, you not only have children but you have companions, who are in sha Allah, righteous. You’ll still love them as your children, and as your companions, but you’ll love them for their values and their righteousness, and they will be not only your children, and your companions, but they’ll be your friends. Once you have done that, then you will have done justice to their fitra (natural state) upon which Allah entrusted them to you;
“There is no child except that he is born in a state of “Fitrah”, then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian” (Collected by Al-Bukhari).
When you raise them correctly, with the proper values, and with the sense of morality, knowing right from wrong, you’ll find that they will acquire wisdom at a younger age than most, and now you not only have children, but wise companions and friends whom you can trust. Then, as they grow older, and have their own children, they will take the values that you taught them and instilled in them, and use these same values to raise their own children. At that point, they will have learned to be grateful for what you taught them, because now as parents, they will find themselves armed with guidance, precedence, and a valuable parental skillset. They will be grateful, and so will you in sha Allah. When this happens, you can expect an increase in your life, and in your children’s lives;
“And remember! Your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed.” 14:7
This sense of gratitude to Allah and the increase from Him that accompanies gratitude will, in turn, compel your children who are now your brothers and sisters in Islam, to appreciate you even more, appreciate the value of that religious knowledge and guidance that you imparted to them, and to thank Allah. Even at this juncture you will see your children in compliance with the word;
“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal”. [31:14].
“Whosoever does a good Sunnah he will get the reward for it and the reward from other people doing the same thing until the Day of Judgment”. [Collected by Muslim] All of this is the Grace and Mercy of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala.
With all this abundance of grace, mercy, and goodness that your children are now seeing with their own eyes, your children will love you even more, and appreciate you even more, not just for raising them, but for nurturing them in true faith. Now you, your children, and your grandchildren will be on the same path of Islam. Three generations of laa ilaaha illa Allah, and counting. There is a feeling like that of a parent who sees what they have taught, embodied in their children, and in their grandchildren, and God willing, their great grandchildren.
And if it is decreed by God that He extends your life, you will see your values, the values of Islam, being passed down to your grandchildren, by the children that you have raised on the minhaj of the Prophet ﷺ, such a sight will warm your heart, and bring tears to your eyes, and you will thank Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, because you will feel reasonably secure in the knowledge that were you to die at that very moment, that laa ilaaha illa Allah, has already passed from you to future generations.
“Were ye witnesses when death appeared before Jacob? Behold, he said to his sons: “What will ye worship after me?” They said: “We shall worship Thy Allah and the Allah of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma’il and Isaac,- the one (True) Allah. To Him we bow (in Islam).” [2:133]
When Allah does decide to take your soul (and He has already decided when), he may bless you to leave some or all of those children behind. You will be in your grave, and all of your deeds will have stopped, and nothing else is added to your scale, except for perpetual charity, beneficial knowledge that you have left behind (yes, this included what you imparted to your children), and the prayers of your children for you after you have passed on to the next life.
It doesn’t stop there. If, by Allah’s mercy, He allows you entrance into His Eternal Garden, you will not be alone. For your family who followed you in righteousness will join you. At that point, you will know for a fact that your dedication and perseverance in raising your children in righteousness, upon the Quran and Sunna of the Prophet ﷺ, was worth it, despite the hardship, the occasional headache, the difficulty, and the cost.
Finally, by living a righteous life according to the standards and morals of Islam, and raising our children as such, and they in turn, raising their children the same way, we may have the opportunity by Allah’s opportunity, to be rejoined with the righteous of our families, in the afterlife.
“Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring: and angels shall enter unto them from every gate (with the salutation): “Peace be upon you,(salaamun alaikum) because you have patiently persevered!” How excellent, then, this fulfilment in the hereafter! [13:23]
It is in this final moment, after you have persevered, held fast to your faith, imparted it to your family, and met with the pleasure of Allah, and His forgiveness, that you are granted permission to enter the gates of paradise. Then, the angels will enter upon you and your family from every door, saying: :salaamu alaikum, because you have patiently persevered: At this point, it all becomes clear. The struggle is over, there is no more reckoning, there is no more judgement, and you have finally arrived at your destination.
Thus beloveds, window of opportunity to raise your children is small, and it will close without waiting for you to make up your mind, or to experiment with all of the nuanced studies. Raising your children in righteousness and Islam during these times is difficult for some, unpopular by many, and certainly not fashionable in this age. However, considering what is at stake, it is certainly well worth it; by any means necessary.
Imam Luqman Ahmad
Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento California. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The world is changing fast, and evil, loss of morality, killing, fitna, extreme weather, and corruption is spreading like wildfire. We are limited in what we can do to change things. However, we have a divine obligation to bear witness to it, and declare our allegiance to God with respect to the events that are going on today. Every Prophet, from Noah, to our beloved Muhammad (SAWS) bore witness to the events taking place during his time. We as Muslims must also be bearers of witness to our time and take a clear stand for the truth. This is the topic of this khutbatul Jum’ah by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad, recorded at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center. Click on the link below to take a listen
Dear beloveds,There is an ominous wave of, ignorance, falsehood, immorality, misguided notions, trials, infidelity, drug use, reversal of roles for men and women, children running amok, families falling apart and discord that is sweeping across our ummah. Do not be a witness to these things without taking a stand. Now is not the time to be shaky in your faith. I spoke about this during last week’s khutbatul Jum’ah. Click on the link to listen to what I said. Wal Allahul Musta’aan.