The Philadelphia Negroe Muslim, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

 

city-hall-philadelphia-pennsylvania-usa_mainThis 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 Slavery about 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 imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

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The Difference Between Brotherhood, Homiehood, and Haterhood, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

 

quran laid outHomiehood Versus Brotherhood

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.

Haterhood

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”.[1] 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

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”.[2] 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

[1] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[2] Collected by al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood

The Gritty Side of Aqeeda Politics, By Imam Luqman Ahmad

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 quran laid outthe 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 which are the foundational points 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 even until this very day, it continues.

Aqeeda wars are nothing new 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 hatchet and an avenue for extreme discord. 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. I am not a member of the Nation of Islam and was raised as a Sunni Muslim all my life. However, I recognize the contributions of the N.O.I. in the African American community, and I acknowledge that some of their held beliefs, at least on the surface, seem heretical. They are evolving as a group and that many, if not millions of them have taken the shahaadah, begun to pray the five prayers, fast Ramadan and make hajj. Many have moved beyond the N.O.I., and in recent years, many have started to practice Islam and the five pillars while maintaining their N.O.I. identity.

Still, there is a strong push to not work with nor associate with them, and to declare them as enemies to Islam and to other Muslims. This is in my view is a mistake, and I suspect that the impetus for this comes from outside our communities. The N.O.I. have evolved just like all Muslim groups in America have. They establish the prayer in many of their masaajid, they hold Friday prayers, they give zakat, fast Ramadan and make Hajj. They openly declare the two shahaadas. The prospect of the N.O.I. and traditional Sunni communities working together to confront inner city problems is too positive of a potential to go unnoticed by those who would like to see the African American Muslim communities stagnate in marginalization.

The best way to see that there is no cooperation between these two groups is to hammer the aqeeda issue. The claim being that the aqeeda of the N.O.I. is faulty, all of them are mushriks, and therefore Sunni Muslims must oppose them, not work with them, and disavow them is skewed. Interestingly enough, I’ve seen American Muslims march side by side, hold candlelight vigils, endorse political campaigns, rebuild churches and houses of worship, take money from and give money to, virtually every type of religion, class, lifestyle, and political ideology in the United States. We promote interfaith work to learn how to cooperate with people of other faiths, and people have even (perhaps unknowingly) committed shirk, to get good press. The moment people talk about traditional Sunni Muslims finding common ground and cooperating with the Nation of Islam, people go into a tizzy. All of a sudden there is an uproar.

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.[1]”.  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)”.[2]

You cannot be brothers 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[3].  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”.

I have not met any member of the N.O.I. claiming to be Muslim, who has rejected any of the above. Nor have I met any N.O.I. in recent years who openly rejects the five pillars of Islam. 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 person has to openly denounce every belief, and every principle they previously held, is not something established or practiced by the Prophet ﷺ. That 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[4].”

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. These are his rules, not mine.

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

If you like our blog, and find benefit to our message than donate to help us  establish a new Masjid; the Islamic Center of Del Paso Heights with your secure donation Click Here.

[1] Muslim.

[2] Bukhaari.

[3] Bukhaari

[4] Muslim.

The Dangers of making the Halal, Haraam, without having clear evidence, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

haran and halal.Look, if something is clearly prohibited in the religion of Islam, then it is prohibited, and no need to go and try to make it otherwise. Likewise, if something is clearly permissible, then no one should be hard pressed to find a reason to make it prohibited. One area where people have become very unstable in their religion, is when they become obsessed with making things haraam, which were not previously haraam by the Book or the Sunna.  Granted there are things in the religion of Islam which God has clearly made prohibited; fornication, stealing, lying, intoxicants, murder, backbiting, paganism, and so on, where there is clear textual evidence. However, there are other things, for which there is no clear evidence from the Book or from the Sunna, which renders it prohibited. Yet, people insist upon making them prohibited using triangular reasoning, as if Allah somehow forgot to make these things prohibited. The Prophet said, “Verily, Allah has made duties obligatory, so do not neglect them; and He has set limits, so do not transgress them; and He has remained silent concerning things as mercy for you, not out of forgetfulness, so do not search them out”.[1]

There are far more things that are permissible in Islam, than there are prohibited. This is by Divine design, since it would be nearly impossible for someone to know the exact ruling, on everything they do in life, and it would be unreasonable for a person to research each and every action in their life, to try to find a justification for it in our religious texts.  It is much more important for people to be acutely aware of what is prohibited than it is for them to be acutely aware of what is permissible[2]. Therefore, the scholars of Islamic law, have come up with a principle of law that says that the legal basis of all things (except for acts of worship) is permissibility. The textual foundation for this rule is the verse:   “O ye people! Eat of what is on earth, Lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of Satan, for he is to you an avowed enemy”.[3]

The above verse mentions two things; lawful (halal) and good (tayyib). In other words, God places an even greater burden upon anyone who wishes to declare something on the earth as unlawful, because not only does He declare the lawful nature of things, he also clarifies that those natural things on the earth that he made lawful, are also good and wholesome. Thus when a person makes something prohibited that God has made permissible without proof, not only is he is contradicting God’s law, he is impugning God’s divine judgment, by insinuating that it is not good and wholesome, which is like saying that God makes bad choices.

This is why scholars with better discernment, and the Imams of the four schools of law, were very reluctant to render something prohibited without strong irrefutable evidence. They used to say things like, ‘I do not like so and so a thing’, or I would discourage so and so a thing’, without prohibiting it outright, because of their fear of rendering something prohibited after God has made things upon the earth permissible.

An example of how Allah looks at someone who makes haraam what Allah has rendered halal is seem in his dealing with His Beloved, the Prophet himself, after the Prophet made something prohibited upon himself, that Allah had already allowed him. “O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to thee? Seeking to please thy spouses. But Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”.[4]  This is in the case of the Prophet who Allah loves more than anyone else of our ummah. Thus, even the Prophet was not exempt in the prohibition of making things prohibited that Allah has made permissible.

Some Muslims are nearly obsessed with going around searching into things that are already permissible, to render them haraam, and then try to hold people as moral hostages, to these newly prohibited things that they have found some way to make prohibited. We have to counteract the cultural mindset that makes Muslims eager, and seemingly overjoyed, when they find something new, that they can declare haraam. There is enough prohibited activity in people’s lives today to keep us busy for the rest of the century.

There is no need to go about searching for new things to declare haraam. If people simply focused on avoiding the things that are already haraam by the Book and by the Sunna, they would be better off. Don’t be one of those people. The Prophet , said, “the worst Muslim criminal amongst other Muslims, is the one who asks questions about something that was not made prohibited on the people, then it becomes prohibited as a result of his questioning”.[5]

When people go about trying to find new things to make haraam, they have usually overlooked many things that were already haraam. If you become one of those people, you are very likely to be unsuccessful in the area of faith, and understanding of religion, because by doing so, you are bound to anger Allah in a very personal way. As Allah has said: “But say not – for any false thing that your tongues may put forth,- “This is lawful, and this is forbidden,” so as to ascribe false things to Allah. For those who ascribe false things to Allah, will never prosper”.[6]  Unless something is specifically prohibited in the Book or in the Sunna, it is better to leave it alone. Don’t be the person who jumps on the bandwagon, every time people get excited when they find something else that can call prohibited.

There is a certain legal threshold that is needed when we say that something is haraam. Something can be unethical but not haraam, or undesirable, but not haraam, or disliked, but not haraam. Many Muslims today, unfortunately, are inclined towards extremism and fanaticism, so we have to be more careful when we say something is haraam without evidence. There have been numerous instances, where Muslims, killed or maimed other Muslims for celebrating the Prophet’s birthday (which there is difference of opinion of scholars whether it is haraam or not), or where Muslims were condemned by other Muslims for visiting their families on certain days, and a few years ago, Muslims were shot dead in their homes, by other Muslims for watching the World Cup soccer match on television. Muslims routinely call each other infidels, fight and kill each other, and argue back and forth, other over issues newly made haraam issues, such as, Thanksgiving, Baby showers, birthdays and the like.

When things were doubtful, scholars of our Salaf (early generations) used to use the phrase; I do not like this or do not like that, without rendering something haraam without evidence. Notwithstanding that rendering something haraam without evidence is a major sin (kabeerah). Our goal as Muslims, should be to base our faith upon knowledge, and to try to curb the tide of extremism, and moral dysfunction in our ranks, and to stay focused upon what is clear in our revealed texts.

Therefore, never be in a rush to render something prohibited that is not already prohibited in the Book of Allah or in the Sunnah of the Prophet , but concentrate first, upon those things, that we know for a fact, and that are confirmed by textual evidence (Quran and Sunna), to be haraam. If you stay focused upon these things, you won’t have time to go about searching for things to make prohibited.  Wal Allahul Musta’aan.

Taken from the upcoming book: [Branches of Faith; Seventy-Seven Principles from the Quran and the Sunna that Support Stability in Your Life], by Imam Luqman Ahmad. Available in sha Allah, on January 1st, 2016, at Amazon.com.

Shaykh Luqman Ahmad is the Imam, and Executive Director the Islamic Society of Del Paso Heights in Sacramento California. He can be reached at imamluqman@icdph.org. He is also the author of the book: “The Devils Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect”, available at Amazon.com.


[1] Authentic hadith, collected in the Sunan of ad-Daraqutani.

[2] Except in the case of ibaadah (worship). Matters of worship need to be cleared by textual evidence, since the Prophet said, “Pray in the manner in which you have seen me pray”.

[3] Quran, 2:168.

[4] Quran, 66:1.

[5] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[6] Quran, 16:116.

Advice for Muslim Brothers Who Still Want to Run the Streets, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

[There is hardly anything more unbecoming of manhood, than a grown man, who is married with children, still running the streets, kicking it with his homies]. -Imam Luqman Ahmad-

North philly
A lot of brothers still want to hang in the streets. I understand the lure of the streets. Lights, cameras and action, and maybe a few dollars here and there, but the problem is, many brothers are getting caught up, beaten down, and eaten alive up by the streets. The streets will chew you up, and spit you out, and won’t even remember your name. It will turn you into a number, and have your butt writing letters from a jail cell, and wearing an orange jumpsuit for the rest of your life, or at least for a big chunk of it.
Sometimes the streets will just take you down like you just a mere statistic, and the next thing you know, you’re in a casket with the choir singing, and the Pastor, praying to Jesus (AS) over you, talking bout you was saved. If you’re fortunate, the brothers will get a hold your body, lower you in the ground like a Muslim, and make du’aa for you, all the while, feeling some kind of way, because the Prophet (SAWS) said; “each servant will be raised (on the Day of Judgment) upon what he died on”.[Muslim]

Sometimes, Allah just turns you into a living example of someone who plays with the deen and you be one of those dudes walking around, shuffling his feet, mumbling, and talking to himself. Or you’ll end up as a joker; one of those has been dudes, who lost your wife, your kids and your family, completely broken down, of no benefit to nobody, and still can’t even say the Faaitiha correct. Don’t say it doesn’t happen because I have seen it with my own eyes.

Any Muslim man who is afraid of taking on the responsibility of marriage and parenthood, cannot reasonably be depended upon in hardly anything in the way of establishing this deen. Too many brothers use the religion of Islam as a game, without realizing the damage they are doing to the ummah, and to successive generations. it is one thing to be unable, it’s another thing to be a coward, or a P.A.N.; and we all know what a P.A.N. is.
So lemme tell you something brothers; there is a big difference in being in the streets, getting your halal hustle on when necessary, and being a joker, calling himself Muslim, hanging in the streets, kicking it wit da homies. Nothing wrong with gettin the grind on, and sometimes, there is no other choice but that. However, when those demons in the streets start to follow you back home, and wreak havoc in your family, many times destroying it, that ain’t cool. If a brother gonna be in the streets like that, he better know how to find a masjid for Jum’ah and be able to shake and move, so he’s not bringing the streets home to where he lays his head, and where his wife and children live.

Some brothers trek out into the street and come back with diseases and illegitimate babies. Sometimes they say they are heading to the store for milk and cereal and come back on bail. Lots of times, brother simply get stuck in quicksand. Some parts of the streets are where, once you step in it, you ain’t coming back home. I can’t tell you how many brothers were dippin and dabbin in the streets and got snared and never made it back on Siraatul Mustaqeem. Some of them we’ve had to go see behind bars, and there are still others, we had to end up doing a janaazah over them. I come from the old school; Muslim men ain’t got no business running the streets for nothing. They shouldn’t be rolling with the unbelievers on the block, and kicking it with them like they’re bosom buddies, unless you are doing straight up da’wah cuz, birds of a feather, flock together. Or better still, the Prophet (SAWS) said: “a person is on the deen of his close friend”.

You should only really warn he who follows the Message and fears the (Lord) Most Gracious, unseen: give such a one, therefore, good tidings, of Forgiveness and a Reward most generous”. (Quran, 36:11)
Bottom line; If you wanna rub shoulders with the kuffaar on the block, and kick it with them, then you should be prepared to give them straight up, hard core, da’wah to Islam. Straight up da’wah means that you drop the truth on them, without watering it down, and you keep it movin. Hardcore, means that if they take the da’wah, and want more, you put him on your hip, drop more word on him, and get him on your program, and give him the glad tidings. If they don’t take the da’wah, don’t want to listen, think it’s a joke, or are just not ready, you keep it movin, take care of your business, swing by the Masjid for Ishaa, and head home. That’s how Muslim men supposed to get down when it comes to the streets.

If you are a grown up, married man, and you still insist on hanging in the street, just chillin, doing nuthin, then check this out; The Prophet said, “Beware! Avoid sitting on the roads.” They (the people) said, “O Allah s Apostle! We can’t help sitting (on the roads) as these are (our places) here we have talks.” The Prophet said, ‘ l f you refuse but to sit, then pay the road its right ‘ They said, “What is the right of the road, O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, ‘Lowering your gaze, refraining from harming others, returning greeting, and enjoining what is good, and forbidding what is evil.” [Bukhaari]. If you are addicted to street life, then at least have a purpose.
This is what we teach: You roll like this; Home, work, and Masjid. Outside of that; everyday errands, visit some family, get out to handle necessary business, a little halal recreation now and then, school, if you’re on that mission, occasional dates time with the wife, and then back home with the family. It ain’t even that complicated.

Imam Abu Muhammad Luqman Ahmad
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center, Sacramento California.

imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com

How do single Muslim women in America raise their sons in Islam? By Shaykh Abu Muhammad Luqman Ahmad

fatherlessBismillaahi Arrah’maan Arraheem

Kids have a hole in their soul the shape of their dad and if a father is unwilling or unable to fill that hole, it can leave a wound that is not easily healed” – Roland warren

There is no easy answer to this question. Traditionally, it has been the duty of a father to raise his son in the proper way of becoming a Muslim man. If not the father, than the task should go to the grandfather, or the uncle, or to the older brother who has grown up as a Muslim and had become a man in the true and proper sense. However in today’s time we are crippled with the sad reality that many men who provide the sperm are absolutely worthless as fathers. Many are in jail, others are drugged out, selfish, lazy, absent, and many are dead, either through unforeseen occurrences or risky behavior and street life. Still the fact remains that there are many Muslim women with sons and no husband or man available to help them raise him in the proper way to manhood. So the question is; what is such a sister to do? Ideally, every sister should have a guardian that can check the brother our before marriage to test his worthiness not only as a husband but as a potential father. Real fathers know that it is absolutely essential that they pass down manhood and Islam to the next generation, and they will do what they can to see that this occurs. However, this rarely happens these days so let’s deal with the reality.

Like I said, there is no easy answer to this quandary and my heart goes out to all the single women out there who are struggling to raise their sons in Islam. The following are a few salient points to consider if you are one on these women. These points provide no guarantee that your son will survive street life, drugs, gangs, and the type of behavior that will inhibit his reaching maturity. However, if you follow these guidelines, you will increase the likelihood that your son will learn to be a Muslim man.

  1. Teach your son about Allah, as early as you can and about the shaitan. Let him know that there is a heaven and a hell and that he is subject to go to either. If he becomes afraid of Allah’s wrath, or afraid of going to hell then that is a good thing. He will learn to love Allah at the same time he learns to fear Him. Your son should learn early on that after it’s all said and done, he will have to stand before Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, and that you will not be able to help him when that time comes.
  2. Make your son responsible for his prayers and his religious obligations. You have to start this early on without hesitation, and you must enforce it. You must do it before the street gets a hold of him. If you wait too long, then you will have problems.
  3. Understand that you do not own your son, and that he is only placed in your trust. Our children are a trust, entrusted to us from Allah. Some women think that they own their sons and do not let them up from under their skirt, even after they become adults.
  4. 4.       Do not treat your son like he is your husband. Some sisters raise their sons to take on a almost husband role in the family, and when that happens, they are afraid to let him go or have him stay on out of a sense of guilt. This have proven to be a bad situation for many Muslim men who find themselves well into their thirties living under the mantle of their mother. After a while, they lose the will to be men on their own. Remember that the window of opportunity for raising a boy to a man is short, and you don’t want to overstep that window by making him like your husband because if he is the role of your husband, it is likely that he won’t be able to be a good husband to anyone else.
  5. Reject the mindset that says that a woman does not need a man to help her raise her son. This mindset is completely false. Men have been raising boys ever since human beings populated this earth. That doesn’t mean that a woman cannot successfully raise a boy to manhood by Allah’s permission. However, the standard remains that men are best suited to raise men; and that will never change.
  6. Teach your son to take care of himself. Teach your son how to bath, wash and iron his own clothes, how to cook, how to make up his bed, how to put out the trash, how to clean his room, how to comb his hair, how to use deodorant and how to shine his shoes. Of course these things are taught in stages. The rule here is to be careful not to mommy him all of his life, especially once he reaches puberty.
  7. Make sure that your son respects you and your authority. From a very young age, you must make it clear to your son that you are in charge of him and that he must respect your authority. You must raise him in the atmosphere of Islamic discipline and reverence for the mother. Don’t tell your 10-year-old son that he is the man of the house and give him equal decision-making capacity as his mother.
  8. Make sure that your sons gets a basic Islamic education and start early as possible. Make certain that your son is somewhere learning about his religion. Whether it be at home, at the masjid weekend school. Jum’ah khutbas, videos, paid tutors, brothers at the Masjid, lectures, family nights at the masjid, or a full-time Islamic school, if available and you can afford it. However, do not hesitate to make some sacrifice so that your son can learn about who he is and should be as a Muslim. Don’t raise him on toys and television and then later lament the fact that he doesn’t know anything about his religion.
  9. Teach him that he is responsible for the consequences of his actions. Don’t take the attitude that his lapses in judgment are cute, or that he can do no wrong and don’t make excuses for him all the time. Give him a little room to make some choices but let him realize that he has to live with the choices that he makes. This way he will learn early on that perhaps he should make better choices. The first time he runs afoul of the law, don’t rush to his rescue. Let him deal with the consequences.
  10. Teach him good adab and character. Teach your son how to say please, thank you, yes mam and yes sir, how to give and respond to salaams, how to say excuse me, how to say I’m sorry, how to speak clearly and not mumble, how to give a direct answer, the importance of telling the truth, how to wash before eating, how to make wudu, and how to take a ghusl.  Adab and character are the means by which a person can accumulate knowledge, good habits, attract good people, and absorb religious teachings seamlessly. If he has no adab and bad character then he will repel good and absorb evil.
  11. Do not give him an allowance that he does not earn. Teach your son that he has to earn his way through life. Teach him that he is not entitled to anything more than food clothing and shelter and that everything else above that must be earned either by behavior, or by hard work. When your son lands a part-time job as a teenager, make him pay rent, pay a bill or contribute in some financial way to the family. One of the first things that a man leans is that he must share his wealth, and that he must spend money on other than himself.
  12. Stay close to the masaajid and to congregation. I realize that many Muslims, especially converts are not a part of any Muslim congregation or extended family unit. Raising your son by yourself outside of a Muslim congregation or an extended family unit will almost insure that he will have a hard time becoming a man. Many times he will end up a ward of the state. The only people today who actively engage in maintaining Muslim communities are grown Muslim men because that is a task that only men can do. Boys do not maintain communities and masaajid; that is a man’s job. When you become part of a Muslim community led by men, then your son will learn from them, learn their ways, and listen to their conversations and in many cases there will those who take him under their wing for a time to teach him this or that because that is what Muslim men do. Most qualified and enlightened Imams are very sensitive to the issue of our Muslim boys. Find an Imam that you can trust and make him aware of your son’s presence.
  13. When your son is ready to take on the responsibility as a man, let him do so. Here I am talking primarily about taking care of himself, paying his own bills, and marriage. If he feels ready to move forward as an adult, then make sure he understands the things you taught him and let him go. Don’t hold on to him for fear he will fail or because you still want to be the mommy that provides his every need. Let him go forth with what he has learned and meet the challenges of life head on. It is natural that as a mother you will be afraid for him and have your concerns, but you will have to put your trust in Allah.

I wrote this in response to a sister’s query on social media. The above mentioned points are not a catch-all solution for how to raise Muslim boys into men; however, they are proven principles that will greatly enhance your son’s chances at not ending up another statistical joker in sha Allah. Wal allahul Musta’aan.

Imam Abu Muhammad Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Imam of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center of Sacramento and Executive Director of Wadia Islamic Academy, a weekend school for Muslim children in Sacramento CA

Thug Life; A Means to No End. A personal story by Imam Luqman Ahmad

Thug lifeWhen I was about 15 or 16 years old, there was a guy in our neighborhood who was also a member of the local street gang (the Haines Street Gang) his street name was Ball bearing, and he and I were neighborhood adversaries. At that time, he was also a neighborhood bully, and we ended up fighting several times as I was not a gang member and didn’t have automatic protection when I walked around in our neighborhood. Besides I was sternly prohibited by my father from even thinking about joining a gang (being Muslim and all). Although to tell the truth, I kinda wanted to join one so I could be part of the cool.

Nevertheless, I was more afraid of my father than I was of the gang members in the neighborhood. With the gang members, I felt that at least I had a chance at getting in some blows and maybe knocking one of those lames out, or letting off a few rounds if it came to that. With my father, I knew that there was no chance at opposing him, parents didn’t do time outs back then, and furthermore, I revered my father (as I still do) and it was unheard of in our family to go against my Abu. We were after all, raised as Muslims.  So I would have scrapes with local gang members, and wannabes from time to time. Al-humdu lillah mostly it was only fist fighting, what we used call a ‘fair one’ back in Philly, but every now and then it would escalate to more serious types of confrontation, which is another story. After time, I became cool with most of them, plus my cousins Jessie and Vincent when they weren’t in jail, would keep an eye out for us (the Muslim side of the family) and say; hands off.

Anyway, this dude was testy, we fought several times and each time it ended in somewhat of a draw, with people breaking the fight up before it was clear that one of us got a butt whuppin by the other. Thus, he I were sworn enemies in the hood, with unsettled business, (although we didn’t call it the hood back then, we called it around the way), where we grew up in Germantown, in the area of Locust ave.and Musgrave st., bordered by Chew ave to the north, and Chelten Ave. to the west, (Northwest Philadelphia) and whenever we met each other on the street, on the basketball court, or in the playground, there was tension.There was no love lost between us.

As the years went by, the gangs died out in Philly and former gang members became drug dealers, and this brother became a big time dope dealer in the neighborhood, and surrounding area. He was busy making his money and doing his thing, and I was busy growing up as a sometimes errant Muslim, trying to stay on the path, with all my faults and insecurities as a teenager who was different.  We were the only Muslim family in the neighborhood where I grew up, and everybody knew us and knew how we got down because back in those days, we believed that it was better to be packing and not need it than to need it and not be packing. The burglars and petty criminals in the neighborhood used to always avoid our house and our property because there was this spectrum of retribution, and back then, people had a lot of respect for Muslims. We were known as; that Muslim family on Locust Ave.

Years later, I had just finished making salatul Jum’ah at the Islamic Center on Broad St. (near vine) and was sitting down doing my little thikr after the salat, when I heard someone say: “Assalaamu alaikum”, as I turned and glanced over my shoulder, I saw that is was my nemesis from the old neighborhood. My first impulse was to grab the 9mm automatic from my waistband, which I did, but I didn’t pull it out because just as I wrapped my hands around the grip of my gun, he said again in a louder voice and with a big smile on his face; asslaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu. This time, we were looking eye to eye. There is something about the salaams from one believer to another which cannot be explained. His salaams went through me like a hot knife through butter, and I replied: wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh! We looked at each other for what seemed like an eternity, and then we embraced.  We started talking and he explained to me how he became a Muslim, and we became the best of friends. He was married and had four sons. We used to eat together, pray together, read together and go to the Masjid together.

As the years went by, we started to lose touch, and I heard that he had gotten back into the street game here and there. I was busy with my own family and children by that time. So when I did see him on the street now and then, he was moving fast; we exchanged salaams and some niceties, but not much more than that. Then one day, all of a sudden, I heard that he was dead. Shot multiple times in the street. I never knew the exact details of his death, who did it, what lead up to it, or whether or not his killers were ever caught. In Philadelphia back then as it is today; black men are killed on the street all the time; many of them Muslims. Most of the times when it happens, nobody knows nothing and people tend not to talk about the details even if they knew something. Nevertheless, I was hurt when I heard the news, and I wondered whatever became of his four young sons whom I knew now, would grow up, wherever they were, without their father.

Twenty years or so later, while I was the imam of a Masjid in Philadelphia, I got a phone call that a young African American Muslim was killed in the streets of Philadelphia. Such calls were not uncommon. I think that we had at least one homicide per month during my time as Imam of the United Muslim Masjid on 15th Street; sometimes more. So I arranged for one of the brothers of the deceased to meet me at the Masjid to discuss janaaza arrangements and so on. When I met him, he reminded me of my friend who was killed years ago. As we talked and he explained to me who he was and who his father was, I realized that he, and  young man in his twenties who was killed, were  the sons of my close friend, who twenty something years ago, met the same fate. When I went to see the body at the funeral home, I was taken aback that the young brother who was killed, looked exactly like his father. To this day, other than the janaaza of my mother (rahimuhaa Allah), that was the most difficult salaatul janaaza that I ever performed.

Throughout the years, I have had many children of my friends who were gunned down on the street, or who gunned someone else down, while they were involved in the street game, and are now doing life in prison; some whom I have known since they were born. I remember one case (people reading this from Philly may remember) where a young Muslim man in his twenties got caught up in street life and was gunned down in his car with multiple gunshots, then stuffed in the trunk of his luxury car, and the car set on fire. That hurt me deeply also because I remember when that boy was barely out of diapers, running around our house as a toddler while his parents were visiting our house.

I don’t have any so-called street cred, and by the grace of Allah, and by His mercy, I have never been a thug, and have never been a gang member (although I’ve done other things and may Allah forgive). However, I am certain that I am not the only one who has been touched in one way or another by someone’s senseless death. There are countless of families across the country whom this issue of wanton crime and violence has touched them in much more personal and profound ways than it has I. Still, I, like many other people, am not immune to its effects.  Death is inevitable. But senseless death and killing in the streets is not only inexcusable; it is one of the most insane phenomena of our time, and something that we as Muslim Americans, should be very concerned about. The number of young black men who are shot, stabbed, assaulted, and killed every day by other young black men is staggering. For every one that is killed, there are countless numbers of orphans left behind, parents and siblings grieving, families hurting, and ends up with either another young black man in jail, or a killer, or criminal loose on the street.  Every time of these horrendous events occur, a part of our community dies for no good reason. I can tell you dozens of more stories like this. So if people wonder why I take such a tough stance with regards to thug life, street life, gang life, hood life, criminal life, and drug life. This story tells you a little bit why; and that’s just part of the story.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

salafi book cover amazonNew book available by Imam Luqman Ahmad: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern day Salafi Sect”, A detailed analysis of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect, their beliefs, practices, and influences upon the religious landscape of Muslim America. In particular, the indigenous American Muslim population. Available @ imamluqman.com

New Book Release! The Devil’s Deception of the Modern-Day Salafiyyah Sect, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

salafi book cover amazonThe modern-day Salafiyyah, or Salafiyyism, or the Da’wah Salafiyyah has done much to highlight the Sunna of the prophet (SAWS), and its importance. However, in the process of spreading the new ideology of, “The modern-day Salafiyyah, many of its proponents have perhaps unintentionally made casualties out of the very persons for whom the so-called “da’wah Salafiyyah” was intended. Get it today at the link below or go to imamluqman.com.

Excerpts: “For many practicing Muslims, Salafiyyah is a bitter dose of questionable medicine. No one committed to this religion rejects the Salaf as-Saalih or the principles on which they agreed. However, the Salafis and their modern-day da’wah do not suit the tastes of all the righteous. Too much of their methodology revolves around character assassination, claims of monopoly on Allah’s guidance, a fanatical obsession with uncovering the faults of the Muslim”.

Another Excerpt: [Salafiyyism as presented by its modern-day adherents is not a simple methodology; it is a myriad of ideals, slogans and tendencies which burdens the average Muslim with understanding complex issues of theology, jurisprudence, exegesis, hadith methodology, language etc. It effectively abrogates the simplicity of tawheed and gradual assimilation of the Quran and Sunna, and replaces it with unreasonable demands of immediate perfection] -Imam Luqman Ahmad.

[Taken from the new book from Lotus Tree Publications; ‘The Devil’s Deception of the Modern-Day Salafi Sect’ by Imam Luqman Ahmad] available now @ imamluqman.com. Get your copy of this important and pertinent book today! Wholesale quantities available.
Go to imamluqman.com to order your copy.

New Book Release! The Devil’s Deception of the Modern-Day Salafiyyah Sect, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

salafi book cover amazonThe modern-day Salafiyyah, or Salafiyyism, or the Da’wah Salafiyyah has done much to highlight the Sunna of the prophet (SAWS), and its importance. However, in the process of spreading the new ideology of, “The modern-day Salafiyyah, many of its proponents have perhaps unintentionally made casualties out of the very persons for whom the so-called “da’wah Salafiyyah” was intended.

Excerpts: “For many practicing Muslims, Salafiyyah is a bitter dose of questionable medicine. No one committed to this religion rejects the Salaf as-Saalih or the principles on which they agreed. However, the Salafis and their modern-day da’wah do not suit the tastes of all the righteous. Too much of their methodology revolves around character assassination, claims of monopoly on Allah’s guidance, a fanatical obsession with uncovering the faults of the Muslim”.

Another Excerpt: [Salafiyyism as presented by its modern-day adherents is not a simple methodology; it is a myriad of ideals, slogans and tendencies which burdens the average Muslim with understanding complex issues of theology, jurisprudence, exegesis, hadith methodology, language etc. It effectively abrogates the simplicity of tawheed and gradual assimilation of the Quran and Sunna, and replaces it with unreasonable demands of immediate perfection] -Imam Luqman Ahmad.

[Taken from the new book from Lotus Tree Publications; ‘The Devil’s Deception of the Modern-Day Salafi Sect’ by Imam Luqman Ahmad] available now @ imamluqman.com. Get your copy of this important and pertinent book today!
Go to imamluqman.com to order your copy. Or you can get it at Amazon.com.

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