The Conning of the American Muslim, Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

bamboozledNo 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

Imam Luqman Ahmad






Condemning Violent Extremism; Is It Working For Us? By Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

against terrorismI do not regard lightly, the loss of any life; no matter what the cause, or circumstance. Innocent life is sacred, regardless of whether it is a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, a Buddhist, or an atheist. It is Allah who grants life to whomever He pleases, according to His Divine will, and His Infinite Wisdom, and no one; has a legitimate right to take that life unjustly without just cause. When people die, other people’s lives are affected. When innocent people are mercilessly killed, slaughtered, gunned down, beheaded, massacred, blown up, suicide bombed, or droned, for no sense at all, it amplifies the tragedy. The Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon Him) once said, “A time will come when the murderer will not know why he has committed the murder and the victim will not know why he has been killed” [Collected by Muslim]

Since 9/11, American Muslims have condemned, and repudiated terrorism, and violent acts of Muslim extremism, through every conceivable network. We’ve taken out ads, marched in the streets, held vigils, convened press conferences, appeared on broadcast and cable television, written op-eds, penned blog posts, and expended considerable time, money, and resources, trying to convince people that Islam is a religion of peace, and that these violent Muslim extremists, do not represent Islam! We’ve made every attempt to distance ourselves from the so-called violent Muslim extremist, and even coined powerful catch all phrases like; ‘not in our name’, ‘Islam is a religion of peace’, and, ‘they’ve hijacked our faith’. Yet, nearly 14 years after 9/11, it seems glaringly obvious that our message is not getting through, and the people who we are trying to convince are not listening. For the record, I do not consider Islam to be a religion of peace; I do consider our faith to be a religion of submission, of which peace is a component.

I agree wholeheartedly that condemning violence against innocent souls is an appropriate Muslim response as it falls into the category of enjoining the good and forbidding evil (nahyi an al-munkar). However, condemning selected instances of violence, while remaining silent about others appears disingenuous, and self-serving. Especially if we do not take a across the board, moral stance against the very principle of violent extremism in the name of Islam. There is a difference between taking a firm and unequivocal, principled position against something, and between taking an episodic stance against something according to media, political, and public relations considerations. When Muslims condemn acts of Muslim extremism acting on cue from the media, according to what the media considers important, we are entering down an ostentatious black hole, with no foreseeable ending or win game. If the desired outcome of this strategy of selective condemnation of Muslim violent extremism, was to somehow convince the media, and the numerous and increasingly vocal critics of Islam, and Muslims, to put the brakes on their vitriol, and give the rest of us a break, then history has shown that we are not succeeding by any measure. Otherwise, we would not find ourselves in the circuitous predicament of feeling compelled to condemn, yet another incident of Muslim violence, and then complaining with the same frequency, that Muslims still get negative press.

The presence of violent Muslim extremism, that disregards the sanctity of innocent life, honor, and property, based upon sect, ideology, ethnicity, race, land, power, or tribe, and done under the camouflage of religion, goes back hundreds of years.  Addressing it is a complex, and sensitive matter that will take more than condemnation, polemics, or public relations spin doctoring. Over the last decade or so, there has been very little variation in our approach as American Muslims, in responding to incidents of violent Muslim extremism headlined in the news, or combatting the anticipated negative backlash directed towards Muslims, and or Islam. The self-delusional, reactionary condemnation strategy, is chockfull of quirks, ironies, and contradictions, and has just about outlived its usefulness. If as Muslims we took a moral, and principled stance against terrorism, and violent extremism, then it’s not only ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban that needs condemnation; we’d have to talk about despotic Muslims governments, American and European foreign policy in the Muslim world, honor killings, ethnic cleansing, racial injustice within Muslim communities, indiscriminate suicide bombings, reckless fatwas, and an host of issues, of which the pandemic of unwarranted violence of Muslims against innocent souls is just one manifestation.

In the global Muslim community, there is a long, and largely unattended laundry list of deep rooted, and debilitating, spiritual, and emotional illness, that we have not only failed to address in any meaningful or comprehensive way; we are in an almost complete denial that they exist. The easy fallback position is to resort to political or media based solutions in the form of marches, selective condemnations, episodic appearances of unity, and the focus on individual occurrences of violence in the name of Islam, per media suggestion. The much more difficult task is to finally get to the roots of the problem, at least that which pertains to our morality, or lack thereof. We have to rethink about how much we want to allow our sacred moral duties to address concerns of grave importance such as Muslim on Muslim killing, and Muslim violent extremism, to be incorporated and manipulated by media executives, pundits, critics and antagonists. Perhaps it’s time to change our strategy. Maybe we should stop worrying about what the media, and other people think of Muslims, and of Islam. After all, we are a people of faith, and the essence of faith is principle, not politics; and certainly not public relations. Before we can take back Islam from violent extremists, we must first take back our moral imperative from the hands of the media.The clock is ticking, and we are long overdue.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

A Muslim Response to Criticism and Parody of Islam

I originally wrote this article nearly five years ago. It still has some relevance. Muslims are still in the position of feeling compelled to condemn selective occurrences Muslim violence, and it hasn’t improved our standing. In the four and a half years since I wrote this article, we seemed to have learned how to ignore criticism of Islam, and the Prophet (SAWS). Now we have to figure out a better way to address extremism than to do a barn dance of condemnation every time an extremist inspired killing gains media traction.  If we truly want to address Muslim extremism, we’re going to have to dig wider, and a lot deeper. Perhaps we need to rethink this whole barn dance.

The Lotus Tree Blog

Part One of two parts: By Shaykh Luqman Ahmad Given the constitutional guarantees of free speech in America, it is not likely any time soon that Americans will simply give up, criticizing or making fun of Islam, the Prophet (SAWS) or Muslims. The national campaign by some Muslim organizations to silence our critics and instill reverence for Islam in every American has not met with the success that people envisioned. In fact, we are now seeing the signs of backlash and pushback from civil libertarians, media, and others free speakers who are questioning why, in an age where every religion is poked fun of and even vilified by some, Islam is off limits. Well our answer to that is simple; Islam is the only true religion of God, Muslims are the best people on earth, and we are all above criticism. The problem is, everyone does not accept that answer, and…

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The Anger Games, Putting The Brakes on Muslim Rage, By Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

This article was published shortly after Ramadan in 2006. Interestingly enough, here it is, right after Ramadan, six years later, and this issue of Muslim rage keeps coming back to haunt us, or delight us, depending upon your preference. I came across this article today while I was writing another blog post, and to tell the truth, it’s a little scary how history keeps repeating itself. I’m reposting the article here, word for word, without any editing except that I changed the title. It was originally entitled; [The Rage Game]. Read on if you like and tell me if it doesn’t look like we’re going around in circles. Remember, this was six years ago! Imam Luqman Ahmad

The Anger Games
Anyone who hasn’t capitalized on the recent malicious caricature portrayal of the Prophet (SAWS) to express their outrage, promote their organization, get their name in the paper, pontificate the loftiness of Islamic ideals, start a membership drive, indulge in a little political posturing, to open dialogue, or defend the Prophet (SAWS) has missed their opportunity. The cartoon issue has officially become a non-issue. There was no fatwa, no official sounding consensus of scholars declaring cessation of protest, hastily prepared press conferences. On the contrary, the media puppeteers, knowing what motivates Muslims to action, simply turned off the cameras and directed them to another venue. Muslims are well in tailoring activity based on subliminal media directives, and it looks like we were duped once again. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been had. Or as al-Hajj Malik Shabaaz (Malcolm X) used to say, we were conned, bamboozled, hoodwinked, and flimflammed.

Of course, there are those in denial and that has to be expected. After all, Islam has become our universal adapter. All we need to do is preface an action with; “this is for the sake of Allah” or, “this is for Islam”, or, “this is in defense of Islam” and it assumes immediate legitimacy irregardless of whether it’s fair, Islamic, prudent, or in agreement with the shariah. Since as Muslims, everything we do is ostensibly in the name of Islam, for Islam, for the Muslims, for Allah, in defense of Islam etc., we are never wrong about anything, ever. Perhaps this is how we justify suicide bombings where the innocent (including women and children) are casualties. If the world was unaware how sensitive Muslims are about our Prophet (SAWS), then our recent response to a singular incident, not only erased any ambiguity, it showed how malleable the global Muslim community has become.

By even the most conservative accounts, we’ve proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are unpredictable, volatile, rage driven, and that a little name calling and scribbling on a piece of paper can stir us into frenzy. People have been attempting to demean and ridicule the Prophet (SAWS) ever since the first revelation of the Quran saturated his pure heart. When has that ever warranted a full-scale campaign? What are we going to do the next time someone demeans the prophet of Allah? Why was this incident singled out for response when there are hundreds of negative references to the Prophet Muhammad in circulation? A couple of years ago a well-known television evangelist from California gave a series of lectures in which he vilified the Prophet (SAWS) much more insidiously than this heretofore-unknown cartoonist (whom we have now made famous and probably wealthy from his future book deals). Why wasn’t there an outpour of condemnation and rage then?

Since this issue surfaced, these insidious and demeaning images of the Prophet (SAWS) have been reprinted in at least 143 newspapers in 56 countries. In defiance of Muslims umbrage, many media publications have stepped up their parody of not only the Prophet himself (SAWS) but also the hypersensitive way that we have responded to the issue. There will always be people, groups and institutions who will do, say, or write something that we can consider an affront to the dignity of the beloved, Prophet of God, Muhammad (SAWS) especially since we are so adept at interpreting words and events as anti-islamic. Should Muslims therefore assume a perpetual state of protest? On second thought, that might not be the most efficient use of labor. How about we just appoint a group of people whose job will be to hunt down and protest every insult to the Prophet (SAWS). That way the rest of the Muslim world can concentrate on other matters.

Whether we care to admit it or not, we are slowly, and dangerously I might add, evolving into a people so consumed with self-righteousness; rage, indiscipline, and intolerance, we have lost our collective ability to acknowledge our own wrongs. Let us grow up folks. Even Adam (AS) admitted his mistake and conducted a healthy self-assessment. To say that we overreacted to the cartoons is not only an understatement; it also raises questions about who we are, what we stand for, and how we interpret our belief system. Let me see if I got this right. A three month old negative caricature of the Prophet (SAWS) and we take to the streets by the thousands, protest, throw rocks, issue death threats, tear down buildings, blame whole nations and contort our angriest and most menacing facial expressions for the cameras. In the process, scores of Muslims are killed, hundreds more injured, countless man hours are expended, and after the dust settles, there is no measurable tangible gain we can claim from the experience.

Ironically, when Muslims bomb Masaajid while people are worshipping in Iraq, or when fratricidal lunacy claims the lives of at least 400 Muslims in the last week alone, there is hardly a whimper! We allege that we must protect and defend the honor of the Prophet (SAWS). Meanwhile in America alone, Muslims contribute upwards of twenty million dollars per year towards cable and satellite TV industry which broadcasts every imaginable abomination opposed by the Prophet (SAWS); homosexuality, pornography, blasphemy, gambling, infidelity, deception, gluttony, you name it, cable’s got it. I have not detected any mass rush to cancel our cable subscriptions. Bridges TV, a Muslim orientated cable station had to almost beg for the marginal support it receives from the Muslim community.

We clamor for tolerance yet we, after invoking the name of Allah, be He forever exalted, are notoriously intolerant. Discriminate against a Muslim and there is immediate outrage, yet we unabashedly champion nepotism, tribalism, and racial discrimination within our own organizations, boards, masaajid.and Muslim controlled lands. We want parity and inclusion in the world arena yet we cannot stop fighting each other long enough to create our own alternative industries. We vehemently protest the killing of Muslims by the Americans, the British, the French, the Russians, the Israelis, or any other so-called infidel. However, we are curiously silent about Muslims killing each other. It’s as if we are saying; hey, don’t kill Muslims! Let us kill each other! Don’t hate the Muslims! We have enough hate not only to hate you, but plenty left over to hate ourselves. Don’t disrespect the Prophet (SAWS)! We can do that ourselves by ignoring the standards of civility, fairness justice to which he commanded us.

The Muslim motto is becoming; ‘you disagree with me, therefore you are my enemy’. Some of us take the mantra a bit further; ‘you disagree with me, therefore I must kill you and your children’. The internet and print media are, full of one or another Muslim group, leader, scholar or imam, condemning the other, calling each other names, or inciting hatred and malice toward one another. Have we simply lost our minds? Somebody turn on the lights! Does it occur to anyone that the Muslims in the world are in a weakened, dependant and shamefully subordinate state? There is no doubt that there are multitude of organized and formidable seen and unseen forces confronting the Muslim peoples in this new and perhaps last millennium . Is there some law somewhere that says we are obligated to contribute to our own malaise? Can we call an emergency moratorium on inter-religious conflict between Muslims? Do you think that we can come up with better stratagem than our irritatingly redundant self-victimizing blame and complain modality? I thought that only juveniles did that. We are turning into complainaholics (okay I made the word up). The world’s crybabies.

Holding western democracies accountable to standards of law, fairness, civil liberty, and inclusion, has merit. Self-serving as it may be, there is some merit there. After all, publishing the cartoons in the first place was a criminal offence under sections 140 and 266b of the Danish Criminal Code. However, what is the Muslim standard? Do we have one? Of course, the unanimous response to that is; Islam is our standard! This, ladies and gentlemen, is my point. If Islamic law, ethics, protocol, morality or to put is bluntly for those of us who haven’t had their coffee this morning, the Quran and Sunna are the standards by which Muslims must be held accountable, are we then obligated to address errant behavior of Muslims perpetrated in the name of Islam? I’m not referring to contentious issues about which there is legitimate scholarly disagreement, or the triangulated fatwas cloaked in ambiguity. What I’m referring to are the incontrovertible standards of behavior, law, civility, honesty, good character, and fairness which all Muslims or most of us agree are the foundations of our faith. Are corruption, nepotism, racism, bribery, fratricide, inter-religious sectarianism, spousal abuse, issues that as Muslims we are obligated to address? You darn right they are! Does our failure to collectively and consistently enforce the Prophetic standard of conduct in government, community, business, religion, politics, and lifestyle, effect our overall condition and standing in the world? What do you think!
90% of Muslims in the West get their news from commercial broadcast networks. We only know what the media tells us. It seems like our group responses to issues are so scripted and choreographed, we might as well be paid for it and become members of the Screen Actors Guild. At least they have retirement benefits! Oh and speaking of boycotts; We have threatened boycotts of western products for years, yet our own division, short attention span, and intolerance of each other, prevents us from coming up with viable alternatives. Every six months or so, some Muslim scholar, organization or politician calls for a boycott of American, British, Israeli or another western countries products. . A recent fatwa from a well-known Muslim scholar (whom I happen to like), demanded that Muslims boycott all American Products. I guess that means Chinese products too since a lot of the product sold in American are made in China. While we are at it, let’s add Dubai to the list since they will now have a hand in managing several US ports. And aren’t we still supposed to be boycotting the French because of the Hijaab ban? I guess we might as well boycott Turkey too since they also ban hijaab. Boycotting Sweden may be tough. I mean, who can compete with IKEA’s prices and ingenuity? By the way, who’s keeping track of the boycott targets? Where is the list? Can they email Muslim enemy of the week list to my Treo handset? Like to keep track of such things you know.

If the sum of what we are saying is, ‘do not portray Islam in a negative way’. Are we not then responsible for ensuring that we as Muslims do not portray Islam in a negative way? If the answer is no, then we’ve abdicated responsibility for our own behavior, which to do so is unislamic. If the answer is yes, then the negative portrayals of Islam which we ourselves exhibit, i.e. the killing of innocents and non combatants, collective blaming for individual acts, racism within the Muslim community, rampant corruption, Muslim on Muslim killings, the proliferation of Muslim owned liquor stores, the absence of Muslims in the social services arena, inter-religious intolerance, public mudslinging, and unbridled rage are all issues for which we bear responsibility. In other words, if Joe Abdullah straps a bomb to his back, strolls into a grocery store, yells out the name of Allah (Allahu Akbar) then blows himself up along with twenty innocent bystanders who were just out doing a little shopping, and the Muslim community says and does nothing about it, any outsider could reasonably conclude that Joe Abdullah’s actions represent Islam. After all, he did it in the name of Islam, and the Muslims sanctioned it through silence. In Islamic law, the acquiescence (iqraar) of the Prophet (SAWS) towards an action, essentially sanctions it. Doesn’t this rule apply to the rest of us?

No matter how much we try to avoid taking responsibility for our actions and behavior, the matter of collective ethical responsibility will always come back to bite us, erode any moral capital we have left, and invoke divine consequences upon us, unless we face up to it. We do after all; have a higher authority (Allah) to answer to. Oh yeah, remember Him? Well He’s not going anywhere, and guess what? He has standards, and rules that govern behavior. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. If we are going to use Islam as our raison d’être, we ,must then also accept Islamic standards as governing criteria for our action and behavior.

When was the last time that Muslims came out and apologized for anything, or admitted that we might be mistaken about some of our methods, or choice of priorities, or assumed any responsibility for our condition? I know, even hinting that Muslims could be wrong about anything is risky, and possibly hazardous to one’s health. But hey, I’m feeling a little adventurous these days. Besides, somebody’s gotta say it. No one besides Allah’s Prophets (ASA) is immune from occasional lapses in judgment, blunders, mistakes, sins, or outright stupidity. If the life and practices of our beloved Prophet, Muhammad (SAWS) serve as any standard for Muslims, as Imam Zaid Shakir adeptly elucidated in a recent article, .hatred, anger, revenge, rage, and puritanical oppression, are not always the best catalysts for action. Anger has its place. However, it was not something the Prophet (SAWS) prioritized. In fact, he emphasized the contrary. A man came to the Prophet (SAWS) and asked for advice. The Prophet replied: “Do not get angry”. The man returned repeatedly and each time the Prophet replied: “do not get angry”.

Negative emotions tend to take on a life of their own. We have become so accustomed to employing anger as an organizing staple, that many Muslims leaders are now finding that the only platform upon which they can motivate masses of Muslims is by tapping into their reservoir of fury. Find a common enemy, or common target of anger, you’ve got yourself thousands in the streets. Make an appeal for Muslims unity or curbing sectarianism and you get lip service, and photo-ops. Perhaps we’re suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at the loss of the caliphate, or maybe we’re still a little light-headed from fasting during the month of Ramadan or who knows, maybe we’re bored. I am certain that with a billion Muslims on the planet, we can come up with some issues on our own, or sustainable, practical agendas to better our condition with Allah’s help. I guess until that happens, we’ll just have to wait and see what the next issue of the week is going to be. As a parting note, I do have one humble request; next time, can we schedule our response closer to the actual time of the occurrence? I like my issues fresh. And hold the mustard please.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, an American born Muslim, is an Imam and freelance writer and lecturer.

A Worldwide Open Letter from Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad to the Muslim Protesters and Demonstrators Against the negative film about the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)[1],

                        Al-humdu lillahi Rabbil aalameen wa salaatu wa salaam alaa Rasoolillah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam wa alaa aali’hi wa sah’bihi wa salaam. amma ba’ad

Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh, dear beloved Muslims throughout the world. I pray that this message reaches you with open minds, receptive hearts and that Allah guides you and us all to the best of this life and the hereafter. My first advice to you and to myself is to fear Allah and have taqwa, for surely taqwa is the best provision.  [O ye who believe! Fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the Right: 33:70]

As Muslims, we all love the Prophet (SAWS) dearly and we hold him very close to our hearts. Loving the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) is a principle of our faith; as our beloved Prophet (SAWS) has said, “None of you (truly) believes, until I am more beloved to him that his son, his father and all other people”. No Muslim wants that the Prophet (SAWS) is vilified, called names, or disparaged, and it distresses us all that people would make fun of the Prophet (SAW) and assail his noble character.

There will always be people who mock the Prophet (SAWS) and who speak ill of our great religion. You should not be surprised by this; [Mocked were (many) apostles before thee: but I granted respite to the unbelievers, and finally I punished them: Then how (terrible) was my punishment! 13:32]  Allah be He Exalted and Glorified, has decreed that people will be different. They will have different beliefs, different cultures, different political views, and different loves and hates.  However, demonstrating in the streets in my view has done nothing to change the negative views in the western world, of our Prophet (SAWS), and of the religion that he has come with. On the contrary, it only embellishes the image that Muslims are a people with very little control of their anger, and a weak moral resolve.  I advise you all to let Allah deal with those who scorn and mock the Prophet (SAWS); He is well Aware of what they say, and Capable of protecting the dignity of His Messenger (SAWS); [O Messenger. proclaim the (message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou didst not, thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His mission. And Allah will defend thee from men (who mean mischief). For Allah guideth not those who reject Faith. 5:67]

Dear beloved Muslims of the world; we recognize that many of you have lived under terrible dictators and ruthless leaders in the past and still now in the present, some of you endure under tyranny, greed and corruption. We pray to Allah that He relieve you of the weight of oppression, the burden of poverty, and the melancholy of despair, and that He gives you leaders that will deal with you justly, and grants you the liberty whereas you can pursue what is good and lawful to you.  As your brethren in faith, we remind you that our Lord, be He Exalted and Glorified, will not change the condition of a people until they change the conditions of themselves. [Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls). 13:11.]

The images that are streaming around the world of Muslims rampaging in the streets, and the reality that accompanies it; burning cars, burning flags, and destroying property, do a disservice to the true cause of Islam, and to the legacy, and dignity of our beloved Prophet (SAWS). Such actions undermine the purpose of life and death; which is to see who is better in deeds. [He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving; 67:2]– The Prophet (SAWS) did not sanction such behavior which amounts to a waste of time and energy, and a shameful loss of life, property and honor. Some of your leaders have said that you must show the world your anger and your rage. I am saying to you that you must temper your anger and temper your rage, and direct your energy towards ridding your countries of corruption, Muslim on Muslim killing, and on working towards peace and justice using permissible means. If you follow the guidance of the Prophet in this matter, outsiders will not harm you; [O ye who believe! Guard your own souls: If ye follow (right) guidance, no hurt can come to you from those who stray. the goal of you all is to Allah. it is He that will show you the truth of all that ye do. 5:105]

In the United States, and in other parts of the Western World, there are Muslims who believe in the Prophet of Allah (SAWS) and love him as you do, there are those who do not believe in the Prophet (SAWS) and there are many others who do not know him. Your calls for death to America include those who are believers, and who are people of the book [Jews and Christians] who live here, and others, who have done you no harm. People in the Western World will not change their negative views of Islam, Muslims, and the Prophet (SAWS) because of your shouting, your demonstrations in the streets, and your rampaging. They will not hear your voices; they will only see the shaking of your fists in the air, and the wanton violence and destruction of property, none of which represents the patience and forbearance of the Prophet of Allah, who you claim to defend.

The hearts of men belong to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala; He guides whom He please and He leads astray who He please. However, we advise that you vent your frustration, your pain, and your concern about the defense of the Prophet (SAW) to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, who hears all supplications whether it is the loud thunderous voices in the streets or the almost silent, hushed voices that cry out in the still of the night. The legacy and dignity of Rasoolillah (SAWS) lives through our actions and is carried on in following his way of tolerance for those who disparage him, and in bringing the light of faith and strong moral foundation to the world. The Prophet (SAWS) is under no threat from any human being; he is safe with Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, and in the best company. Billions of Muslims praise him and send salutations upon him, and his position with Allah is secure. There is nothing that anyone can say, write, or put on film that will ever change that. The rage, the anger and the violence that result from demonstrating in the streets, only threatens to extinguish the true light and guidance of the Prophet (SAWS) who was sent as a mercy to mankind.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ibn Abdulkarim Muhammad Ahmad

Imam and Executive Director, Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center,

Sacramento, California, The United States of America

You may contact Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad @

[1] [May the peace and blessings of God (Allah) be upon him)

Defend the Prophet (SAWS) by following His Way, not by Following Our Emotions, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

Some Muslims have come into the modern world with the expectation that Muslims, and the religion of Islam which we profess, are not to be offended. This is a false and unrealistic expectation, as Allah has decreed otherwise; [Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves; and ye shall certainly Hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that will be a determining factor in all affairs. 3:186].

People are free to either believe in the Prophet (SAWS), and what he has come with or to disbelieve in him, [Say, “The truth is from your Lord”: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it) 18:29] The Prophet (SAWS) withstood all kinds of verbal abuse, accusations and invectives from the disbelievers and the polytheists while he was alive, and he endured, owing to his lofty character and high moral constitution [And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character. 68:4] When the Prophet (SAWS) was negotiating the famed treaty of Hudaibiyyah, the Meccan delegate Suhail ibn Amr did not accept the Prophet’s title (Muhammad Messenger of Allah) to be written on the contract and only agreed to the Prophet’s name; Muhammad ibn Abdullah, on the document. Suhail justified the slight by saying; “If we actually thought that you were indeed the messenger of Allah in the first place, we would not be fighting you”. If everyone on earth believed that the Prophet (SAWS) was the Messenger of Allah, then no one would criticize him. However, that is not the case, and many Muslims need to accept that, and move on.

Muslims around the world can either keep on working themselves up into frenzy every time someone criticizes or makes fun of Islam or Muslims, and keep pretending that this is the proper method to defend Islam, and the Prophet (SAW), or we can opt to follow our own scripture on the matter (Quran and Prophetic tradition), and save ourselves a lot of anxiety, frustration and misdirection; [“And endure with patience whatever people may say [against thee], and avoid them with a comely avoidance. 73:10]  Patience and magnanimity is better than carrying on in the streets, as if we are devoid of guidance. The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) is dead, and his place with Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala is assured by the word of Allah Himself; [Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute him with all respect. 33:56]

Following our raw emotions when religious texts dictate otherwise, does not represent what our religion is about.This insulting film about Rasoolillah (SAWS), which people are clamoring about, is not the first time that the Prophet (SAWS) has been disparaged, and it will most likely not be the last time. Defending the Prophet (SAWS) entails believing in him, obeying him and following his way. Not demonstrating in the streets, burning cars, chanting slogans, or killing people. Knowing what we know about the life and struggle of the Prophet (SAWS), he would not sanction the amount of visible rage, rioting, slogan chanting, and wanton destruction that some of us resort to in different parts of the world any time one of the many criticisms leveled against the Prophet (SAWS) mysteriously comes to surface.

If anyone wants to defend the Prophet (SAWS) from those who would criticize him, and assail him, then they would be better served by making every effort to live up to the standards of devotional worship, good character, kindness to the neighbor and the neighbors, charity and upright living that was practiced by the Prophet (SAWS). The legacy and dignity of Rasoolillah (SAWS) lives through our actions and is carried on in following his way of tolerance for those who disparage him, and in bringing the light of faith and strong moral foundation to the world. The Prophet (SAWS) is under no threat from any human being; he is safe with Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, and in the best company. Billions of Muslims praise him and send salutations upon him, and his position with Allah is secure. There is nothing that anyone can say, write, or put on film that will ever change that. The rage, the anger and the violence that result from demonstrating in the streets, only threatens to extinguish the true light and guidance of the Prophet (SAWS) who was sent as a mercy to mankind.

A Muslim is not responsible for anyone’s negative opinion of the Prophet (SAWS) except when that Muslim engages in misguided actions in the name of Islam, and in the name of following the Prophet (SAWS). People can become more alienated and more antagonistic of Islam when they see the unfettered outpourings of rage and anger in different parts of the world resulting from a stupid, ill-conceived film about the Prophet (SAWS).

Historically, these demonstrations and rampages has done nothing to lessen the criticism and negative attitudes that people have towards Muslims and or Islam, and have only buttressed the view that Muslims have an unhealthy appetite for rage and violence.  Many, if not most times, Muslim rage has only resulted in innocent people, most of whom have been Muslim, being killed or injured. This current incident has not only resulted in the deaths of the American Ambassador to Libya along with three others of the diplomatic staff; there were a number of Libyan Muslims killed while trying to defend against the onslaught, and in addition, four [Muslim] protesters were killed in Yemen and at least nineteen people were injured in Cairo as of this writing.

In the din of condemnation of free expression of a negative statements and views directed towards Islam and Muslims, we forget to condemn as well, the misguided overreactions of the world’s Muslims to criticisms of our faith that is only meant as a test of our own moral resolve. Even if we win the battle of expression with our large and boisterous demonstrations and condemnations, we lose the war of faith and moral resolve in the process. The Prophet (SAW) was dispatched as a mercy to mankind and a bearer of glad tidings. It is ironic that so many are repelled from Islam due to our inability to bear criticism. Misguidance is misguidance, no matter who perpetrates it, and I remember being taught even before I entered grade school; that two wrongs don’t make a right. The true irony of this whole matter is that many of us have arrived to a point where we actually believe that the proper way to defend Islam is to go out in the street and disgrace it with our actions. I wonder what the Prophet (SAW) would say about that? Wal Allahul Mus’ta’aan.

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. 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, and can be reached at

CAIR’s ‘Sharing Ramadan’ Campaign: Well intended? Maybe. Bad Idea? Definately!

The national campaign suggested by the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR] to “Share Ramadan”, although perhaps well intended, is ill-conceived, misleading, and quite frankly, borders upon sacrilege. The concern of some American Muslims about the increase in anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment in America is, understandable. Albeit overblown and hyperbolic, nevertheless, it is a legitimate concern. However, sharing Ramadan, inviting people to fast for a day, sprucing up our behavior for the benefit of the media, or thinking that a non-Muslim will somehow vicariously experience what a believing Muslim feels when he or she breaks their fast, will do little to stem the rising tide of islamophobia or change public opinion about Islam and Muslims except to demonstrate the degree of ostentation (riyaa) which we are willing to embark upon to get someone to like us. It gives the impression that we are a disingenuous and desperate people. Such actions breed more contempt and suspicion than sympathy, or a warm and fuzzy feeling towards Muslims.

Ever since 9/11, American Muslims have been on the defensive, and more often than not, we are over-defensive. Many times, acting at the behest of American Muslim political and advocacy organizations, we will leave no stone unturned in prostituting various foundational aspects of our faith in order to influence public opinion. True Islam belongs to Allah; we don’t need to defend it, we only need to practice it. Not surprisingly, ten years of spin doctoring Islam, have netted very little tangible results. To this day, we’re till complaining how much they don’t like us.

Consider that acting under the unhealthy influence of islamic political organizations, American Muslims have already changed, (may Allah help us) for the benefit of public consumption, the meaning of Islam from submission to peace, we’ve established the despicable precedent that Friday prayer (Salaatul Jum’ah) does not have to be performed for Allah only but can be done on a state capitol lawn in order to make a political statement, and we’ve asserted that it really makes no difference whether you are Muslim, Christian or Jewish, it’s really just one religion. Now, as we approach the holiest month of the year, our ambitiously bodacious political Islamic leaders at CAIR, are asking us to share one of the most personal acts of devotion; the observance of the month of Ramadan, with our non-Muslim neighbors and associates!

 The ‘Sharing Ramadan’ campaign inaugurated by CAIR suggests that we do group spectacle and mockery of our own faith during the holiest month of the year, and that we invite partners with whom we will share our devotion to Allah, and then, as suggested in CAIR’s ‘Sharing Ramadan’ resource guide, film it all, and send it to CAIR.

Increasing righteous acts during Ramadan is a Sunna of our Prophet (SAWS). Make your non-Muslim friends, neighbors or family member a plate of food if you want, or spend some of the money you save during the month in charity.

However, your fast, your iftaar, your worship, and your devotional observance of the month of Ramadan, is  between you and Allah. It’s not for sale, it’s not for public relations and it’s not to impress and it’s not for show. We cannot share or magically transfer our experience of fasting Ramadan because each persons fast, is known only to Allah, Judged only by Him, and accepted or rejected, by Allah be He Exalted and Glorified. Your fast is not yours to share. If you share it, you have associated partners with Allah. 

 Fasting, iftaar, taraaweeh, qiyaami lail, are all for Allah only, and He imparts, the blessings, the joy, the spiritual bliss and the reward of Ramadan, to whomever He pleases and in whatever measure He wants.. When we invite guests to the Masjid to ‘share’ Ramadan, we should realize that they cannot share in the blessing or reward since in order to be rewarded for fasting the month of Ramadan, you must first be a Muslim, after that, you must observe the fat, and it’s applicle rules and conditions according to the Quran and sunna.

CAIR suggests that a person can fast without belief, and break the fast without fasting, and that we should thank them for it.  [Please do not forget to send “thank you” notes to the religious, political and civic leaders who attended the iftaar;][1]

Ramadan is a pillar of faith, and should in not be prostituted as part of a public relations campaign initiated by a national political Islamic organization, to alter perceived public opinion about Islam. If we allow that, then we are corrupting the very foundations of what we believe sacred, which is the unique oneness and devotional exclusivity of, and to the Almighty God, Allah (tawheed and ikhlaas). Without tawheed and ikhlaas, the essence of righteous and devotional acts of worship is rotted and devoid of any spiritual value.

Observance of the month of Ramadan is considered ritual worship (ibaadah) according to sacred law. The unanimous opinion of Islamic legal orthodoxy, is that ritual worship and devotion (including observance of Ramadan) is invalidated by partnering [shirk]; It may still look good on the outside. However, on the Day of Reckoning, when it counts, it will be worth nothing.

The slogan of CAIR’s campaign; “sharing Ramadan” suggests a compromise in devotional exclusivity (ikhlaas) to Allah, and it goes downhill from there. Although that may not be the intention behind the campaign, the slogan ‘sharing Ramadan’ is a misnomer to say the least and only adds to the confusion that a non-muslim may already have about Islam. Sharing food or sharing a meal is considered one of the noblest acts of faith, and something that every Muslim should do when he or she is able. However, feeding food is best when done for the sake of Allah, and not for the purpose of the cameras, public relations, or Muslim image making;

إِنَّمَا نُطْعِمُكُمْ لِوَجْهِ اللَّهِ لَا نُرِيدُ مِنكُمْ جَزَاء وَلَا شُكُورًا 76:9

“[Saying, in their hearts,] “We feed you for the sake of God alone: we desire no recompense from you, nor thanks:”

Taking iftaar is a devotional act that is part of the observance of Ramadan; you can’t share that with anyone. Iftaar to a Muslim is a very special moment that is part of the observance of Ramadan. Iftaar, to a non-Muslim, it’s just a meal just like any other meal. The only way for a person to experience Ramadan, is to first, believe in the Lord who commanded it, and second, observe the month according to the rules and ordinances of the Quran and prophetic tradition (Sunna). It is the divine right of God that worship should be done exclusively for him and him only.

فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاء رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا 18:110

Whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner. 18:110

Fasting is a special type of worship and devotion to Allah. Even though every act of worship is done for devotion to Allah, and for the benefit of one’s soul, fasting is particularly for Allah in ways that are beyond our comprehension. Allah has said, “All of the actions of mankind are done for his own sake except for fasting; it is done exclusively for me, and I reward it accordingly[2]

Although it frequently resorts to hyperbole and fear tactics to elicit support, CAIR is arguably a necessary organization and occasionally does good work on behalf of people who need support. The local people whom I know at CAIR are passionate, hard working people who I admire and respect, but like us all, they make mistakes, and the ‘Share Ramadan campaign is one of them.

Islamic Political organizations should not be in the habit of setting agendas for what are supposed to be religious based initiatives. It is for this reason, many Americans regard Islam as a political ideology bent on takeover instead of a god centered religion that leads to salvation for the human soul. Public relations are important, and have a place in Islam. However, islamic public relations is accomplished by going out amongst the people who live amongst you, and serving them, feeding our poor, helping the elderly shut in, who lives down the block, protecting our children from drugs, gangs, keeping an eye out for criminals, predators and violence in the neighborhood. That’s how you are neighborly in Islam, and that’s how people understand neighborliness in America.

You don’t reach out to your neighbors by sending formal invitations to politicians and religious leaders, to a controlled, choreographed, dry scripted event at the place where you worship, in an environment that is totally foreign to them. There is no spontaneity in that, no sincerity, and no personal interaction with everyday people. As far as most Americans are concerned, such events are fake, and disingenuous. Our mothers and grandmothers who weren’t Muslim, taught us better than that. I grew up on America as a Muslim, and lived next door to folks for years and we interacted with our neighbors all the time, as Muslims. We played football in the street, shared food, utensils, shoveled each other’s snow off the sidewalk, picked up each other’s mail when we went on vacations, and watched over each other’s houses. If you look out for your neighbors, they will look out for you. That’s the way things are done in America, and for Muslims who are tired of people looking at you like you don’t belong here, it’s important that you understand that.

Being a good neighbor is part of the Islamic way and it is part of the American way. Every Muslim family in America has the opportunity on a daily basis to get to know their neighbors. You don’t need a national political Islamic organization, to puppeteer you through it, step by step like you are a robot. Americans can see right through that.

Being a good neighbor is not something that you do once a year, at a staged event, with the cameras rolling and with flash cards, talking points and press kits. You can be a good neighbor and reach out to them simply by walking a few feet to the next door on either side of you with a bag of groceries, or by shoveling the freshly fallen snow off your neighbors pavement as you shovel your own, or offering to feed their dog while they are on vacation. Being a good Muslim is to worship Him alone in the proper manner, without associating partners with Him. Trying to please politicians will not bring us closer to Allah, and it is not the basis for success in this life or the hereafter. American Muslims need to rediscover tawheed and ikhlaas, and not let our worship and duty to our Lord be compromised by partnering our worship with political objectives a public relations imagery whether it is orchestrated by CAIR or anyone else.

Restricting CAIR’s unhealthy and destructive influence in our nation’s masaajid (mosques) and Islamic centers will do more to change public opinion about Islam, than a thousand camera ready iftaars and open houses. It will also open the door for American Muslims to practice Islam and interact with our neighbors in faith, sincerity, and without political or public relations consideration, all of which are detrimental to our disposition of our souls when we stand before Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala. Islam is a religious journey, not a political campaign. If we concentrate on practicing our faith, instead of trying to control the image of it in the public eye, people might start to believe that Islam is indeed a religion based upon truth and godliness, and not subterfuge and deception. Ramadan only comes around once a year and we are not promised to see the next one.

The sad part about this is that CAIR actually does good work on behalf of Muslims in certain areas of advocacy, and since they recruit their volunteers from within the nation’s Muslim congregations, the people who work with CAIR are usually hard working, god fearing conscientious. I love our local CAIR Director here in the city that I live, and I support him in the good work he does for our community, and he does a lot. May Allah reward him and strengthen him.

This is the United States of America and people are free to do as they want. We all have to answer to Allah for our actions when we meet Him. For that reason, we should not allow our mosques, Islamic centers and congregations to be manipulated and our great to be politicized by a few people to serve their organizational self-interests. All criticism of Islam and Muslims cannot be summed up as a case of islamophobia; there are elements that come into our masaajid and politicize and take advantage of ordinary, unsuspecting Muslim Americans, using fear tactics, hyperbole, and spiritual blackmail, and we need to put an end to it so we can go about or lives, being productive while practicing Islam as a religion and not as a political ideology Let’s keep politics, public relations, and pandering to media and public opinion out of this Ramadan, and the Ramadans to come. May Allah accept our observance of the month, forgive us for our sins, and purify our intentions. Wa Allahu al-Musta’aan wa bi hi tawfiq.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

[1] CAIR brochure ‘Sharing Ramadan Resource Guide’

[2] Collected by Bukhaari

American Muslims in 2011: The Year We Start Looking in the Mirror

The overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans are hard working, law abiding, and peaceful. human beings. I think that most Americans are aware of this despite the efforts of those who are convinced of the opposite and are hell bent upon demonizing our faith and playing upon the fears and misunderstandings many Americans have about Islam and Muslims.
It’s quite natural for adherents of any faith to wish that they are viewed favorably by others. After all, who wants to be vilified and looked upon with suspicion, even if it’s only by a few? Perhaps once we understand that the opposition that one encounters to ones faith is one of the tests if faith, we’ll not put so much stock in people’s perceptions.
I’m of the opinion that no matter how much we engage in interfaith dialogue, high profile public relations campaigns or civil umbrage, we will not be able to convince everyone to look upon Islam and Muslims favorably. I’m not saying that there’s no value in any of these activities, what I am saying is that we should aspire to much more than merely gaining public favor. This is not an electoral campaign, this is our salvation that’s at stake.
So in the interest of what’s beneficial for us as Muslims in the long run, I am suggesting that we re-examine our motives in seeking to gain favorable sentiments of Muslims and Islam. We should make sure that we apply godly purpose to our actions, and that our deeds are in agreement with our sacred Scriptures . By doing so, we ensure that whatever ranking we find ourselves and our faith in public opinion polls, we are in good standing with the Almighty Lord that we prostrate our heads to.
According to prophetic tradition, deeds are reckoned by the intention. For the Muslim, in order for a deed to have spiritual reward (thawaab), it must have amongst other things, godly purpose.
If we want to convince the world that Muslims are a peaceful people, then we should commit ourselves to peace and become peacemakers. Not for the sake of public opinion, but for the sake of our own souls and doing what is right. If we want to convince others that we are tolerant, then we should demonstrate tolerance to each other as well as to those who wrong us. Not for the sake of our own ego and popularity, but for sake of Allah be He Exalted and Glorified.
We should begin with ourselves and within our own faith. There is more than enough Muslim on Muslim fighting, killing, intolerance, and hostility going on to keep us busy for a long time to come. Let this year be the year we start worrying about our own souls first. Myself included. May Allah guide us and show mercy. Wal Allahu Al-Musta’aan
Imam Luqman Ahmad

The Islamophobia Charade ; American Muslim Leaders Just Don’t Get It

One of the most perplexing dilemmas faced by Muslim Americans is what is seen as the rising tide of anti-islamic sentiment. It tops the agenda of virtually every mosque, Islamic center, and Muslim political or religious organization in the country.
Whether or not the negative views of Islam and Muslims held by some Americans amounts to a civil rights crisis of the magnitude that some American Muslim leaders claim, is doubtful. When Americans think about civil rights, we summon the images of blatant discrimination, such as, denial of housing, employment, and education. We don’t usually think of name calling and negative sentiment as a civil rights issue.
Nevertheless, many Muslim American leaders and organizations have declared fighting islamophobia as the number one priority for Muslim Americans, and to make matters worse ; they are trying to sell it to the rest of us. Quite frankly, I’m just not buying it.
Even if, for the sake of argument, how others view me as a Muslim, and their view of my religion really made a difference in whether or not I can practice my Islam, using Islamophobia as a one size fits all categorization for every anti -Muslim sentiment or perception, is not an intelligent and practical way to address the issue.
Although some of the hysteria and fear baiting rhetoric articulated by critics of Islam or Muslims goes a little overboard, the general concerns about the unyielding and uncompromising dogma of modern political Islam, the threat of islamic extremism, and it’s potential to germinate within the ranks of American Muslim youth, are not totally unfounded, nor are they purely irrational.
The potential for extremism and fanaticism exists within in every religion group, Islam is no exception. The numerous injunctions found in Shariah law against religious extremism and fanaticism confirm conclusively, the potential for it. Because of that, and because this is a free country where people can think what they want, it should come as no surprise for American Muslims, that there is concern about Islamic extremism and the radicalization of Muslim Americans.
What I find hardest to understand is the approach that we as Muslim Americans are taking in addressing this issue. If we want to insist upon making islamophobia our number one obsession, then the least we can do is come up with an approach that makes sense.
The clinical definition of a phobia is the morbid and irrational fear of something. Thus, given the numerous examples of suicide bombings, Muslim on Muslim killings, denial of rights, sectarian warfare and hoswtility, and the senseless butchering perpetrated around the globe in the name of Islam, notwithstanding the events of 9/11, and the failed terrorism plots on U.S. soil since then, for anyone to say that concern for the potential of Islamic extremism to occur in the united states is irrational, is itself irrational, especially since there are over 2 million Muslims in the united states, many of them coming from the same parts of the world where religious extremism is common.
So it is a mistake in my view for American Muslims to categorize every and all suspicion or criticism of Islam and Muslims as simply the result of islamophobia. To do so, only serves to perpetuate the view that many Americans have of Muslims as irrational people, who cannot be trusted . This makes our fight against islamophobia using our current tactics, a winless and counterproductive campaign. Secondly, there is not a single issue upon which all Americans have the same exact view or opinion. This is a democratic republic; we do not think nor do we behave as a tribe. So for Muslims to assume that somehow we will convince every American leader, politician, academic, group or lay person to not have a criticism, hatred, suspicion or concern about Muslims in America is not only absolutely implausible, it is borderline insanity.
The obsessive American Muslim campaign against islamophobia and the questionable tactics we are employing to that end, says a lot about who we are as a people of faith. It implies that we reject our own religious axioms of being able to withstand criticism, hatred, and accepting that not everyone will share our point of view. It also says that we have very little spiritual fortitude.
The Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon Him ) and the earlier followers of Islam were relentlessly persecuted, tortured, hunted down and killed, and even totally boycotted by the Meccans because of their religion and their beliefs. Yet the Prophet (may peace be upon Him ) never referred to opposition to Islam as islamophobia or complained about being unpopulur, nor did he seek public approval for his Islam. He accepted the opposition that one encounters to their faith as one of the tests of faith.
By all accounts, Muslims who have emigrated to the United States seem to have done pretty well for themselves. American Muslim immigrants are amongst the best educated, highest earning, and most upwardly mobile demographic groups in the U.S. Thus, I cannot help but to ask the question ; just what is it that makes fighting islamophobia such a high priority for Muslims living in America?
It’s not like we’re saying ; stop killing us, stop denying us jobs and housing, stop denying us education and health care, and stop torturing us just because we are Muslim. What we seem to be saying is; we’re doing okay in our pursuit of the American dream, we just don’t like criticism of Islam or Muslims because it bruises our ego and suggests that perhaps we need to take a hard look at ourselves. Unfortunately we as American Muslims, are not quite ready to do that. The Quran states ; “God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” Perhaps it is time for Muslims living in America to start looking in the mirror, or better yet ; spend more time and effort in practicing Islam than defending Islam. If we do that, we may start finding real answers to the questions surrounding islamophobia, and might even learn something about ourselves. Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad has been the Imam of a northern California Mosque for the last 15 years, he is also an executive committee member of the North American Imam’s Federation. He can be reached at :

Advice for Ramadan From Imam Luqman Ahmad;Patience and Forgiveness towards Anti-Islamic Sentiment,

Ramadan is a month when Muslims should exhibit the best qualities in the face of spiritual tests and challenges that lay in our paths. Since it is a month when the purpose is to obtain taqwa (piety), we should take care to follow the correct principles of faith and guidance when responding to challenges and not react to anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment based upon our fears and our emotions, as has been done in the past. If we truly want our condition to change than it is inevitable that we first must change; “verily Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change that which is in themselves[1].   Ramadan is a month of patience, a month of sacrifice, and a month of change. A disturbing trend is occurring amongst many Muslim Americans where people are more concerned with defending the image of Islam, than practicing Islam. This should give us pause

I am of the belief that Muslims are human like everyone else. Even though Islam is a perfect religion and a way of life; Muslims are not perfect people, and there are things about us as a whole which need improvement. We cannot continue to point the finger at everyone else, and not consider that perhaps we contribute in some ways to anti-Islamic sentiment by some of the misguided and ill conceived tactics we employ to address it. It is contradictory to our faith to measure ourselves by the number of positive statements people make about Muslims or the percentage by which we can improve our standing in the view of the general public. We should define ourselves by how much we can practice Islam, and concentrate on our own moral deficiencies; not by how much we can deflect criticism and sanitize public opinion about Islam and Muslims.

Some leaders call upon American Muslims to convey gratuitous expressions of thanks to anyone who says something good about Muslims, while appearing oblivious to how humiliating it is to grovel for approval and trip over thanks with anyone except Allah. It would have been better to simply thank our Lord in the first place for the freedom and liberty we have in this great nation to worship and serve Him, and bypass the incessant whining and complaining over what amounts to Muslim name calling.

When Muslims invite non-Muslims to practice fasting with us and think that it will help them understand Islam or the personal connection one has with God through observing the fast, that’s what I call desperate. It may help a person understand hunger, and they’ll likely come away thinking we worship a Lord that wants to starve u to death. The point is that we endure making fools of ourselves all year long in following American political Islamists and their ridiculous campaigns to improve the image of Islam and raising money through the process. This year, let’s keep Ramadan for Allah. Perhaps it’s not only the so called islamophobes who need to change; maybe American Muslims need to take a shot at stepping up our own spiritual game; and what better month for Muslim introspection and spiritual clarity (baseerah) than Ramadan?

It is understandable that Muslims in the United States are concerned about the growing-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment that is seen in protests, editorials and inflammatory statements made by antagonists of our faith. Although this precipitous rise in anti-Islamic sentiment marked by threats of Quran burnings, growing suspicion of Muslims in America and planned protests at some of the nation’s mosques, is viewed as a cause for alarm and worry, the opposite is true. These challenges are a test of our faith, and an opportunity to look inside ourselves and access the qualities of patience, pardon, and dignity that define the true meaning of what it is to be a Muslim. We should not forget that this s the month of Ramadan, and as such, we should strive to be more faithful and steadfast than in the previous months. In the Prophetic tradition narrated by Aisha, the wife of the Prophet (SAWS), she said, “The Prophet (SAWS) was the best of persons, and he was at his best during the month of Ramadan[2].  American Muslims should hold fast to our beliefs, and follow the guidance of our Prophet (SAWS) in confronting challenges.

A disturbing trend is taking place amongst many Muslim Americans where people are becoming more passionate about defending the image of Islam than actually practicing the principles of Islam. This Ramadan I am urging all American Muslims to keep politics, fear of backlash and the tendency towards image building away from our fasts and devote the month exclusively to Allah. We can do this in sha Allah by doing our best to follow His guidance, and the methodology of His Prophet in faith building, and righteousness and not let external influences divert our attention away from the essential purpose of Ramadan, which is to obtain piety and salvation. When confronted with anti-Islamic sentiment American Muslims are urged to consider the following advices during this month, and Imams are urged to mention some of these to their congregants who are worried and feeling uneasy about the growing anti-Islamic sentiment taking place in our Nation. Wa Allahu Musta’aan

  1. Remember that this is the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is different from other months. This is a time when conditions are optimal for a Muslim who is observing the fast and the spiritual injunctions of the month to display a greater degree of spiritual fortitude, control of emotion and magnanimity than during other the times. The doors of Paradise are opened, the doors of hell are closed and the (whispering) demons are restrained.
  2. 2.      Muslims should refrain from forwarding emails back and forth to each other detailing incidents of anti-Islamic sentiment occurring around the country, this only causes people to waste time worrying and becoming angry or frustrated with that which has already been decreed and is outside of our control. “Be concerned with yourselves; he who is astray cannot harm you if you are rightly guided”.
  3. Greet any protesters or antagonist who may come to the Mosque which you attend with a wish of guidance and peace, instead of countering protest with protest and indignation with indignation. “The men of the Merciful, who walk humbly upon the earth, and when they are addressed by the ignorant, reply with saying ‘peace’”
  4. If you feel compelled to complain, then complain to Allah, for He is the only One with the power to change what is in people’s heart.
  5. 5.      Instead of asking the authorities to take action against people who are merely expressing their views, ask Allah that He guide and still their hearts away from anger, and contempt. Allah is more Capable, and Quicker in hearing the call of the distressed. It is reported in Prophetic tradition that the Prophet (SAWS) said, “beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for verily there is no barrier between it and Allah”.[3]
  6. 6.      Be gracious and hospitable to any Mosque protestors by making sure they have access to water, coffee, or anything that will comfort them. Despite being unwelcome guests to the mosques, they are still guests at the houses of Allah. The Prophet (SAWS) displayed patience and forbearance towards a man who urinated in the Masjid. Surely we can show patience and magnanimity toward people who are expressing their views, even if we disagree. The Prophet said: “Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say:”I am fasting, I am fasting!”[4]
  7. 7.      Follow the guidance of Islam and simply pardon those who may offend us or insult us during this month, and forgive them for any perceived or actual transgression. Forgiveness and pardon are far better displays of benevolence, peace and Islamic character, than to counter protests against Islam with protest.  “Those who shun dispute, and pardon people, for surely Allah love the righteous”. Quran, 3:134


Muslims should stop self-victimizing ourselves by obsessing over the way that others view Islam and Muslims. We owe it to ourselves! Take a close look at who we are, and how we can improve our practice of Islam, and remain a people who put faith first before image. This is a free country and people have the liberty to believe or disbelieve what they want. .These are troubled and portentous times that we l

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