This article is a generalization but it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fabrication. I happen to be from Philadelphia, and even though I have not read the entire book, “The Philadelphia Negro”, By W.E.B. Dubois, I always liked the title. So I used the title for this article although my article here has little if anything to do with the book written by W.E.B. Dubois. This article is about growing up as a Muslim in Philadelphia. One thing about growing up in Philadelphia is that you never forget where you came from. Now that may be true for many places but if you are from Philly, no matter where you move to in the country or the world, you still consider yourself from Philly and a Philly person. There is something that can be said that is the Philly vibe. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so.
It is not one characteristic. It is many characteristics rolled up into one. And all those characteristics do not go for everyone. It all depends where you grew up, and how you grew up in Philadelphia; what kind of home, what kind of lifestyle, what kind of parents, what neighborhood, and one combination of home and street values where you raised upon. All that goes into who you are as a Philadelphian, and of course like I said, this is not just for Philadelphia, but I just happened to be from Philadelphia.
I grew up in a working-class, two-parent Muslim household. For the most part, we were always the only Muslims in the schools, the only Muslims on the block and for most years the only Muslims in the immediate neighborhood. Both of my parents were heavily involved in Islamic work. Our lives as I remember it, revolved around Islam. Does that mean that we were perfect Muslims, or the perfect Muslim family? No, of course not, and there’s no such thing by the way. It is just that Islam was a focal point of our lives and our identity growing up in Philly. Every city and region has it’s own personality when it comes to culture, politics, and religion. Philadelphia is no different, and when it comes to the religion of Islam in the United States, to IslamI grew up in the area of the city called Germantown. I grew up at a time where we had gangs in the neighborhood, and if you did not know anything else, you had to know how to fight, you had to know how to stand up for yourself and to stand up for your religion which was frequently under attack. Philadelphians tend to speak straight to the point, and tend to take a stand on things; for or against, with you or against you, agree with you or do not agree with you, your friend or your foe. I do not know about now, but back in the day people did not tend, at least the people that I know, to be wishy-washy.
Then there were always the con artists, and the con games, and the people who would always like to BS. I never had too much of a stomach for those types. Once you are known as a con artist and everybody tends to look at you as a con artist, and if you were a con artist you had to take your chances, if you got over, got over. If he got caught, then there were consequences and you just had to live with that. Those were the rules back then, and I do not know what the heck the rules are today. If you had a butt whuppin coming, (or worse) because of your actions, the police couldn’t save you. If you conned somebody, set someone up, or where treacherous, most likely, you had to pay the consequences for that.
I do not ever recall having to live under the guise of political correctness. I do not even think that they had the terminology back then. You would say what you meant, and you meant what you said. One of the worst things that a person could be back then was to be two-faced, to run your mouth too much about other people’s business, to be wishy-washy, or to be a coward.
Philadelphia was always a city of uppity Negroes who would dare to speak up, to keep coming back, and to not give up, and the Philadelphia Muslim Negro is an uppity Muslim who will fight off the yoke of second-class Muslim citizenry. There were times when our city was very racially polarized and we used to fight for respect. Many brothers from Philadelphia have went overseas and study Islam. There are many graduates from Islamic universities who were from Philadelphia.
The first indigenous American Muslim who memorized the Quran, Shaykh Anwar Muhaimin, is from Philadelphia. Some of the oldest indigenous American Muslim families who have four, five, and six generations in Sunni Islam are from Philadelphia. Our country was founded in Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. The underground railroad came through Philadelphia. Frederick Douglass and the abolitionist movement thrived in Philadelphia. Martin Luther King was influenced by Philadelphia during his time in Chester, Pennsylvania. Noble Drew Ali and the Moorish American Science Temple flourished in Philadelphia. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded by Richard Allen in Philadelphia. John Coltrane settled in Philadelphia. Will Smith is from Philadelphia, Pattie Labelle settled in Philadelphia, Grover Washington Jr. was from Philadelphia.
The religion of Islam has a very rich history in Philadelphia. We were taught from a very young age to take our Islam seriously. Although much of the history has yet to be written, Islam in America amongst indigenous American Muslim converts has a lot to do with Muslims in Philadelphia who spread out and strengthened other communities, and established communities. Philadelphia is a city of courage, and
So when I wrote the book Double Edged Slaveryabout the modern-day colonization of African American Muslims, you have to keep in mind that I am very much a product of Philadelphia. You may or may not understand what that means but Philly people understand what I’m saying. I was raised not to be afraid to say what I have to say. I learned this from my mother and my father, and this is what you see reflected in my writings. Much of the passion that I drew upon in writing my book, had to do with me growing up and being a son of Philadelphia, and about the willingness to call a con-game, a con-game, and that what my book is about. It’s about liberation, and removing obstacles from between you and Allah.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad
American born Luqman Ahmad is a Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a Philadelphia native, a writer, consultant, patriot, and until recently, has been the Imam of a Northern California mosque for twenty years. Currently he delivers the Friday sermon (khutba) at the Islamic Society of Folsom in Folsom California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the new book “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States. He also authored, “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at modern-day extremist salafiyyism, the ideology which in part formed the mindset of ISIS. He blogs at, imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the most insidious aspects of people debating about aqeeda (creed) during today’s time, is that it is done mainly amongst common, everyday people. Whereas in previous times, theological debates were engaged in by scholars and theoligians. Everyday people were left out of the fray.
Today, we have tens of thousands of individual Muslims, bickering and debating with each other over issues of creed, often declaring each other to be heretics.
The aqeeda [creed] taught by Rasoolillaah (SAWS) to his companions, was basic. 40 years ago, somebody decided that every Muslim in America, even our children, needed to learn advance creed and theology in the way of the great scholars. That beloved, was an experiment. And look at what it cost us. We’re still bickering and fighting over aqeeda to this very day. Didn’t even build one aqeeda University or an aqeeda clinic.
Interestingly enough, the word ‘aqeeda‘ was not even in circulation amongst Black American Muslims until the 1980’s. People didn’t even know the word aqeeda to argue abut it. How soon some of us forget. The word aqeeda comes from the Arabic word aqd [عقد], which means knot, or something to bind around. The word also means contract; as mentioned in the verse: “O you who have believed, fulfill [all] contracts [عقود]. The derivative word aqeeda [عقيدة], does not appear in
the Quran, nor was it mentioned by the Prophet ﷺ.
The terminological meaning of aqeeda in the religion of Islam is creed, or belief system. The word aqeeda is also sometimes used synonymously as tawheed, sharia, even Islam. The discipline and knowledge of aqeeda is a critical and important part of Islamic knowledge and of the sharia [Islamic law]. Aqeeda has to do with your belief system as a Muslim.
Aqeeda in the classical sense constitutes the boundaries of faith and heresy. If you are a Muslim, then you should know what you believe. You do not have to be an aqeeda scholar to have proper aqeeda. If a person believes that there is no god except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and they agree wholesale with everything that is in the Quran, and everything that is authenticated in the words of the Prophet ﷺ, [the Sunnah], then that person has the correct aqeeda, even though they do not know all the details. This is based upon the hadith, “Whoever witnesses that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger, Allah forbids the Fire from touching him“.
The central foundation of what we know to be aqeeda is la ilaaha illa Allah [there is no god except Allah], and to worship Him alone without partners. This was the message of all the Prophets starting with the Prophet Adam; وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ [Verily We have raised from amongst every nation, Messengers (proclaiming) to worship Allah and to avoid the taaghoot], [16:36]. During the time of the Prophet (SAWS) the companions did not argue with each other about the issue of Allah, His oneness, or his attributes. 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. It is not incumbent upon every Muslim to possess advanced, scholar-grade knowledge of aqeeda; that is a common misconception of some people. For the everyday Muslim, such information is necessitated on an as-needed basis.
The first books about aqeeda were written during the time of the taabi’een starting with Imam Ibn Shihaab az-Zuh’ri, (died 124 AH/741-2 CE),. The written discipline of aqeeda further evolved during the first part of the second century of the Hijra when Imam Malik ibn Anas (711–795 CE / 93–179 AH), 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 (699-767 CE). Imam Shaafi’ee was born the same year that Abu Hanfah died, (150 AH). Hewrote a book with the same title [al-Fiqh al-Akbar] where he addressed specific issues of aqeeda point by point. Over the years, scholars of the sunna developed variant views on issues of aqeeda but agreed with the foundation. These scholars became known as the Ahlul Sunna.
Amongst the Ahlul Sunna are the aqeeda of the Ash’aris, the aqeeda of the Maatureedis, the aqeeda of the Salafis, and the aqeeda of the Sufis. Within these groups are points of agreement that are the foundational principles of faith, and then are there are points of divergence. Sometimes the differences are scholarly, and civil in nature; at other times differences lead to name-calling, anger, killing and bloodshed. In many Muslim countries, people have blown up masaajid, and killed innocent men, women and children while they celebrated the Prophet’s birthday, or murdered people in cold blood simply over differences in aqeeda. There has been a lot of that in our ummah, and t hasn’t stopped, even until this very day. It continues.
There is nothing new about aqeeda wars except that in the past these ideological skirmishes were waged by scholars, jurists, politicians, and people who had knowledge. Now days, it’s largely an internet, free-for-all where anyone, regardless of knowledge or training, can participate. Al-humdu lillaah we haven’t had any violent aqeeda clashes in the United States yet, and were it not for the rule of law and the mercy of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, we would see it here. The undercurrent for it is pretty strong. Aqeeda wrangling keep American Muslims very busy. Busy enough to have split masaajid and communities, severed long standing relationships, and caused crippling stagnation within Muslim communities, especially amongst converts and Black American Muslim communities. People are very quick to pronounce takfeer on others because they regard their aqeeda heretical. People will sever long standing relationships over a fine point in aqeeda. In my opinion, it’s gotten completely out of hand.
Throughout history, aqeeda was used primarily as a topic of learning, but also as a political and sectarian hatchet and an avenue for extreme discord and transgression. Like it is today.
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, as well as deviants, in the case of Ibn Tayiyyah, 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 Black American Muslims, continuing until this very day. Other than a long trail of character assassination, split communities, torn apart friends, and a nation of young Muslims who argue with each other over their sheikhs and who is or is not an not an infidel, tell me, where is the net benefit?
Aqeeda is an in-depth and highly specialized topic. Anyone with advanced knowledge of Islamic theology and creed and can look into another Muslim’s belief detail and find where he or she has technically stepped outside of standard Islamic orthodoxy. People who engage in candlelight vigils have gone against our aqeeda. Individuals who declare that everyone who has a criticism of Islam or who does not like Muslims or Islam is an Islamophobe have diverted from our aqeeda. Anyone who thinks that their race is superior to others has gone outside of our aqeeda. Anyone who thinks that a person declaring the shahaadah performing the five prayers, paying zakat, fasting the month of Ramadan and making Hajj has not done enough to be regarded as a Muslim, has stepped outside of our aqeeda. There are dozens of examples where one person can declare another person to be outside of our aqeeda if you dig deep enough. That’s why we have aqeeda wars.
One of the casualties of the aqeeda wars is that people become obsessed with it to the point that they don’t choose their battles wisely. Declaring people to be kuffaar after they take shahaadah, pray the five prayers, pay the zakat, fast the month of Ramadan, and make the hajj is closer to kufr than giving them the benefit of the doubt. After they do all of the above, we should leave their hisaab to Allah. The Prophet ﷺ said: “I have been commanded to fight against people until they testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, perform the Salah ‘Prayer’, and pay Zakah ‘obligatory charity’. If they do that, their blood and property are guaranteed protection on my behalf except when justified by Islamic law, and their affairs rest with Allah.”. Sheikh Bin Baaz (RA) said, in explaining this hadith: “All Muslims have thus, to fear Allah, worship Him Alone, and believe in His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) as being sent to all Jinn (creatures created from fire) and mankind and as being the final Prophet. All Muslims have to perform the Obligations of Allah, abandon His Prohibitions, help one another in righteousness and piety, enjoin one another to truth and patience, and renounce all Deens (religions) of Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship). Whoever dies in the state mentioned above will enter Jannah without being reckoned or punished”.
Bonding in aqeeda versus bonding in Islam
The bond of aqeeda advanced by the Prophet ﷺ was the bond of laa ilaaha illa Allah. When people talk about the bond of aqeeda, they have to be clear what they are talking about. Do they mean the bond of laa ilaaha illa Allah? Or do they mean bonding based upon the specific, individual points of Islamic theological doctrine? If they mean the latter then it is very difficult for Muslims to unite and we will always be in a state of internal conflict. If they mean the former then this is the sunna, that we come together on the basis of laa ilaaha illa Allah, Muhammad Rasoolullaah. The different points of Islamic creed number in the hundreds. It is impossible to sit down with someone and go over point by point to see if you agree on every detail. It is highly improbable that Muslims in America will bond on every point of aqeeda. This is why there is no such thing as the ‘bond of Islamic creed’. The Prophet ﷺ never spoke of any bond of Islamic creed, nor is it mentioned in the Quran. This is a modern-day terminology that gives people the license to dig into everyone’s detail of what they believe to call this or that one a kaafir or a mushrik. What the Prophet ﷺ did say was: “Whoever prays our prayer, faces our Qibla, eats our thabeeha, then that is the Muslim. He is under the protection of Allah and His Messenger, so let not any of you betray Allah in His protection (of people)”.
You cannot be brothers and sisters in advanced creed since faith is internal, point specific and people’s individual creed varies from person to person. You can, however, be brothers and sisters in Islam. The Prophet ﷺ did not advocate the examination of every individual’s personal creed outside of them declaring the shahaadah and establishing the prayer. This is the bond of Islam. In the hadith of Abu Hurraira the Prophet ﷺ said: “I was commanded to fight the people until they say that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and that they establish the prayer, and pay the zakat, and If they say that their blood and their wealth are safe from me except in the right of Islam and their reckoning is with Allah”. Sheikh bin Baaz (RA) said that this hadith on the surface means that if a person does these things, they are to be considered Muslims unless they come with something (specifically) that will nullify their Islam. He further stated that: “Anyone who comes with Tawheed and belief in the message then he has entered Islam. Then after he is requested to fulfill the rights of Islam such as the salat, the zakat, the fast, the Hajj and things like it then performs what which Allah had made incumbent on him, then he is entirely a Muslim”.
Now as far as picking apart people’s aqeeda, you could do that with just about anyone and find glitches and inconsistencies in their belief system. Even the notion that a person can perform the five pillars, and openly declare the shahaadah, yet still be considered an unbeliever such as some Muslims apply wholesale to some groups, is itself practice that contradicts the aqeeda of Islam.
The concept that after taking their shahaadah, a Muslim has to openly denounce every belief, and every principle he previously held, or denounce every idol, every ideology, every thought that is counter to Islam, is not something established or practiced by the Prophet ﷺ. This added requirement contradicts the aqeeda of Islam. The aqeeda of Islam is that whoever comes with the two testimonies, establishes the prayer, pays the zakat, fasts the month of Ramadan and accepts and performs the hajj, they are a Muslim, and their reckoning is with Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. This is the Islam of the Prophet ﷺ. Anything outside of that, then a person needs to produce daleel.
We as Muslims living in the United States should stop letting people tell us who we can work with and who we can’t can’t; which firemen we can have help us put out the fire and which one’s we can’t. People dial 911 and accept anyone to come and help settle their dispute or help with their problem without asking about their aqeeda. But when it comes to getting help fixing up the neighborhood, stemming crime, and making the streets and the people safer, you have to worry about their aqeeda?
There is no greater word on the scale, nor stronger bond between believers than the bond of لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله [There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah], Hostilities were ended because of this word, blood was spared because of this word, protection was given by our Prophet to the inhabitants of Mecca because of this word. People enter Islam with this word. Sins are forgiven because of this word. If this word is not a strong enough bond for Muslims, then let whoever wishes, seek their bond. Let them seek their own word.
The modern-day politics of aqeeda in Muslim America is that aqeeda can become a built-in incendiary device, detonated anytime someone wants to cause discord between African-American Muslims in the United States. Anytime anyone wants, they can only (and selectively), inject the aqeeda card and all of a sudden, African American Muslims are stuck. We’ve been stuck for the last forty years.
Islam and our practice of it in this modern pre-Dajjaal age are mired in politics, power, public relations and scheming. We have to get back to the basics of our religion which is the five pillars, the seven beliefs, and the simple religion as practiced by our beloved Prophet ﷺ who said: “The religion is easy, and the religion is never made harsh to anyone except that it will overpower him.”
Most interestingly enough, most practicing Muslims that I know, never knew that there were different aqeedas to choose from. All they know is laa ilaaha illa Allah, Muhammad Rasoolullaah., the five pillars, and the basic beliefs; (Allah, His books, His angels, His Messengers, the Last Day, and the qadr (predestination). Some people feel the need to choose an after-market aqeeda, and al-humdu lillaah for them. However, some don’t. They just want to stick with the basics.
People have the right to stick to and practice basic Islam without blame, and without the extra titles. That is the right of tawheed. No one should be pressured into choosing an after-market aqeeda, or a post conversion after-title. Not ever.
If the shahaadatain [the two testimonies] the establishment of prayer, the paying of zakat, the fasting of Ramadan and the agreement to the hajj as an obligation, is not enough to consider a person a Muslim, then those who disagree should take their argument to Allah.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad
Imam Luqman Ahmad is an Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo Ohio. He can be reached at email@example.comHe 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I do not regard lightly, the loss of any innocent life that Allah has made inviolable. Innocent life is sacred, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, nationality, or ethnicity. It is Allah who grants life to whomever He pleases, and no one has a legitimate right to take that life unjustly. 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.
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 the evil (al’amr bit a’roof wal nahyi an al-munkar). However, condemning selected instances of violence, while remaining silent about others that are equally if not more heinous, only perpetuates the widely held notion that Muslims living in the West are disingenuous, and self-serving. If Muslims are in fact, morally outraged about the terrible slaughter in Paris, then we should be equally outraged when it happens in Beirut, North Africa, Palestine, in suburban Connecticut, or in a Chicago slum.
There is a difference between taking a firm, unequivocal, morally principled position against injustice and murder of innocent lives of any kind, and taking episodic stances against occurrences of extreme violence’s against innocent civilians, according to hyperbolic pressure from the media, or our own political, and public relations considerations. This recurring, and seemingly automated Muslim reaction to these types of selected and sensationalized acts of extremism only takes us deeper into an ostentatious black hole, with no foreseeable ending or win game.
If we still believe that selective condemnation of Muslim violent extremism will somehow convince the media and 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 terribly wrong, and have not succeeded by any measure.
That we continuously 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 no one’s listening, is testimony enough that just as violent extremists have hijacked the image of Islam, our politics has hijacked our morality.
We cannot continue to calibrate the shelf life and intensity of our moral consciousness based upon the length of a news feed or the broadcast schedule of the news media. Politicizing our Islam has virtually eviscerated Muslim moral credibility in the West. If people believed that we were truly a people of conscious and not a people of convenience, there would be no expectation of Muslims to condemn selected instances of violence, nor would we feel any compulsion to do so.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad
Imam Luqman Ahmad has been the Imam of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento California, for close to 20 years. He is the author of the Book: ‘The Devils Deception of the Modern Day Salafiyyah Sect, a detailed analysis of extremist salafiyyism, which is the mindset of the modern ISIS extremists. Available on Amazon.com. He can be reached at email@example.com
A lot of pundits are weighing in on how we should raise our children these days. I say; let the pundits have their say. Because as Muslims, we already have our way. (Didn’t really mean to rhyme but…) The beautiful thing about raising Muslim children, or raising your children to be Muslim, is that your children will one day, in sha Allah, grow up to be adults, and end up being not just your children, but your brothers and sisters in Islam. Now, you not only have children but you have companions, who are in sha Allah, righteous. You’ll still love them as your children, and as your companions, but you’ll love them for their values and their righteousness, and they will be not only your children, and your companions, but they’ll be your friends. Once you have done that, then you will have done justice to their fitra (natural state) upon which Allah entrusted them to you;
“There is no child except that he is born in a state of “Fitrah”, then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian” (Collected by Al-Bukhari).
When you raise them correctly, with the proper values, and with the sense of morality, knowing right from wrong, you’ll find that they will acquire wisdom at a younger age than most, and now you not only have children, but wise companions and friends whom you can trust. Then, as they grow older, and have their own children, they will take the values that you taught them and instilled in them, and use these same values to raise their own children. At that point, they will have learned to be grateful for what you taught them, because now as parents, they will find themselves armed with guidance, precedence, and a valuable parental skillset. They will be grateful, and so will you in sha Allah. When this happens, you can expect an increase in your life, and in your children’s lives;
“And remember! Your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed.” 14:7
This sense of gratitude to Allah and the increase from Him that accompanies gratitude will, in turn, compel your children who are now your brothers and sisters in Islam, to appreciate you even more, appreciate the value of that religious knowledge and guidance that you imparted to them, and to thank Allah. Even at this juncture you will see your children in compliance with the word;
“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal”. [31:14].
“Whosoever does a good Sunnah he will get the reward for it and the reward from other people doing the same thing until the Day of Judgment”. [Collected by Muslim] All of this is the Grace and Mercy of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala.
With all this abundance of grace, mercy, and goodness that your children are now seeing with their own eyes, your children will love you even more, and appreciate you even more, not just for raising them, but for nurturing them in true faith. Now you, your children, and your grandchildren will be on the same path of Islam. Three generations of laa ilaaha illa Allah, and counting. There is a feeling like that of a parent who sees what they have taught, embodied in their children, and in their grandchildren, and God willing, their great grandchildren.
And if it is decreed by God that He extends your life, you will see your values, the values of Islam, being passed down to your grandchildren, by the children that you have raised on the minhaj of the Prophet ﷺ, such a sight will warm your heart, and bring tears to your eyes, and you will thank Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, because you will feel reasonably secure in the knowledge that were you to die at that very moment, that laa ilaaha illa Allah, has already passed from you to future generations.
“Were ye witnesses when death appeared before Jacob? Behold, he said to his sons: “What will ye worship after me?” They said: “We shall worship Thy Allah and the Allah of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma’il and Isaac,- the one (True) Allah. To Him we bow (in Islam).” [2:133]
When Allah does decide to take your soul (and He has already decided when), he may bless you to leave some or all of those children behind. You will be in your grave, and all of your deeds will have stopped, and nothing else is added to your scale, except for perpetual charity, beneficial knowledge that you have left behind (yes, this included what you imparted to your children), and the prayers of your children for you after you have passed on to the next life.
It doesn’t stop there. If, by Allah’s mercy, He allows you entrance into His Eternal Garden, you will not be alone. For your family who followed you in righteousness will join you. At that point, you will know for a fact that your dedication and perseverance in raising your children in righteousness, upon the Quran and Sunna of the Prophet ﷺ, was worth it, despite the hardship, the occasional headache, the difficulty, and the cost.
Finally, by living a righteous life according to the standards and morals of Islam, and raising our children as such, and they in turn, raising their children the same way, we may have the opportunity by Allah’s opportunity, to be rejoined with the righteous of our families, in the afterlife.
“Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring: and angels shall enter unto them from every gate (with the salutation): “Peace be upon you,(salaamun alaikum) because you have patiently persevered!” How excellent, then, this fulfilment in the hereafter! [13:23]
It is in this final moment, after you have persevered, held fast to your faith, imparted it to your family, and met with the pleasure of Allah, and His forgiveness, that you are granted permission to enter the gates of paradise. Then, the angels will enter upon you and your family from every door, saying: :salaamu alaikum, because you have patiently persevered: At this point, it all becomes clear. The struggle is over, there is no more reckoning, there is no more judgement, and you have finally arrived at your destination.
Thus beloveds, window of opportunity to raise your children is small, and it will close without waiting for you to make up your mind, or to experiment with all of the nuanced studies. Raising your children in righteousness and Islam during these times is difficult for some, unpopular by many, and certainly not fashionable in this age. However, considering what is at stake, it is certainly well worth it; by any means necessary.
Imam Luqman Ahmad
Imam Luqman Ahmad is an Associate Imam at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo, Ohio. He can be
[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-
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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. It is important that if is father is willing and able to play a part in his raising, that you allow the father that opportunity and not let your feelings from a failed relationship get in the way.
Do not treat your son like he is your husband. Some sistersraise 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Laith Luqman Ahmad
Imam Luqman Ahmad is an Imam at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo Ohio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Living right can be difficult during these times, it can be boring, and it requires a lot of patience because living right means that you can’t always have it your way. However, there is an upside; if you live right, chances are that you will think right and if you think right then chances are that you will act right. Living right will bring you happiness, self-respect, and a clean heart, and in the long run, it will lead you to Allah’s pleasure, forgiveness, and jannah (paradise). Living right is the topic of this khutbatul Jum’ah at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento Ca. Click on the link below to take a listen. Wal Allahul Musta’aan
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is the Imam and Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento CA, and the author of the recently released book’ ‘The Devil’s deception of the Modern Day Sect”, available on his web page or at Amazon.com. You may visit his web page at imamluqman.com, or contact him @ email@example.com
A surprising number of young Muslim children are virtually blindsided by the early onset of moral confusion and spiritual dysfunction. While they are still in a state of fitra (natural submission to Allah), they find themselves under attack from an enemy that they cannot see, and who they are woefully unprepared to deal with. That enemy is no other than Iblis himself. In an ideal world, Shaitaan would wait, and leave our children alone until they had the opportunity to grow up a little, learn about their faith, and about consequences. However, Shaitaan doesn’t play fair. In fact; he’s not playing at all. He’s dead serious about the souls of our offspring. Our children are forced to take sides on issues of sexuality, boy girl relationships, political correctness, family values, and religious freedom (or lack thereof) years before they even approach adolescence.
There is no excuse for a Muslim parent, after having children and Allah placing them under your care and authority, to not teach them their religion, or to raise them in any faith or creed other than Islam. Making sure that your children learn their Islam early is one of the most valuable investments you will ever make on their behalf, and one that you will be glad that you made. It is also one of the things that you will regret later on if you fail to do it. You have to make certain that your children have a sure moral footing and that they know who they are early in life, because unbeknownst to them, they are being attacked from many sides.
The Shaitaan is coming after our children at a younger age these days; they are exposed to alternative lifestyles and homosexuality in the first and second grade, and children are given condoms in school as early as the fourth grade. Children are taught about name calling, backbiting, stealing and disobeying their parents, by the time they are 5 and 6 years old. They are introduced to Greek mythology, other gods, and witches and warlocks as super heroes as early as 3 and 4 years old. In some schools, children are performing sexual acts with each other in elementary school grades, and they are taught to be gender neutral while they play in their sandboxes. Therefore, do not think for a moment that Iblis does not have your children in his sights.
Children are exposed to adult material and start thinking that they are grown at a much earlier age than they did in the past, the key is to infuse them with the correct ideology and ways of thinking and acting before their thinking is corrupted by the public school system, cable television, and modern societal trends. All of these avenues have been heavily infiltrated by the Shaitaan, and he uses each one of them to advance his program.
Don’t wait to teach your children about Islam because while you are waiting, Iblis is already teaching them and calling to them. You should begin to prepare a defense for your children from the time of conception by making the du’aa of the Prophet (SAWS) before intercourse; Allahumma jannab’naa as-Shaitaan wa jannaba Shaitaan maa razaq’tanaa (Oh Allah sidetrack us from the devil and sidetrack the devil from what you bestow upon us (children)) You should then pray over them while they are still in the womb, call the athaan in their ear when they are born, and start teaching them about Allah as soon as they start to make baby sounds. They should have an idea about how to make salat (by watching you), when they are still in diapers, and they should know how to return the salaams soon after they are able to make a complete sentence. By the time they can eat on their own, children should know how to say Bismillah before they eat, and they should know about istin’jaa by the time they are potty trained.
Your children should be familiar with the inside of a Masjid, and have stood in the congregational prayer line by the age of four. They should know about the Shaitaan (Satan) and that he is their enemy by the age of four or five. Don’t think that your children are too young for this; by this time, he has already appeared to them in cartoons, toys and people. Your daughters should have already worn a hijab by the age of 7 or 8, and should be wearing it full-time by the time they reach puberty. They should know that they are Muslim by the time they enter pre-school. Instruct them to pray when they are 7 and spank them over prayer when they are 10. Teach them about wudu (ablution) when they first learn how to wash themselves, and teach them about itisgh’faar (asking for forgiveness), long before they approach puberty. At least they will be somewhat prepared for life as we know it these days.
It is true that the deeds of children are not recorded on their scale until they reach puberty. However, that does not mean that Shaitaan will not work to ensure that by the time they reach puberty, that have already started on the path to following him, or that he won’t wreak havoc in their upbringing before the angels even start to write down their deeds. Just because the angels aren’t writing doesn’t mean that the Shaitaan isn’t working.This is all the more reason why Muslim parents must be proactive in waging war against the devil.
I have found that if you insist on parenting, and being an adult, the child will capitulate to being a child. The television, the media, and the new world order mindset tells them that they are grown people; at par with their parents, but their fitra tells them that they aren’t. It’s up to the parent to not give in to the new age crap philosophy and stick to the tradition that the parent is different from the child.
May Allah reward all of the hardworking and dutiful parents, and those who truly care about the well-being of our precious children, and the sacred trust that we have with regards to them. Raising children is not just a one day, or a weekend affair; it is a lifetime effort. You only get one opportunity to do it. So you might as well give it your best shot. Whether you are heavily equipped or lightly equipped, rich or poor educated or not educated; just do it. There is no perfect way to raise children and there is no guarantee that your kids will be super upstanding Muslims. However, it is important that we as parents make a sincere and sustained effort to teach them who they are, why they are here, and what is expected of them; especially in light of modern trends and the approach of the Dajjaal.
Imam Abu Maryam Luqman Ahmad
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We are constantly being told that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States. We are also being told that the Muslim population is anywhere from 2 million, to six million and that a third of them are converts. That would put the number of converts from around 700,000 to 2,000,000. However, I’m not sure if those numbers are accurate because many converts are leaving Islam, and or never even begin to practice Islam in any appreciable way other than take their shahaadah (declaration of conversion), and you don’t see anywhere near those numbers reflected in the nation’s masaajid.
Nor do you see too much evidence that most people who became Muslim say, 20 years ago have stayed in the religion, raised their children upon it and started a second generation, or even third generation. The overall estimates of the Muslim population may be accurate, but the stated percentage of converts does not seem reflected on the ground. In almost every major city in America except for maybe Philadelphia and to a certain extent, Atlanta, you don’t see too many large communities of converts to Islam. You see a lot of young people who are recent converts and that’s great but where are the thousands upon thousands of Muslims who converted ten years ago? Twenty years ago? Thirty years ago? Where are their children, their grandchildren?
We need to re-evaluate the statistics that are being fed to us, because it has lolled many of us into a false sense of accomplishment to the point where we brag about how well Islam is doing amongst converts in America while in reality, it seems converts, by and large, are not faring that well and that the largest concentrations of Muslim men in America are those in our nation’s prisons. When I used to volunteer at Folsom prison in California, there were hundreds of male converts in attendance, and I have never seen hundreds of Muslim male converts at any Masjid anywhere in California.
Converting to Islam is one of the most significant life changing events that will ever happen during your time on this earth. To a true Muslim, faith is central to his or her entire being. How they understand and practice Islam will impact virtually every area of life; family, children, profession, character, marriage, and most importantly, the afterlife. So whatever you do, if you are a convert to Islam, do not ever take your Islam for granted. You have been given a gift that is more valuable than you may realize. You owe it to yourself as a Muslim to follow the guidance of the religion you have accepted as your way of life, as do we all. You also owe it to yourself to take the necessary steps in order to preserve your faith, spread it to your family, and pass it down to your children.
Statistically, there is a great chance that after a year or two, you will not be practicing Islam at all. Chances are that the euphoria that accompanied your conversion to Islam will be gone. Chances are that you won’t be attending a Masjid on a regular basis, and may not even have learned your prayers or how to purify yourself. Chances are that you will not be grounded anywhere in particular, not part of any Muslim community, and just floating from here to there, picking up bits and pieces of information when you can. All the while not finding specific the specific answers to your life’s problems that you need.
Of course this is not the case for every convert to Islam, and it may not be the case for you. However, based upon recent history, the chances are high that if you are a Muslim convert, and have been Muslim for less than 5 years, you will not be a practicing Muslims 5 years from now. There are many Muslims who convert to Islam, and gradually understand and practice the faith, get married, perhaps, have children and produce healthy Muslim families that continue into the next generation. However, that’s not the way it is for the majority of converts during these times we live in today. Most Muslim converts in America these days are a one shot deal. They convert to Islam but it doesn’t really spread to the next generation. The average convert today is simply subject to too many fluctuations, and quirky influences in his or her faith and ideology in the name of Islam to keep up.
If you are one of them, it is likely that even though you still believe in Allah, and His Prophet (SAWS), you still have not been able to connect the dots. You are still searching for what is the best Islam; one day something is haram, the next day it isn’t. Maybe you’ve put your heart into one or the other popular brands of Islam and then realized that it didn’t give you all the relevant answers you needed for your life as a Muslim convert, born and raised and living in America. Perhaps you’ve tried your hand at salafiyyism, and really believed the fatwa from 10,000 miles away that told you that you must be saddened by the happiness of any non Muslim, or that told you that you have to spend an inordinate amount of time debating with other Muslims, or that told you that you can’t wish your mother happy birthday or buy her an anniversary gift . Or maybe you tried Sufism and found that even though you sat around doing thousands of thikrs, paid hundreds of dollars to attend seminars of a visiting shaykh, or traveled hundreds of miles to kiss somebody’s hand, has not removed your inner demons. Or maybe you’ve simply given up and just kinda hold on to the basis of faith while having no real spiritual feeling or propulsion in your life. If you’ve been particularly unfortunate, you jumped on the bandwagon of Muslims who spend so much time arguing with each other, and trying to uncover faults in one another that they have lost track of their own spiritual health. If any of this is the case with you. then know that you are not alone. These are the things that happen to the majority of Muslim converts in America. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the dots can be connected and there are answers to morally dysfunctional Islam, and if you can hang on for about 5 to 7 years, you’ll have realized that the simple Islam of the Prophet (SAWS) was all you needed in the first place. If you’re still new to the deen and don’t have the time to do the merry go-round approach, it should please you to know that these faith fatalities can be avoided if you are aware of the obstacles before you. You don’t have to make things up on your own as you go along, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel, and you don’t have to grope around in the dark, hoping you’ll figure it out in sha Allah. None of the above methods work, and all three contribute to moral dysfunction which contradicts the whole purpose of your accepting Islam in the first place. Islam works wonders for the soul when practiced correctly. When it is not, the results can be devastating. Islam is a path, not a destination. Don’t assume that you can travel the path of Islam, without any direction, and do not ever assume that you can lead yourself. Once you do that, the devil takes the reins. Even Dorothy, had to follow the yellow brick road in order to reach the wizard of Oz.
Islam has been in America for more than 400 years and people have been converting to Islam in relatively large numbers since the seventies. Unfortunately, many new converts to Islam are deprived, and sometimes deprive themselves the opportunity to benefit and learn from people who accepted Islam 10, 20, or 30 years ago, and are still practicing it. This is due partially by the absence, or scarcity of Muslim communities, which contributes to the generational disconnect between Muslims. Not only are new Muslims, not benefitting from seasoned Muslim converts, in many cases, largely because of foreign influence, newer Muslims show less and less respect for Muslims who have practiced Islam in this country for decades. It’s not uncommon to find a two year convert to Islam, condemning an Imam or Muslim who fasted thirty Ramadans! Muslim Americans are finding themselves dealing with issues that have long been settled by their predecessors.
In virtually every human discipline on earth, new members learn from the ones who immediately preceded them and benefit from their experiences. Scientists, educators, people in the military, law enforcement, doctors, lawyers, builders, scholars of Islam, artists, carpenters, and even athletes learn from the ones who immediately preceded them in their craft. Sadly, the same is not true for many converts to Islam. Many converts to Islam are making the exact same mistakes, attempting the same failed (un-Islamic) methods of deen, falling for the same cons, arguing about the same issues, running into the same brick walls, and repeating the same misdirected actions that some Muslims have been doing for nearly half a century or more. The difference now is that we are heading into the last days and things are deteriorating very rapidly. Subsequently, the condition of the convert is steadily worsening, and the amount of confusion is much higher. It’s time that we have honest discussions about our journey so that we can learn from our mistakes. In the age where our country has elected its first African American President, American muslim converts, most of whom are African American, are third class Muslims in their own country.
I have been a Muslim for half a century. My parents converted to orthodox Islam in the fifties. I’m certainly not the best Muslim, and make no claim to be the quintessential example of everything a Muslim is supposed to be. That job has already been covered by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). I have managed however, through the years, to pay close attention to what was and is going on in Muslim America. After teaching classes on Islam and lecturing to Muslims and non-Muslims for nearly three decades, serving as an Imam of a Muslim community for nearly fifteen years, administering the shahaadah to hundreds of American Muslims from all walks of life, speaking with thousands of Muslim converts, I’ve started to notice recurring patterns of how Muslim converts in America have fared. Most of them seem to not practice the religion, leave it all together, or hold on to the central theme of Islam (monotheism) and languish in bewilderment about the rest. Many just wait around to see what the next CAIR inspired protest is going to be. It is interesting to note that Muslim Americans endured discrimination, torture, name calling and abuse decades ago only to arrive in the 21st century and we can’t endure a cartoon, or a simple disparaging remark. A great scholar of Islam, imam al-Qurtubi once said: “knowledge is acquired through two things; nusoos (textual evidences from the Quran and the Sunna), and tajriba (trial and error). The goal here is to learn from our experiences, connect the dots, pinpoint specific problem areas of deen practice and provide solutions based upon the Kitaab and the Sunna. Islam is a system of faith that works, when you believe sincerely, employ correct measures of knowledge, and stay focused on the prize, which is eternal bliss and salvation.
Nevertheless, it still remains that nearly seven out of ten Muslim converts, end up either not practicing the religion or leaving it all together. The most common causes are information overload, coupled with too many different directions of instruction, and spheres of foreign influence, and a woeful lack of facility and resources amongst indigenous American Muslim communities (most of whom are struggling). The new Muslim is often given conflicting information about what they should do, which group they should join, who and what they should love and hate, and where they can and cannot go to worship. The average muslim convert spends about 5 to 7 years literally going around in circles with their religion, sometimes embroiled in research, or dispute with other Muslims about what is haram, about what is halal, or the meaning of this or that verses in the Quran or this or that prophetic tradition. Other times they are busy trying out different types of Islam, different labels, each one requiring that he or she re-adjust their faith foundation, while repudiating the other group. One day a Salafi, the next day a Soofi, the next day a Maaliki, the next day a Habashi, the next day a Tablighi, and so on.
Multiple intra-faith changes in fundamental spiritual foundation can take its toll on any Muslim. For the children of converts, it can be devastating. Children are born in the state of fitra (natural godly disposition). No one embodies the pure fitra in his being, character and path, more than Rasoolillah (SAWS). This is why Aisha (RA) the wife of the Prophet (SAWS), has said; “His (The Prophet (SAWS)) character was the Quran”. This is the truth. If you care to believe it, al-humdu lillah, otherwise, my response is; Allahumma salli alaa Muhammadin WA alaa aali Muhammad
All of the aforementioned sub groups of Muslim, and Islam have some benefit in them. Following a madhhab can give order and stability to practicing Islam, especially in areas of technicality such as inheritance, marriage and divorce and other matters. Salafiyyism has reinvigorated the spirit of learning, despite its drawbacks. Many Muslims have learned humility and simplicity by association with Jamaa’atul Tabligh, and Sufism has its benefits as well as it directs one to focus on his or herself. However, like the other aforementioned, it is not all-encompassing. In fact none of the secondary sub-groups of Islam can offer as much as Islam itself, as a total faith. Furthermore, no one, no Imam, no sheikh, no teacher, no Sufi path, no faqih, or amir can equal the guidance found in the unadulterated sunna of the Prophet (SAWS). The best Islam for American Muslims and all Muslims across the globe is the Islam of the Prophet (SAWS). Islam can exist without Salafiyyism, Sufism, the schools of thought, the Habashis, the Shehu, the Saabiqoon, the Wahhaabis, and the Qaadirees, but none of these groups or disciplines would exist, or could exist without Islam. Laa ilaaha illa Allah!
None of the sectarian versions of Islam are good enough for us here in America. We are a free, independent, and fairly educated people. A third grade level kiddy fatwa is not good enough for us. We don’t believe that language and a foreign accent is tantamount to being better than us (well, some of us do). However, the point is that one third of American Muslims are a convert community (at least that’s what they say but the numbers are questionable), and as converts, guidance to Islam was a personal decision of Allah. Converts by nature are more spiritually intuitive upon their conversion than the average Muslim. First of all, their sins are all forgiven on the spot so the convert is operating as a person without the stain of sin, at least in the beginning of their Islam. The only Islam that will suffice us in the long run is the Islam of the Prophet (SAWS) in its original form, without the added on names, the added on ideas, and the added on culture
The second most common cause of leaving the religion or not practicing it for the convert is the ill treatment, and indifference they receive from other Muslims. Many Muslims have complained of walking into a Masjid and receiving less welcome than they would if they walked into a local Wal-Mart. Some Masaajid in America do not even allow women to come in to pray! When Umar ibn al-Khattaab wanted to prevent his wife from entering the Masjid for prayer the Prophet responded by saying; “Do not prevent the bondmaids of Allah from entering the houses of Allah”. The divide between immigrant Muslims and indigenous American Muslim converts is wider than it has ever been in our domestic history. As institutions (including masaajid) that are run by, cater to, and controlled by immigrant Muslims and their communities are flourishing whereas institutions of means that pay attention to the needs of our nations converts to Islam are virtually non-existent.
Unfortunately, Islam in America is ruled by political Islam which is built upon the agenda of fear and reaction, not faith and pro-action. Political Islam does not offer the same nurturing environment that spiritual/moral Islam does. Much of Muslim America has become a colony of one or more Muslim groups or ideological platforms from abroad. Many of whom are embroiled in conflict, fratricide and power struggle. It is a harsh environment, as Americans are learning to cooperate with one another, and live side by side with one another without conflict and chaos, the Muslim world is still struggling with basic civility and respect for differences. Much of that has crept into the American Muslim reality so we too, have become harsh, unforgiving, extremely sensitive, and impatient with each other and so on. Converts usually expect a nurturing environment when they become Muslim and often find the contrary. It is the right of every Muslim to find safety amongst his or her brethren. “The Muslim is one from whom other Muslims are safe from his hand and his tongue”  Without safety, there is no co-operation, or forward movement, except by force, and we as Americans are free, and force does not work for us in areas of faith, thus, many of us are stuck.
The third major cause of people leaving and not practicing the faith is arguing back and forth over every petty issue they can find. A decent teacher will also instruct his students not to argue with people about deen because any Muslim leader should know the damage that it causes; ”And obey Allah and His Messenger. and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: For Allah is with those who patiently persevere” 8:46 It was reported about the Prophet (SAWS) that he said; and if your are comfortable enough in your faith to fight and argue about it, you would be practicing it and not trying to beat it over someone else’s head. History has shown that teachers, who are more familiar with the student, and his or her condition and environment, are more suited to teach the religion to American Muslim converts. Unfortunately many indigenous American Muslim converts are still under the delusion that in order for information to be correct, it has to have an accent, thus, the few American teachers that we have, as a whole get a lot of push back from indigenous American Muslims.
Lots of Muslims bicker back and forth on the internet; most of them bicker on behalf of their group. African Americans tend to bicker on behalf of themselves since most of us are floaters without an Imam, a community, a shaykh, or a communal foundation. Many of them bicker back and forth on behalf of one of the dozen or so foreign spheres of religious, sectarian influence that has blanketed our nation’s converts to Islam. Of all the peoples in the world who share the same language, same socio-economic and demographic conditions, same race, religion, and national identity, African American Muslims are arguably the most fractionalized of them all. That’s why we have nothing, and our communities whatever is left are crumbling before our eyes like huts made of sand.
The fourth major cause of people leaving Islam is the lack of congregation , and Muslim congregations that cater to, or are at least welcoming to American Muslim converts. The Prophet ﷺ said: “I enjoin you to be in congregation for verily the wolf devours the stray sheep”. It is imperative to have to have congregations and communities of Muslims who share the same localities, the same problems, the same conditions and the same or similar backgrounds. It will be nearly impossible for African American Muslims converts to be duly served without institutions that cater to their needs. It is difficult and nearly impossible to establish viable institutions that serve their interests without critical mass, and you can never have critical mass without having congregations, and I’m not talking about Facebook congregations either. I mean real congregations with leadership, people who are focused, and willing to put in the work required to rescue a civilization. It is only through congregation that we can make use of our own elders, scholars, experienced Muslims who were also converts, and seasoned imams, and leaders who know us, care about us, and are accessible to us. Granted, there may not be many in these categories, but they are there, and they are underutilized.
The fifth cause, which I alluded to earlier in this article, and which may, or may not contribute to the hemorrhaging of the convert community, is that masaajid and communities where converts usually attend in high numbers tend to be small, poor facilities, with scant resources or funding. Converts communities are almost exclusively in the inner cities, and in the poorer neighborhoods of America. Of the billions of dollars that have been raised and spent on building and upgrading masaajid in the United States, hardly any of it was spent on indigenous American Muslim communities. It would be illogical to believe that this reality does not negatively impact converts, and convert communities in some way. These problems that I mention in this post will not go away by themselves; and what I posted here is just the tip of the iceberg. May Allah help us…..
Imam Luqman Ahmad
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, a researcher and Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the CEO of ‘Mosque Without Borders’, an organization that address Muslim sectarianism in the United States. He is also and the author of the new book, “Double Edged Slavery “, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.