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

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

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

The Pew Research Center, a well-known respected organization that has accumulated highly credible amounts of research and data about Muslims in America, estimates that there were “about 3.3 million Muslims of all ages living in the United States in 2015”.[1]  Which amounts to about 1% of the U.S. population (322 million) at the time of the study.  They estimate also, that by the year 2050, Muslims will constitute 2% of the American population, doubling their current percentage of 1%. which is why some people say that Islam is the fastest growing religion in America.

So all indications seem to indicate that there is a clear trajectory of growth of Islam and Muslims in the United States; numbers of Muslims, growth in new masjid construction, new Islamic schools, and institutions. Except in the African American and convert community where new Masjid construction is at a virtual standstill. In fact, the number of African American Muslim communities and masaajid that cater to converts is on a decline.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a Philadelphia native, a writer, consultant, and Imam and khateeb at the Islamic Society of Folsom in Folsom California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), Imam at Mosque Without Borders, and the author of the new book “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States. He also authored, “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at modern-day extremist salafi, the ideology. He blogs at, imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tale of The Two Muslim Americas By Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

Scripturally speaking, at our core, all Muslims are a single brotherhood. Why? because Allah says so that’s why. [“Verily the believers are but a single brotherhood“]. – 49:10.  This is true  whether or not we believe it, or practice it. However, in the United States of America, in our communal and social assignment as a Muslim American demographic, we are still brothers and sisters in Islam but, there are two Muslim Americas; and it’s not just a tale; it is a reality.

Go to any major American Metropolis where there are a sizable number of Muslims; Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Diego, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., St. Louis, Kansas City, Cleveland, and Buffalo, the Carolinas, and and anywhere and everywhere else and you’ll find almost without exception, two distinctly different versions there are Muslims and you will find; in one corner, multi-million dollar Masaajid that are well-funded, and made up of very affluent professionals and their families, and in the other corner you will find a small nondescript Masjid, usually a storefront, or a converted building, that is struggling in many cases to keep its doors open, pay its bills, and fund programs. In the former, there will be a largely immigrant Muslim community, and in the latter, there will be indigenous Muslim American converts, made up of mostly African-Americans. This is the case in virtually every major city in America where there are Muslims; a tale of two Muslim Americas.

“By all credible accounts, indigenous African-American and convert Muslims have been relegated to a second class and sometimes even third class status in modern-day Muslim America.”

African American and converts Muslims are largely invisible in television coverage, in the national news, and in ridiculous Muslim reality shows on television. Whenever there is mention of American Muslims in the media, the reference is made to immigrant Muslim communities, indigenous American Muslims are almost completely ignored. More often than not, the people and organizational leadership, who illegitimately claim to speak on behalf of all American Muslims, who determine domestic Muslim priorities and who define which issues are deemed most important, are political leaders, and board members of national Muslim political and advocacy organizations, not imams, clerics, or leaders of actual religious congregations, and these spokespeople and policy makers are almost always immigrant Muslims. Subsequently, many Muslim Americans find themselves thinking and confronting challenges politically, not morally, which is why the topic of the two Muslim Americas is never mentioned.

Traditionally, converts, imams, and more spiritually oriented Muslims of all backgrounds tend to look at things from a moral perspective, not a political one. Conversion to the faith itself is a moral decision; there’s nothing political about it, and there is nothing to gain except guidance. Thus, many converts, every day Muslims, and those concerned primarily with salvation become confused when the so-called Muslim leadership become almost obsessed with status, power, and controlling the message of Islam and the trajectory of American Muslims, even at the expense of our own moral values. It is unlikely that the Prophet (SAWS) would have sanctioned the war against islamophobia, especially in light of the verse;

لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِي أَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُواْ أَذًى كَثِيرًا وَإِن تَصْبِرُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ فَإِنَّ ذَلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الأُمُورِ  (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. It is also unlikely that the Prophet (SAWS) would have sanctioned  that we as American Muslims would characterize ourselves as oppressed, given the tremendous amount of material wealth, access to food, housing and physical resources that we here in the United States. Nor would the Prophet (SAWS) have sanctioned Muslim imagery and public relations over moral substance when it was he who said; “verily Allah does not look at your outer shapes or your bodies, but He looks at your hearts”.[1]

In the past thirty years, billions of dollars have been put into building masaajid, and Islamic Centers, setting up schools, propping up political and advocacy organizations and educational endowments in the name of Islam and in the name of furthering the cause of Islam in America. However, only a very small percentage of that funding goes towards masaajid and institutions that serve the needs of indigenous American Muslims in the cities of America. Subsequently what we have seen over time is the establishment of two distinctly separate Muslim Americas. This reality, arguably more than anything else, defines who we are as an American Muslim community, and shapes in large part, our moral reality, and our civilizational trajectory.  It sort of resembles ‘Jim Crow’ Muslim American style.

The debate about the two Muslim Americas is an ongoing one and there are varying opinions about whether it is a problem at all. African-American, Latino and even Caucasian Muslims will tell story after story about being marginalized and disrespected by their immigrant counterparts, about being in the mall giving salaams and not having the greeting returned to you, or having an immigrant Muslim question your Islam. Recently an African American Muslim woman in her sixties, who converted to Islam in the 1970s, related the story to me about how she, wearing full hijab, was questioned whether or not she was a Muslim by an immigrant Muslim store owner. Such accounts are plentiful.

After more than forty years of direct observation, and hundreds, of source testimonials, it is clear that it is very unlikely that American Muslim converts can successfully integrate into immigrant masjid communities or to ever be accepted as equal in a practical sense. The level of denial and taboo about dealing with the race issue is too great, and there are too many differences in goals, priorities, and objectives.

American Muslims constantly relate stories of how they are disparaged and marginalized by the immigrant community. People are quick to relate to you the ‘Bilal story’, and swear that there is no racism in Islam. However, the reality on the ground is that we are an ummah where people are frequently judged by their race, and their ethnicity.  If you are an African American Muslim, you are expected to assume the subordinate position.  If you ask African-American Muslims about their experiences, you will hear story after story after story after story of indignation, hurt, disappointment,  when made to feel like you are less than.  Of course there are those who say it is only imagined, but I believe that after 400 years, African-Americans have come to know a little something about racial prejudice.

This is the tale of the two Muslim Americas, on the one side, are a people who according to a CAIR / Pew study, have the highest per capita income of all Americans, the highest percentage of people with post-graduate degrees, the highest percentage of businessmen, the highest percentage of home ownership, while on the other side of the coin are indigenous African-American Muslims who are dead last on virtually every socio-economic barometer that measures well-being; employment, education, health care, disease, home ownership, single parent households, and so on. They are two separate American Muslim communities with minor areas of overlap here and there. Nevertheless, this has become the reality of Muslim America.

How these two Muslim Americas interact and address this chasm says a lot about who we are since the fundamental message of the Prophet (SAWS) from the beginning to the end of prophetic period was the integration of all people into one community under faith. Many Muslim Americans, both immigrant and indigenous, are not happy at all with this divide and are diligently working to bridge the gap, but so far it is an uphill battle.  The power elite of Muslim America are made up of only a small percentage of American Muslims; however, using money and politics, they are bent on controlling the debate, the issues and the path that we take as a Muslim people in America.

As American Muslims we owe it to ourselves to address the indigenous – immigrant and the racial-ethnic divide and the unchecked authority of our political, lobbying and advocacy organizations, head on; especially since it speaks to our moral worth and credibility as a religious people. Our religion requires that our spirituality and character are not overthrown by perceived political expediency and imagery.

The great thing about Muslims is that we respond to reminders; [ وَذَكِّرْ فَإِنَّ الذِّكْرَى تَنفَعُ الْمُؤْمِنِين ] “yet go on reminding [all who would listen]: for, verily, such a reminder will profit the believers” َ 51:55.  I believe in sha Allah that as people become more aware of the two Muslim Americas, the prevailing attitudes that keep us separated will change. It may take a generation, and it may even take a revolution within the Muslim community to see the change. I do not believe that in the long run, righteous and conscious Muslim Americans who will accept this great divide between immigrants and indigenous American Muslims, because it is hurting us and will continue to hurt all of us. I suspect that future generations of enlightened and free Muslims will not accept for any group, a second or third class status in our own faith. I believe that we can write a better narrative because at the end of the day, despite our faults and shortcomings, we are a believing people.

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

 

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is the Imam and Executive Director of the Lotus Tree Institute, an American Muslim Think tank based in California U.S.A., and the author of the book’ ‘The Devil’s deception of the Modern Day Sect”, available on Amazon.com. You may contact him @ imamluqman@icdph. com

Share this:


[1] Collected by Muslim

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is arguable that one of the biggest problems to beset African American Muslim communities by far are that most are not part of communities. A lot of things have been done over the last twenty-years to undermine African American Muslim communities such as multiple spheres of influence that owe allegiance to a foreign entity, scores of fatwa that undermine social and family cohesion, millions of pamphlets, books, cds and propaganda which promoted mutiny within Muslim communities, and many African American Muslims pinning there futures on Muslims who were not looking out for their interests. This is created a very unstable religious environment; especially for someone new to Islam. The basis of success for a community is enjoining upon each other truth and patience. This is best done with congregation (jamaa’at). When there is no jamaa’at, there is no leadership, when there is no leadership then there is no cohesion, and when there is no cohesion, people are left to their own individual machinations and when they are left to their own machinations, there is no religious order, and when there is no religious order, chaos almost always ensues. The Prophet (SAWS) said; “Whoever among you wants to be in the middle of Paradise, let him cling to the Congregation.” [Sound, collected by Abu Eesa at-Tirmithi]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Philadelphia born, Shaykh Luqman Ahmad has served as an Imam in California for the last 22 years. He is currently Associate Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam Toledo, Ohio where he teaches Nd delivers Friday sermons.

He can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.


[1] Quran: 16:78.

[2]

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

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

[5] Related  by Muslim

[6] Quran 103:2-3

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

[9] Related by Bukhaari

[10] Related by Bukhaari.

African American Muslims; Making Hard Choices That Will Change Our Condition

Indigenous African Americans have been converting to Islam for decades; however, the phenomena of massive and continuous conversion amongst African-Americans to Islam has not evolved generationally into indigenous American Muslim families, extended families or home-grown institutions that serve our faith needs, reflect our faith and it’s principles, and serve our overall best interests from a religious and spiritual perspective. Granted, we are all American Muslims, and brother and sisters in Islam. However, if we take a closer look, it is evident that there are clearly two, distinctly different, Muslim Americas. One comprised primarily by immigrants from Muslim countries, and their children, and the other from American Muslim converts. As immigrant communities are growing, thriving, and blanketing the landscape with multi-million dollar masaajid, schools, and cultural institutions. African-American Muslim communities are struggling, lack physical resources, lack influence, and are very small in comparison.

Here are the facts; 80% of American Muslim converts are African-American, and African-Americans are dead last in virtually every socio-economic category that measures well-being; unemployment, access to health care, illiteracy, education, single parent households, broken families, incarceration rates, diabetes, hypertension, home ownership, and infant mortality, and the list goes on and on. Additionally, African-Americans are about 33% of the American Muslim demographic. This reality comes at a time of great spiritual, economic and civilizational decline, as we are entering into the time of the Dajjaal (anti-Christ), and the coming of Jesus, son of Mary (AS).

The post conversion reality that is played out in Muslim America is important because as each subsequent generation of practicing Muslims (emphasis on practicing) evolves,  not just as individuals, but as a family unit, the moral and religious beliefs and values of Islam takes root, are reinforced within the family and upbringing, and becomes part of the lifestyle.  Once that occurs, these values are passed on to the extended family, and onto ensuing Muslim generations.  Thus, one of the most important institutions that we must care for and strengthen, is the family, after that, it is the religious communities (jamaa’at), because without the critical mass of common purpose and support, it is very difficult erect and maintain religious based institutions. Therefore, we have to be very careful in the marriage and divorce decisions we make, in the decisions we make about community and Masjid participation, and in the decisions we make about child rearing, and Islamic education because these decisions will affect us, our families and our children for a long time to come.

As African-American Muslims, our civilization is in a near shambles. We are fighting and arguing in many of our masaajid, the numbers of full-time, affordable Islamic schools that serve the needs of African-American Muslim children are down, most of us are without leadership, and considering our numbers there are very few real congregations left in the country that serve our needs. Most of our children are being raised in single parent households, many of our sons are in the criminal justice system in some way or another, and many of our daughters are being courted by the non-Muslims, and have children out-of-wedlock. Drug and alcohol abuse is very high (no pun intended) in the African-American Muslim community, and African-American Muslims are less educated and less affluent than our immigrant counterparts, and our communities do not have adequate material resources.  However, we do have choices, and these choices contribute to our betterment or detriment.

There is nothing we can do to change the past beloveds, but we have an opportunity before us for a better future. However, it requires that we submit wholeheartedly to the moral and liturgical principles of Islam. Changing the condition begins with the self. If there was ever a place to begin then I suggest that we begin with the salat. The family that prays together is way more likely to stay together than those who don’t; and that’s a choice. Brothers who attend the Masaajid for the salat tend to be more spiritually enlightened that those who don’t; that’s a choice. People who are married with problems, but choose to patiently endure, instead of opting out of the marriage simply because they are not happy that day, or that week, or that month, are much more stable in the long run than those who don’t; that’s a choice.

Brothers who work and spend money to support their families are better men in a key area of manhood, than those who don’t, and try to live off of their wives; and that’s a choice. Sisters who are obedient and dutiful to their husbands (in what is right) tend to be much more spiritually stable than those who don’t; that’s a choice. People who take the time out to learn a little something of their religion instead of sitting in front of the television all day, playing a wii, or seeking to be entertained all the time, tend to be more religiously intuitive than those who don’t; that’s a choice People who make their hereafter a priority and realize that it often requires sacrifice tend to have a better gauge about what’s important in life then those who don’t; that’s a choice.

People who love thug culture and try to live according to jaahiliyyah codes of life, tend not to be as steadfast in their religion than those who follow the Quran and the sunna; that’ a choice. People, who smoke weed, use drugs, drink alcohol or abuse prescription drugs tend to be more mentally unstable than those who don’t; and that’s a choice.  People who do the boyfriend/girlfriend, relationship thing, are less chaste than those who get married and are faithful to their spouses; and that’s a choice.

People who are part of religious congregations (jamaa’aat) tend to stay in the religion in higher numbers than those who aren’t; and that’s a choice. People, who have imams or Amirs, and have reciprocal accountability between leaders and followers, tend to be stronger Muslims than floaters, who are not committed to anything; and that’s a choice. Muslims who backbite, treat people badly, and are always engaged in some sort of fitna or another cause more destruction and severance of personal and communal relationships than those who don’t; that’s a choice. People, who know how to love and forgive for the sake of Allah, are better and more lasting friends than people who are consumed by hate and not inclined to forgive; and that’s a choice. People who give sincere advice the ummah, to the imams, and to their leaders tend to be more sincere to our cause than those who don’t; that’s a choice.  We have an abundance of resources available to us, inherent in the choices we make individually and as a Muslim people. In fact, Allah has given us all that we need in order to be successful and to build strong communities and institutions, however, by and large, too many of us have chosen otherwise. And Allah knows best.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is an American born Muslim and a full time clasically trained Imam of a Masjid and community  in Northern California. He can be reached @ imamabulaith@yahoo.com

The Decline of Indigenous American Muslim Communities, by Imam Luqman Ahmad Part 2: Self Splintering

This much we know; unity is good and disunity is not good. With a dozen or so, foreign  spheres of religious influence circulating in the indigenous American Muslim convert community, any attempt to act collectively and independently in our own best interests is subject to direct or indirect scrutiny by a fatwa, a manifesto or an opinion of a far away Sheikh or scholar  who either sanctions it, or brands the action as deviant,  heretical, prohibited, or worthless .

As Muslims we should conduct  our lives according to the Quran and the authentic sunna of the Prophet (SAWS), and scholars of Islam, past and present are indispensable in that they help us to understand and live our faith. However most scholars are not leaders of people, and many Islamic rulings are environmentally specific to time, place, and circumstance.

People need leaders who are alive,  accessible and aware of their condition.  Indigenous American Muslims are arguably  the most leaderless Muslim group on the planet. Most  converts to Islam are not under direct leadership of a local or even a domestic Imam. Without leaders and Imams , it is difficult for American Muslims to have domestic focus, and it becomes easy to fall prey to a self -splintering modality, such as we find ourselves in today.
There are hundreds of opinions and views, on the internet,  in pamphlets, booklets, and on cds, which  can be thrown up like a roadblock  or detonated like an improvised explosive device and directed towards indigenous American Muslim activity with the result being either chaos,  disinterest, vociferous debate , inaction, condemnation, paralysis or splintering. It is the splintering that seems to do the most damage, because it siphons off the collective resources, and undermines the principal of unity.

Many Muslims realize the dangererous and divisive nature of multiple spheres of outside Islamic influence when not channeled properly.  Still these foreign spheres of religious  influence, if they do  not totally derail a beneficial  action or prevent it,  cause just enough doubt and polemical debate amongst African American Muslims for people to become either frustrated and loose heart, drift. into apathy,  or become adversaries, and antagonistic to each other.
There are fatwas, contemporary religious opinions, musings and edicts, that cover the full spectrum of social, religious, and cultural  intercourse  to the degree that any Muslim American can be conveniently labeled astray when needed in order to derail forward motion, or prevent that person from cooperating locally with other Muslims who are in their own neighborhood!

There are fatwas which declare that every Muslim in America must migrate immediately to a Muslim country.  There are fatwas that say becoming a member of a Muslim community is haram. There are fatwas that say that say that you must hate it anytime a non-Muslim is happy, There are fatwas that say that starting an organization is against the sunna.  There are fatwas that say that if an American Muslim does anything thing that an American does that he or she is imitating the kuffaar (infidels ) despite that he or she is an American! There are foreign religious views which  hold that thikr circles at someone’s house takes precedence over congregational prayer in the Masjid.  You’ve got fatwas that tell American Muslims to wage war against their own neighbors, and fatwas that prohibit people from cooperating with another Muslim who differs with your theological axioms.  There are fatwas that prohibit men and women working together, and fatwas that say that sports like football have no value and are a waste of time.

Some Muslims believe that they must wait around for the caliphate to come into being that will herald in a utopian society, others believe that you need approval from a Sheikh, ten thousand miles away before you can act upon anything,  and still others believe that even to consider ones self as an  American is counter to Islam. Many indigenous American Muslims behave as if they are a colony of some foreign Islamic entity.  Thus actions conducted without the approval of their particular sphere of influence or its doctrine, frequently results in creating another layer of division.

All it takes is a fatwa or an email from abroad for a project to come to a screeching halt,  or for people to withdraw their support or participation. Very rarely are scholars required to be present on our shores in person where they can be questioned and have to defend their arguments, and see first hand the fitna that occurs.  Have some indigenous American Muslims have given up their right to think for themselves?

Scholarship is not the culprit here; nor is it neccessarily the scholars who are at fault. Knowledge and comprension of deen through understanding our theology, sacred law (fiqh), and the proper use of rulings, is the foundation of religious practice. However, knowledge should be employed to empower people with the ability to seek the good that Allah made for them in their life and afterlife, not manipulated in a way that is burdensome and divisive.
Muslim people have the God given right to act in the best interests of their dunya wal aakhira and  are obligated to seek the pleasure of Allah only . In a better world , all Muslims would act as one people, share resources and help each other based upon mutual respect and dignity. However that is not the case; African American Muslims are marginalized,  regarded by many as third class Muslims and treated as such.  Of the billions upon billions of dollars invested in Islam in America,  barely a trickling of that is spent on the indigenous American Muslim communities and the fledgling institutions that seeks to address their needs.

The answer is to cut the psychological umbilical cord with the many unhealthy spheres of foreign religious influence because there are very little nutrients getting through and to do for self while depending upon Allah. We have to break free from the paralyzing choke hold of a slave mentality and realize that we are free men and women; slaves only to Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala.
Imam Luqman Ahmad

imamabulaith@yahoo.com

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

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

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: