The Post Janaaza Repast: Permissible or Not? by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

basmala
repastThe question is probably better phrased as; is having a repast after a funeral prohibited? Since according to Islamic law, social and cultural events and affairs are deemed permissible until proven otherwise. A few days ago, an old friend of mine contacted me and asked me about the permissibility of people getting together to eat after a funeral in what is commonly referred to in the United States as a ‘repast’. This article is a response to his question. Wal Allahul Musta’aan.

What is a repast anyway?

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the origin and etymology of repast is from Middle English, from Anglo-French, from (soi) repaistre to feed upon, from re- + pestre, paistre to feed, from Latin pascere… A repast in simpler terms is; 1 : something taken as food :meal. 2 : the act or time of taking food. In the United States, when people get together to share food after a funeral, it’s called a repast and it usually involves family, friends, and acquaintances of the deceased, gathering after the funeral, to eat food, give condolences, remember and maybe say some good things about the deceased person, pray for them, seek closure and to generally let the family know that they acknowledge their loss, and to provide some emotional support.

This is how a repast is done in the United States. Muslims do it, Christians do it, Jews do it, and people who don’t have any religious affiliation do it as well. It is pretty common in the United States and I’m quite certain in other countries as well that when someone dies, people come together to console the family and people who were closed to the deceased. One of the ways of doing that is in feeding food is what is commonly called a repast. The Repast: Is not a religious celebration

  • The repast is not a religious celebration or an act of worship.
  • No one has to be in a state of ritual purity to attend or participate in a repast.
  • There are no special prayers or invocations.
  • There are no set liturgical utterances or special du’aa.
  • There is no set menu of food to be served.
  • There are no set amounts of food to be served.
  • There is no procedural methodology except that people eat food and socialize.
  • The repast is not a re-occurring holiday (eid) since people only die once.
  • No one considers it incumbent if you attend a repast, or a slight if you don’t attend.

The repast tradition in the United States is a way of giving condolences to the family of the deceased, and a way for groups of people to console one another after a shared loss. It can help ease the pain a little, at least temporarily, that families experience due to the loss of a loved one. It simply consists of eating, wishing the family well, sometimes offering assistance, and then going home.  Sometimes the repast consists of family members only, and sometimes family, friends and associates, who gather to eat, to mourn the loss of a loved one, to console each other, and to strengthen relationships. The idea that gathering to eat is prohibited, simply because it happens after a funeral, or because it’s called a repast, or because it’s something that they do in America, is totally without scholarly, or textual merit.

The Islamic ruling: The Repast is permissible

In short, if eating with your family and friends is permissible, then having or participating in a repast is permissible, as it simply means to taking food. There is no connection between a repast and a religious act or worship. There are several Sunnan and Quranic injunctions that are found in the observance of a repast such as the Prophet’s exhortation upon the believers to feed food; when asked what is the best type of Islam, he replied: “feeding food, and spreading the salaams”.[1] The repast also is marked by gathering with family and strengthening family bonds, which is a praiseworthy act. Many times, families who have not seen each other sometimes in years, come together for a funeral of a loved one. The repast then serves as an occasion for them to not only console and comfort each other but to gather, make sure people are alright, and to catch up.  “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship”.[2] The repast is also a way and a venue for extending condolences to the family of the deceased, which is a praiseworthy act according to most scholars. It was related in the collection of Ibn Majah, that the Prophet ﷺ said, “No believer consoles his brother due to a tragedy that befell him except that Allah will cloth him with the clothing of honor on the Day of Standing (Day of Judgment).[3]  It can also contribute to having a prayerful attitude for the deceased. For Muslims, having a prayerful attitude toward those who have passed away is a sanctioned part of good Muslim character; “And those who came after them, saying, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.” [Quran, 59:10]. For Muslims, having a repast can help encourage that,

Additionally, it is not prohibited in Islam to visit the homes of your relatives, and eat there, simply because the meal takes place or occurred after a funeral;  “It is no fault on the blind nor on one born lame, nor on one afflicted with illness, nor on yourselves, that ye should eat in your own houses, or the houses of your fathers, or the houses of your mothers, or your brothers, or your sisters, or your father’s brothers or your father’s sisters, or your mother’s brothers, or your mother’s sisters, or in houses of which the keys are in your possession, or in the house of a sincere friend of yours: there is no blame on you, whether ye eat as group or separately. But if ye enter houses, salute each other – a greeting of blessing and purity as from Allah. Thus does Allah make clear the signs to you: that ye may understand”. [Quran, 24:61]

  • Saying that the repast is prohibited would seem to contradict the aforementioned verse of the Quran. 
  • Saying that a repast is prohibited is tantamount to saying that eating after a funeral is prohibited, and there are no proofs in the Quran and the Sunna that supports such a notion.
  • If we were to accept that a repast is prohibited on the basis that it occurs after a funeral, then we would also have to accept that for a person to stop by a restaurant and have lunch after a funeral is also prohibited since it happens after a funeral.
  • We would also have to accept that it is prohibited in Islam to eat a congregational meal after a funeral which again, seems to directly contradict the verse we mentioned earlier.

Now it’s one thing to say that certain types of foods are prohibited like pork, food killed in the name of an idol or deity other than Allah or food seasoned or marinated with alcohol, or an alcoholic beverage. It’s entirely something different when people try to say that simply eating is prohibited, in other than the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan. The problem here is, that there some people in the American Muslim community who look into nearly every aspect of cultural practices in the United States, to find ways to somehow make it haram/prohibited.  We see this all the time. They often base their conclusions upon a proclamation from a Muslim scholar from abroad. With all due respect to the esteemed scholars of Islam, it is a fact that every scholar is not intimately aware of every situation that they pronounce judgements upon, and as far as the repast as practiced in the United States, most Muslim scholars have not participated in, or witnessed such events.

The Prophet ﷺ, and his learned companions, knew how to navigate their way through their society in ways as to avoid what was prohibited upon them. This is true for most Muslims, once they know what is prohibited upon them according to the Quran and the Sunna.  Thus, if we can accept, as the majority of scholars do, that the companions of the Prophet were able to navigate through Arab society using the guidance of the Quran and the Sunna, then how can we not accept the possibility that American Muslims could do the same?

Another thing that we have to consider is that Muslim scholars are not always aware of the intricate details and nuances of the people and societies that they render fatwas about.  To read more about fatwas and the responsibilities of Muslim scholars, click here.

There is no evidence which expressly supports a repast being prohibited.

There are no verses in the Quran or authentic ahaadeeth of the Prophet ﷺ that expressly prohibit people from eating after a funeral. What if people are hungry after a funeral? Does the ruling of haram mean that they can’t eat? If so, how long must they wait before eating some food? What about if they have children? How long before they feed their children after the funeral? Thus you can see how problematic such a ruling could be.

Some of the benefits of a repast.

  • Feeding food
  • Remembering Death
  • Du’aa for the Deceased
  • Ease on the family
  • Consoling and comfort for the family
  • Developing husnul thann (positive assumptions) about the deceased.

Conclusion:

I’m not encouraging people to have repasts after their deceased, or to have post janaaza gatherings where they share food. I’m not discouraging people from doing so either. Death is a serious matter and families deal with it differently.  what I am saying is that deeming it haram is a bit of a stretch. There are no conclusive proofs from the Quran or the Sunna that I am aware of, that would even remotely render eating after a funeral, or what people call a repast as prohibited.

The strongest argument that I have seen so far about prohibiting the repast, or a meal after a funeral is that the Prophet ﷺ didn’t do it. However, the fact that the Prophet ﷺ didn’t do something does not alone make it forbidden. Furthermore, there are no proofs that the Prophet ﷺ or any of other companions never ate after a funeral, or that they never, ever discussed the deceased, their merits, or their virtues. In fact, evidence would suggest otherwise;

The repast or getting together to visit the family and eat after a funeral does not replace the janaaza, and you don’t even have to call it a repast. The janaaza is a fard kifaaya and part of islamic ritual law as pertains to the rights of the deceased. The janaaza is an act of worship and has specific conditions, regulations and utterances that govern it. After the janaaza, people move on with their lives, and they are free according to islamic law, to do as they wish as long as they do not participate in prohibited acts, as long as they do not invent new religious practices, and as long as they respect the proper laws of Islam. After a funeral a person or persons may decide to visit the family to offer condolences, there is not harm in that according to islamic law. Also, a person may decide after the janaaza to go to the local McDonalds and have a chocolate milk-shake. There is no harm in that either. And Allah knows best.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, a researcher and Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the CEO of ‘Mosque Without Borders’, an organization that address Muslim sectarianism in the United States. He is also and the author of the new book, “Double Edged Slavery “, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a critical look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

[1] Sahih Muslim

[2] Bukhaari.

[3] Deemed hasan by al-Albaani

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American Muslim Converts and the African Connection; A Viable Solution? By Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

african Muslim.jpgIf the purpose of exploring, and learning about sub Saharan African scholars and their timeless and monumental contributions to Muslim history, was to give African American Muslim converts a greater appreciation of Black scholars in history, especially in light of the racist climate in some parts of the Arab and Muslim world, and to offset the negative emotions that some African Americans have as a result of being marginalized, and disrespected by other Muslims, then there is a whole lot of benefit in that. Jalaaludden as-Suyooti (1505 C.E.) made a similar attempt when he wrote the book; “The Raising of the Status of the Ethiopians”, and so did Jamal al-Din Abu’l Farj ibn al-Jawzi (d. 1208 C.E.) when he wrote the book; “The Lightening of the Darkness on the Merits of the Blacks and the Ethiopians”. These books were written according to Dr. Bernard Lewis, “to defend both groups against the various accusations against them”.[1]

However, if the current trend of associating attachment to Africa or to African scholars and their scholarship is somehow put forth as an essential solution for reversing the downward spiral of convert communities, or a packaged panacea for the African American, Muslim convert dilemma in the United States, then such is just another example of misplaced, wishful thinking. Looking towards Africa for answers is not the answer in my view. It’s not even close to the answer. I fail to see how building a connection or a bridge to Africa in itself is a solution or even a part of a solution other than for the reasons of maybe building some self-esteem, or augmenting historical knowledge of Africa and Islam. Otherwise, how does building this connection Africa improve the lives of converts and convert communities as a whole? How does it impact our future? Furthermore, what exactly is the African connection?

The first question that I have about building on the African connection is; what is meant by it? Africa is a pretty big and complex continent. How can we even come to a consensus on what we mean by an African connection? As if we don’t already have enough to argue about. Africa has scores of different Muslim cultures, 140 different languages, different ways at looking at the world, different ways at looking at Black Americans, and different ways at looking at the United States. There is no clear indication that as a rule, African Muslims respect us as equals, and there is very little evidence, if any, to indicate that Africans, whether here as immigrants or those still in Africa, are prepared to invest in convert America, or have made any appreciable investment in terms of material support, or serious problem solving. The way that some of us fawn over them, I’d doubt that behind closed doors, African brothers and sisters extol, or look up to Black Americans.  If anything, it would seem that Africans do all that they can not to end up like African Americans.

According to data by compiled in 2010 by sociologists, including John R. Logan at the Mumford Center, State University of New York at Albany, “black immigrants from Africa averaged the highest educational attainment of any population group in the country, including whites and Asians.”[2] While according to the Journal of Blacks in education; “in 2008, 19.6 percent of all African Americans over the age of 25 held a college degree’.[3] So while Black immigrants hold the highest averages of educational attainment in the United States, African American born blacks, hold the lowest. So if we want to make an African connection and follow the African way, I would start by taking better advantage of what the United States has to offer, because that is exactly what Africans who live in America are doing.

In fact, if it was permissible for me to gamble, I would lay odds that Africans in general, look at African Americans as a degree or two below them in class, except for a few exceptions. Now, if the people of mother Africa want to come over and take the same political risks that we have to take in order to move forward, and build masaajid and schools to be controlled and operated by the convert community, without any strings attached, then I’ll go out and buy a couple of dashikis, some new African sandals, and be all ready to make that connection. Otherwise, we need to consider severing all umbilical cords, not establishing new ones.

If we want to establish an African connection then I suggest we take note of how Africans come to the United States, work hard and take advantage of what the country has to offer. Otherwise we can do research, hold forums, conferences, write books and engage in a variety of low budget intellectual, spiritual or cultural pursuits, we can even have educational exchanges, or teach African islamic history in our schools (if we had more of our own schools). But first we have to have something of our own that serves our immediate needs and interests as Muslims and that’s not going to happen running in the wind to feel some Africa.

There’s are thousands of reports and documentaries on Africa, there are planes that fly to Africa (about $1000 for a ticket), as well as African Embassies, African cultural, religious, and political organizations, as well as thousands of African artists, academics, and artifacts for us to look at and hang in our homes. I’m hearing a lot of brothers talking about this undefined ‘African connection’, and that’s just the point. It is undefined.   What exactly do we mean by building on the African connection. While many of us seem to be day-dreaming about an African connection, other Americans outside of our Muslim communities, are way ahead of us.

Millions of Americans visit Africa each year. Many do business, buy property, and engage in a large variety of religious, commercial, educational and cultural exchanges. American Christians have built and are maintaining hundreds, if not thousands of churches, orphanages, and schools in Africa. What do we as African American Muslims have to offer? Are we just talking about connecting with a few shaykhs, learning some African religious treatises, learning African languages or adopting some African cultural practices as our own? If that’s all we’re talking about then we need to go back to the drawing board on this African connection thing, and we need to make sure that the interest in such a connection is reciprocal.

There are like 1.2 billion people in Africa.  There are less than one million of us (AA Muslims). We don’t need to remake ourselves in anyone else’s image, or reach out and have hardly anyone reach back. We just did that remember? W’ve been doing it for the last 40 years or more, and it turned out too well for us. Knowing our history should tell us that we need to learn to fend for ourselves and build, support, plan and run our own communities. We are a part of this society and no one is taking up the mantle to help us except for some social and educational institutions, (at least some), the safety nets, the welfare system that many of us depend on and perhaps some other entities that I’m not thinking of at the moment. Making nice with a few Africans, having them come and lecture us about Islam, bless us with their awliyaa (saints), or teach us how to be authentic, is not going to affect our condition. However, building communities, building a few more decent masaajid, with leadership, responsible congregations, families with some generational continuity and taking advantage of the good that our country has to offer, will more than likely affect our condition. Even the Africans are doing that.

We want to romanticize about having an African connection which so far has not amounted to much more than getting to know a few African Sheikhs, learning about some remarkable islamic scholars of history, some brothers marrying some African sisters, some from Africa marrying some of our sisters, and a whole bunch of pictures and selfies from Africa and with Africans, (and it is a beautiful continent). Hoorah!  If we really want to connect to our ancestry like that then we need to get DNA testing for our people, and at about $300 a pop, you do the math.  In fact, instead of that, how about 10,000 of us put up $300 bucks and build 3 or 4 quality nice sized masaajid where they are most needed?

It seems like we always want to do the feel good stuff, the selfie stuff, the showy stuff, and the bandwagon stuff that does not change a thing on the ground.  In the meantime, there are 3.1 million African immigrants living in the United States and they are interacting in our country on all levels. Just check to see how many African dentists, engineers, academics, business owners, psychologists, and even farmers, there are in this country, and we talking about establishing an African connection with little or no resources of our own? Not too many are even paying attention to us on this African connection thing. Africans who hear rumors about it are probably looking at us like; whaaaaaat????? All the while they are reminding their children to steer clear of us, unless it could lead to a green card, or a following.  Many Muslims whom I love and respect have embraced this African connection craze. I happen to disagree and think that it is a wrong direction; another faze. We seem to keep avoiding the reality that it is us who need to come up with our own plan. The African Muslims that I know, are smart, incredible people who know the difference between strength and weakness. If you ask them, they would likely say that we have to put in our own work, with our own people, with our own home grown plan. Sadly, many of us just don’t get it. Yet. And Allah knows best.

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), 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] Race and Slavery in the Middle East. Bernard Lewis, 1990, Oxford University Press, p. 33

[2] http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-03-18/news/0703180344_1_black-immigrants-high-achieving-immigrants-biracial-couples.

[3] http://www.jbhe.com/news_views/64_degrees.html

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 African 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 most 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), 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

An Introduction to the Different Types of Books of Hadith by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

إن الحمد لله نحمده ونستعينه ونستغفره ، ونعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا وسيئات أعمالنا ، من يهده الله فلا مضل له ، ومن يضلل فلا هادي له ، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدًا عبده ورسوله .

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلا وَأَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ

يَاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا )

:يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلا سَدِيدًا. يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا أما بعد :

booksof hadith2.jpgThe study of hadith is a world in itself. It is a beautiful, remarkable and detailed universe of source knowledge, intra-disciplinary sciences, and sub-sciences that support the preservation, transmission, explanation, understanding, and implementation of the Sunna of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah ﷺ. The world of hadith is a world of guidance, knowledge, and understanding of this religion.  It is the collection of statements, actions, habits, travels, and events of the Prophet ﷺ and is one of the most satisfying and beneficial paths and pursuits of knowledge. The study of hadith and its related sciences is vast, and is something that scholars, students of knowledge, and regular folk engage in as a lifelong pursuit.

There are many ways to approach hadith study. Primarily as Muslims, we want to know and understand what the Prophet ﷺ did and said so we can obey him and follow him. Of course it’s more than that; it’s loving him, using his guidance, and following his path.  No one gets to a point where they know all the hadith, or studied all the hadith or have learned everything there is to learn about hadith of the Prophet ﷺ. There are many approaches, many disciplines and sub-disciplines, and many methods. I advise every student, or serious seeker of knowledge that when you decide to read a collection of hadith, or an explanation of a collection of hadith like Aoun al-Ma’bood, or Tuh’fatu  Ah’wathi, or Fat’h al-Baari, or even study it with your sheikh, you would benefit a lot by reading the introduction, or the foreword by the author himself. You learn a lot from the introduction such as terminology, the reasons behind writing the book, how it is arranged, the authors methodology, and the views of that particular scholar on issues relating to hadith and to his own hadith collection or explanation.

There are two principle ways that hadith books are put together. One is according to chapter and subject matter or what scholars call ‘abwaab’ which is the plural of ‘baab’ which literally means door. In these types of hadith books, the book is organized by subject matter such as tahaara, salat, zakat, siyaam, buying and selling etc. Books arranged by subject matter are easier for research and finding the topic you are looking for and is preferred by students and scholars alike. If a person wants to look up a hadith on a certain topic, then there’re likely to refer to these types of books first as opposed to the second type which I’m going to talk about next.

The second type of hadith book are books that are arranged according to the companions of the Prophet ﷺ that narrated the hadith originally. Usually this is done in alphabetical order. Sometimes it’s done according to the rank of the narrator (راوي) his preference in Islam or his ranking, or what’s called a tabaqa (طبقة). The following types that I mention are not all of the types of books of hadith but they are the major ones. In sha Allah this short piece will help understand in some small way, how to study and look at books of hadith. Keep in mind that this is just a small window to a very wide and deep topic. Wal Allahu al-Musta’aan.

Types of Books of Hadith:

Jaami [جامع]:

A Jaami is a hadith collection that contains all the main categories of primary islamic knowledge which represent the full breadth of the religion such as aqeeda, adab, eating and drinking, tafseer, hadith about fitan (trials), raqaa’iq / رقائق (spiritual heart softeners) and ibaadah / عبادة  (worship). The most well-known of such types of hadith books are Jaami as-Sahih by Imam Muhammad Ismaa’eel al-Bukhaari (d. 256 h.), better-known as Sahih al-Bukhaari. The actual title that Imam Bukhaari named the book that we’ve come to know as; “Sahih al-Bukhaari” was, “Al-Jaami’ al-Musnad as-Sahih al-Mukhtasar min umoor Rasoolillaah wa sunanihi wa iyyaamihi(الجامع المسند الصيح المختصر من أمور رسول الله و سننه و ايامه). Over time it simply became known as Sahih al-Bukhaari, or Jaami Sahih, or Jaami’ Sahih al-Bukhaari.

Another is al-Jaami as-Sahih by Imam Muslim, known as Sahih Muslim, and al-Jaami by Imam Abu Eesa at-Tirmithee, better known as Sunan at-Tirmidhi. The actual name of Imam al-Tirmidhi’s collection is Al-Jaami al-Mukhtasar min al-Sunan wa Ma’rifatu as-Saheeh wal ma’lool, wa maa alaihi al-amal. الجامع المختصر من السنن عن رسول الله صلي الله عليه و سلم و معرفة الصحيح و المعلول ما عليه العمل)). As you can see, it is a pretty long name and one that is hardly ever used in any modern printings of the book. It has been referred to at times as Jaami’ as-Sahih by at-Tirmidhi which is a misnomer because the collection contains hadith which are not sound. It’s sometimes referred to as a Sunan because it deals a lot with hadith al-ah’kaam, or hadith that has to do with law and it follows the same pattern as other books of Sunan and notwithstanding that Sunan is part of the original title of the book.  Imam Abu Eesa said about his collection; “anyone who has this book in his house, it’s like the Prophet ﷺ is in his house talking”.

The titles of the books of hadith and the arrangement of the chapters and subject matter gives you an insight into the thinking and methodology of the muhaddith who authored the book. For example, Imam al-Bukhaari and others use what’s called the tarjama [ترجمة]. The word tarjama has several meanings in the Arabic language but according to traditionalists (scholars of hadith) the tarjama is the section heading. The common word for chapter is Kitaab [كتاب] and the common word used for section is baab [section]. The name of the section is the tarjama and the tarjama give you a clue of the scholar’s view on the issue. Imam an-Nawawi used to say; “Bukhaari’s fiqh is in his taraajam”. For example, in Sahih al-Bukhaari in the Book of ghusl (ritual bath), there is a section titled; “If one remembers while he is in the masjid that he is in a state of impurity, he should leave as he is without making tayammam” (بلب اذا ذكر في المسجد انه جنب خرج كما هو، و لا يتيمم), then he proceeds to present the hadith that proves the implication of the tarjama. You see this example throughout his Sahih and in other books of hadith.

Sunan [سنن]

Books of Sunan in the language of hadith scholars are books of hadith that contain hadith dealing with law (احكام), organized by the sections of fiqh. For example, these books usually begin with purification (طهارة), and the section on purification will start with a certain aspect of purification depending on the detail, the style and choice of the compiler of the book. For example, Imam Abu Eesa at-Tirmidhi (d. 279 h.), begins his book with tahaara but starts with the hadith; “the salat is not accepted without wudu[1] . Then he follows with hadith about the virtues of wudu and moves on from there. However, Imam Abu Dawood (d. 275 h.) takes a different approach; he begins his Sunan with a chapter titled tahaara but begins the first section with hadith about the etiquettes of relieving one’s self. Which is also a part of tahaara.  In the Sunan of an-Nasaai, Imam Abu Abdurrahman Nasaai (d. 303 h.) takes a slightly different approach. He begins his book with the chapter on tahaara but starts with the hadith of Abu Hurraira that the Prophet ﷺ said; “When one of you wakes up from sleep, he should not put his hands water (for ablution) until he washes them because he does not know where his hand spent the night”. (what his hands touched”. The second hadith in his collection is about using siwaak (miswaak), which is also a part of tahaara.

So the major books of Sunan follow the same style and methodology in that purification is usually at the beginning but differ in the exact approach to the topic. This is one reason why students of knowledge should be broad in their lifelong study of the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ which is not something that you do over a certain period of time; it’s something that you do without. Even the major shuyookh of the ummah, still read and study hadith of the Prophet ﷺ and engage in its related sciences.

This demonstrates the breadth of approach to knowledge and scholarly independence of hadith preservation. So of the great scholars who compiled and preserved the ahaadeeth of the Prophet ﷺ, they demonstrated their preferences in how they approach of hadith the topics of Sunna in their books.

All books of hadith do not have the same detail, the same number of hadith, or the exact same approach to any given topic. After tahaara (purification) Sunan books usually follow with ibaadah starting with salat, then zakat, then fasting and so on. The most well-known books of Sunan are the Sunan of Abu Dawud, the Sunan of at-Tirmithee which is the Jaami of at-Tirmithee [جامع الترمذي], the Sunan of an-Nasaa’i, and the Sunan of Ibn Majah. These four are known as the Four Sunan (السنن الاربعة). Within the discipline of hadith study, scholars employ certain terminology that is specific to the science. Within it, they have several ways of referring to books of hadith also. For example, if they say “the three”, then they mean the four Sunan we just mentioned minus the Sunan of ibn Majah. If the say “the five” for example, they mean the four Sunan and the Musnad of Imam Ahmad. If they say ‘Sahihain’ (صحيحين) they mean the collection of al-Bukhaari and Muslim and if they say; ‘as-shaykhaan (الشيخان), [the two shaykhs], then they are talking about al-Bukhaari and Muslim also.

Musnad [مسند]

A Musnad is a collection of hadith that is according to the name of the companion of the Prophet ﷺ who narrated the hadith. Sometimes this is done in alphabetical order, other times it is arranged according to who preceded who in Islam, and other times it is arranged according to preference (fadeela/ فضيلة) of the particular companion to another. Many musaaneed begin with hadith narrated by the four caliphs (الخلفاء الراشدين) starting with Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq. Others arrange it according to the ten companions who were promised paradise, then the companions who were at Badr. At other times, a Musnad is arranged according to genealogical status or lineage. There are many musaaneed / مسانيد (plural of Musnad). The most well-known of the musaaneed is the Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 h.), followed by the Musnad of Abu Ya’laa.  At other times a Musnad its arranged according to preference or the historical position of the narrator of the hadith.

Al-Mu’jam [المعجم]

Al-Mu’jam (plural: mu’aajam/ معاجم ), in the terminology of traditionalists, are hadith collections that are arranged according to a name of the sheikh from whence the author narrated it. Where the author arranges the hadith according to his shuyookh that he heard them, in alphabetical order. The most well-known of these are the three ma’aajam written by Abu al-Qasim Sulaiman at-Tabaraani (d. 360 h.), called al-Mu’jam al-Sagheer, and al-Mu’jam al-Awsat which were both hadith that he related from his shuyookh, and his third one is called al-Mu’jam al-Kabir [المعجم الكبير], which consists of hadith narrated by companions. The Mu’jam al-Kabir is the most famous of Tabaraani’s three collections. It popularity and recognition is at a level that when people mention “al-Mu’jam” then it is known that they are referring to al-Mu’jam al-Kabir by Tabaraani. Some books are so well-known and so widely used that they are fully recognized by even part of the name. for example, the book, Fat’h al-Baari, the famous explanation of Sahih al-Bukhaari by Ibn Hajar al-As’qalaani (d. 852 h.) is known across centuries simply as “al-Fat’h”, despite that there are hundreds of books whose title begins with al-Fat’h or contains the word Fat’h. Nevertheless, when a reference to al-Fat’h is mentioned in a book or a footnote, scholars of this discipline generally assume (depending on the context) that you are referring to Fat’h al-Baari. An anecdotal note about Ibn Hajar’s Fat’h al-Baari is that Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795 h.) himself, started writing an explanation of Sahih al-Bukhaari and he titled it; ‘Fat’h al-Baari’ he completed up to the chapter on salaatul janaaza before he died. Twenty years after his death, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaani began his explanation of Sahih al-Bukhaari and he named it; ‘Fat’h al-Baari’ in honor of ibn Rajab.

Al-Musannafaat al-Jaami’a [المصنفات الجامعة]

These are encyclopedic collection of hadith compiled from many different collections by different scholars of hadith. These types are arranged in two different ways. The first way is to arrange it according to subject category or chapters (abwaab). An example of this type of hadith collect in this style is the book; Jaami’ al-Usool fi Ahaadeeth ar-Rasool [جامع الأصول في احاديث الرسول] by ibn al-Atheer [d. 606 h.] In his book he compiles hadith from Bukhaari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, at-Tirmidhi, ibn Maajah and the Muwatta by Imam Malik. He also takes the added steps of explaining unclear words.  Another book like this is the book; Khunz al-A’maal fi Sunan al-Af’aal wal Aq’waal [خنز العمال في سنن الاقوال و الافعال] by Ali ibn Hussaam al-Muttaqi (d, 975 h.), better known as al-Muttaqi. This is probably one of the most comprehensive books of this type; he complies hadith from about ninety something different collections of hadith. In the beginning of the book he explains terminologies of different scholars of hadith that are specific to them, since all scholars do not use all terminology in other same way.

The second style of collection of this category are books where the hadith are compiled alphabetically according to the first word in the hadith. Such is the book al-Jaami al-Kabir (الجامع الكبير) by Jalaaluddeen as-Suyuti (d. 911 h.). al-Jaami al-Kabir by Suyuti is considered to be the basis for Khanz al-A’maal. Another book by Suyuti, al-Jaami as-Sagheer in one where he (Suyuti) abridged the Jaami Kabir by removing ahaadeeth that were repeated, and he added other ahaadeeth. The whole book (al-Jaami al-Kabir) has 10,031 hadith altogether.

 Al-Mustad’rak / المستدرك

Al-Mustad’rakaat [المستدركات] are books of hadith where the author writes down hadith whose status of authenticity meet the standards [شرط] of a traditionalist although that traditionalist did not include those ahaadeeth in his own book. For example, Imam Al-Bukhaari memorized 200,000 authentic hadith. However, he only included 7,275 hadith in his Sahih. If you count the hadith that Bukhaari repeated [المكرر], then the number of hadith in Sahih Bukhaari is only 4,000 or so hadith. So another scholar of hadith will come along and make a collection the hadith that meets Bukhaari’s standards of authenticity, but that Bukhaari did not include in his Sahih. Such a book is referred to by scholars of hadith as a Mustadrak / المستدرك.

The most well-known of the Mustad’rakaat (plural) is the Mustadrak of al-Haakim on Bukhari and Muslim titled; al-Mustadrak alaa Sahihain [المستدرك علي الصحيحين]. In al-Haakim’s Mustadrak, Al-Haakim (d. 403 h.) takes hadith that were collected by imam al-Bukhaari and Imam Muslim, that they did not included in their published collections. He somewhat follows some of Bukhaari’s arrangement of subject matter. The first four sections the Mustad’rak is similar to that of the Sahih as far as methodology. Al-Haakim begins with the book of faith [كتاب الايمان], then the book of knowledge [كتاب العلم], then the book of tahaara [كتاب الطهارة], followed by the book on salat [كتاب الصلاة]. Although he uses different hadith, he uses the same subject categories in the beginning of al-Mustad’rak except that Imam al-Bukhaari starts his book with “The Beginning of Revelation” (بدء الوحي), then he follows with the Book of faith, the book of Knowledge, and then after that al-Bukhaari, instead of having a chapter entitles the book of Tahaara like some of the others, he moves to the Book of Wudu, then the Book of Ghusl, then the Book of Menstruation, then the Book of Tayammum, then he moves to the Book of Salat, and so on. Similar methodology of the others, but different approach to the subject matter.

Unfortunately, scholarship is not without its controversy. Imam al-Haakim, like many other early scholars of hadith compilation, was a Persian. Some have accused Imam al-Haakim as having had leanings towards Shi’ism, and others have said that all of the hadith in the Mustadrak were not according to the standards of Bukhaari and Muslim; some of the hadith they say, were weak, and even forgeries. Other scholars defended him with that if particular muhaddith but that particular muhaddith did not include it in his book. For example, the most well-known Mustad’rak is the Mustad’rak of al-Haakim from Bukhaari and Muslim. He related hadith that met the standard of authenticity of Bukhaari and Muslim even though they did not include those hadith in their collections and we already mentioned some of the controversy surrounding al-Haakim (رحمه الله).

Forty Hadith Collections / الاربعينات

 Forty hadith collections are amongst the most common and popular types of hadith collection. In the terminological language of traditionalists ((المحدثين, Arba’een is a collection of hadith that is comprised of forty ahaadeeth, or forty sections (ابواب) of knowledge. The most well-known and perhaps the most often used of forty hadith collections is the Forty Hadith of Imam Abu Zakariyyah Yahya ibn Sharf An-Nawawi (d. 676 h.). Sometimes a forty hadith collection will contain the isnaad of the hadith and at other times it won’t contain isnaad. Sometimes a collection or book will use forty hadith as a benchmark but add to it. For example, ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s (d. 795 h.) Jaami Uloom wal Hikam (جامع العلوم و الحكم), is an explanation of Imam an-Nawawi’s forty hadith but he added ten more hadith to it.

Is the hadith about collecting Forty hadith, a weak hadith?

What prompted many scholars to compile books of forty hadith were two things; the first is the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ: “Whoever of my Ummah memorized forty hadith from the affairs of its deen, Allah will resurrect him (on the day of judgment) as a scholar, and I will be a witness and an intercessor for him on the Day of Judgment”. This hadith, although weak (ضعيف), was reported by thirteen different companions of the Prophet ﷺ. According to Imam an-Nawawi; scholars all agree that this is a weak hadith despite that it has been reported through several chains. Some scholars say that due to the severe weakness of the multiple chains of this hadith, it is not permissible to act according to it. Imam an-Nawawi himself, who compiled one the most famous and enduring collections of forty hadith said; “I’m not depending on this hadith to compile my collection, on the contrary, (I’m basing it on) other sound hadith such as the hadith; “Let those who are present inform those who are absent”, and the hadith; “Allah will brighten (the face) of the person who hears what we say, understands (memorizes) it and passes it on just like he heard it”.  that he compiled his forty hadith collection based upon the virtue of compiling and spreading ahaadeeth of the Prophet ﷺ. Nevertheless, despite the weakness of this hadith, many scholars have compiled collections of forty hadith and it has become an accepted and agreed upon category in hadith compilation.

The first of our scholars to compile a book of forty hadith was Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak (d, 181 h.). This was during the second century of Islam. His work was followed in the next century by Muhammad ibn As’slam at-Toosi (d. 242 h.), and Ibraheem ibn Ali at-Thah’li (d. 293 h.).  During each century of Islam, there have been scholars and Imams who compiled forty hadith collections. Even Ibn Hajar as-Asqalaani compiled a forty hadith compilation according to as-Sakhaawi in his biography of Ibn Hajar[2]. This goes on up until this present day.

Books of Takh’reej / كتب التخريج

 Books of takhreej (extraction) are books where the author extracts or deducts hadith from another a book of knowledge that has hadith mentioned in it, and he clarifies in which book this hadith is collected, or which hadith scholars narrated or has a chain to this hadith. books of takh’reej may or may not clarify the strength or the weakness of the hadith, but it will tell you where the hadith is located. There are many books of takh’reej. The idea being takh’reej is so that the reader or student of knowledge is clear about the origin of the hadith he finds in a book. So that he knows which of the traditionalists collected the hadith in his book, and possibly the authenticity of the hadith. Scholars continue to this very day to write books of takh’reej of other collections. It is common for a scholar to do a takh’reej on another book. Usually he’ll put the takh’reej right in a separate or supplemental printing or publication of the book as a footnote, and end note or part of the commentary.

A couple of the more well-known books of takh’reej are;

  • Tal’khees al-Hibar fi Takh’reej Ahaadeeth al-Raafi’ee al-Kabir / التلخيص الحبير في تخريج احاديث الرافعي الكبير written by Imam Ibn Hajar al-As’qalaani. In it ibn Hajar clarifies the hadith contained in Imam Abu al-Qaasim al-Raafi’ee’s (d. 623 h.) explanation of the book ‘al-Wajeez Fi fiqh al-Shaafi’ee (الوجيز في فقه الشافي) which was written by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazaali.
  • Al-Mughni an Himl al-Asfaar Fi al-As’faar Fi Takh’reej ma Fi al-Ih’yaa min al-Akh’baar / المغني عن حمل الاسفار في الاسفار في تخريج ما في الاحياء من الاخبار, by al-Haafiz Imam Abdul-Raheem ibn Hussain al-Araaqi, better known as al-Haafiz al-Araaqi (d. 806 h) who incidentally was one of the Shuyookh of ibn Hajar al-Asqalaani. In it, he extracts and clarifies the ahaadeeth contained in ‘Ih’yaa Uloom ad-Deen / احياء علوم الدين, by Imam al-Ghazaali and offers some explanation of some of the text.

Keep in mind, there are many, many other books of takh’reej, books of hadith, other types of hadith books, books about the different sciences of hadith and associated sciences of hadith. The number of books relating to hadith study and methodology are in the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands. Some are well-known and others are not so well-own. And Allah knows best as to their number.

These are not all of the types of books of hadith. However, these are the major ones. There is no one book that will give you all the understanding or all the knowledge of the religion . The religion is based upon the Quran and the sunna of the Prophet (SAWS) as recorded in hadith. Understanding is from Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. The books are tools towards understanding in sha Allah, and our scholars are writers, compilers and preservers of these books.  May Allah increase us in knowledge and understanding of the religion.

Imam Abu Laith 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 imamabulaith@yahoo.com. 

[1] The word mentioned in the hadith is tuhoor (طهور). By this he means wudu (ablution).

[2] الجواهر والدرر في ترجمة شيخ الإسلام ابن حجر, Vol, 2, p 669

The Effects of Muslim Sectarianism on American Muslim Converts, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Sects

Globally, Muslim sectarianism affects almost all Muslims in one way or another. It is a terrible scourge and blemish upon the ummah. Muslims in many places outside of the United States and in many Muslim countries are already sectarianized in one way or another. People are born in a state of fitra (natural submission) but they are raised upon whatever the prevailing sect, group, or sub ideology of their family, their tribe, their country or their village. If they’re from Pakistan, it could be Deobandi, Barweili, Tablighi, Ahmadiyyah, or Ahul Hadis. If it’s Egypt, it could be Ikhwani, Salafi, jamaa’ah islamiyyah, or any one of a number of Sufi groups. If it’s Algeria it could be Maliki, it could be ibaa’dhiyya and so on.

Many Muslim groups could not thrive as a sect, raise money or be able to keep their adherents in check without having a sub-ideological focus, or without being in opposition to another Muslim group. The modem day Salafist phenomena in the United States is just one example of that. At their height, they would ascribe medieval, and early islamic sectarian labels to other Muslims and then proceed to demonize them. They would attach the title Mu’tazilite, Raa’fidee, Juhamee, and Khawaarij to everyday converts who have never even heard of such titles and groups, and of course to many of them; to be a true Salafi, you must call yourself a Salafi.

This methodology of factionalization is not only a characteristic of some modern day Salafists, it’s typical of many islamic groups who enter the United States already sectarianized. Sectarianism works better in a small village somewhere where everybody is of the same tribe, or believes the same, thinks the same, and has the exact same values for generations. However, in Muslim America, sectarian Islam creates an entirely different dynamic, especially for the convert or revert to Islam. It becomes especially problematic when the new Muslim convert is compelled by pressure or by what they presume to be the requirements of faith to join or belong to a particular Muslim sect. I recall having some brothers who joined a particular Sufi sect telling me that according to their sheikh, Islam was not enough, that there was some secret knowledge that needs to be acquired and that can only be gotten through the sect and by means of the sheikh that they now pledged allegiance to.

Sometimes converts/reverts comes across, or initiates into one or another of these sectarianized versions of Islam, and do not even realize what hit them until much later (sometimes years) when they try to raise their children on the sect’s sub-ideology or on veneration of the sect’s founder or leader, or until they go and try to integrate with another group of Muslims and then they discover that one group hates, or is in opposition to the other. This can be a pretty mind wrenching, faith shaking discovery for someone who just recently entered into the religion of Islam.

It’s not that sectarianists are trying to mess with your head; for many, sectarianism is the only Islam that they know and understand. The simple Islam of the Prophet ﷺ for many sectarianists is a betrayal of their sect’s sub-constitution. But it is the simple Islam of the Prophet which attracts converts to Islam in the first place, which is why sectarianism is not compatible with the Muslim convert, just like it wasn’t compatible with the companions of the Prophet who themselves were converts to Islam. It ruins faith more than it enhances it.

When people convert to Islam, they are excited about being Muslim and are ready to do whatever it takes (at least in the beginning) to be a true Muslim. This is generally a good thing, but it also makes them vulnerable to the culture of Muslim sectarianism. Convert Muslims come into the religion without belonging to, or yearning to belong to any particular sect; they come in on pure tawheed (monotheism) without sectarian alignment and simply want to belong to, and be with the Muslims. This trusting disposition can make them natural marks for sectarianists and easy targets of post conversion proselytizing. Many if not most new converts to islam are very naïve to the nuances of Muslim sectarianism and in-fighting. It’s like; okay, now that you are a Muslim, what kind of Islam do you want?

Even worse, some people are presented with the notion that they really aren’t a true Muslim until they join this or that sect, or initiate into this or that tariqa, or follow this or that sheikh. People are in essence, taking two shahadas; the shahaadah of Islam, and then, the shahaadah of the sectarian group. Granted, there are many people who are part of a group or sect, but are not hardcore sectarianists. However, make no mistake about it; within every major sect of islam in America, there are hardcore ideologues who police the beliefs of its members.

Extreme Salafism has had its heyday amongst American Muslim converts, but it is waning. There are more ex-Salafis now than there are Salafis. A lot of Muslims have discovered that you can follow the ways of the Salaf [righteous predecessors] without having to call yourself a Salafi. That realization for many, was an eye opener of cathartic proportion. These days, Sufism is the hot craze amongst many indigenous American Muslims. This is not a condemnation of Sufism as a discipline within legitimate islamic practice. It’s just an honest assessment of where we are in Muslim America.

People are using their Sufi affiliation and titles like gang signs. Many of the more popular Sufi tariqas maintain that if you leave the order, or disengage from the sheikh, then you have left true Islam, and will fall into disfavor with Allah. That’s a pretty hefty psychological burden to lay on an unsuspecting, impressionable, recent convert to Islam. Even more so if the sheikh lives thousands of miles away and you’ve never even met him face to face. Ironically, many Muslims are discovering that you can embrace and practice Islamic spirituality according to what the Prophet ﷺ practiced and taught, without having to call yourself a Sufi and without belonging to a Sufi sect or group.

Converts come into the religion believing in tawheed, Muslim unity, and in the simplicity of Islam, and are then betrayed on so many levels. Sometimes, they are literally chased away from Islam by racism, marginalization, or by the pressure to give up their critical reasoning, their common sense, and their identity. Other times it is the sheer confusion and perplexity of sectarianism that leaves their heads spinning. There are many Muslims who convert to Islam, and gradually understand and practice the faith, get married, perhaps have children and produce healthy viable Muslim families that continue into the next generation. However, that’s not the way it is for many converts during the times we live in today.

Many new Muslim converts in America these days are a one shot, single generation deal. They convert to Islam but it doesn’t really spread to their children or 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.

It’s interesting to note that most American Muslim converts to Islam already believed in god before they converted to Islam. In fact, most of them believed in one god. For these new Muslims, Islam only confirms and gives deeper meaning and definition to what they already believed before they converted to Islam. Which in part, is what lead them to Islam in the first place. Many converts to Islam where already honoring their parents, being kind to their neighbors, keeping family ties, giving charity with their hard earned money and were already truthful and honest before they ever knew about Islam.

There is nothing purer for the one whom Allah Himself guides to Islam than the Islam that was practiced and taught by the Prophet ﷺ. Sectarianism for the Muslim convert is a demotion of faith, not a promotion of faith. It is imperative for converts to Islam to understand it’s damaging effects and to extricate themselves from the cyclical morass and confusion of modern Muslim sectarianism. In my humble opinion, there is no better Islam for them, than the original version, without supplemental editing or ideological appendixes. I believe and will in sha Allah, continue to believe that Islam is best practiced when it is independent of sectarianism. Which is why Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala said; “Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving Clear Signs: For them is a dreadful penalty”. (Quran 5:105)

We cannot understate the effects of Muslim sectarianism on American convert communities. I imagine that one of the biggest drawbacks to Muslim sectarianism for converts is that you’ll have people living in the same city or the same are of a city and there will be so many foreign (and domestic) spheres of influence that get in the way of them working together while at the same time, they all share the same space and deal with the same problems and obstacles. Their sectarianism creates a reluctance and sometimes an ideological impediment to work together.

It may take an entire generation for the American Muslim convert community to recover from the negative effects and consequences of sectarianism and that’s only if we begin now, and that’s only if we recognize the damage that has been done.

Imam Abu Laith 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 imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

How Muslim Sectarianism is connected to Islamophobia, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

la tanaaza'oo.jpgAmidst the climate of increased anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States and the cacophony of noise decrying the evils of islamophobia and the islamophobes, confronting Muslim sectarianism is not a palpable topic for front line attention. Why should American Muslims even stop to think or care about sectarianism within our own ranks, when everyone is worried about islamophobia?

Why consecrate cerebral real estate to thinking about deep-rooted division within the Muslim body when Muslims are being harassed, harangued, mowed down and killed in the streets? That’s a good question. After all, as American Muslims, there are more immediate things to contend with; our honor, our reputation, our dignity and our lives that are at stake. Islamophobia is an assault on all of that. However, what many of us fail to realize is; so is sectarianism. It’s easy to look at islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment and think that is was formed in a vacuum and simply came out of nowhere, or that is fueled by pure ignorance, and good old fashioned American bigotry, without there being any underlying factors that contribute to anti-Islamic sentiment.

Such an assessment is flawed, and underscores just how much more Muslims need to understand the American people and how we form our ideas, and even our biases. What many people fail to understand is that there is a direct link Muslim Sectarianism and islamophobia. They are connected in more ways than many of us are willing to concede.

Sectarianism, extremism and racism, are the trifecta of pathology in moral dysfunction that plague Muslims world-wide. If you look at the fighting in Iraq, the fighting in Syria, the fighting in Pakistan, the bombings of mosques, and the war lording factions in the Muslim world, you will see Muslim sectarianism. Despite the blame we can attribute to western powers and their meddling in the Muslim world, there is still at the core a basic concept of Muslim on Muslim killing, legitimized through ethnicity, sect, and sub islamic ideology, especially between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, and through racial differences. But what does one have to do with the other, and what does any of them have to do with islamophobia?

Muslim sectarianism is not an imaginary monster; it is not a fairy-tale or a Hollywood horror movie. it is real, it is pervasive, and it is consequential. Obviously we can see its results in the Muslim world, but we can see it’s consequence as well in various and sundry ways in our own American Muslim sectarianized communities.  These are not imagined problems; these are real shortcomings that affect Muslims and non-Muslims alike. When Muslims emigrate to the United States from the places where sectarian strife is ingrained in the society, it is only reasonable that some people will be concerned that some of this sectarian modality that we’ve become famous for, will germinate here in the United States. You can call such a person an Islamophobe, but others would say that such a person is a pragmatist. I’m not justifying bigotry, or generalization, or implying that this is always the case, but what I am saying is that is grossly unintelligent to suggest that it is never the case. Furthermore, by our own admission, we are a sectarianized community on many levels, and if such be true, then it is a reasonable assumption that this could be a contributing factor to anti-Islamic sentiment. Whether or not Muslim sectarianism should influence people’s views about Islam and Muslims is another conversation. However, the fact remains that it does, whether we think it should or not. Not only that. sectarianism affects us morally and spiritually and it raises important questions about who we are as a religious community.

Amongst the thousands of Muslims with whom I have spoken, interviewed, taught or lectured during the last twenty years, there is an almost unanimous consensus that Muslim sectarianism is a ubiquitous cancer affecting our communities here in the United States. It is problematic, it is ugly, and it affects our lives and the lives of our children. If it is present, and if it affects our masaajid, our interaction with each other and contributes to our division, then it goes without saying that these eventualities could and are likely to influence the way that people look at Muslims, and contributes to anti-Islamic sentiment, or what people call islamophobia.

Therefore, American Muslims cannot adequately address islamophobia until we address the irrefutable dynamics that help define the narrative of our civilizational personality of which sectarianism is at the top of the list. The Muslim ummah in many ways is against itself and against each other according to race, nationality, ethnicity and sub-religious doctrine. We ourselves cannot deny that. We ourselves complain about it, talk about it and write about it. It is flippant to think that the world has not taken notice of that. It is intellectually disingenuous to think for moment that the way we are as a Muslim people, does not influence the way that people look at us. More importantly, it is close to heresy to believe that the way we are in reality does not determine how our Lord looks at us.

Anti-Islamic sentiment in the United States is directed at immigrant Muslim and immigrant Muslim communities in a much higher proportion that it is directed at African American or white American Muslims who were born and raised here. In the inner cities, people are changing their attitudes towards  African American Muslims not because they are Muslim, but because of their association with immigrant Muslims who are viewed as racist and some of whom capitalize on drug, alcohol and gambling addiction, by selling crack pipes, meth pipes, liquor, lottery tickets, blunts and pornography in inner city neighborhoods and then shutting down for two hours on Friday and heading off to the local mosque. People see that. People are aware of that, they talk about it, and it contributes to anti-Muslim sentiment and there is nothing irrational about that.

It goes without saying that as Muslims, we should be very concerned about islamophobia or anti-Muslim rhetoric and we should do whatever we can to curb it. However, recent history has shown that in spite of all the resources that Muslim American organizations have put into combatting islamophobia, the incidents of anti-Muslim rhetoric, hate, violence and vandalism is as high as it has been during the last 16 years.

That does not mean that we should not try to present a positive image of Islam and Muslims but it’s increasingly difficult when people are acutely aware of the factionalism that we practice is our faith.   Notwithstanding that placing responsibility for Islam’s image on other than ourselves is a flawed and unstable paradigm that siphons away valuable time, energy and spiritual as well as temporal benefit. It distracts us from individual and collective responsibility and sets in motion as’baab (causative factors) that could deprive us, at this critical juncture in our history, of what we need most: divine intervention and support. This can only come from Allah.

One of our problems is that Muslims only like to discuss what they perceive to be external threats, whereas the Prophet ﷺ, in addition to addressing external threats to Islam and Muslims, spent a great deal of time addressing internal threats to our religion and to our moral well-being. Our relationships inside of our faith were very much a part of his messaging. All these issues have been bottled up, but at this point is history, there’s no place left to bottle them up any more. Islamophobia is just another type of sectarianism; it’s non-Muslim against the Muslim. From a non-Muslim perspective, why should people be hands off about Muslims when Muslims aren’t hands off about Muslims?

Division within the Muslim body only emboldens anti-Muslim antagonists.

One sure way that the American Muslim Community will have a positive effect on the Greater Community is to address racism and sectarianism within our own communities. Racism is the major unresolved issue in the united states, if Muslims send a message that they not only cannot deal with the racial issue; they will not deal with it or face it, it says that we have not matured as a socially conscious community. It says that there is a flaw in our moral foundation. It also says that we’re hypocrites. I’m not calling anyone a hypocrite, but that is certainly the visual takeaway.

Sectarianism is the most widely used and most successful weapon against the Muslims. The first racist was Iblis. “I am better than him; you created me from fire and you created him from must”. Ever since then, Iblis has used racism and sectarianism to diminish the message of Islam and to enable us in writing our own self-destructive narrative.

In not addressing the racial and sectarian divide in Muslim America, we are, instead of solving sectarianism, cultivating new strains of it. All of this is happening at a time where our country has made fighting violent Muslim extremism a priority, and while Muslim communities have made fighting islamophobia a priority. Violent extremism is fueled by sectarianism, and sectarianism is a subtler form of racism, and all three; extremism, sectarianism, and racism are inextricably connected and Muslims are dead in the middle of it all. So where do we go from here?

American Muslim communities (where applicable) should embrace this conversation, and work more to open their masaajid to more indigenous and convert Muslims (of all races). Because this would produce a diversity of thought, a diversity of policy, and solutioned approaches to other and broader issues affecting our Muslim communities. Muslim communities need to address these things not just on the surface, and not just with pats on the head and the Bilal story, or the Suhail ar-Rumi story, but on their boards, in their leadership, in their decision making, in their community strategy, as well as in their core ranks. And I’m not just talking about superficial talking points; we’ve already been through that. African American Muslims especially have dealt with bigotry in this country for a very long time and we shouldn’t dismiss their experiences like they’re new to this, or insult each other’s intelligence. Both communities could learn from each other.

The more people outside of Islam view our communities as foreign, and behind the times on the issue of race, the more likely people will express and act on their bigotry and dislike for Islam and Muslims. Of course when we seriously start to address racism, we would have to deal with other issues like sectarianism. If we unpack sectarianism, we will find extremism and if we unpack extremism we will invariably find racism. Racism is itself an extreme ideology that presupposes that Allah is not a just Lord, and that He sanctions the subjugation, disparagement, and marginalization of one race of people over another simply on the basis of skin color. Islamophobia, the Muslim American Godzilla, is simply another form of racism; it’s just that the shoe is on the other foot. At some point, we’re going to have to resolve this issue of racial, ethnic, and religious discord within the ummah. It is inevitable. Our future is connected to it.

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 imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

The American Muslim Convert Revolution, by Imam Luqman Ahmad.

revolutionmuslim_jpg-vi1In his book; Race and Slavery in the Middle East (1990), Bernard Lewis suggests that the topic of race in Islam is so “highly sensitive” that it would be “professionally hazardous” for young scholars to embark on it. I’m probably going to get some negative feedback for talking about this. ( I already have) but given the choice of being complacently compliant, or controversial truthful, I choose the latter.  So I’m going to say it anyway.

A couple of years ago, I said that this would likely happen, and it has.

There is a quiet, but momentous revolution going on in the heart of Muslim America that will potentially change the moral trajectory of Muslims and Islam in the United States. This revolution is not a violent, armed insurgency. There is no name for the movement. There are no flags, no slogans and no particular leader. There are no planned attacks against anyone, no public demonstrations or protests, and to date, no calls for boycotts.  But it is a revolution nonetheless. However, this is a different kind of revolt.

There are no street marches, no sit-ins or sit-downs, or picket signs hoisted over the shoulders of converts as they circle the local mega mosque. No one is talking about boycotting anything and there are no specific demands anymore. It is as organic a revolution as there ever was. This is a low decibel revolution that doesn’t really seem like a revolution at all in the conventional sense. Nevertheless, there is a revolution going on in Muslim America; it is growing, and before it is over, it will likely reverberate into every corner of every mosque in the United States.

Black, White and Latino American Muslim converts to Islam are breaking out of the cultural molds that they were herded into in the name of islam. They are revolting against what many of them view as racism, racial injustice,  and subtle anti-convert bigotry in many of our nation’s masaajid (mosques). In a non-stop fusillade of verbal indignations, recriminations and resentment appearing all over social media, people are recounting in vivid and often granular detail, their personal experiences of marginalization, racial slurs, indifference, slights, being left out, put down, ignored and looked down upon by immigrant Muslims. People are recounting their experiences of having to give up their families, their American culture (nearly all of it) and their identity in the name of being a good Muslim. People have been finding out that the requirements of Islam, and the requirements placed upon them by Muslims are two different things.

The vitriol expressed by converts to Islam detailing their unwelcoming experiences in culture based masaajid, the insults to their intelligence in being discouraged from thinking, and the pressure upon them to assimilate a foreign culture in the name of being Muslim, rival those of the staunchest anti-Muslim purveyors of hate, and it’s bound to get worse before it gets better. Interestingly enough, many Muslim immigrants themselves are voicing dismay as what they see as racial division amongst Muslims living in the United States.

The good news is that more and more American Muslim immigrant communities are starting to address these issues incrementally, masjid boards and imams across the country are slowly beginning to make purposeful and courageous strides at recognition, inclusion and honest dialogue. However, this conversation is complex, scary, and revealing, and many Muslims are just too afraid to have it. It is a controversial, and sometimes incendiary conversation that evokes a lot of emotion and is not always easy to unpack.

Racism, and issues relating to race in Muslim relationships in the United States, is a tough, touchy topic. In June 2015, journalist Zeba Khan wrote a very good article in Aljazeera about the problem entitled; “American Muslims have a race problem”, and in June 2002, almost 15 years ago to the day, I wrote an article entitled “Racial Politics in Muslim America”. The responses in my inbox were overwhelming. It was like I discovered something. However, it wasn’t that I discovered anything new; it was that I dared to speak publicly about race relations in Muslim America.  Many convert and born Muslims from different nationalities applauded the piece and thought it was an honest depiction of reality. Others, nearly accused me of treason for bringing the subject up in a public forum, especially as it was within a year of 9/11.

Publicly bringing up the topic of race in Muslim America can get you ostracized. When African American Muslim leaders talk about it in mixed public setting, people’s faces turn red with the; “how dare you!” look.  Even Arab, Pakistani, Indian, and other Muslims of conscience who attempt to deal with the issue of race, or the treatment of Black Americans get plenty of pushback. Imams have been relieved from their positions for pushing the race issue to the forefront. Muslim leaders and organizations have been reluctant to take a direct stab against racism in Muslim America, or to even openly suggest that racist, or anti-Black sentiment exists at all in Muslim America.  Some exceptions are ISNA (the Islamic Society of North America), ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) who are trying to stick their toe in the water and organizations like the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (Muslim ARC), the Muslim Empowerment Institute (MEI), and the recently formed organization, Mosque Without Borders, who are wading in deeper. However, it is becoming clearer and clearer that converts and convert communities need to chart their on course.

I don’t relish being one who brings this up or writes about this because it comes at a high cost. Failure to call this monster out is what it partially fueling the anger, the moral indignation and the revolt by Black American, as well as White American and Latino American converts to Islam. Born Muslims of Arab, East Asian, and African decent are revolting as well.

Many American Muslim converts, despite experiencing what they perceived to be clear racist tendencies from immigrant Muslims, used to brush it off as simple misunderstanding, a mistaken inference, a cultural glitch, or the unintended consequences of migration to an unfamiliar environment. Maybe he didn’t hear my salaams although I’m standing two feet away from him. Maybe they didn’t think it was patronizing to ask me if I know how to make wudu, or if I heard the Bilal story, or if they asked me am I fasting and it’s the middle of Ramadan, or if I am a Muslim and I’m sitting in the masjid wearing a thobe with a kufi on my head. These are the types of stories Muslims have been recounting for a long time except that now, they re-tell their experiences on social media and other platforms where it gains traction.  People are feeling empowered to speak out about what they consider a moral catastrophe.

Just a decade and a half ago, it was virtually unheard of for an African American Muslim to speak openly about racism or racial disparagement in the Muslim community aimed at Blacks, even though it is no secret that African American Muslims have always been treated as a sort of a second class, inferior Muslim. For a long time now, there has been two distinctly different Muslim Americas. People talk of disappointment, pity, and disbelief that we have come as far as we have regarding race relations in the United States, only having to revisit it, in what seems like a Jim Crow era of Muslim America.

Many people of the older generation who emigrated to the United States were born during the time where the enslavement of Blacks was still practiced in their born countries. This is not to disparage any particular nationality, but they still have open slave markets in the south Libyan city of Sabha, so if you just got here from Libya, it’s not too difficult to look at a black American and see “slave” or ‘abd’. I’m not justifying it of course, but I’m pointing out how easy it is to entertain racial bigotry in Muslim in America if you’re not aware. People cannot simply erase their mental image of Black people when it has been instilled in their culture for centuries that blacks are an inferior slave race with some exceptions to the rule. Even ibn Khaldoun in all of his genius concluded that the black race were little more than a dumb animals.

African American and White converts Muslims are largely invisible in most of the national television coverage about American Muslims, and for 30% of the population, that’s a pretty significant omission. 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.

What converts to Islam (of all races) experience is a deep sense of disappointment, a spiritual let down, and a sense of loneliness as well as embarrassment for themselves and for the ummah. Imagine growing up in America knowing that many White Christians and Jews marched on Washington, and stood side by side with blacks in their fight against racial bigotry and then enter Islam and you can hardly get a salaam from your own co-religionists.  There is hardly anything more embarrassing than bringing your friend to the mosque that you attend, knowing that he’ll be treated with indifference but if you were Christian and took him to a church, they would embrace him. Convert Muslims are not asking for or demanding respect anymore. It seems to have gotten past that. Many are starting to look at the Muslim immigrant community as incapable of change, incapable of enlightenment. However, such a view is not true. Many immigrant Muslims and communities are looking for ways to deal with the racial problem we have as Muslim Americans and to their credit, it is not a problem that can be solved overnight.

What many converts are forcefully asserting now is that they need to have their own masaajid, their own schools, their own communities and forge their own futures as Muslim Americans. They are saying that they need to deal with their own issues, tend to their own culture, develop their own islamic scholarship. In fact, it’s gone beyond even that. Converts Muslims, White, Black and Latino are expressing open abhorrence and contempt towards the immigrant Muslim community. Yet, there is still an overwhelming sense of hope, and wishful, prayerful thinking, that we will somehow get a grip on racial relations in Muslim America, and somehow turn the page of understanding. I don’t endorse the contempt, and I certainly don’t endorse reverse racism. We have to understand recent history of the Muslim world and see that there are many factors the contributed to the bigoted mentality that many bring with them from the Muslim world.

Race is the single most divisive issue in our nation, the growing perception amongst converts is that the immigrant Muslim community is taking the religion backwards at a time when we need to be moving forward. A sort of civilizational suicide. They control the majority of the nation’s mosques and Muslim communities where racial disparity and discrimination is most felt. Yet, they are afraid to look at themselves in the mirror. Everything is someone else’s fault. This is becoming the consensus.

African American Muslims have come to expect racism from society, from White people (although the situation has improved), from our government, law enforcement, and from many of our institutions.  They expect that when they are pulled over for a traffic stop that they were targeted and will be treated differently than a white person. They expect they will have problems moving into some neighborhoods, that expect that they will pay more for auto insurance, that their schools will be less funded, and inferior in quality than schools in White neighborhoods. African American Muslims have come to expect that. However, what they did not expect was to find racism and marginalization inside of the arctic of islam. They didn’t expect to be treated with indifference, and disrespect by Muslims coming from abroad. They didn’t expect that. However, by and large, that’s what they got, and now they are revolting.

Marginalizing the convert community does not seem to be anywhere near it’s ending; we’ve got quite a way to go. Our domestic portrayal of a singular image of Muslim Americans that does not include African American, Latino, and White American Muslims is likely to continue, and if it does, the criticism will get louder and eventually make its way to the mainstream media and then it’s going to be messy. That’s just my own prognosis.

Americans of conscious have come too far, and have sacrificed too much to settle for a racist Muslim America. No one owns Islam, it is the religion of Allah, and He has declared that we are all equal except by taqwa and we are morally obligated, all of us, to strive for these ideals. fortunately, we as American Muslims, are a moral community and many Muslims of all backgrounds are rising to the occasion although there is a lot of works that needs to be done.

It’s not about Black power either; overblown black pride is just as insidious as overblown White pride or overblown Arab pride. African American Muslims who believe that they are entitled to some spiritual preference because of their skin color, are just as deluded as White, Arab, African or Asian Muslims who believe that their skin color or ethnicity makes them better. The religion of Islam is championed by people of all colors, ethnicities, and lineages, and the best of them are the ones who have the most taqwa.

The goal is that eventually moral minds will prevail and American Muslims of different races and cultures will embark upon candid, intrepid conversations that will lead to greater understanding. Understanding will hopefully lead to collaboration and collaboration will give us a richer vocabulary of options to address some of the problems facing Muslim America, and for that we may need to see this revolution through to the end. In the meantime, American Muslim converts need to realize, that across the board, they essentially are on their own.

Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a graduate of Omdurman Islamic University, and the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, a researcher and Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the CEO of ‘Mosque Without Borders’, an organization that address Muslim sectarianism. He is also and the author of the new book, “Double Edged Slavery “, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

My Strong Hijabi Girls. One Fathers Story, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

hijabiAccording to a recent Muslim civil rights group [CAIR] report, anti-Muslim bias in our public school system is on the rise. As a Sacramento area Muslim parent with five children still in local public schools, the report only confirmed what our family already knew and what our kids have experienced, each in their way, for quite some time.  In 2003, when my oldest daughter Wadia graduated from Grant High School in Del Paso Heights, she was the only graduate crossing the stage wearing hijab. They told me she was the first in Grant history.  In 2015, when my daughter Aneesa graduated from Rio Linda High School, she too was the only one who crossed the stage wearing hijab.

I have six daughters who’ve attended Sacramento public schools and all six of them were the only ones in their schools who openly identified their faith by wearing the Muslim headscarf, hijab. All of them endured the pressure, the name calling, the stares, and the disparaging comments that sometimes accompany bigotry and religious bias.  When my daughter Aaliyah played softball on the Rio Linda Bobby Sox softball team, she was the first young Muslim woman to wear her hijab while starting as a pitcher.  She got stares  too but she, like the rest of my daughters, always carried their Muslim identity with dignity. My daughter Aaliyah persevered and became one of the beloved members of her softball team, and successfully served as secretary for her 8th grade class at Rio Linda Preparatory Academy. My oldest daughter Wadia became a very popular senior at Grant High School and walked across the stage as the only hijabi amid the cheers, and accolades of her class-mates. My daughter Aneesa is now a student at American River College. My daughter Huda who years ago was the first Muslim girl allowed to wear a hijab at Hiram Johnson Junior High school as part of her basketball uniform, is now a college graduate.

I still have three daughters and two sons attending Sacramento public schools this school year. All my girls proudly wear their hijab. Because my children are as I am, African American, they have faced occasional bouts of racial prejudice as well. We deal with prejudice of all kinds as a family. As parents, my wife and I listen to our kids, support them, and have even had occasions where we’ve spoken to school officials who have always been open minded and helpful.

We raise our children to be proud of who they are, to stand by their faith choices, and to know that there is a long way to go in ending bigotry and misunderstanding of Muslims.  We don’t tell them to get used to it, but we do teach them how to effectively deal with it, and learn from it.  We know that even though we or someone else can intervene on their behalf, they must go back to those same schools and face the same occasional hate and bigotry as individuals. I am so proud of my girls and my boys, for the graceful way that they have handled bigotry and anti-Islamic sentiment throughout their young lives.

Children, like adults, can be very cruel at times, and advocacy groups like CAIR and NAACP do a lot to help educate the public about discrimination and bias against Muslims, Blacks and others. Still, most incidents go unreported. As the Imam of a local mosque for twenty years, I have heard dozens of stories about racism, anti-Muslim sentiment, and misunderstandings about Muslims. I believe that we need to do everything we can as parents to teach our children and young adults how to mitigate hatred and bias using kind words, education, and just being proud of who they are. While we are waiting for society to change, there are things that we can perhaps change in how our children react to prejudice and bigotry.

Our precious children will one day be adults, and they will inherit a polarized, fractious world.  I know that my wife and I as parents will always be there for them, but we realize that they will face these challenges alone most of the time. We have confidence that they can survive bigotry, hate, racism, and bias by holding fast to the principles of patience, steadfastness, and perseverance; values that Islam teaches.

As a father, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect my children from harm, but I know I can’t follow them around and stand guard.  It is important that we teach our children that there are more good people in our schools and in our country than there are bigots.  we need to teach them to be vigilant and aware but to not give in to fear, and to put their trust in Allah. As we empower them to stand up against bigotry, let’s make sure we give them hope for the future.  There is still a long way to go before we all are treated with dignity, but I believe that as a nation, and as a people, there is still hope. And Allah knows best.

Imam Luqman Ahmad (Abu)

Imam Luqman Ahmad is a writer, public speaker, consultant, and President and CEO of Mosque Without Borders. He is also the Imam of a Northern California Masjid and the author of the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect”, a book about Muslim radicalization and theological extremism in Islam, available on Amazon.com Contact him at imamabulaith@yahoo.com. Read his blog at imamluqman.wordpress.com.

 

 

Mosque Without Borders; Combatting Muslim Sectarianism by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

 


MOSQUELogoNEW2Mosque Without Borders was established in the Spring of 2017 to combat Muslim sectarianism, and it’s by products, which are religious extremism and racism, particularly as it affects Muslims in the United States. We need your support. However, we need to be clear about what we are advocating and what we are working to curb. So just what is Muslim sectarianism, and what is the view of sectarianism according to the sharia? What do Muslims need to know and understand about sectarianism, especially Muslims living in the United States? Muslim sectarianism is a complicated notion with complicated consequences. So for starters, know that there is no one single brand or type of Muslim sectarianism.

What is sectarianism?

Muslim sectarianism has many forms, many categories, numerous tentacles and many manifestations. Some extremely harmful, and some not as harmful. It reveals itself in varying ways according to time, place, people and sub-ideology. Some Muslim sects are relatively new and some are hundreds of years old. Some sects are built around individuals and some are built around ideas or supplemental philosophies. Some are hyper cultish with elaborate rituals and liturgical nuance, and some are very simple. Some sects require initiation, some don’t. Some sects are descriptive but not necessarily sectarian and some sects are sectarian at their core but vague in their description. Some are both. Some sects are regional and some are international. Some are all over the place and change with the changing of the times. So let’s first take a look at the meaning of the word.

  • Sect: According to the New Shorter Oxford Dictionary; A body or group of people subscribing to views that are divergent from other people of the same religion.
  • Sectary: a person who is zealous in the cause of his sect.
  • Sectarian: According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th, sectarian (adj.) characteristic of a sect. Also, having limited character or scope. (n.) adherent of a sect., narrow, bigoted.
  • Sectarianize: is to make sectarian
  • According to Wikipedia, sectarianism is: a form of bigotry, discrimination, or hatred arising from attaching relations of inferiority and superiority to differences between subdivisions within a group. Common examples are denominations of a religion, ethnic identity, class, or region for citizens of a state and factions of a political movement.

That’s on the English side. However, we need to look at the Arabic side of the meaning of sectarianism because our primary scriptures are in Arabic, and the foundations of codified traditional knowledge in Islam are in Arabic. Thus, In the Arabic language, there are several words and phrases in the Quran that are used to denote sectarianism; for example; hizb (حزب), as in the verse:

وَإِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاتَّقُونِ فَتَقَطَّعُوا أَمْرَهُم بَيْنَهُمْ زُبُرًا ۖ كُلُّ حِزْبٍ بِمَا لَدَيْهِمْ فَرِحُونَ

“And surely this your religion is one religion and I am your Lord, therefore be careful (of your duty) to Me. But they cut off their religion among themselves into sects, each part (hizbin)rejoicing in that which is with them.” (Quran, 23:52-53)

Hizb however, could also simply mean a group of people; as in the verse:

وَلَمَّا رَأَى الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْأَحْزَابَ قَالُوا هَٰذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَدَقَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ۚ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا

“And when the true believers saw the clans (ah’zaab), (confederate forces) they said: This is that which Allah and His messenger promised us. Allah and His messenger are true. It did but confirm them in their faith and resignation.” (Quran, 33:22)

In modern-day parlance, some groups use the word hizbee as a pejorative term meaning someone who is a sectarianist, or a party loyalist as in political party, or a specific Muslim group, representative of a specific ideology.

Another word used to describe sect in the Quran is shi’ite. I’m not talking about Shiite Muslims here, I’m talking about the word shi’ite, as in the verse:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُوا دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُوا شِيَعًا لَّسْتَ مِنْهُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ ۚ إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُمْ إِلَى اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ

“Surely they who divided their religion into parts and became sects (shiya’an), you have no concern with them; their affair is only with Allah, then He will inform them of what they did.” (Quran, 6:159)

The above aforementioned verse is not referring to any particular sect; it’s talking about breaking into sects and sectarianism in general. However, this conversation is not about semantics, and every Muslim sect can present their arguments why they are not a sect, why they are not sectarian or why they are the saved sect, or the best sect of all.

Allah forbid the Prophet ﷺ from supporting sectarianism in our religion, and the Prophet forbade the people from arguing about doctrine.  The Prophet ﷺ said, “No people ever went astray, after they were guided, except that they were overcome by arguing”.[1]

The general rule of Islam with regards to sectarianism is to avoid it:

“وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ “

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.” (Quran 3:103).

The purpose of Mosque Without Borders is not to debunk or analyze the ideology of every orthodox or heterodox sect of Islam but to empower and teach those Muslims who don’t want to belong to any sect, and who prefer not to practice a sectarian styled Islam, in ideology, or in spirit.  This is not about semantics, or polemical acrobatics. This is about the lives of real Muslims who are concerned with living their religion and not arguing with each other about it. This is about sectarianism and the negative impact it has on the lives of Muslims.

The Prophet’s ﷺ view on sectarianism and it’s by products

The Prophet ﷺ outlined many of the principles of non-sectarianism throughout his life as well as during his farewell sermon when he said; “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab nor for a non-Arab over an Arab except by piety”.[2] He ﷺ further elucidated the foundation for actionable non-sectarianism when he said: “verily your blood, your wealth, and your honor is sacred, like the sacredness of this day, of this month, and of the place”.[3] He cemented his disdain for sectarian practices when he said: “do not return after I’m gone to being like unbelievers, some of you striking the necks (fighting) of others”.[4]

Sectarianism also has to do with abandoning the principles of islamic brotherhood, disregarding the idea of racial equality, and lack of respect for the sanctity of life, honor and wealth as outlined by the Prophet ﷺ in his farewell sermon. Perhaps the most obvious and widespread manifestation of sectarianism is racism, but it is not the only manifestation of it.

no to sectarianismMuslim sectarianism has been around ever since shortly after the death of the Prophet ﷺ. The Prophet warned us against it, the Quran warns us against it, and the Muslim world has suffered by it in the worse ways. The first social issue relating to sectarianism addressed by the Prophet ﷺ was racism. He addressed it by freeing slaves and elevating the status of the ex-slave to that of an already free non-slave Arab. He reiterated this principle thought out his tenure as a prophet of God. Even at the end of his life, he appointed Osama ibn Zayd as general of the Muslim army who included Umar and Abu Bakr and Osama was barely eighteen years old.

Sectarianism brings out the very worst in the Ummah, from the wars between the companions of the Prophet ﷺ, to the massacre of Muslims by other Muslims in so many countries, to the fratricidal warfare between Muslim groups throughout the ages, and even what we see today in many Muslim countries and now in the United States and elsewhere. Different groups calling the other unbelievers, mosques being bombed. Violent extremism, petty mosque politics, racism within the ummah in many Muslim countries and even her in the unites states. It can all be traced back to racism, sectarianism and the notion of the other.

Muslim sectarianism in the modern sense;

There are many faces of Muslim sectarianism. Sectarianism in the modern sense is the belief that your particular sect represents the whole of Islam, or that the addendums of faith, belief, and practice, representative of your sect, embodies the whole of Islam or the entirety of the message of Allah and His Prophet ﷺ whereas someone not subscribing to your additions, is considered less of a Muslim or even not a Muslim.

For example, if you believe that the sheikh of your sect is the only one that possesses true guidance of Islam and that believing in him and following him is necessary to obtain salvation, then you are sectarianized. If you believe that you must call yourself by the name of your sect, or a group in order to be rightly guided, then you have been sectarianized. If you believe that your brand of Islam is the only true brand of Islam in exclusion to all other brands of Islam, then you are sectarianized. If you cannot pray behind this or that person because they do not ascribe to your sect, then you are sectarianized.

Example of some types of sectarianism are people who ascribe to the terms, Salafi, Ahlul hadith, and Atharaee, Tijaani, Qaadiri, Naqshabandi, and Ikhwaani, just to name a few; if you consider calling yourself by these names as a religious obligation and that those who don’t ascribe to these names are less of a Muslim than you, or that you are a better Muslim than they, simply because of the sectarian title, then this is sectarianism. If you as an adherent of a particular sect, believe that only people of that sect are rightly guided, then that is sectarianism. If you are a member of a Muslim ideological group and believe that your group represents the totality of Islam in exclusion of other groups than you are a sectarianist. If because of group or sub-ideological differences, you declare the other to be an unbeliever your calling yourself. One of the hallmarks of sectarianism is to direct anything ranging from simple disdain or hostility, or the grand charge of heresy towards the other group that is different from your sect.

Combating Sectarianism:

Granted, combatting Muslim sectarianism is no simple proposition. People have to be unsectarianized. Sectarianism is taught, and it can be un-taught. There is a sectarian mindset, and there is an unsectarian mindset. It’s a monumental problem for converts because Muslim converts come into Islam pure of faith and are then taught sectarianism as they come along. Another problem is the colonial mental hold that the intellectual molestation that occurs through the multiplicity of different spheres of influence and teaching methodology thrust upon convert Muslims. I break it down in my book Double Edged Slavery. This stuff didn’t happen overnight and it was very methodical, which on the one hand makes it a multi-layered problem but on the other hand makes it easy to trace how we got to this point, especially if you understand Muslim history. It is possible for a person to back his or her way out of sectarianism; it’s called deprogramming.

De-programming is not for everybody, but there are a lot of Muslims who do not want to be a part of a sect, there are a lot who do not want to be racist, and there are many who do not want to be an extremist in their religion, and who do not want to be jumping from one sub-ideology of Islam to another, and who do not want, groupie- type Islam following someone who doesn’t have clue who you are. Problem is, not many Imams, or teachers are equipped to deal with this issue. Many Imams have no training whatsoever in the classical sciences of Islam which is problem also because you end up making stuff up, making up ideology, and things like that. That doesn’t help much either. There is a method to this madness which is why we established Mosque Without Borders.

There is no one way to combat sectarianism since sectarianism and people who practice it or believe in it differ from time to time and from place to place. Fighting sectarianism is not so much as deconstructing every Muslim sect and polemicizing ideological arguments against it. It has more to do with promoting unity in spite of sectarianism and giving Muslims a clear choice on how not be stuck in a sectarian modality whereas you believe your sect offers the only path, or the best path to salvation. Unity is not for everyone; it’s for the people who want to be unified.

This is about the disruption of lives, the breaking of the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood, about fratricide, incessant debates about micro-doctrine, splitting of communities, arguing, fighting, fitnah in our masaajid. Mosque Without Borders is aimed at teaching people how to be non-sectarian for those who prefer that. It’s for people who want to escape the boundaries, the hubris, and the sometimes insanity of Muslim sectarianism.

I believe that there are Muslims out there who don’t want to sectarianize, who believe in what Allah says in the Quran, who believe in the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and what was reported from him according to authentic sources and believe that they will someday meet Allah, and want to meet Him as a Muslim, and not as an adherent of any sub-sect of Islam. That is their choice and people should be made aware that there is such a choice.

Changing the sectarian narrative

The United States of America is a new frontier for Muslims. Most organized Muslim communities are less then 30 years old. There is still time to address Muslim sectarianism in our country in a sane, healthy, and rational way.  We have to create Muslim communities that are equally open to everyone; White, Black, Latino, Arab, Pakistani, Indian, Asian, African, low income, high income, educated and undereducated. This is the legacy of the Prophet of Islam ﷺ. This is the picture of non-sectarian Islam, and this is the conversation that Mosque Without Borders is bringing to the forefront. If this article makes sense to you and you support combating sectarianism, extremism and racism in our ummah, then make a donation to Mosque Without Borders.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

CEO, Mosque Without Borders.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a graduate of Omdurman Islamic University, is the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, and Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Folsom, California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), 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 is also author of the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect“. The Imam blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

 

[1] Collected by Abu Eesa at-Tirmidhi.

[2] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[3] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[4] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

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