Reviving the Lost Art of Forgiveness in Islam، by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad 

FORGIVENESSBy Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad   

“Ali ibn Abi Taalib once said; “You will begin to heal when you let go of past hurts, and forgive those who have wronged you”

For many Muslims, the idea of forgiving a bigot, pardoning an aggressor, or a harsh unflattering critic, or letting a so-called Islamophobe off the hook, is much easier to conceptualize or articulate than it is to actually put into practice. Exacting revenge, seeking recompense, or holding a grudge, simply requires a dash of anger, a pinch of indignation and a tablespoonful of knee-jerk emotional reaction. Even hurt feelings are enough to spur a person to take punitive or compensatory action against another. Forgiveness, on the other hand, requires a particular measure of spiritual courage, moral fortitude, and emotional intelligence. Forgiveness requires a charitable heart.

While Islam recognizes the concept of retribution; forgiveness and forbearance have always been the higher and more magnanimous moral option. “O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave penalty. (2:178).

Without diverging into a separate discussion about criminal justice policy, I’ll just say that people who murder people need to be prosecuted and brought to justice. That being said, it stands that in the religion of Islam, it is still meritorious to forgive, even if the perpetrator is prosecuted.

However, we’re not talking about murderers here. The people who have murdered or committed violent acts against Muslims in America because of their faith need to be condemned for their actions. However, they constitute only a fractional percentage of those whom we have regarded as anti-Muslim or islamophobes. What we’re talking about are the thousands upon thousands of everyday interactions, the minor skirmishes, the contemptuous glances, the unwanted comments, the simple acts of dishonor and disrespect that are aimed at Muslims and Islam. Sometimes it’s simply a case of misunderstanding but many times there is no ambiguity at all. There are the people who make it perfectly clear that they hate you because you are a Muslim.

The moral high ground in Islam affirms that it is okay to forgive such instances of bigotry and ignorance and to continue to walk in dignity. This is the higher moral ground that the Quran speaks about; “And the servants of the Merciful; they who walk on the earth in humbleness, and when the ignorant address them, they say: Peace.” (25:63).

So what we are talking about here is attitudinal change, a paradigm shift, an increased output of good old fashioned moral fortitude. For lesser infractions such as someone calling you names, criticizing your faith or your religious group, or insulting your honor, forgiveness is a praiseworthy option. There is nothing immoral, cowardly or demeaning about forgiving someone who has wronged you; nothing at all.

The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loveth not those who do wrong”. (42:39-40).

In the ongoing back and forth of American Muslims mitigating anti-Muslim sentiment in our country, we seem to be neglecting the part of our religion that encourages forgiveness.  I’m not saying that it is easy to forgive; I’m saying that it’s good to forgive, and that forgiveness is a grossly underused option considering how prominently forgiveness ranks in our religion. It’s even okay to forgive when there is violence but that might be a bit much to ask of our community because we’re not that used to forgiving to begin with, and if we do forgive, we’re likely to make a full-fledged media event out of it.

The customary behavioral reaction in the Muslim community anti-Muslim sentiment is to fight fire with fire, to counter attack, to counter debate, polemicize, or to react to nearly every disparagement with either complaining about it, reporting it to the authorities, seeking some kind of redress or revenge, or amplifying our self-victimization. Many of our responses to bigotry are aimed more at getting people to see us as victims of injustice, intolerance, and oppression, than they are at being forgiving, patiently gracious, and magnanimous under fire.

I’m not suggesting that Muslim-Americans entirely overlook religious intolerance and bigotry directed towards them, or that we do not maintain vigilance against unwarranted verbal, institutional, political or violent attacks against Muslims. There have been enough incidents of violence directed towards people thought to be Muslim that warrants vigilance and awareness. Nor am I advocating that we abdicate common sense in assessing the public image disadvantages that we sometimes encounter as Muslim Americans.

What I am saying is that being Muslim brings with it a certain standard of moral fortitude standard to aim for that encourages us to withstand a fair amount of nuisance as we work to educate people and educate ourselves, and that it is okay to forgive sometimes; “You (believers) will certainly be tested by the loss of your property and lives and you will hear a great many grieving words from the People of the Book and the pagans. If you will have patience and piety, it will be a sign of firm determination and steadfastness (in life)”. (3:186)

It’s also important that we don’t overstate the problem of anti-Muslim sentiment, nor fail to recognize that the majority of people in this country do not show hatred and bigotry towards Muslims. Many Muslims are still learning about the United States and there are many areas of improvement in how we, as Muslim Americans handle bigotry. We are a fairly contentious and thin skinned people when it comes to criticism, bigotry, and anti-Muslim sentiment, and we can do a lot better in the way we deal with what some of us call islamophobia. Forgiveness and taking a high moral ground should not be taboo when it comes to our critics, detractors, and our shameless antagonists.

Our faith requires a higher degree of moral fortitude and spiritual maturity that would preclude us from feeling the need to counter every affront or criticism of Islam or Muslims. We should own the fact that we have within our communal body, cultural and historical predilections that make us particularly sensitive to any hint of criticism or rejection. The Muslim culture of revenge and outrage and holding grudges is legendary and make the Hatfields and McCoys look like Donald and Mickey. Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse that is.  However, we have better examples to choose from.

When the companion of the Prophet Mistah ibn Athaatha participated in the awful slander of the Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisha, at the time, his only income was the regular charity he was getting from Aisha’s wealthy father, Abu Bakr, who was a distant relative of Mistah by way of Mistah’s grandmother, Ru’haita bint Sakhar.  Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq, clearly ruffled by Mistah’s role in spreading the terrible rumors about his daughter Aisha, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ, Abu Bakr swore by Allah to never to give any more money to Mistah. It was about this matter that the verse was revealed;

Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah’s cause: let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. (24:22).

After this verse were revealed to the Prophet ﷺ, he summoned Abu Bakr and asked him; “would you like that your sins be forgiven”? Abu Bakr replied; “yes”. Then the Prophet ﷺ informed him that this verse was revealed about him. After that, Abu Bakr forgave Mistah, and swore that he would never withhold help from Mistah, ever again.

Another example is that when the Prophet ﷺ conquered the holy city of Mecca on the 20th day of Ramadan in the Julian year of 630, there were many Meccans who had fought against him in previous battles. Polytheist combatants had violently opposed the Prophet ﷺ, and persecuted, tortured and Killed many of the Prophet’s companions over the years. Many of those killed were people close to the Prophet ﷺ and people even made attempts on his life ﷺ.

The Prophet ﷺ had plenty of reasons to exact revenge on his enemies and he ﷺ could have easily done that. However, that’s not what he did once he was in power. What he did was to forgive everyone. He even paid some of them in order to sway their favor.

A young Muslim recently asked me about what should a person do when they are confronted with anti-Muslim sentiment or an islamophobic act. My response to his question was to see if he could find a way to overlook the slight and forgive them. That’s what the Prophet ﷺ used to do; he used to forgive people. Forgiveness is a much more redemptive act than revenge and holding onto anger and contempt. As Allah has mentioned; “The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.” This verse was revealed about Abu Jahl, who was a staunch enemy of the Islam and of the Prophet ﷺ.

Certainly, American Muslims should address islamophobia, although it would help significantly if we conclusively defined the word; something that has yet to be done, but that’s the topic for another discussion perhaps. However, we should deal with anti-Muslim sentiment using the tools of faith. “Those who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good”. (3:143). We should forgive at least some of the time.

When we fail to employ the full breadth of moral tools and principles in our religion when defending our faith and ourselves against bigotry, it gives the distinct impression that perhaps we really don’t understand our religion.  American Muslims are long overdue for a major metanoia in our approach to what we call islamophobia. Perhaps If we were more forgiving and showed more fortitude in the face of the bigotry that we occasionally encounter here in the United States, people who have negative views of Islam and Muslims would begin to see and perhaps understand another side of what it is to be a Muslim.  In the process, maybe we too would start to see and realize another, higher minded side of ourselves.

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a Sunni Muslim, 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, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the new book “Double Edged Slavery, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States. He also authored, “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at modern-day extremist salafiyyism, the ideology which in part formed the mindset of ISIS. He blogs at, imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

What it Doesn’t Say in Our Scared Scriptures, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

quran laid out.jpgIt doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we should condemn some atrocities while remaining silent about others. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we try to convince people that Islam is a religion of peace; and not try to make peace between the Muslims who are arguing fighting and killing each other in such large numbers. It doesn’t say in our scriptures that we should work so hard to convince people how tolerant we Muslims are when we all know full well how intolerant we are of each other even in things such as beards, hijabs, birthdays, and having a personal opinion. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we pretend to be unified knowing full well that we are woefully divided according to race, ethnicity, class, tribe and economics.

It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that liking something is better than doing something. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that getting people to like us is a praiseworthy goal. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that wealth, fame and material success are the ways to obtain Allah’s pleasure. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we should blame all criticism of Muslims and islam on islamophobia and not consider that perhaps there are some things about our own behavior that contribute to people’s negative attitudes.  It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that the dead and living scholars about whom we fuss and argue and sever relationships are infallible or have been promised paradise.

It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that the best of you is the one who is the cutest, most handsome, has a perfect body or has the most money. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that men should assume the roles of women and women should assume the roles of men. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we need to refute every detractor, chase after every insult, or complain about every hardship. It doesn’t say anywhere is our scriptures that we demand our rights from society and ignore the rights of the poor, the needy , the oppressed and the indigent.

It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we question the words of Allah, and His Messenger (SAWS) but do not question the words of our politicians. it doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that one race of people are better than the other. It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we curse each other, and reveal what goes on in our bedrooms on the internet.  It doesn’t say anywhere in our scriptures that we should work so hard to change others and not admit or even entertain the idea that perhaps we need to change. Our scriptures are the Quran, and the authentic sunna of the Prophet (SAWS), and It doesn’t say any of that. – Imam Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a life long Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is the imam of a Northern California Mosque, a writer, consultant. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at salafiyyism the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

 

Top Ten Priorities For American Muslims in 2016, by Imam Luqman

image2016 Top Ten Priorities for American Muslims

(faith based list)

  1. Remove politics from the practice of our faith, and give the religion back to Allah. Everything we do in the name of our religion should be for the sake of Allah and not for the sake of our public image, for the sake of popularity, or for the sake of defraying criticism.
  2. Have an open and honest discussion about the racial divide in Muslim America. We have to be true to our faith and candidly address the issue of racial division in Muslim America. This will be a sober conversation. However, we can get through it and we will be much better off at the other end. It will free us from denial.
  3. Separate politics from the religion. We cannot serve two masters. In the midst of decrying that ISIS has hijacked our religion, our politics seems to have hijacked our morality.
  4. Give American Muslim Imams the autonomy to shepherd their communities according to what their own knowledge and experience tell them and not based upon some national consensus. The ones in America who need to be representing Muslims are the imams, not our political leaders. We need to let our imams assume their rightful roles as stewards of our faith, and not silence them or control what they can and cannot say.
  5. Stop emphasizing ‘American’ in everything we do and say. It doesn’t have to be; American Muslims do this, or American Muslims did that, or look at us; we are American Muslims! We need to stop that. At this point it’s overkill, and It getting old.
  6. To national Islamic, political, advocacy, and policy organizations; Stop presenting a single narrative of Muslim America that excludes indigenous African American, White, and Latino Muslims. No one has to right to represent all American Muslims. We are too diverse of a group with a diverse history, sentiments, understanding of moral priority and  different sense of politics.
  7. Stop sloganizing our religion and cease from using these stupid slogans and talking points; “somebody hijacked our religion”, “Islam is peace”, “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam”, “Islam is as American as apple pie”, “Islam is just like Chistianity”.
  8. Give up the idea of crafting a singular identity for American Muslims. Each Muslim American, if they don’t already have one, needs to simply get their own identity. It’s not that difficult you know. Making or crafting an identity summons images of Frankenstein, the Borg, or impersonating God, and I’m pretty sure its haram anyway.
  9. Stop denying that there are two Muslim Americas, one for immigrants and one for indigenous Muslims. The sooner we can accept our reality and deal with what needs to be dealt with, then the sooner we can move on as a people of faith.
  10. Stop thinking that you have to respond to every insult, and every criticism of Islam and Muslims.
  11. Find out the true identity of the person or persons who are in charge of the anti-Islamophobia campaign.

Top Priorities for American Muslims (Politically based list)

  1. Defeat islamophobia and crush the islamophobes once and for all.
  2. Do more networking with non-Muslim organizations so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  3. Do more charity work and get good press and pictures so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  4. Register one million voters so that we can create a Muslim voting block to target islamophobic politicians and defeat islamophobia.
  5. Make sure that America knows that Muslims are afraid of islamophobia so that people can take pity on us and we can defeat islamophobia.
  6. Hold more conferences with themes centered around islamophobia so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  7. Get more people to say good things about Muslims and perhaps target some celebrities and prominent Americans for this so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  8. Shut down any dissent from within the American Muslim community about the insanity in how we fight islamophobia so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  9. Keep talking about islamophobia so that Muslims will stay focused on islamophobia so that we can defeat islamophobia.
  10. Do more interfaith work, pray in more churches, consider celebrating Easter, and get better at denouncing terrorism, so that we can defeat islamophobia.

American born Luqman Ahmad, is a life long Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, and has been the Imam of a Northern California mosque for twenty years. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at salafiyyism the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He has written blog posts challenging ISIS, Anwar Awlaki, and BOKO Haram on his blog, imamluqman.wordpress.com.  The sentiments shared in this article are his own and not representative of any of his professional affiliations. He can be reached at, imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com

American Muslims vs. Islamophobia, Round 9, and He’s punching hard as ever!

I wrote this article 8 years ago, and haven’t altered a single word, except the title. [see original ] During the same period, we haven’t altered our approach to dealing with Islamophobia, except that we changed the definition of Islam from submission, to peace. Some of us are still sticking to the theory  that we can convince our Country to change the way it looks at Muslim Americans, while still maintaining that there is absolutely nothing in us that needs to change. I’m afraid that we’re going to have to change folks. There’s no way of getting around that.. Or we could simply keep using the same strategy, making the same demands, and thinking the same way, and in another 8 years, can have this conversation all over again.


 

Coverage of Muslims and Islam is a bread and butter media commodity. First amendment guarantees and free speech provisions in Western countries limit censorship based upon sensitivities of a particular religious group. Favorable coverage and dispassionate, objective editorial regarding Muslims and Islam is not an entitlement in the real world of the free press. Such is usually accomplished through paid advertising. Journalistic integrity competes with ratings and circulation value, and responsible reporting from one perspective is unwarranted media bias from another. Such happens when people think for themselves. Thus, it stands to reason that negative portrayal and contemptuous commentary of Muslims, and Islam in western media is an inextricable certainty of the industry, particularly in light of global events. Although it frequently angers Muslims, and evokes protest and condemnation, it is unlikely to go away. Nevertheless, as Muslims our concern is legitimate and the matter requires attention. The question is what type of attention?

Despite condemnation, various public relations overtures, civil rights actions and legal maneuvers, the anti-Muslim comment has not vanished. When will it end? How can we stop it? The truth is, there is no foreseeable end in sight, and if we continue to employ the same reactionary methods to change public opinion, or quell anti-Muslim statements, the problem will only exacerbate. Part of the conundrum is our reluctance to assume collective accountability for our condition. Another cause of the problem is conspicuous absence of Quranic and Prophetic guidance in our choice of tactics.

Slander, ill treatment, and negative perception of Muslims are not simply public relation challenges requiring conventional image re-tooling. Or a mere civil rights dilemma remedied by protest and letters to the editor, and certainly not just a constitutional infraction requiring a Bill of Rights refresher course. There are numerous geo-political, theological, and socio-environmental factors which determine how Muslims living in the United States are spoken of, spoken to, and treated. Overstating the scale and breadth of ill sentiment toward Muslims in America is counter productive. Disregarding the root causes is irresponsible. Ignoring it completely is a missed opportunity. Expecting positive results while failing to employ an Islamic ethical approach is a fantasy existing only in the quilt of our minds woven together with the threads of wishful thinking.

Ill sentiment and verbal attacks against Islam and some Muslims in the United States does occur. However, considering that there are about 5 million Muslims in America, the ratio of reported incidents of anti Muslim bias reported by CAIR is 40 out every 100,000, which is too low[1][1] to warrant priority one status.

Countering verbal disparagement with protest is a tactically flawed approach. In this year alone; there has been at least three major incidents (the cartoon satirizing our Prophet (SAWS), the Pope’s repeating a centuries old quotation, and the eight Imams who were unceremoniously escorted off an airplane) of verbal or public insult of Islam, the Prophet (SAWS) or Muslims. In each case there was protest, vociferous indignation, and demands for retraction or apologies. Yet, in each case, indignation yielded no measurable improvement of Muslim image or cessation of anti-Muslim bias or speech. Additionally, the principal sentiment fueling the response was anger. In all but the last incident, response resulted in the loss of innocent life. It is ironic that anger is the very emotion that warrants suppression according to the islamic ethical code.

A greater irony is that in each case, media characterization of Muslim response was replete with words like, “rage”, “fury”, and “anger”. I personally do not recall any headlines that captioned; “Muslims love for their Prophet caused them to… “or the love of Allah fuels protest”, or, Muslim expresses their love for Islam by boycotting….” Thus from a strategic perspective, response netted negligible dividend. To consider whatever dialogue that followed as tangible gain is a misleading since doctrinal polemics between Islam and other faiths have existed for over 1400 years. In the game of image politics, celebratory elation when a detractor agrees to your petition to dialogue is a sophisticated and sanitized form of humiliation. It messages a craving for legitimacy. The compulsive rush to defend criticism implies that there is truth in it.

Islamic canonical law does not prescribe recrimination as a response to verbal affront which carry no judicial or legal consequence. Unflattering words are not repelled by the same; on the contrary, evil is only repelled by justice. “Nor can goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!”[2][2] Ibn Abbaas said: “Allah (God) summons the Muslim community to exercise patience when angry, benevolence in the face of ignorance, and pardon when offended. If people did that, Allah would protect them from the Devil”[3][3]. If countering verbal disparagement with protest and reciprocal assault is righteousness, then to do the opposite constitutes unrighteousness. Obviously, such a hypothesis contradicts Prophetic guidance. The example of the Prophet (SAWS) in responding to verbal disparagement against himself, His Lord, or Muslims was to exercise restraint.

The dangerous theological implications of the protest approach seem to escape consideration. Understandably we are frustrated by the incessant degrading, slaughter, and humiliation of Muslims. However, although anger, insult and frustration are causes of moral infraction in Islamic law, they are unacceptable justifications for it. Otherwise, emotion would outrank divine injunction as the primary criterion of good conduct. Such a notion is heresy according to orthodox Muslim theology

Prioritization of anti-Muslim bias as a premiere issue over Muslim intra-religious hostility and sectarianism transposes the divine contractual assignment of Islamic law. It creates a reverse moral assumptive whereas intra-religious sectarianism is an acceptable paradigm while anti Muslim bias is not. The latter is declared intolerable to the degree of public protest, indignant response, and central billing in Friday sermons, while the former warrants no such attention, although it ranks amongst the category of major sins in Islam. Stoicism in the face of verbal invective is virtue while the Muslim slander of Muslim is depravity and Muslim on Muslim killing approaches heresy. “Slander of a Muslim is depravity and killing him is heresy”.

Therefore, by what moral rationale do we address anti-Muslim sentiment in the press, which by itself bears no spiritual penalty for Muslims if left unattended, and not devote similar attention to Muslim on Muslim killing and slander which register sin by occurrence, and sin when allowed to continue. “Verily the believers are a single brotherhood therefore make peace between your brethren and fear Allah so ye may receive mercy”[4][4].

Since verbal disparagement against Muslims and Islam is an inevitable occurrence, Islamic spiritual etiquette emphasizes preparing in advance for its contingency and utilizing deflective buffering if and when it happens. “Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves; and ye shall certainly Hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that will be a determining factor in all affairs!”[5][5] Hence, no shock or dismay should follow slanderous, negative, or degrading statements about Muslims especially in environments where we are religious minorities, such as the United States. As a rule Muslims should resist grieving over verbal insult, “Let not their speech, then, grieve thee. Verily We know what they hide as well as what they disclose[6][6]

When verbal and media denigration occurs, there are scriptural analgesics that buffer and counteract psychological, emotional, or spiritual irritation. “And have patience with what they say, and leave them with noble (dignity)”[7][7]. Dignified detachment rekindles spiritual fortitude and prioritizes inner jihad. Self control and spiritual focus does more to convey the noble attributes of Islamic teachings than hypersensitivity and angered reaction to disparagement. It brings forth divine assurance of blessing and guidance which in significantly more rewarding than emotional capitulation to antagonist sentiments. “Those who, when afflicted with calamity say:To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return. They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance”.[8][8] Blessings and mercy is better than anguish and consternation.

Frenzied retort to anti-Muslim speech underscores the need for Muslim moral attentiveness, and bolsters the argument for reform. Not reform of Islam as suggested by many, but reform of the Muslim heart so that behavior response conforms to Islamic teachings and pleasing the Creator takes precedence over pleasing the created. If there is truth in the verbal invectives launched against us, then reminder is a timely utility since remembrance benefits the believer. If it is false, with no basis in truth, we praise Allah that we are free of it. Demanding that people not insult or speak ill of Muslims only bolsters animosity. It may occasionally silence the tongue, but it has little effect on the heart of the antagonist. Public criticism when muffled turns into whispers (was’wasa) which though lower in decibel, is exponentially more insidious. Let’s leave response to insult to Allah and concentrate on our own salvation. “If good fortune comes to you, it grieves them; and if evil befalls you, they rejoice in it. But if you are patient in adversity and conscious of God, their guile cannot harm you at all: for, verily, Allah encompasses [with His might] all that they do.[9][9]” The sooner we do this, the better. Otherwise we will find ourselves inducted into a war of words in which entry itself assures moral casualty.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Imam and Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, California. He is also a founding member of COSVIO (Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book; ‘The Devils Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect’ available on Amazon.com. He can be reached at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com. http://www.masjidibrahim.com.

[1][1] 1972 incidents of anti-Muslim bias were reported in 2005 according to a 2006 CAIR Report.
[2][2] Quran, 41:34.
[3][3] Jaami’ Ah’kaam al-Quran, al-Qurtubi, Vol. 10, p. 236 Darul Kotob al-Ilmiyyah.
[4][4] Quran, 49:13
[5][5] Quran, 3:186
[6][6] Quran, 36:78
[7][7] Quran, 73:10
[8][8] Quran, 2:156-157
[9][9] 3:120

 

The Life and Afterlife Benefits of Raising your children upon the Moral Standards of Islam, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

children_of_muslim_ummah_by_ademmmA lot of pundits are weighing in on how we should raise our children these days. I say; let the pundits have their say. Because as Muslims, we already have our way. (Didn’t really mean to rhyme but…) The beautiful thing about raising Muslim children, or raising your children to be Muslim, is that your children will one day, in sha Allah, grow up to be adults, and end up being not just your children, but your brothers and sisters in Islam.  Now, you not only have children but you have companions, who are in sha Allah, righteous. You’ll still love them as your children, and as your companions, but you’ll love them for their values and their righteousness, and they will be not only your children, and your companions, but they’ll be your friends. Once you have done that, then you will have done justice to their fitra (natural state) upon which Allah entrusted them to you;

مَا مِنْ مَوْلُودٍ إِلاَّ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ، فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ

There is no child except that he is born in a state of “Fitrah”, then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian” (Collected by Al-Bukhari).

When you raise them correctly, with the proper values, and with the sense of morality, knowing right from wrong, you’ll find that they will acquire wisdom at a younger age than most, and now you not only have children, but wise companions and friends whom you can trust. Then, as they grow older, and have their own children, they will take the values that you taught them and instilled in them, and use these same values to raise their own children. At that point, they will have learned to be grateful for what you taught them, because now as parents, they will find themselves armed with guidance, precedence, and a valuable parental skillset. They will be grateful, and so will you in sha Allah. When this happens, you can expect an increase in your life, and in your children’s lives;

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ

And remember! Your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed.” 14:7

This sense of gratitude to Allah and the increase from Him that accompanies gratitude will, in turn, compel your children who are now your brothers and sisters in Islam, to appreciate you even more, appreciate the value of that religious knowledge and guidance that you imparted to them, and to thank Allah. Even at this juncture you will see your children in compliance with the word;

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَى وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ

“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal”. [31:14].

All this is ni’ma [grace], and it is now flowing through your family line. This appreciation and value of religious knowledge will compel your children to pass down the faith and knowledge that you imparted to them. They will be anxious to spend the wealth of knowledge which they inherited from you. They won’t wait until you are gone, they’ll start teaching and raising their children upon the deen of Islam, from the very beginning when they call the athaan in their child’s ear. It will continue through the aqeeqa, and their whisperings of Allah holy and beautiful names into their children’s ears even as they are suckling, and through their first wudu, or rak’at of prayer beside you. They are just following your path, and what you taught them.

“Whosoever does a good Sunnah he will get the reward for it and the reward from other people doing the same thing until the Day of Judgment”. [Collected by Muslim] All of this is the Grace and Mercy of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala.

With all this abundance of grace, mercy, and goodness that your children are now seeing with their own eyes, your children will  love you even more, and appreciate you even more, not just for raising them,  but for nurturing them in true faith. Now you, your children, and your grandchildren will be on the same path of Islam. Three generations of laa ilaaha illa Allah, and counting.  There is a feeling like that of a parent who sees what they have taught, embodied in their children, and in their grandchildren, and God willing, their great grandchildren.

And if it is decreed by God that He extends your life, you will see your values, the values of Islam, being passed down to your grandchildren, by the children that you have raised on the minhaj of the Prophet , such a sight will warm your heart, and bring tears to your eyes, and you will thank Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, because you will feel reasonably secure in the knowledge that were you to die at that very moment, that laa ilaaha illa Allah, has already passed from you to future generations.

أَمْ كُنتُمْ شُهَدَاء إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ إِذْ قَالَ لِبَنِيهِ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن بَعْدِي قَالُواْ نَعْبُدُ إِلَـهَكَ وَإِلَـهَ آبَائِكَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَقَ إِلَـهًا وَاحِدًا وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ

Were ye witnesses when death appeared before Jacob? Behold, he said to his sons: “What will ye worship after me?” They said: “We shall worship Thy Allah and the Allah of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma’il and Isaac,- the one (True) Allah. To Him we bow (in Islam).” [2:133]

When Allah does decide to take your soul (and He has already decided when), he may bless you to leave some or all of those children behind. You will be in your grave, and all of your deeds will have stopped, and nothing else is added to your scale, except for perpetual charity, beneficial knowledge that you have left behind (yes, this included what you imparted to your children), and the prayers of your children for you after you have passed on to the next life.

It doesn’t stop there. If, by Allah’s mercy, He allows you entrance into His Eternal Garden, you will not be alone. For your family who followed you in righteousness will join you. At that point, you will know for a fact that your dedication and perseverance in raising your children in righteousness, upon the Quran and Sunna of the Prophet , was worth it, despite the hardship, the occasional headache, the difficulty, and the cost.

Finally, by living a righteous life according to the standards and morals of Islam, and raising our children as such, and they in turn, raising their children the same way, we may have the opportunity by Allah’s  opportunity, to be rejoined with the righteous of our families, in the afterlife.

جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ يَدْخُلُونَهَا وَمَنْ صَلَحَ مِنْ آبَائِهِمْ وَأَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَذُرِّيَّاتِهِمْ وَالمَلاَئِكَةُ يَدْخُلُونَ عَلَيْهِم مِّن كُلِّ بَابٍ سَلاَمٌ عَلَيْكُم بِمَا صَبَرْتُمْ فَنِعْمَ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ

Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring: and angels shall enter unto them from every gate (with the salutation): “Peace be upon you,(salaamun alaikum) because you have patiently persevered!” How excellent, then, this fulfilment in the hereafter! [13:23]

It is in this final moment, after you have persevered, held fast to your faith, imparted it to your family, and met with the pleasure of Allah, and His forgiveness, that you are granted permission to enter the gates of paradise. Then, the angels will enter upon you and your family from every door, saying: :salaamu alaikum, because you have patiently persevered:  At this point, it all becomes clear. The struggle is over, there is no more reckoning, there is no more judgement, and you have finally arrived at your destination.

Thus beloveds, window of opportunity to raise your children is small, and it will close without waiting for you to make up your mind, or to experiment with all of the nuanced studies. Raising your children in righteousness and Islam during these times is difficult for some, unpopular by many, and certainly not fashionable in this age. However, considering what is at stake, it is certainly well worth it; by any means necessary.

 

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento California. He can be reached at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com.

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