Why Black American Muslim and Convert Communities are Headed Towards Extinction, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Humanity-Extinction.jpg

There is ample evidence that American Muslim convert communities in the United States, the majority of whom are Black American converts to Islam, 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, taboo topic, unsettling at best. If any of it is true, which I believe it is, then we’ve got a crisis on our hands of civilizational proportion. There is no intelligent way to ignore this conversation.

Many folks prefer that American Muslim converts are oblivious to their own realities, especially when it comes to the decline of convert communities. Some people, even some converts, would rather that the convert community look at the world through the eyes of others, and not through their own reality.  My own discussions with Imams and thousands of Muslims across the United States confirms that Black American Muslims are on a a precipitous and steady civilizational decline without a doubt. That is the reality on the ground. You can swim in denial all you want. However, there is very little to no evidence to the contrary. Nevertheless, there seems to be data that shows that the American Muslim convert community, a community already fractionalized, marginalized, and historically disadvantaged because of race, are at great risk of extinction, and here’s why.

Black American Muslims, who constitute the overwhelming majority of converts to Islam in America, rank dead last on every socio-economic barometer that measures well being in the United States of America. This does not change when they convert to Islam. Add to that the terrible burden of marginalization and near civilizational irrelevancy by the rest of the Muslim world, near zero growth as a religious demographic and it all adds up to an undeniable path towards extinction. That’s the way it looks on the ground based on the information we have. More isn’t studied about it because quite simply, Converts to Islam, specifically Black American converts to Islam, to most, even to themselves, simply aren’t worth the time or the investment, and it’s hard to say otherwise with a straight face. By all accounts as far as I can see, our own survival doesn’t matter to us unless someone else is willing to pay the cost, do the work, and hold our hand, and there’s no one else left, who is willing to do that.

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 Black American Muslim 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 exuberantly 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.

As pop psychology replaces scripture, and the absence of generational continuity of Islam becomes common amongst younger Muslim generations, our ability to build Muslim communities for the future will be greatly compromised. The foundation of Islam is crumbling in Black Muslim America. The Quran and prophetic tradition are no longer the go to documents for guidance. 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 indigenous peoples, particularly, the descendants of slaves. That trend is changing but the effects are already in place and has had generational consequence. People are waking up, but they are waking up to a deeply entrenched chaos. Like someone bragging about and admiring their house for years and they suddenly realize that the contractor misled them, and that the house is infested with termites, the electrical system were the wrong specs, and that the septic system has been backed up for months.

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

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

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

It’s not so much worrying about who Allah will hold accountable for it because Allah will hold all of us, everyone for everything according to how He sees fit. It’s more a matter of recognizing the trending decline of our communities and coming up with strategies, for stemming the decline and for 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. It is tragic when people enter into this faith and fail to pass it down to their children, or sometimes not even fully embrace it themselves. even worse when people live their Islam through someone else’s reality without never having experienced its core beauty.

In order to fully engage your Islam so that it becomes more than a bevy of regurgitated slogans, and faddish adaptations that you pick up and then discard later, you have to believe in it in its totality, and practice it as a lifestyle. However, the secret to it all which is reality is not a secret at all is that you must be engaged with Allah; that you must worship Him Alone without partners. The best way to understand our history is to hear from those who were present, or those who heard from those who were present. Three things we should focus on if we are to stem the tide towards civilizational decline in my opinion. 1. Generational continuity. 2. Preservation of our history. 3. Congregation. Without these three, any way forward is murky at best. Wal Allahul 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, researcher and consultant. He is presently an associate Imam and khateeb at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo, Ohio. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), Imam at Mosque Without Borders, and the author of the new book “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States. He also authored, “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at modern-day extremist salafi 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

A Short History of How Tawheed [Islamic Monotheism] Survived in America Since Slavery.

cropped-shahada-finger.jpgThis has nothing to do with being anti-immigrant. We are all brothers and sisters in Islam, and the most honored person to Allah is the one with the most taqwa. This has to do with a right of a historically oppressed and marginalized people to think and act in the best interests of their religion and of tawheed. Every people has the right and the obligation to speak the truth, seek the truth, and to realize what has been harmful for them and what has proved beneficial for them. The colonial-like existence as second-class Muslims in a country that we helped build, has not proven beneficial for us. Not by a long shot. And its time to let it go.

Many Muslims are woefully unaware of the history of African Americans and Islam in the United States. Some people might even prefer if we simply dismiss our history and not talk about it, not think about it, or even worse, let someone else tell it for us their way. However, none of these are viable options. People’s history helps shape their present and their future, by the permission of Allah and by His decree. When black slaves were brought to this country in chains. Everything was stripped from them; their possessions, their language, their culture, their family ties, their history, and their religion. Of all that was taken from them, the only thing that was not completely gutted out of them was tawheed. Tawheed remained, and still remains in many people who are not yet Muslim.

The idea that there is only One God remained intact for millions of black slaves and freedmen, just as it does to this very day. About half the people who convert to Islam already believe that there is only One God. Even when slaves were given and many times forced to convert to Christianity, they did so under threat of the whip or threat of death, but they still believed in tawheed. As African Americans started to hear of and be exposed to Islam in it’s pure state, millions upon millions of them converted to Islam; a process that continues to this very day, except that now, the original Islam is often mutated into other isms, and other people’s additions. So now, there is so much more that is added to the original Islam; the splintering ideologies, the sectarianism, the racism, the colonial mindset, the international politics, the suppression of independent thought, that it is sometimes hard to see the original Islam of the Prophet ﷺ through all of the additions.

Also, another problem today is that African Americans increasingly see their Muslim counter-parts as a subjugated people under the authority of Muslim immigrants. How much that is true is a matter of debate, but there is no mistaking the pervasive perception amongst African Americans that we as Muslims have adopted a religion that condones racism and racial subjugation of one race over the other. This problematic perception is exacerbated and turns into reality when people actually end up converting to islam and find that as blacks they are seen and treated as an inferior Muslims by many immigrant Muslims.

The attraction to Islam by millions of ex-slave generations is not a coincidence, although some would like you to think so. It is part of a greater plan to rescue our religion and to uplift and enlighten the minds of Muslims across the globe. Islam is supposed to be our greatest unifier, and it still can be.  Islam can be our greatest unifier but that will not happen until we are all on equal footing and have equal respect for each other and each other’s ideas and viewpoints.

I remember back in the day growing up as a Muslim in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; back then our neighborhoods were divided by territory and you had gangs; Haines street, Brickyard, the Clang, Summerville, Pulaski Town, 22nd and Diamond, Norris Street, Camac and Diamond, and so on. There was nothing that united African Americans from different parts of the city – at least in Philadelphia –  more than Islam. Nothing even came close. When we started to differ over Islam; especially over imported versions of it, well, things got progressively worse. We argued over Ahmadiyyism, we argued over Shiism, and later we argued over the Fuqra Movement, the Jamaa’atul Tabligh, then salafiyyism. Now it’s different brands of Sufism, and other sub-ideologies of Islam. It’s not so much that we argue over these things; it is that each one of the ones  mentioned require that we pay homage and obedience to a foreign element and also sets limitations that no African American can rise above the master headquartered abroad either in knowledge, in thought and in the ability to lead.

For the African American ex-slave community there is nothing that binds us together more than Islam; more than race, more than nationality, more than cities of origin, more than class, tribe, clan or lingo. Islam trumps everything for us. This is why it is imperative that we not fight the ideological proxy wars imposed on us from abroad. I know this is a hard pill for some to swallow, but it is the truth nevertheless.

In sha Allah one day more of us will see the game that’s been played on us. It’s deep that we let these jokers flim-flam us into fighting their ideological proxy wars on our home soil like we’re unpaid Muslim mercenaries. I say that we straight up drop just about every one of these foreign spheres of ideological influence and stick to the Quran and the Sunna. We should do that for at least a generation and a half and see how that works out for us. We can always go back to imitating the fractionalized Muslim world if Quran and the Sunna alone do not work for us. We can always bring back the made up titles and the auxiliary up brands of Islam.  All I’m saying is that Islam is not Black, it is not White, it is not Arab, not Asian, and not Oriental. Islam is the religion of Allah and it transcends everything. That’s the point.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, patriot, and until recently, has been the Imam of a Northern California mosque for twenty years. Recently he headed up a new organization (Islamic Center of Del Paso Heights) to address the needs of Muslims, specifically new Muslim converts in the United States. 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 modern extremist salafiyyism, the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He blogs at, 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@icdph.org.

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.

 

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

 

Audio Khutba: Quran; The Divine Inheritance of Every Believer, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

quran up closeRemember beloveds, that as Muslims, we have the divine, God given right, to take from the Quran, and from the authentic sunna of our Prophet ﷺ, anything, and everything, that benefits us in our religion, and in our lives, and no imam, sheikh, scholar, fatwa, or leader of any group, has the right or authority, to prevent us, or prohibit us, from doing that. “And whatsoever the messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it). And keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is stern in reprisal”. [59:7] We were given the Book; it is our inheritance. “Then We have given the Book for inheritance to such of Our Servants as We have chosen: but there are among them, some who wrong their own souls; some who follow a middle course; and some who are, by Allah’s leave, foremost in good deeds; that is the highest Grace”. [35:32] We are first and foremost, servants of God and God alone.This is the topic of this khutbatul Jum’ah recorded at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento. Click on the link to take a listen. Wal Allahul Musta’aan.

Free Audio Khutba: The Incredible Value of Good Adab, by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

Adab 1There is no minimizing the importance of good adab (manners) for it forms the foundation of good character. This is the topic of this khutbatul Jum’ah recorded at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento California. Click on the link below to listen. Wal Allahul Musta’aan.

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Audio Khutba: The Keys to Mental and Emotional Health from The Quran and the Sunna, Part Two, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

mental healthMental and emotional wellbeing are two important elements necessary for one’s Islam to be healthy and morally functional. Many times, mental and emotional imbalances are spiritual ailments and the Quran and the sunna are full of directives for how to achieve mental and emotional health. Anger, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and psychopathic behavior can all be factors in moral dysfunction. To learn about the clinical solution, visit your health professional. To hear about the Islamic solution, click on the link to this khutba.

001_A_005_abulaith_The keys to psychological and emotional health part two_2012_12_28

A guide for Muslim converts: How to give your children a strong moral foundation, by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Me and MaryamI cannot stress enough beloveds, the importance of strong families. Never neglect family ties, regardless of what religion family members have. Don’t even play around with it when it comes to strengthening and preserving the family. “O Mankind! Fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allaah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allaah is ever, over you, an Observer”[1].When communities fall short, become fragmented, or fail, the religion can be preserved on the family by holding onto and passing down the values and teachings of faith to the next generation. and the next after that.  When you invest in the family, what you end up with, in sha Allah is, generation after generation of eemaan. You can’t buy that at a halal store, you can’t download it from the internet, and you can’t mix it up in a mixing bowl. You have to strive for it, pray for it and make it a priority. In order to have strong believing families, you must build your immediate family structure upon belief in Allah and in His oneness (tawheed).

It is important from the very beginning that everyone in your immediate family; your wife, your children, and all other members of your household are aware without a doubt that the reigning law and source of order within your home, is Islam.  With that in mind, you must establish the prescribed prayer with your family, your wife and the children of your household. Your children must see that you bow your head down to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. In doing so, they will know that you as parents, are accountable to Him (Allah). If they see that you are accountable to Allah, they will find it easier and more palatable to be accountable to you as parents. If there is no prayer in your home, then it is almost assured that Shaitaan will soon become the imam of your household.

It is the sunna of the Prophet (SAWS) to call yourself a Muslim. Therefore, try not to teach your children to attach themselves to tightly to a sectarian, or strict madhhabi  designation such as, Shaafi’ee, Qaadiri, Tijaani, Tablighi, Salafi Hanbali, Maaliki, or any other designation. Teach them that they are Muslim. Even if you happen to follow a particular school of thought or a tariqa be it Shaafi’ee, or Maaliki, or Shaadhili, or if you ascribe to a group such as Salafi, or a Tablighi, or anything else, do not, and I repeat, do not teach your children that anything represents the totality of Islam, other than Islam.  If you teach them that your group are the only true Muslims, or that if they follow this or that tariqa or madhhab, there Islam will be better than everyone else’s, then you will only confuse and mislead them; as many people are already doing.

The best of the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) loathed sectarianism and ran away from it. They sahaba never called the people to follow anything other than the way of Allah and the way of the Prophet (SAWS). They didn’t call themselves salafi, Shaafi’ee, Qaadiri, or any other designation except Muslims. Don’t be fooled beloved; in today’s global environment, people who raise their children based upon a particular sect are just experimenting; there is no evidence that such a thing has worked. We don’t pray to grandpa in America; that’s someone else’s path. The true religion of Allah will always be Islam and the only one of our ummah who is ma’soom (free of error) is Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, the Last Prophet (SAWS). Teach your children to live according to the Quran and the Sunna beloveds, anything else is just someone else’s experimentation, for which Allah has revealed no authority.

Claiming the religion of Islam as your religion has more depth, longevity, and spiritual potency than any of the other sectarian additions to it. This is because Islam, in its pure form is sanctioned from above seven heavens and is supported by the authority of wahy (divine revelation) .

إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللّهِ الإِسْلاَمُ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ الَّذِينَ أُوْتُواْ الْكِتَابَ إِلاَّ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ

The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will):  And the People of the Book did not differ except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account[2].

 The Prophet (SAWS) was, without a doubt, sent to all of mankind, as Allah states:;

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا

“Say; O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah”[3]

The Prophet’s way and path of faith (sunna),  is applicable for all Peoples and for all times. However, this or that sheikh, companion, taabi’ee, or imam , were not dispatched to all people as a mercy to mankind. Therefore, the cultural, ritual, and spiritual additions to our religion that are practiced elsewhere in the world, are not necessarily    beneficial for American Muslim converts who wish to practice the religion in its pure, unadulterated form.

Most of the people who have convert to Islam, didn’t sign up for all the polemics, infighting and sectarianism that exists today. They didn’t envision that the ummah would become stagnated because we are too busy arguing and fighting over someone else’s point of view. It’s a shame that people come into Islam out of sincerity to worship Allah alone without partners and are almost immediately met with a litany of groups, scholars and positions that they are pressured to pay homage to, when in reality; people are only commanded to worship Allah Alone, and to make the religion for His sake only.  .

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاء وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَذَلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ

And they have been commanded no more than this: To worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to practice regular charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight[4].

The point is, that if you teach your children the truth, (the Quran and the sunna), you don’t have to spend a lot of time teaching them about all the falsehood that they may or may not encounter during their lifetime, or teaching them about all the different sects and ways that people do this or that. There is no end to the amount of falsehood, difference of opinion, deviant and orthodox ideology, and opinions in circulation amongst the Muslims. Of course as things come up, you may comment upon it to your kids, (if neccessary), or explain it to them but in most cases, children will depend upon the parent to simply raise them right and teach them correctly the first time. Their time on earth is limited just like ours, and the more truth they know (from the Kitaab and the Sunna) and the more they are aware of what is important; (prayer, fasting, family bonds, goodness to neighbors, charity, honesty, loyalty, taqwa, kindness, family, the Masjid, brotherhood, and so on), then the more time and energy they can devote to practicing it and preparing for their hereafter. There are so many aspects of deen that children grow up and know nothing about.  Whether it is family issues, moral value issues, character issues, adaab issues, belief issues, fiqh issues, social issues, or simple lifestyle issues upon which Allah and His Messenger have rendered guidance.

The idea is to pass the religion and foundational knowledge of Islam down to your children in a way that will help them to remain firm in their faith, and in their practice of Islam, and not find themselves going from sub-ideology of Islam to another. Ultimately what you want for your family is generational continuity of Islam as a way of life.  Or constantly questioning this and then questioning that, and questioning what they believe, every time something new comes on the scene, like many Muslims are doing today. It’s really a sad situation. When children are put upon firm and true deen from the very beginning, it is likely that they will not be swayed or moved by anything different. Whether it be a different madhhab, or a deviant ideology. You don’t want your children to end up being like the people who spend more time arguing about the deen, than they spend practicing it. Children are born in a state of fitrah, The Prophet (SAWS) said: “Each child is born in a state of fitrah, but his parents make him a Jew or a Christian”.[5]  Muslim parents have the opportunity and are charged with keeping their children upon the straight path that Allah has created them upon; the prophet (SAWS) reported about Allah be He Exalted and Glorified, that He said:  “I created My servants in the right religion, but the devils made them go astray.[6]” Children by their very nature are predisposed to take the path that their parents put them on. When they are exposed by the parents to too many different truths, or too many different religious ideologies, they will not be secure in their faith. Once they become insecure in their faith, they are likely to fall for anything.

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is 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.


[1] Quran, 4:1.

[2] Quran, 3:19

[3] Quran, 7:158

[4] Quran, 98:5

[5] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[6] Collected by Muslim.

Can Muslims Create an American Identity? By Imam Luqman Ahmad

The Muslim American reality in the United States as it stands today is a relatively new phenomenon. The jury is still out regarding what our domestic identity as a religious minority will eventually be in the United States, and it depends on a variety of circumstances and how we as individuals, as disparate groups, and as a religious minority collective, decide to move forward.  Identities take place through the natural process of social evolution, and ultimately, it is a behavioral issue, and a historical narrative, not a public relations issue. When Muslims attempt to create a sanitized apple pie version of an American Muslim identity, then the audacity of such an attempt becomes itself, part of our identity.

Muslims have been a part of America’s social fabric since the 1600’s when the first Muslims were brought here as slaves. A domestic identity is not something that you create in a laboratory, or stage for public consumption as if you are on a Hollywood soundstage; people’s identities are real, and personal. That’s the American way. It is a culmination of who, and what you are as a people. With that respect, there are many types of Muslims with different histories, different agenda’s and social realities, and different ways of looking at themselves. All of that combined; make up a people’s identity. There are indigenous African American Muslims who are Sunni orthodox and have been practicing a purely American brand of Islam for decades; that’s an identity, and there are other converts who need a sanction from a sheikh, 10.000 miles away in order to make daily life decisions; that’s another identity.

There are Muslim immigrants who are insecure about who they are, and have yet to find their place in American society; that’s an identity, and there are other immigrants Sunni, and Shiite, who have found their place as Americans and have never looked back; that’s an identity. There are new arrivals of Afghani, and Iraqi refugees from the war who are just trying to find some peace and a simple new life without killing, and they have their own identity. There are conservatives, there are liberals, there are democrats, republicans and independents; these are identities. There is working class, middle class and well to do American Muslims that all have their own identity. Some Muslims are devoutly religious and some not so much, and each has their own distinct identity.

American Muslims have come from many diverse paths that led them to where we are today. The notion that a singular, made for the media consumption, Muslim identity can be crafted by a few American Muslim intellectuals (mostly of foreign descent), is absurd, problematic, and misleading. We are who we are; with our differences, our problems, our successes, and our failures. We are all American Muslims with our different politics, backgrounds, proclivities, pastimes, lifestyles and ways of being American.  That’s the real identity of American Muslims. In the year 2012, the fact that Muslims are still talking about crafting an American identity, underscores just how much many Muslims misunderstand American society, and the reality of American independence and individualism.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Imam of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento Ca. He can be reached @ imamabulaith@yahoo.com

The Islamic Ruling Regarding Celebrating the Fourth of July Independence Day By Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

Independence Day is an American National Holiday in the United States. You could call it a political holiday, a moral holiday, a celebration of freedom, a celebration of a slave trading new nation, sign that the war of Independence was almost over, (its wasn’t quite over yet), you can call it national display of hypocrisy.  One thing it is not; is a religious holiday.
There is no Independence God that’s worshipped on that day. There are no mandatory rituals that anyone is obliged to do. There is no heresy (kufr) committed by a Muslim who observes it, celebrates it, pops off those darn expensive and loud fireworks or has a barbeque in his or her back yard on July 4th.
Actually, July 4th is the day that the continental congress agreed to the wording of the Declaration of Independance, they didn’t actualy sign the documeny until August 2nd, of 1776
The overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans participate in some form or another, either actively or passively, in the celebration of Independence Day on July 4th.
There is no set law that     says you must be at a certain place or perform a certain ritual on independence day. Which is one reason why  cannot even consider it a religious holiday. People who claim that they hate it and have nothing to do with it, accept the overtime pay, or the paid day off, or the discounted sale items in the stores on that day. So whether it is cooking out, taking off from work and getting paid, lighting or watching fireworks, having picnics, attending family civic, or cultural events on that day, taking advantage of July Fourth sales at the mall, or simply using it as a holiday where you close your business, stay at home and rest, there is hardly any Muslim who lives in the United States who does not take part, benefit, or some way observe Independence Day. There are people who use the day as a time of protest. Still they are observing the day and benefit from our independence..

Not all Americans make a big deal out of the day; after all its just one day of the year, and it has become part of our nature, for many people not to not make a big deal about such holidays. However there is an undertone of uneasiness on the part of some Muslims in that even though they participate in the events of the day, there is something unislamic about it. Other people condemn the holiday, and any Muslim that participates in it in any way. This is because of the many opinions circulating which prohibit any commemoration of Independence Day, condemning anything and everything that has to do with America or being American. There are Muslims who will bristle with indignation if you even refer to them as an American.

Can certain days of the year be considered haram?

It has become common for some people to declare this or that day haram without making any distinction between the day itself, and the activities that may occur or that has occurred on that particular day. Some muslim have gone as far to say that the Independence Day itself, is haram which makes no sense at all because it is not possible to make any day haram since all of the days on the earth belong to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, and regardless of whether one celebrates Independence day or not, or whether or not one even acknowledges Independence day, the truth of the matter is, that the United State of America was declared an independent republic on July 4th, 1776.

From the shariah point of view, days are decreed by Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala , and made subject to human beings to do in them as they will. “And He hath made subject to you the sun and the moon, both diligently pursuing their courses; and the night and the day hath he (also) made subject to you.[1]Thus, all of the days and all of the nights, all the weeks, months and years belong to Allah. Human beings will continue to have day and nights and handle their affairs therein, until Allah decides otherwise. Therefore when discussing what holidays are permissible or prohibited, it’s not the day itself which is in question; it’s the activity that one engages in on that particular day which desires a ruling.

The reasons why some of them say that celebrating Independence Day is prohibited

The problem is that a surprising number of religious edicts or fataawa rendered upon people, events and circumstances which occur in the United States are made by scholars who are qualified and astute in their own regard, but are woefully uniformed about the details and social-cultural minutia of life in the United States of America. Subsequently, many rulings are made that are faulty and harm the Muslim in areas of their faith rather than benefit them. This phenomenon is one of the causes of American Muslim moral dysfunction.This problem is further exacerbated when we see that in many Muslim countries, holidays other than the two Eids are celebrated with the consent of the scholars while some of the same scholars, render prohibitions against Muslims celebrating anything besides the two Eids here in the United States.Many fataawa are targeted specifically towards converts here in America while ignoring other Muslims who are not converts.

Some of the same scholars who prohibit imitating the kuffaar, cooperating with them, and so on, have no problem coming here to live in our suburbs or for study, or sending their children to some of our countries top universities, or participating in cultural events held in our country.Thus, the many fataawa in circulation that prohibit the celebration or even the recognition of Independence Day, are rulings are made by scholars who are well intended in sha Allah, but are ignorant of American culture and uninformed of what separates religion from civics in our country. Failure to acknowledge independence day is ludicrous because it is indeed a real and annual occurrence in the United States; people get paid holidays, there are thousands of celebrations and commemorations held all over the country, and it a day that appears on every calendar. Whether or not a person acknowledges it or not is irrelevant; the fact of the matter is that it does exist.

Another reason is that they say that it forbidden is that they say it is a celebration of non-Muslims. That is another fallacy; Muslims have been on this land (the United States) since before it became a republic. An estimated 30% of the slaves who helped build this country were Muslim, and Muslims have been participants in July fourth celebration in one way or another for decades. American Muslims whether they have long lineage here in the United States or whether they are recent immigrants have just as much right to America as anyone else, and they are free to participate in the cultural affairs and norms of our country as long as they are not disobeying Allah and His Messenger (SAWS). There are no verses in the Quran or ahaadeeth of the Prophet (SAWS) which prohibit the celebration of one’s independence. The Prophet (SAWS) used to encourage the freeing of the slave and the eradication of tyranny. American independence was a step in that direction and therefore worthy of celebration.

Another reason some people make celebration of independence day prohibited is the hadith of the Prophet (SAWS): “Allah has given you better than those (feasts): Eid al-Adha and the ‘Eid al-Fitr[2], However in this case, the Prophet (SAWS) replaced the pagan holidays that were practiced in Medina with the two Eids, and both, the previous jaahiliyyah[3] practices, and the two Eids, had religious significance. However, the hadith is a statement (khabr) in the form of a command since both Eids are Fard kifaaya, and the hadith is in no way a prohibition (nahiy) of anything except that an abrogated the pagan holidays that existed at the time. There is no indication no indication in the hadith that the Prophet (SAWS) forbade Muslims from participating in other non-religious holidays, events or joyful occurrences, and this was not the understanding of the majority of the companions nor of the Salaf.

Another faulty fatwa states that anytime a non-Muslim is happy, then it is the obligation of the Muslim to be unhappy at the happiness of a non-Muslim. Unfortunately, I’m not making this up. Nevertheless, there is nothing in the Quran or in the authentic Sunna that indicates that a Muslim is required to be miserable anytime a non-Muslim is happy or in a good mood. If that was the case, then all of the Muslims in the world would be required to be perpetually miserable since considering that there are over 4 billion non-Muslims on the planet; it is assured that at least one of them would be happy on any given day.

The Ruling of why celebrating Independence Day is permissible.

The celebration of Independence Day is not a Christian, Jewish or Islamic celebration; it is an American celebration and anyone who is an American has a right to claim it. Celebrating Independence Day is a non-religious, national holiday and is permissible in Islam as there is no verse of Quran or authentic hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) or statement of a credible and informed group of scholars that conclusively prohibit it.

The overriding principle of usool al-fiqh (Islamic legal foundation) when it comes to haram (prohibition) and halal (permissibility) is that the non-religious affairs and actions of people are permissible unless there is conclusive proof to the contrary.  If this were not the case, then every single action and statement of every single human being on the planet would have to be examined in detail to determine whether or not it is permissible. Such would be grossly impractical and extract an undue hardship upon the Muslims which is counter to the objective of the law as mentioned in the verse’ “verily Allah wants ease upon you and does not want hardship upon you”, and by the hadith; “The practice of religion is easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will be overpowered by it.”[4]

Scholars in Saudi Arabia have upheld the celebration of Saudi National Day which commemorates the unification of Hijaaz and Najd in 1932, and scholars of Azhar in Egypt have upheld the permissibility of Egypt’s National day on July 23rd as well as other holidays. Many of the prohibitions leveled at July 4th Independence Day have been due to anti-American sentiment, and bias towards indigenous American Muslims, and not based upon Islamic law, or sound argument, and that is unacceptable. Furthermore, there has been no ijmaa (consensus) reached by the scholars that national holidays are prohibited. Therefore they remain in their original state as permissible.

American Muslims has more freedom than Muslims residing in most Muslim countries. Part of the significance of Independence day is that not only are people free to worship Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, build masaajid, give charity, fast Ramadan, make Hajj, honor their neighbors, obey their parents, raise their children, and earn an honorable living; they are free to celebrate or not celebrate the Fourth of July as they see fit. So whether or not a Muslim makes a big deal out of celebrating independence day or not, every muslim should value our independence because by it, we are able to worship Allah, think for ourselves, be free of foreign control of our religious affairs, and act in our own best self-interest as Muslim Americans without being beholden to anyone’s brand of Islam.

Celebrating Independence Day has different meanings and involves different activities depending upon the person. For some it means simply having a paid or unpaid holiday from work, for some it means overtime pay, for others it means cooking out, picnics and barbeques, fireworks displays, and deeds and actions of patriotism, and for some it is all of the above or parts thereof. However, there is nothing in the Quran or in the Sunna that prohibit any of that.

If the celebration of Independence Day is accompanied by alcohol consumption, lewd behavior, criminal acts, recklessness, and endangerment such as not being careful with fireworks or camp fires, then the lewd, dangerous and wrongful acts, are prohibited like they are during any other day. However, the celebration of the day without engaging in the prohibited acts is permissible. Likewise, if a person wants to simply ignore the day, and not give it any thought, then he or he may do that also.

Whether it is success or failure, victory or defeat, goodness or evil, or sadness or joy, it is Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala who gives human beings these days and grants to them in them whatever He pleases; “Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns” 3:140 And Allah knows best.  

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, ia an Associate Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Ohio. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the author of the book, “Double Edged Slavery “, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of Black 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] Quran, 14:33

[2] Collected by Bukhaari.

[3] Days of ignorance.

[4] Collected by Bukhaari.

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