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.

Racial Politics in Muslim America, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

Malcolm XAll Muslims in America must pray the same prayers, fast the same fast, perform the same Hajj, and believe in the same God. They follow the same Quran, love the same Prophet and pray to the same Qibla. However, they are all different people, from different backgrounds, speaking different languages, and having different history, culture, ethnic and national traditions, and societal norms. The Muslims living in the United States are perhaps the most uniquely diverse assembly of Muslims anywhere in the world, except for during the annual Hajj.Having a diverse community in our current case is not an accomplishment; it is a challenge.

Muslims living in the United States must learn to respect each other’s diversity, intelligence, and cultural backgrounds, and norms, and refrain from criticizing that which does to contradict the Kitaab or the Sunna of the Prophet . No one has a monopoly on Islam, or upon the guidance of Allah. No one group should ridicule, or think less of the other group. We are Muslims, and brothers and sisters in Islam. No one should ridicule Arabs, because they are Arab, or Pakistanis because they are Pakistani, or  think less of  Blacks because they are Black.

We should not find fault with the Afghani Muslims simply because of their origin. Nor should be find fault with Fiji Muslims or Muslims from Bangladesh, Malaysia, or Vietnam, because of who they are and their cultural norms, and backgrounds. “O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong”.[1]

We should not discriminate against each other in our masaajid, nor refuse the basic rights of respect, tolerance, and Islamic decency to one another based upon race, ethnic heritage or country of origin. No group of Muslims should ever think that they are God’s chosen people, in exclusion of others, nor think that they have a monopoly over religious knowledge, understanding of the religion, or that they have been endowed with special powers in the religion of Islam, in exclusion of others. All of these are mere fantasies, existing only in the minds of the unknowing, for Allah guides who He pleases, He endows with understanding whom He please and He raises in degrees whomever he pleases. “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is he who has the most taqwa. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)”.[2] Taqwa is in the heart, and no one knows the details of what’s in the heart, except Allah, be He Exalted and Glorified, far above what the ascribe to Him.

The Muslim world still struggles with sectarianism of the worst kind, which results in Muslim on Muslim killing, fighting, transgression, and gross levels of intolerance based on ethnicity, tribal affiliation, race, and religious, or political groupism. Some of this have crept into Muslim American society. However, we still have time to address it if we have the courage. Because of our diversity, Muslims living in the United States of America have perhaps the best opportunity of all other Muslims on the planet to fully demonstrate in our actions the true meaning of universal brotherhood in Islam, we should not squander this opportunity, nor take it for granted.

The issue of racial and ethnic division, in a pluralistic society like the United States in one of the most difficult issues of our time. Many of are afraid to even talk about it, let alone face it head on. However, our time on this planet is short. A time will come when none of us who are present today, will be alive. Thus, we should make every attempt to do something great in the way of evolving to a greater level of godliness, and Muslim brotherhood. This will not only demonstrate to our Lord, our true understanding of our religious ideals of egalitarianism, harmony, and higher reasoning, but it will magnify to others, the extent of His mercy and grace. Were we to to intrepidly confront the issue of racial and ethnic division in earnest,  we will have done something monumental that will forever change the course of history, and uplift our civilization to heights heretofore unknown.

Many parts of the Muslim world are beset by Muslim on Muslim fighting and killing, intolerance, tribal differences and ethnic strife, and embroiled in warfare over political and doctrinal differences. We do not have to take that route. We in the United States are uniquely situated at this juncture of our history to set a new paradigm, and to be examples to Muslims in other parts of the world. Perhaps this is why we are all assembled here, Black, white, Arab, Pakistani, Asian, and African. I believe that we are here, in all of our diversity, for a purpose. Let us not, let this great assembly go to waste.   Just a thought.

Imam Luqman Ahmad.


[1] Quran, 49:11.

[2] Quran, 49:13.

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