An American Imam Weighs in on the Same Sex Marriage Debate, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

Same sex marriage debate

In case you haven’t noticed, the Devil (Shaitaan) is taking his fight for our souls and the souls of our children into high gear. Only a small number of people will survive the new wave of satanic thought being thrust upon us, so now is the time to dig in by stepping up our efforts to hold fast the Book and to the sunna of our Prophet (SAWS).  The greatest weapons and defense that we have is our faith, our scripture, and our steadfastness. Remember; just because you do not see Shaitaan in the flesh does not mean that he, his allies and his forces are not attacking you, your family and our community.

As the national debate around same-sex marriage heats up (awaiting a Supreme Court Decision),American Muslims may be called upon to take a public stand on the issue; especially if it passes. Either way, this matter and the reality of homosexuality and lesbianism in America, will remain at the forefront of national discussion for a long time to come. The homosexual lobby is relentless as this is an important fight for Shaitaan and there seems to be no letting up until everyone in America accepts this unholy lifestyle. Privately, most Muslims are very clear about homosexuality and lesbianism; they reject it outright, and it is clearly prohibited in Islam. Same  sex marriage for most Muslims is out of the question. Whether or not homosexuality exists in the Muslim world, is a matter of debate. Lots of evidence points to the affirmative but that is another discussion altogether.   Still, public discussion one the question of same-sex marriage is difficult for many Muslims, and much of the Muslim political leadership are reluctant to take a definitive stance on it.  This is for a couple of reasons; the first is that during such a time as now when some of our own religious rights and liberties have come under fire, gay and lesbian groups and individuals have been limited allies to Muslims in our own struggle for religious equality in the United States. Thus, any public stance on the matter by Muslims leaders, Imams, and political activists, risks the potential backlash from that group and from the political Islamic groups and advocacy groups why tacitly support their agenda in order to to garner recipricol support in the very profitable multi-billion dollar, anti-islamophobia industry.  By the way, that’s called politics.

Another reason is that in the effort to be as mainstream as possible, we have in some ways backed ourselves in a corner, and coming out, (no pun intended) on the wrong side of the same-sex marriage debate will signal that we as Muslims are definitely different, and it will highlight the fact that the moral roots of our faith, which are markedly conservative, are not in sync with the current national trend of the rest of the country in accepting same-sex marriage and by proxy, homosexuality. “And to Lot, too, We gave Judgment and Knowledge, and We saved him from the town which practiced abominations: truly they were a people given to Evil, a rebellious people”. [21:74].

Some Muslim leaders, including some imams have remained on the fence about the same-sex marriage issue, and homosexuality. And other Imams or at lest one that I know of have just straight come out of the closet. Ss of this writing, there is already at least one openly gay imam in America.  Some imams are nervously silent, and or have already capitulated and we are already starting to see gay Mosques and gay friendly communities of Muslims in Europe and in the United States. So let me get this out of the way; I declare here and now that I am against it, and against the practice of homosexuality on the grounds that it is hated by God and that He has destroyed an entire people because of it; “We sent against them a violent Tornado with showers of stones, (which destroyed them), except Lot’s household: them We delivered by early Dawn” [54:34] Outside of my opposoition the the lifestyle as a matter of faith and creed, I don’t have a particular issie in other things just because a person is gay or lesbian. If I had to go to the hospital and the attending doctor or nurse happens to be gay, that wouldn’t bother me any more if they happen to be write, or happen to be atheist, as long as they are dedicated to their job. People’s sexuality is between hem and their god if they have one and my views on thr topic is between me and my Lord, and yes, I do have one.

Let’s face it though; homosexuality has become ingrained in our society, and admittedly, gays and lesbians make valuable contributions to the society like everyone else; in medicine, industry, law enforcement, the military, social services, science, education, and of course, the arts. That is a fact. So it is not totally implausible that people may empathize with them as a group, or with individuals that they know personally, even if they do not agree with the practice of homosexuality itself. Even the Prophet Abraham/Ibrahim pleaded on their behalf at first;” When fear had passed from (the mind of) Abraham and the glad tidings had reached him, he began to plead with Us for Lot’s people”. [11:74].

Many of us, have gay or lesbian co-workers, neighbors, employees, associates, and family members, who do us no personal harm, and men us no harm, so the issue for many of us, is closer than we would like. I have worked alongside gays and lesbians in political work, and in the coprate world. In fact the woman who hired me at the Pensylcania Public interest Coalition, Patty Snee, was lesbian and although we did not see eye to eye on the gay issue, the gay and lesbian and pro-gay, pro-choice, and pro- same-sex marriage folks who trained me in issue and electoral politics back in my early to mid-twehties, were awesome folks to work with and they were light years beyond many close minded people as far as understanding hand respecting Muslims. My personal experience with many gays and lesbians has always been that they were actually, cool people, with many of the same quirks and ups and down like other people. Because of this and because of the aforementioned political considerations, it is difficult for some Muslims to even talk publicly about the issue of homosexuality or lesbianism with any conviction. This is another reason why we hardly see it addressed by Muslims publicly in the United States.

Nevertheless, as the issue is being heaved upon the public like a ton of bricks, to the extent that a person could lose his or her job for being anti-gay, bolstered by such arguments that; homosexuals and lesbians are good people, or they are my relative, or that we shouldn’t judge, or they can’t help it, it is understandable although lamentable that some Muslims are starting to crack and accept the practice of same-sex marriage. I’m not saying I agree; I’m just saying it’s understandable since all of the above may be true, and granted, there is hardly anyone who is all bad in every aspect of their lives. However, There are murderers who give generously in charity are good people otherwise, there are pedophiles who teach grade school, and are otherwise good people, there are thieves who smile in your face, and help little old ladies across the street and are otherwise good people, there are rapists who volunteer at charitable organizations and do a good job, and there are criminals of every type who readily engage in their crimes, but are otherwise are good people. However, none of that excuses the sin or the nature of it according to our understanding as Muslims.

Open or Hidden sin

It’s not the just the sin itself that we are talking about; everyone commits one sin or another, based upon the prophetic tradition; “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if you did not commit sin Allah would do away with you and bring people who would commit sin then pray for forgiveness.” [1] It’s one thing to commit sin, if the homosexuals are overwhelmed by their lower desires, and men have sex with men and women have sex with women, while acknowledging it to themselves that they are committing sin. Then this has been the case for thousands of years, before they came out of the closet. However, it’s another thing to openly pronounce that your sin, is not a sin, when God has said otherwise, and it’s still another thing to say openly and proudly that you are a homosexual, that there is nothing wrong with it, and wanting society (Muslims included) as a whole to accept that there is nothing wrong with it, all the while we have scripture that we believe is the divine word of God Almighty saying otherwise.

Muslims, Christians, Jews and anyone else morally opposed to thr practice have just as much right to reject the lifestyle and label it un-godly, as gays and lesbians have to celebrate the lifestyle and declare that it is morally neutral.

However in my opinion, at some point, the believer has to make a decision; do we accept the premise that God’s word is not true, that His promise is not true, that His judgment is not true, that His Prophets (AS) Lot, Jesus, Moses, Muhammad all were not telling the truth; that they all were liars? Or do we accept the premise that Allah Himself, be He Exalted and Glorified, was unjust when he punished the people of Sadam for homosexuality? The current ideological onslaught is not to get people to engage in homosexuality and lesbianism; it is simply to get people to accept that it is okay, that it has no moral consequence, and that it shares the same status as heterosexuality. For the Muslim, this is enough to constitute heresy. This is how the Shaitaan/Satan attacks; he goes after the heart and the belief system first, then after that, the body is sure to follow. The dilemma here is that accepting any of the above, constitutes heresy according to what we believe.

At the end of the day, this is America and people are entitled to do as they please, believe as they please, say what they want and advocate whatever they want. So we are not trying to force our beliefs upon anyone else, but at the same time, we are not supposed to change what we believe, in order to satisfy homosexuals, and lesbians.

Human beings have built within them, an inclination to do sin of all types, which is why the Prophet (SAWS) said: “all the sons of Adam (mankind) commit sin and the best of those who sin are those who repent[2]. However, the issue of religious sanctity is that we recognize moral standards according to what Allah revealed and that we work to suppress our lowly desires, or to channel them in ways that are permissible. Some people, if not most, or all of us, struggle with sin their entire life. That is the nature of being tested in this life. However, once we abdicate the commitment to uphold the truth, then there is no sense to being a Muslim at all.

The issue with same-sex marriage is that Allah has ordained that marriage as something that occurs between a man and a woman or women. When Eve was created, she was already Adam’s wife. Thus if anyone believes that the divine marriage design matrix as fashioned by Allah, is not the proper way, the best way, the ordained way, and the way that is best for human beings living on the planet earth that Allah has created, then they are saying that Allah’s plan and design for men and women is faulty, that it is flawed, and no matter how you slice it, that is disbelief.

Regardless how any one of us feels personally about a gay or lesbian that we my know, or a family member; it is still in my view, against God’s divine law and an abomination, no matter how nice they are, how well they dress, and how helpful they are in other areas. We are not responsible for their homosexuality and lesbianism; however, we are responsible for what we believe about homosexuality, lesbianism and gay marriage. Especially after our scriptures and sacred religious cannons are clear on the issue.  We as Muslim Americans are obligated by God to hold fast to our beliefs, and not give in to modern trends where there is no moral right or moral wrong; where everything is neutral for that is the worship of hawaa [whim].

Time magazine has on its cover, a picture of two men kissing each other and a picture of two women kissing one another cover under the caption: “Gay marriage already won”. So for anyone who is still under the delusion that Iblis is not directly engaged in spiritual warfare and that this is not a battle for the souls of people, then wake up, and think again ; “And on them did Satan prove true his idea, and they followed him, all but a party that believed”. [34:20].

Conclusion

I do not ask people about their sexuality: it is none of my business, and if they want to keep it private to themselves that is fine with me. The people whom I had interacted with in business, education, neighborhood, and neighbors who have been gay or lesbian, have been honest, caring, good neighbors, and people whom I’ve had no problems with. Furthermore, I would not refuse to hire someone, work for someone in a lawful enterprise, or buy or sell from someone because they are gay, nor do I advocate that any Muslim or non-Muslim do such a thing. Nor would I refuse to feed, clothe, or extend charity, kindness, or assistance to a gay person who is not fighting me in my religion and not trying to remove me from my home, based upon the verse; “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just[3]. Nor will I go around, or advocate calling gay people detestable names in their face, or harassing them because neither our Lord be He Exalted and Glorified, nor our Prophet (SAWS) commanded us to do such.

The Prophet (SAWS) did not harass the mushrikeen (polytheists), and worshipping gods other than Allah is the greatest sin.  Homosexuality is also a grave sin but not as grave as polytheism. The Prophet (SAWS) did business with the polytheists and unbelievers, he showed kindness and charity to them, and he instructed us to do the same, under normal circumstances. So gays and lesbians deserve no less.

Although we are on different sides of this debate, we should keep our disagreement with homosexuals in perspective. Gays and Lesbians are free to believe what they believe, and we are free to believe what we believe. They are free to uphold their whims and lowly desires and we are free to uphold our scripture. They will have their reckoning on the Day of Judgment and I will have mine. I cannot help them on that day, and they cannot help me. Our job as Muslims is to simply deliver the message, to hold fast to what we believe, and to practice our religion the way we ought to. Therefore, I will never accept the moral legitimacy of homosexuality; not ever. And no Muslim who believes in our scriptures ever should. The fast trending tide towards global immorality is a sign of the times and a reminder to Muslims of just how crafty Satan is in that within a span of less than fifty years or so, he managed to convince the majority of Americans, mostly who are Christian, that something that was considered an abomination for thousands of years, should now be an acceptable and supported practice.

The momentum towards legalizing gay marriage in the United States is very strong. Since 2004, 11 states[1] plus the District of Colombia, have legalized gay marriage and the status of California is currently pending before the US Supreme Court. Although I believe categorically that we as Muslim Americans should state our case on same sex marriage issue, and express our indignation and disapproval,  I don’t think we should devote too much of our resources on this issue because there are more important matters that we need to address which affect us. This issue is just another sign for us as Muslims, that shows just how easy it is to drift into heresy, and that we must step up in practicing our faith, calling to it, and remaining steadfast in the face of this as well as other heinous ideological onslaughts of our time.


[1] Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Washington (State), Main Maryland and Rhode Island.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, a researcher and Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation. 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] Narrated by Muslim.

[2] Collected By at-Tirmithee.

[3] Quran, 60:8

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The Importance of Sincerity in Religion by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

The central purpose for which we as human beings were created, is to worship Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala; وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ [I have only created Jinns and men, that they may worship Me.[1]] Additionally, just any type of worship is not accepted; Allah commanded that when people worship Him, they do so with sincerity; 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.[2] ] Without ikhlaas, worship of any kind has no spiritual benefit. Too commonly we perform deeds in Islam with the intention of showing off, pleasing others, or to receive worldly reward or praise. Then as soon as we don’t get the praise or reward that we are seeking, or when there is no one around to show off for, we abandon the deed. Any act of religious devotion, should not be for the intention of show or showing off. When showing off becomes a part of a deed, it renders it from being praiseworthy, to being blameworthy, as in the case of those who pray to be seen; [So woe to the worshippers, those who are neglectful of their prayers, those who [pray] only to be seen[3]]

The primary condition for Allah’s acceptance of a good deed is ikhlaas (absolute sincerity). And when it comes to ikhlaas in the religion of Islam, the intention is the foundation. Even before we consider whether the deed is done correctly or not, we have to take into consideration it’s intention. If the intention is sound, the deed is on its way to being sound. However, if the intention is insincere, then the deed will never be sound, no matter how it looks or feels.This is based upon the hadith of the Prophet (SAWS), “verily deeds are reckoned according to the intention, and every person shall get that which he has intended[4].

The prophet (SAWS) pointed to the importance of the intention in several ahaadeeth. In the hadith of Abu Hurraira, the Prophet (SAWS) said: “people will be resurrected (on the day of judgment) according to their intentions”.[5] It was reported about some of the salaf; “whoever would like his deeds to be complete, then let him make good his intention” (with sincerity).[6] Ibn Aj’laan[7] said: “A deed is not sound except by three things; taqwa, good intention, and correctness”, and Abdullah Ibn al-Mubaarik[8] said: “perhaps a small deed is magnified by the intention, and perhaps a great deed is minimized by the intention”. The meaning here is that a person may do what seems on the surface to be an insignificant deen, but because of his sincere intention to please Allah, the deed is magnified in Allah’s sight, and similarly, a person may do what on the surface seems to be a monumental deed, but because his intention was not sincere, that deed has little or no significance in the sight of Allah.

The word ‘ikhlaas’ comes from the Arabic word akh-la-sa, which in the terminology of deen, means to render a deed free of ostentation (ri’yaa) so that there is no other consideration except Allah. This meaning is found in the words of Allah be He Exalted and Glorified: [إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ تَابُواْ وَأَصْلَحُواْ وَاعْتَصَمُواْ بِاللّهِ وَأَخْلَصُواْ دِينَهُمْ لِلّهِ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ مَعَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَسَوْفَ يُؤْتِ اللّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا] “Save those who repent and amend and hold fast to Allah and make their religion pure for Allah (only). Those are with the believers. And Allah will bestow on the believers an immense reward. [9]  The purpose of true Islam is that it remains the religion of Allah and that it is solely for His sake. Islam does not belong to us, we are not free to make it what we want or add to it or take away from it whatever we like. Thus, every deed in order to be khaalis (sincere) to Allah has to begin with the correct intention (niyya). A person’s intention is more profound than his action.

True sincerity can be difficult

Sincere intention can be a difficult undertaking for many of us, and it is common that a person is ignorant of what sincerity is, or that a person fools his own self into believing he is sincere, when in fact, he is not.  It was reported that Sah’l ibn Abdullah at-Tustari[10] said: “there is nothing more difficult for the self than ikhlaas (sincerity).”  Of the many reasons that people suffer spiritual dysfunction and go back and forth in their religion, there are two worth mentioning here; first is that many Muslims do not consider that they will be tested in their Islam. They want everything to be to their liking all the time without any challenges. This is unrealistic as Allah clearly states: [أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ ] “Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested?[11] The reality is that faith must be tested by action, to confirm or disprove the claim of the one who declares it. وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ “We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false.”[12] Another cause of spiritual dysfunction when it comes to sincerity, or lack thereof is that when a person is unaware of what sincerity is, and therefore oblivious to its importance. This is seen in many people who take their Islam as a passing fad. Just like faith is learned behavior, so is sincerity. When people are not sincere in their faith, they too easily capitulate whenever things do not turn out the way they like;

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ عَلَى حَرْفٍ فَإِنْ أَصَابَهُ خَيْرٌ اطْمَأَنَّ بِهِ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ فِتْنَةٌ انقَلَبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ خَسِرَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةَ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْخُسْرَانُ الْمُبِينُ

“There are among men some who serve Allah, as it were, on the verge: if good befalls them, they are, therewith, well content; but if a trial comes to them, they turn on their faces: they lose both this world and the Hereafter: that is loss for all to see!”[13]  Another problem is that many people want to appease all sides, or to remain neutral in all matters that affect issues of faith, and when it comes to Allah ta’ala, that is not an option. In order to be a sincere servant of Allah, one must be willing to remain steadfast during hardship as well as ease.

We are quickly entering into the time of the Dajjaal (Anti-Christ). Truth is taken for falsehood and falsehood masquerades as truth.  My advice to myself, and to us all is that we remain steadfast and sincere in our religion during these times and during the times that are upon us, and that we do deeds of faith for Allah’s sake. Otherwise we will be blown back and forth according to whatever gust of wind happens to come our way. Ikhlaas can free a person from being a confused soul, a slave of men and make them an enlightened soul, a slave of Allah Only. When a person is not sincere about his or her religion and their religious actions, they will find themselves perpetually disappointed and disillusioned, because spiritual reward for righteous deeds can only come from Allah; no one else has the ability to compensate your soul for what it does. Such persons will often find themselves complaining about how they did this and they did that and that no one appreciates them. Disingenuousness and insincerity is a sure recipe for spiritual bankruptcy.

Allah only accepts sincere actions

Allah will not accept a deed that is not done for His sake and His sake alone as clarified in the hadith of the Prophet (SAWS): “Verily Allah does not accept anything except what was done exclusively (for Him) and for which His pleasure was sought”.[14] That is because Allah has no partners, and refuses to accept partnership when it comes to worship, service, or religious acts. In the hadith of Abu Hurraira, he reported about the Prophet (SAWS) that Allah said: “Of all partners, I am the most not in need of partnership. Anyone who performs a deed and associates a partner with me in it, then I have left him alone, as well as his partner[15]. Simply put, Allah does not need, nor will he accept partnership, because He is the only True God, and there is no other god besides Him.and one of the ways to ensure ikhlaas within yourself is that when you perform an action, whether it is prayer, zakat or sadaqa, feeding food, giving advice, working at the masjid, assisting someone in need, or a random act of kindness, you do the deed without expecting any reward, recompense, or even a thank you from any human being.

Know beloved that actions done for other than the sake of Allah are of three categories:

The first is an action that is done completely for show, in that it is done only to be seen of other people or for worldly gain. These types of actions have absolutely no spiritual reward whatsoever, by agreement of all the scholars of Islam.

The second is an action that is done for Allah’s sake but some showiness (ri’yaa) is added to it. According to many of the Salaf, including, from amongst the companions of the Prophet (SAWS), Ubaadah Ibn Saamit, and Abu Dar’daa, and from amongst the taabi’een , Hasan al-Basri and Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib, the Imam of the Taabi’een, such actions are considered spiritually worthless[16]. Excluded from this are deeds that are done for Allah’s sake, but performed publicly so that others are encouraged to do so, or so that they can learn from the good example. This is based upon the hadith: “Whoever does a good deed, for him is it’s reward, and the reward of the one who does it (based upon his example).[17]” And Allah knows best.

The third is an action that a person does for the sake of Allah, but they seek other things during the course of, or as a result of that action; like the one who makes Hajj, but want to buy and sell things while they are on Hajj, or the person who fights jihad but wants to gain from the spoils of war as well. These actions are accepted by Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala but, their spiritual reward is depleted a little by the extent of their secondary considerations for the deed. In the hadith of Abdullah ibn Amr, the Prophet (SAWS) said: “when combatants partake in the spoils of war, they have appropriated two-thirds of their reward, but when they do not take any of the spoils of war, their reward (with Allah) is complete”.[18]

Still anytime an action is done other for the sake of Allah, one runs the risk of that action being spoiled, and its reward vanishes. The only area of deen where the Shaitaan is unable to gain mastery (sultan) over the slave is in the area of complete ikhlaas for Allah be He Exalted and Glorified. When you do something sincerely for Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, you become unconcerned with receiving praise or reward from anyone. You do not care who sees you and who doesn’t see you. In areas of a’maal saalaihaat (righteous deeds), the value of a deed is in removing any secondary or tertiary consideration from the deed so that it is done exclusively for Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. As Allah says; فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاء رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا “whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner.”[19]

Sincerity is a protection from Shaitaan’s dominance

Every Muslim needs to be concerned about Iblis (the Devil) entering into the practice of his or her faith. In order to protect one’s deeds from being hijacked by the devil, one must stick to being sincere in faith and action. “[Whereupon Iblis] said: “O my Sustainer! Since Thou hast thwarted me, I shall indeed make [all that is evil] on earth seem goodly to them, and shall most certainly beguile them-into grievous error. [all] save such of them as are truly Thy sincere servants” 15:39-40

We are living in a time where the images and reality of insincerity have entered full throttle into the religion of Islam. Fake sajda marks on people’s foreheads, Muslims shacking up and calling it family, people flaunting their fornication and adultery, getting tattoos with bismillah on it, and religious works like feeding the poor and community service are engineered as public relations campaigns. Being sincere in one’s faith is the only guaranteed safe haven for the true believer. We are in the midst of a moral catastrophe, and the only answer is to be truly sincere in our faith and return our practice of religion to be for who it is intended, Allah sub’haanahu wa t’ala. The beautiful thing about ikhlaas lillah (sincerity for the sake of Allah) is that it never leaves you disappointed, and it is only through sincerity that the servant of Allah will experience the true inner beauty, spiritual bliss, and reward of what it means to be a practicing Muslim. Wal Allahu al-Musta’aan.

Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

The Lotus Tree Institute, Sacramento Ca

imamabulaith@yahoo.com


[1] Quran 51:56.

[2] Quran 98:5.

[3] Quran 107-

[4] Collected by Bukhaari

[5] Collected by Ibn Majah

[6] Jaami’ Uloom wal Hikam

[7] Died, 148 H.

[8] Died, 181 H.

[9] Quran 4:146

[10] Abu Muhammad Sahl ibn ‘Abdullah at-Tustari, he died in the year 283 of the Hijra.

[11] Quran 29:2

[12] Quran, 29:3

[13] Quran, 22:11.

[14] Collected by an-Nisaa’i, with a good chain, in the hadith of Abu Umaamah.

[15] Collected by Muslim, in the hadith of Abu Hurraira.

[16] Jaami’ Uloom wal Hikam, p. 24

[17] Collected by Muslim.

[18] A sound hadith, collected by Muslim.

[19] Quran, 18:110

Generational Continuity and Preserving Islam in Your Family; A Case for Maintaining Muslim Congregations. By Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

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

He can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.


[1] Quran: 16:78.

[2]

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

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

[5] Related  by Muslim

[6] Quran 103:2-3

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

[9] Related by Bukhaari

[10] Related by Bukhaari.

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