Who and What are the Awliyaa of Allah [Saints]? Inquiring Minds Want to Know, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

 

basmala

ahmadubamba
Sheikh Aamadu Bamba [d. 1927]
[The purpose of this article is not to disparage the legitimate awliyaa of Allah whomever they may be. This writing is a defense of the awliyaa of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala and to clarify what a wali is and what wilaaya of Allah means based upon textual evidence [the Quran and the Sunna], the statements of our scholars, and the recognized standards of tawheed [monotheism] upon which the religion of Islam is based].

The first question is; is there a such a thing as a wali of Allah or a Saint? Do we have saints in Islam? The answer is yes, there is such a thing as awliyaa [friends] of Allah, based upon the verse; “Now surely the friends [awliyaa] of Allah– they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve. Those who believe, and are god-fearing”.[1] So who and what are the awliyaa [plural of wali] of Allah, who are the saints, and why is it important for people to know about them? Firstly, it is not incumbent for a Muslim to know all the recognized awliyaa of Allah or saints. It is not a requirement of religion. Your knowing them, their names, and their history will not by itself make you closer to Allah, raise you in degrees, or secure you a place in paradise.

Faith and knowledge are what raises people in degrees; “Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do”.[2] Knowing the awliyaa of Allah can be a means to expand your understanding of islamic history and broaden your options in how you pursue knowledge of the religion and knowledge of suluk [inner character]. Knowing and understanding who are the awliyaa of Allah is a tool of the many tools available to a Muslim in pursuing his or her path to Allah; a path that we must all take. “Verily, this is an admonition, therefore whosoever will, let him take a Path to His Lord![3]

We all have our shuyookh, our teachers, our imams, or elders who we take from or have taken knowledge and examples from. If you are a murid on the Sufi path, then it is very likely that there will be those regarded as awliyaa in your chain. The reason that some people follow a particular school of fiqh or take a particular tariqa or Sufi path is to help them in their journey to Allah. The problem occurs for some when they take their madhhab, or their Sufi path as an end in itself, and not simply as a means to an end. The confusion sets in when a person believes that his sheikh, his chosen wali has knowledge and gifts that exceed that of the Prophet ﷺ, or they come to believe that Islam is not enough for them. One of the things that I have heard said to me by some of the followers of these paths is that Islam is not enough for them; they need something more than Islam.

What is incumbent upon the Muslim is to believe in Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, to obey Allah and His Messenger, to establish the prayer, pay his zakat, observe the month of Ramadan and make pilgrimage to Mecca if and when he or she is able. Knowing and learning from the learned and righteous awliyaa of Allah, that which will help in seeking Allah is what benefits a Muslim, not simply knowing of them. Still we should keep in mind that the best example for the believer is the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. “Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much”.[4] The highest, most authentic form of religious knowledge is the Book of Allah, followed only by the authentic ahaadeeth of the Prophet ﷺ.

Although knowing awliyaa is not incumbent upon the Muslim, the belief that there are such persons who are the awliyaa of Allah is a requirement of deen simply because the Quran affirms it.  Furthermore, seeking and acquiring knowledge of religion is incumbent on us based upon the hadith; “Seeking knowledge [of religion] is mandatory upon every Muslim”. With respect to that, there is no doubt that amongst the awliyaa of Allah were scholars of Islam and individuals in whom Allah has preserved the knowledge of religion, and placed examples of how to obey Allah and His Messenger, how to understand and practice the principles and injunctions of the Quran in detail, how to follow the Sunna, and how to persevere when tested in our faith. Thus knowing and attaching to the awliyaa can be a great source of benefit. Just like knowing and attaching oneself to the Salaf of our ummah has benefit, or knowing and attaching yourself to your teacher has benefit, or knowing and attaching yourself to your parents could be a benefit.

Those who came before and have preceded us in faith and the believing people preceding us is faith, is part of the generational continuity of Islam.  As Muslims, we are required to take a certain disposition regarding those who preceded us in faith; “O our Lord, forgive us and and forgive those who preceded us faith, and make not any rancor in our hearts towards those who believe”.[5] Therefore, we take a disposition of love, respect, and fraternity and the absence of rancor with those who have came before us in this religion. We take the approach of having husnul thann [good assumption] or [حسن الظن] as far as they are concerned. This good assumption is due for all Muslims, not just those regarded as awliyaa. Which is why the Prophet ﷺ said; “Do not revile the dead for they have already went to face what they put forth”. However, with respect with those who change the religion, those who insert detestable innovation, set themselves up as idols to be worshipped, obeyed, or venerated above Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, we tend not to be as generous with them.

The connection that most people have with a wali of Allah is the result of their taking a spiritual [Sufi] path. Outside of the community of Sufism, not a whole lot is talked about concerning the awliyaa of Allah. Within each Sufi tariqa, there are personalities who are considered to be awliyaa of Allah. Usually the one who founded that particular Sufi order was himself considered a wali of Allah as in the case of Sheikh Ahmad al-Badawi [d. 1276 C.E.] who was the founder of the Badaawi order, or Ibrahim ad-Dasuqi [d. 1296] the founder of the Dasuqi order, or Abu Hasan al-Shaadhili, the founder of the Shaadhiliyya order, and the famous wali of Allah Junayd al-Baghdaadi [d. 910 C.E.] Some of the awliyaa were very strict in following the sharia, others, not so much.

What is it that makes a person a wali of Allah?

All of the aforementioned were considered to be awliyaa of Allah. All of them were scholars of Islam who possessed great insight about the religion, about Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala and the path to become close to Allah. They all were high examples of piety, steadfastness and taqwa, but how, and why were some considered awliyaa of Allah and others were not?   The answer is more than anything else, the appearance of karamaat [miracles]. The appearance of karamaat in most cases is a condition for conference of the title wali of Allah. When such persons would die, their students and the people who knew them would remember their lives, their piety, their teachings, their benefit to others, their sacrifices for the religion, and most notably, their miracles, or miracles attributed to them, and confer upon them the title wali of Allah or saint.

The miracles, called karamaat would be what put them over the top in obtaining recognition as a wali of Allah. Sometimes the people of knowledge in that time or region would come to that unanimous conclusion. More recently there was Sheikh Aamadu Bamba [d. 1927], who is becoming particularly popular these days and considered by many to be a wali of Allah. My father Sheikh Abdulkarim, first told me about him about 30 years ago. He was the founder of the spiritual city of Tuba in Senegal. He himself was a disciple of the Qaadiriyya order founded by the great scholar and mystic, sheikh Abdul-Qaadir al-Jailaani [d. 1166 C.E.], and many miracles are attributed to him. Such as, while in chains on a boat, he broke his chains and prayed upon the water without sinking. Many other miracles are attributed to ones whom I have mentioned and to other awliyaa of Allah from amongst the companions of the Prophet ﷺ down to our present age.

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali places awliyaa into two categories. The first are those who become awliyaa of Allah by dutiful performance of the faraa’id [incumbent acts]. This includes the five prayers, zakat, observance of Ramadan, the Hajj, kindness to neighbors, fulfilling our social responsibilities to our family, our brethren, the poor, the wayfarer, and everything else that would constitute that which Allah has made incumbent upon His servants. In fact, there are no better paths to Allah except by what Allah has commanded and deemed praiseworthy. Umar ibn al-Khattaab said; “the best of deeds is to perform what Allah has made incumbent, respecting away from what Allah has made prohibited, sincere intention about what Allah be He Exalted, has in store”. In this sense, anyone who does what Allah commands, avoids what Allah says to avoids, and fulfills the rights of others as Allah has prescribed and the rights over himself and the rest of creation as prescribed by our religion is a wali of Allah.

This is why ibn Taymiyah said that; “Anyone who believes in Allah and has taqwa is a wali of Allah”. Based upon the evidence, this is correct. “Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light;”.  This is also why we should not overstate the status [maqaam] of the awliyaa of Allah over what is mentioned in the Quran and authenticated in the Sunna of the Prophet ﷺ. Amongst this first category are perhaps millions upon millions of believers who have come and gone, and have fulfilled their obligations to Allah and gained the status of wilaaya with Allah.

Most of these awliyaa of Allah we will never know about, and not even know their names. Abu al-Farj Ibn Jawzi [d. 1201 C.E.], in his well-known book, Sifatul Safwa [صفة الصفوة] tells the story of unknown, unnamed, righteous people and their examples. He calls them maj’huloon [unknowns].  He demonstrates by their mention that amongst the pure-minded and righteous are these who are famous, such as the companions of the Prophet ﷺ, and the Taabi’een, those who are well known, such as our early scholars, those who are hardly known and those who are not known at all, even their names.

The second category of awliyaa are those who by performing the extra, supplemental duties, the nawaafil [نوافل] they become closer to Allah. This is based upon the statement of Allah; “And My servant continues to draw nearer to Me with supererogatory (nawaafil) prayers so that I shall love him. When I love him, I shall be his hearing with which he shall hear, his sight with which he shall see, his hands with which he shall hold, and his feet with which he shall walk. And if he asks (something) of Me, I shall surely give it to him, and if he takes refuge in Me, I shall certainly grant him it”.[6]  This is the classical and correct description of a wali of Allah. When people talk about the well-known and famous awliyaa of islamic history, they are usually referring to people of this category, except that they add to that, the attribution of miracles to them.

A person does not become a wali of Allah except by the means that are explained in our sacred texts i.e. the Quran and the Sunna. Each well known wali of Allah has their own history of struggle, or leaning, of faith and of action. No two is exactly alike. If we do not use the Quran and the Sunna to understand what a wali of Allah is, then anyone can declare himself or anyone else to be a wali of Allah and use that distinction to reign over the ignorant like lords. Such as we see today. This amongst other reasons is why we have to look at the Kitaab and the Sunnah regarding what is a wali of Allah, and what it takes to become close to Allah. After all, we are Muslim, and Allah has not revealed any other religion for us except Islam.

That being the case, we are bound by law to look at matters from the view of the Quran and the Sunna and not make up religion or religious practices. The Prophet ﷺ said, “anyone who introduces in this affair (religion) of ours that which is not [originally] from it, then it is rejected”.[7] Scholars of Islam paid special attention to not allowing the awliyaa of Allah to become some sort of elite, protected class of people who reign over other people. Because that’s not what wilaaya is all about. Wilaaya is not a public thing; it is a personal thing. According to the Quran, the qualities of a wali of Allah are two; faith and taqwa [piety]; Those who believe, and are god-fearing. The Prophet ﷺ when asked about who is a wali of Allah said; “They are whom when they are seen, [people] are reminded of Allah”.

Walking on water does not make a person a wali of Allah. Flying or floating in the air does not make a person a wali of Allah. Walking through walls, telling your fortune, self-transport to far away lands, claiming knowledge of the unseen [ghaib], or accurately surmising what someone had for breakfast that morning does not make a person a wali of Allah. If that was the case, then demons, who claim the same abilities and possess some of them, would be awliyaa of Allah. The famous magician David Copperfield walked on water and you could get a local soothsayer or Tarot card reader can tell your fortune. Magic is prohibited in Islam, as well as getting your horoscope read, and none of these things makes a person a wali of Allah. Neither does being a descendant of the Prophet ﷺ make a person a wali of Allah. A wali of Allah is first and foremost exactly what Allah has described in the Quran; “those who believe and have taqwa”.  Anything above that should be subject to scrutiny and proofs because there is a fine line between miracles and magic. Some of the Sufi’s that are floating around today practice magic, advocate the use of magic spells and openly proclaim that magic is permissible to achieve one’s objectives. Many brothers, and sisters have found themselves caught up in this.

Performing a miracle or a supernatural action does not make one a wali of Allah. However, awliyaa of Allah are recorded as having performed actions that are regarded as miracles. These miracles are divided into two categories; mu’jizaat [miracles], and karamaat [blessed feats].  Miracles for Prophets are called mu’jizaat, for the righteous and the awliyaa, they are called karamaat. And Sheikh Bin Baz (RA) explained this issue succinctly by saying that what is regarded as a karaama is when Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala renders His assistance to save someone from his enemy, or lifts off a burden from them or extracts them from a bad situation in a way where it is not normal, or in some way defies physical laws. This happens by the grace of Allah and sometimes it happens in full view of witnesses. Such events are called karamaat and yes karamaat of the awliyaa is something real and factual according to the consensus of our scholars.

It is important to understand just who are the awliyaa of Allah and something about their history and teachings because to take an adversarial position to a wali of Allah without just cause is considered a sin based upon the Qudsi hadith where Allah says; “Whoever shows hostility to My wali, then I have declared war upon him”.[8]  Since hostility towards the awliyaa is considered a sin, love and religious fraternity with the awliyaa is a virtue. Here is where a lot of people become confused. Loving the awliyaa is a virtue but so is loving a Muslim. Loving the awliyaa does not mean elevating them above what Allah has granted them, and it does not mean deifying them, worshipping them, worshipping through them, or ascribing to them unique powers to grant you superior status with Allah.

A lot of people misunderstand what it means by loving the awliyaa. It’s not a matter of a metered comparative love where people are tested by the degree how much they love a certain wali of Allah over another, or over another Muslim. For example, you can’t test a person and ask him; “who do you love more? Sheikh Abdul-Qaadir al-Jaylaani [d. 1166 C.E.], or the black woman who used to sweep the masjid during the time of the Prophet ﷺ?  Or test a person and ask; “who is preferable? Ibn Ataa Allah, or Hasan al-Basri? Or ask them; who do you love more? Ahmad ibn Ajiba [d. 1809], or Moinuddeen Chisti [d. 1230 C.E.]? Such associative comparisons are nonsensical and totally out of sync with what is meant by love for the awliyaa of Allah.

This is how people get tricked up into sheikh jousting and find themselves defending this or that sheikh or wali of Allah or cutting off relationships because you feel that someone is not showing enough reverence for your chosen wali of Allah [because there are tens of thousands of them]. This is madness. Some of the Arabs tried to get the Prophet ﷺ to specify his love and affinity for one tribe over the other but he wouldn’t.

Sufism is a legitimate pursuit and many of the great scholars of Islam following a Sufi past. However, Sufism has great trial in it as well because it is so varied, and some of its branched ideology goes directly into shirk [polytheism]. We live in a time where we are pressured to be politically correct in everything, even in holding on to our faith. To accept anything and everything regardless of what our scripture says about it. I get it, but I don’t subscribe to it. I believe that we should follow the Quran and the Sunna to the best of our ability and that Islam by itself, is enough for us as a religion.

The fact is that we are Muslims. We love what Allah loves and we hate what Allah hates or tells us to hate. We love those who love Allah, who support Allah, who support our religion and religious principles, who are just, who are kind, who are patient, who are benevolent, and who are merciful to others, and we hate those who hate Allah, who slaughter the innocent, those who are unjust, those who murder, and spread fitnah amongst the earth. We don’t get into who they are specifically, that’s not our job. Nor it is our job to be judge and jury over people by person unless we are real judges and real juries in courts of law. We leave the righteous in the hands of Allah; He will give them their due, and we leave the wicked in the hands of Allah, He will give them their due. In the meantime, we love Allah more than anyone else, and our greatest enemy is the devil, and we ask Allah to make us from amongst the rightly guided. This is how it goes beloveds. We are all just passing through this world; we don’t want to get stuck on personality, except the personality of the Last Prophet of Allah, Muhammad ibn Abdullah ﷺ, Rasoolullaah. We’re stuck on him, we love him, our hearts are attached to him ﷺ.

Unfortunately, we hear more and more these days about people who claim that their sheikh or their teacher is a wali of Allah or that they are following or a disciple of a wali of Allah, which is fine, but now there is competition. As more and more people are gaining and even competing for disciples based upon their alleged close connection [wilaaya] to Allah, people have the right and obligation to know just who and what is the wali of Allah. Some people are selling choice seating on the Day of Judgment by following this or that sheikh, and this is wrong. This is completely wrong. Reported claims of some awliyaa border on the outrageous. Such as the ability to self-transport themselves every Friday to either Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina or Masjid al-Aqsa to perform salaatul Jum’ah,[9] or the claimed permission granted to them to commit fornication, lie, steal and kill based upon their alleged closeness to Allah.

One common exaggeration about the awliyaa of Allah is that they are infallible. For example, Abdul al-Wahhaab al-Sha’raani [1565 C.E.], who incidentally was a Shaafi’ee jurist from Egypt as well as a Sufi said that; “Of the more splendid miracles of the awliyaa is their divinely granted success to be in a constant state of obedience to Allah where they enjoy total protection is’mah [عصمة] from committing acts of disobedience [to Allah] or doing anything contrary [to the religion].[10] The idea that a wali of Allah is infallible is a widespread notion. Even questioning their infallibility makes some wali lovers go ballistic. Unfortunately, wali’ism [new word, meaning loving and accepting anything from awliyaa without question] is a new fad that is on the rise.  Muslims of today have no idea what they are getting into when they embark on blind discipleship of so-called awliyaa of Allah that takes them outside of the boundaries of scripture. Many are attracted to the mystique and novelty of wali’ism but end up committing shirk.

Superfluous sheikh veneration has become an industry in many parts of the world and has now come nearly full throttle to the United States. Some people erect shrines in their homes and plaster their walls with pictures of individuals claiming that he is a wali of Allah. Some people travel hundreds or thousands of miles just to see or touch a so-called wali of Allah or someone associated with him; to kiss his hand, or be in his presence, to benefit from his touch. Some of them argue and fuss with each other on behalf of their sheikh who claims to be a wali of Allah, or the disciple of a wali of Allah. This is not only incompatible to the principles of our religion which promotes individual striving and accountability before Allah, not accountability through the sheikh, it is incompatible with American culture and the culture of the convert to Islam. We were never really that good at sheikh veneration, and I doubt if we ever will be.

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 salafiyyism the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He has written blog posts challenging ISIS, Anwar Awlaki, and BOKO Haram on his blog, imamluqman.wordpress.com. The sentiments shared in this article are his own and not representative of any of his professional affiliations. He can be reached at imamluqman@icdph.org.

[1] Quran, 10:62-63

[2] Quran, 58:11.

[3] Quran, 73:19.

[4] Quran, 33:21.

[5] Quran, 59:10.

[6] Collected by Bukhaari.

[7] Collected by Bukhaari.

[8] Collected by Bukhaari.

[9] تقديس الأشخاص في فكر الصوفي، محمد احمد لوح، [Sanctification of Personalities in Sufi Thought] , by Muhammad Ahmad Lawh, p. 417.

[10] Sanctification of Personalities in Sufi Thought] , by Muhammad Ahmad Lawh, p. 221.

 

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The Hajj Paradigm; Islam’s Most Legitimate Narrative, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

 

Crowd at Kaaba ahead of upcoming Eid al-Adha

Perhaps, the purest, and most poignant narrative of what Islam really stands for at its core, is the visual takeaway and the reality of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, (called Hajj).  Every sane, adult Muslim who is physically and financially able, is required to perform the Hajj at least once in their lifetime.  A religious scholar, an illiterate farmer, an international banker, a tribal Bedouin, a head of state, a decorated soldier, a dignified carpenter, and a cab driver, each are all required to perform the Hajj in the exact same manner. Everyone performing the Hajj are equally required to wear the exact same style and color of clothing, donned and draped in the exact same way, to perform the exact same ceremonial rites and to repeat from their mouths, the exact same words;

“labbaik Allahumma labbaik, unna al-hamda, wa ni’mata laka wal shukr, laa shareeka lak. (Here I come oh Lord here I come. Here I come you have no partners here I come, surely all praise, all grace and good, and all thanks belongs to You, You have no partners)”

May Allah accept the Hajj of the people who were fortunate enough to make it this year. While people are circumnutating around the Ka’ba, Islam’s, holiest Mosque, it is impossible to distinguish the rich from the poor, the immoral from the virtuous, the farmer from the engineer, the convert from the born Muslim, or the PhD from the illiterate. Nor is it possible to define with any accuracy just by looking, what a person’s ethnicity, group, nationality, or language is. The only considerations which determine incongruence between one pilgrim and the other during Hajj is their faith, their god consciousness (taqwa), each person’s individual physical, emotional, and spiritual challenge, and the personal prayer of each pilgrim as they perform the required rites of the Hajj as guests of God.

Hajj is the only place on earth, and the only season of the Islamic calendar year, where race, power, occupation, status, ethnicity, or politics have no standing. There are no lands to conquer, no identities to define, no Islamophobia to fight, no images of Islam or Muslims to defend, no organizations to speak on your behalf, no counter narrative to advance, no talking points to memorize, no television cameras to prep for, and no one to convince of your legitimacy or sincerity except the Almighty God.  During the Hajj, all that is left is submission to Allah, and the reality that every Muslim has the same rights and obligations as every other Muslim. The only recognized enemy and the only object of aggression during Hajj are the shaitaan [devil] himself, and the three stones that pilgrims throw against him. As Muslims, we are  not taught to be enemies of each other, but instead to take the shaitaan as our greatest enemy.

It was during the Hajj, that the Prophet (SAWS) delivered his farewell sermon. In it, he unequivocally declared, “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety (taqwa) and good action. Know that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves. Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

The words of the Prophet are as relevant today as they were spoken more than fourteen centuries ago. Perhaps even more so. The Hajj is a yearly reminder that we all are equal in the sight of Allah and that we only excel above one another through taqwa [piety]. The Hajj also reminds us that we do not judge a book by it’s cover. The Prophet (SAWS) said, “Verily Allah does not look at your shapes or your bodies but He looks at your hearts”.[1] The only other time where the entirety of the Muslim ummah and of humanity will stand in such uniformity is the Day of Judgment. In this sense, the Hajj gives us a glimpse of what it will be like standing before Allah in that our race, our wealth, our family or our status will not matter. “The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, Except him who comes to Allah with a heart free (from evil)”. [26:88-89]

The type of equality embodied in the Hajj, is the type that the Prophet (SAWS) spoke of during his Farwell sermon. This is the kind of justice that makes us unafraid to look in the mirror at our selves, the kind of justice that depoliticizes our religion, and the type of justice where we do not simply move from campaign, to campaign, but stand firmly on solid principles. This is the type of justice upon which Allah created human beings: “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 is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)”. 49:13

Indeed, Islam has been hijacked, not only by groups like ISIS, and al-Qaeda, but also by nationalism, racism, elite, ethnocentricity, political Islamism, war-mongering propaganda, violent extremist, and sectarian demagoguery each claiming to represent the totality of Islam. Islam is the religion of Allah, He owns it, we are all His slaves. We can only choose to submit or not submit Islam and to its higher ideals. We can reclaim our faith by returning it to its rightful owner, and that is God Almighty, and no one else.

Resurrecting the Hajj paradigm and picking up the cause of justice and equality in and outside our faith is a daunting proposition for many Muslims, but its time has come and we will be much better off for it. It all comes down to being fair and just as individuals and as an ummah.  One of the most difficult things about upholding justice, is that you sometimes have to stand up against your own self, and against people who are just like you, who belong to your group, who share your ideology, your race, your nationality, in defense of someone who is different than you.

Injustice is our Berlin wall whose mortar is an amalgamation of racism, nationalism, elitism, denial, political Islam, violent extremism, tribalism, and various forms of sectarianism added to the mixture of our faith over a course of centuries.  On the other side of the wall is the true Islam, which belongs to no one, except Allah be He Exalted and Just. There can never be any true Islam without justice, and there can never be justice without equality. In order for Muslims to move forward as a civilization, we will have to tear down the Berlin wall of injustice that exists in our faith practice. It may have to be dismantled brick by brick, section by section, pebble by pebble, but sooner or later, Allah be my witness, I believe that eventually, it will come down.  –

Imam Luqman Ahmad

[1] Collected by Muslim.

American born Luqman Ahmad a Sunni Muslim, is 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  Muslim converts.  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 salafiyyism, the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He has written blog posts challenging ISIS, Anwar Awlaki, and BOKO Haram on his blog, imamluqman.wordpress.com. The sentiments shared in this article are his own and not representative of any of his professional affiliations. He can be reached at imamluqman@icdph.org.

 

African American Muslims and the Plantation Effect, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

negroes-fr-saleIn a socio-economic sense, most African Americans live in a second-class, plantation-like existence. Don’t get me wrong, it beats outright slavery, but it’s a slave-like existence nonetheless. Even if an African American gains power and influence in this country and decides to use it for other than entertainment purposes, he runs the risk of being brought down. No one really likes the uppity Negroe,  especially if they get too “uppity”. Even many other Black Americans have problems with the uppity Black man.

Through the criminal justice system, unequal housing and banking practices, the inner-city public school system, and a seemingly endless list of discriminatory statutes, regulations, and institutional norms which keeps African Americans in the United States of America relegated to a plantation-like existence. Whether you agree or not, there is no doubt about that. The facts speak for themselves.

Within the Black Church, there is almost complete autonomy when it comes to the practice of Christianity, and the way that African Americans run their churches and religious institutions. Even mega churches and pastors who make millions of dollars a year are pretty much left alone. Whatever issues that go on in the African American church are worked out internally. It is unheard of that a Christian scholar in Africa, Europe, Canada, or even the Pope himself would launch a personal attack against a Pastor or a group of Christians in America. We don’t get Christians from Africa, Asia, the Middle East or Europe coming to America and running rough-shod over a Church or church congregation in the United States. If they did, the congregation, after they finished laughing at him for having such audacity, would run him out of town on the same horse he came in on. They might even take his horse.

On the other hand, within African Muslim mosques, there is a great deal of foreign influence that is present and constantly pumped in. Almost every mosque in the United States, has an undue foreign ideological influence that affects the issues they work on, how they work on those issues, how AA Muslims see themselves and how they subordinate to the immigrant Muslim community on so many levels. People will literally walk in off the street into a masjid attended by African American Muslims and jump up to lead the prayer, tell the people how to run things, render legal edicts, or challenge their leadership. The problem is that there are people who actually let them do it. Otherwise it is a preposterous notion.

Very little has been written on the topic of the colonization of the African American communities and how they exist as a second class Muslim community in the United States behind the immigrant Muslims. However, it is real and the spiritual, psychological and trajectory effects of this relationship is felt far and wide.  (See The Tale of the Two Muslim Americas).  No American Muslim can go to a traditional Muslim country, visit the local mosque and proceed to tell the local people how to run their community, how to deal with their local imam, or try to run the affairs of the local people. The mere idea of it is absurd, and such a person would probably be arrested as a spy and thrown out of the country. Many African American Muslims have been conditioned to think not as free men and women, but as a religious colony here in the United States.

Here’s what boggles the mind; African American Muslims, and African American Christians are the same demographic group. They come from the same ethnic stock, and the same socio-economic backgrounds. They live in the same neighborhoods, attend the same public schools, and endure the same institutional oppression. They are housed in the same jails, play on the same basketball courts, and go to the same colleges and universities. So how is it that African American Christians can build their religious institutions and act autonomously in pursuit of their self-interests, and African American Muslims have such a difficult time in establishing congregations, building masaajid, or acting in their own self-interests without outside interference?

The answer to this question is that African American Muslims by and large, exist as a sub-group of second class Muslims under the greater immigrant community.  That’s the first reason. The second reason is that there are too many spheres of influence, all coming from abroad, and all in competition with each other for control of African American Muslims. These outside influence come in the guise of religious sects, Sufi tarqas, islamic political ideologies, and ambitious individuals who seek their own stronghold in american society through affiliation and control over clusters of African American Muslims all across the country. These outside influences are not always entirely islamic either. Oftentimes they represent a regional ethnic, cultural, or  political concern emanating from outside of the United States. These outside influences affect the way that many African Americans practice Islam, set their priorities, and determine their beliefs about Islam.

You have the Salafi influence which takes their orders from scholars abroad. If the Salafi sheikh states that the priority is to fight against deviants, then everything else; unemployment, spousal abuse, crime in the neighborhood, the dysfunction of the family and so on, falls to the side. The you have the Sufi influence which comes from all over the place. If a certain Sufi sheikh says to not to bother this or that group, or this or that masjid, or that a certain person is a saint and therefore infallible, then the Sufi sphere of influence prevails in many cases. Then there are the competing interests; political groups, Sufi tariqas, Qaadiri, Tijaaniyya, Naqshabandis, and movements such as the Shehu movement, as well as the Tablighi jamaa’aat. Each of these groups exercises a sphere of influence and in some cases absolute and control over indigenous American Muslims so it is difficult for African American Muslims to establish independent congregations, or to even think independently for fear of being in disagreement with their outside colonial type leadership.

As far as National Islamic Organizations, like ICNA, ISNA, and MAS, the membership and focus of these groups are almost entirely exclusive to immigrant Muslims.  Although they routinely claim to speak or represent all Muslims in America, they in fact do not. When a CAIR report characterizes American Muslims as mostly middle class [1], they are not talking about African American Muslims; they are talking about another Muslim America.

The Black church despite whatever criticism we may have of their beliefs, their liturgical habits, their Pastors, their choirs, or what we call their misguidance or delusion, still acts in accordance to what they view are their best interests, and the interests of their institutions, their congregations, their own moral trajectory, and their  own sense of purpose. This has nothing to do with the merits or demerits of the Black church. It has more to do with how we can become Muslim and now that we have the Quran and the Sunna, all of a sudden we are paralyzed, and afraid to think for ourselves.

Brothers and sisters cannot even make a thikr without someone inciting an argument amongst us while they sit back thousands of miles away watching a soccer game. Somebody says ‘happy birthday’ and there is a flurry of condemnation based on a fatwa that we’re following the kuffar while the same folks will hardly make a move without kuffaar instruction and approval.

The plight of the Black American deserves prioritization not because they are black, but because they are the poorest and most oppressed people in our country. Prioritizing attention to the poor and the most oppressed in your midst is the Sunna of our Prophet (SAWS). This was also the way of Jesus (AS) and the way of Moses (AS). Just in case you’re wondering.

The black church, and its leadership, does not generally grant license to anyone, be it a government agency, a remote ecclesiastical authority, a foreign agent, a religious scholar not of their midst, or a state or local politician, to speak on their behalf, represent them to our government, or assign for them a reality not their own. Many African American Muslims actually believe that we cannot use the Quran and the Sunna without getting permission and sanction.

THE POINT IS: THAT THERE ARE TOO MANY COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE SPHERES OF INFLUENCE IN OUR COMMUNITY COMING FROM ABROAD

No religious group or sub religious group can engage in forward motion if they have no leader, no congregation, and are splintered into dozens of sub-colonies or plantations where their leader or master is not present nor cannot be held accountable. If Black Christians can build churches, establish institutions of faith and despite their problems, act independent of interlopers acting from abroad, then so can we. If Christians can speak for themselves, then so can we. If Christians can establish local religious congregations that act in their best interests, then so can we.

The ranks of our community should not split up simply because of an email, a fatwa, or at the behest of someone who does not even live in your county, does not understand your condition, and who is not around to be accountable for his statements, or there to pick up the pieces after we’ve splintered our communities, and who’s only contribution is rhetoric. I have never in my life seen an indigenous African American Muslim community split in two or become racked by fitnah except that there was a foreign agent, not from their midst involved.

Let me be clear. I do not support Back Nationalism. I am a Muslim. I follow the Quran and the Sunna, and no race of people is superior to the other. And if a day ever comes when another group becomes the most oppressed, most marginalized, and most victimized group of people in our country, I’ll stand up for them too. I don’t care what race or color they are. Black people are no better than anyone else. But the point is, nether are any other people.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS:

For the African American ex-slave generations, 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. American Muslims need to stop being suckered into neglecting their own self-interests, because of outside meddling and outside interests. Support is not a one sided deal. We’ve supported every Muslim cause that came down the pike. We deserve reciprocal support when we are in the trenches and we are in the trenches now. We fight each other over the positions and statements of scholars from abroad, where in most cases they could care less about our positions or statements, even when our views are supported by the Quran, the Sunna, and the very same texts that they use against us.

STILL DON’T GET IT?

Okay I’ll give it to you raw. We’ve been had, flimflammed, bamboozled, hoodwinked, conned, molly whopped, suckered, taken for a ride, hijacked, used, and still being used. Is that clear enough?

Imam Luqman Ahmad

[Taken partially from the upcoming book, Double Edged Slavery, Deconstructing African American Muslim Moral Dysfunction, by Imam Luqman Ahmad, will be available at Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble on November 1st, 2016 [in sha Allah]

American born Luqman Ahmad is a life long 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 City of Sacramento CA. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at salafiyyism the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He has written blog posts challenging ISIS, Anwar Awlaki, and BOKO Haram on his blog, imamluqman.wordpress.com. The sentiments shared in this article are his own and not representative of any of his professional affiliations. He can be reached at imamluqman@icdph.org.

Support the establishment of the Islamic Center of Del Paso Heights with your secure donation Here.

[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/2007/05/22/muslim-americans-middle-class-and-mostly-mainstream/

 

The Difference Between Brotherhood, Homiehood, and Haterhood, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

 

quran laid outHomiehood Versus Brotherhood

What’s better in the long run for a Muslim? Homiehood or brotherhood? the obvious answer is brotherhood but brotherhood is getting harder and harder to find these days.  As we enter deeper and deeper into the Dajjaal age, brotherhood and sisterhood are becoming scarce and have been replaced by homiehood which is a much lessor version of brotherhood. Brotherhood in Islam has unchanging and virtuous principles established by Allah and His Messenger Brotherhood is genuine and brotherhood has rules. There are many verses in the Quran and ahaadeeth of the prophet (SAWS) that talk about brotherhood. Brotherhood is a lofty station in Islam. It’s not for the petty, it’s not for the foolish minded and it’s definitely not for the true seasoned hater. That’s haterism and we’ll talk about that in a moment. There was a time when people were taught what brotherhood in Islam was, and meant but these days homiehood is often mistaken as brotherhood and the two are worlds apart. We need to reurn to the original standard of what brotherhood in Islam really is.

The Prophet (SAWS) said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever shield a Muslim, Allah will shield him on the Day of Resurrection”. This is brotherhood. In homiehood, these rules do not apply. Homiehood is haphazard and exists just for the sake of the homies. Islamic brotherhood exists for the sake of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. Homies frequently like to come through the back door. Your homie will tell you what you want to hear and not what you need to hear. Brothers prefer to come through the front door; they tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear.  [“It is not a righteous act to enter houses from the back. Righteousness is to be pious and enter the houses from the front door. Have fear of Allah so that perhaps you will have lasting happiness”.] Brotherhood is a lofty station that is so high, even the Prophets envy it; The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “There are people from the servants of God who are neither prophets nor martyrs, (but) the prophets and martyrs will envy them on the Day of Resurrection. . .They are those who love one another for the sake of Allah. . .I swear by Allah, their faces will glow and they will be (sitting) on (pulpits of) light. They will have no fear (on the day) when the people will have fear, and they will not grieve when the people will grieve.”

Homiehood is a spiritually lazy man’s version of brotherhood and it’s whatever the homies decide on. A homie will lie to his homie, lie for his homie and lie about his homie depending on the circumstance. Homiehood is a temporary state that changes from condition to condition. One day he’s your homie and the next day he’s your enemy. Homies have no problem coming together behind closed doors to plot, plan and execute that which is prohibited in the Book of Allah without any of them paying mind to prohibit each other or themselves from it. This is why Allah says; “O ye who believe! When ye conspire together, conspire not together for crime and wrongdoing and disobedience toward the messenger, but conspire together for righteousness and piety, and keep your duty toward Allah, unto whom ye will be gathered”. [58:9].

When brothers get together whether publicly of behind closed doors, it is to support, uphold, and establish what’s right. “The believers, both male and female, are each other’s guardians. They try to make others do good, prevent them from committing sins, perform their prayers, pay the religious tax, and obey God and His Messenger. God will have mercy on them; He is Majestic and All-wise”. [9:71] Homiehood is when you support your homie, good, bad, right or wrong, you stick wit da homie most of the time unless of course your homiehood descends into haterhood. Haterhood is when people act like friends but in reality are jealous or hateful of each other but keep up homie façade for appearances sake because people don’t like to be homieless. Homies like to get together just to kick back and chill but when it comes time to put some constructive work in, homies are nowhere to be found. Brothers like to work together to get things done but they might take some time off here and there to relax. Homiehood without brotherhood is empty dreams but brotherhood can easily survive and thrive without homiehood.

Haterhood

Now haterhood is a different animal altogether. Haterhood is an association built on hating, jealousy, envy, backbiting, and wishing bad on someone. Haterhood is the evil-eye. Haterhood is when the thing that you have most in common is not your love for Allah, love for Islam or love for doing good but instead you are connected by your hate or dislike for someone, or your jealousy of that person. This is also called hasad [envy] and envy is bad news for a believer both for the one who harbors it in his heart and for the one to whom it is directed. When you are glad when you see or hear about something unfortunate happening to your so-called brother, then what you have is not brotherhood, and not even homiehood, but rather haterhood.

Haterhood is the evil eye and is born out of jealousy. Haterhood is one of the diseases of the heart and it is fueled by envy and dissatisfaction with the decree of Allah for another person. It is also your wish that whatever Allah has decreed for someone else, you don’t want that person to have it, but instead want it for yourself. One of the key elements of haterism and one that every hater cannot do without is two-facedness. The Prophet (SAWS) said, “You will find that the worst of Allah’s slave on the Day of Resurrection is the two-faced person. He comes to some people with one face and to others with another face”.[1] Two-facedness and haterism go hand in hand. The hater doesn’t want you to know that he or she hates your guts; on the contrary, the hater will try to convince you and everyone else that they love you and they are your friend and blah, blah, blah, blah. However, in reality the hater wishes your misfortune and relishes in it. In Islam haterism is part of the evil-eye.

The Evil-Eye

The evil eye is real. “And verily, those who disbelieve would almost make you slip with their eyes (through hatred).” [68:51]. The Prophet (SAWS said, “If there were anything that would overtake the qadr, then it would be the evil eye”. The Muslim should guard himself against the shayaateen [demons] from amongst the jinn and humans. By Believing in Allah, putting trust in Him and seeking refuge with Him from Iblis and his allies.  Also it behooves the believing Muslim to avoid those who hate them or wish ill upon them. Of the best du’aa and incantations [ruq’ya] to protect yourself from jealousy and the evil-eye is reciting al-Mu’awwadhatayn [the last two suras of the Quran], Sura al-Ikhlaas, Sura al-Fatiha, and ayat al-Kursi [2:255].

Other du’as for protection from jealousy and the evil-eye are:

The Prophet (SAWS) said, “There is no ruqyah except in the case of the evil eye or fever”.[2] Jibril (AS) used to do ruqyah for the Prophet (SAWS) and say, “Bismillahi arqeeka min kulli shayin yudheeka, min sharri kulli nafsin aw ‘aynin hasid Allaahu yashfeek, bismillahi arqeek (In the name of Allah I perform ruqyah for you, from everything that is harming you, from the evil of every soul or envious eye may Allah heal you, in the name of Allah I perform ruqyah for you).” Also, the Prophet (SAWS) instructed people to say; “A’oodhu bi kalimat-illah il-tammati min sharri ma khalaqa (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allah from the evil of that which He has created)”. He (SAWS) also taught, “A’oodhu bi kalimat-illah il-tammati min ghadabihi wa ‘iqabihi, wa min sharri ‘ibadihi wa min hamazat al-shayateeni wa an yahduroon (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allah from His wrath and punishment, from the evil of His slaves and from the evil promptings of the devils and from their presence)”.

You may also recite the words of Allah be He Exalted: “Hasbi Allahu la ilaha illa huwa, ‘alayhi tawakkaltu wa huwa Rabb ul-‘arsh il-‘azeem, [Allaah is sufficient for me. La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He] in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne). [9:129]

May Allah protect us all from envious people, the evil-eye, and any type of harm that threatens us or our families. Ameen. Wa billahi tawfiq. Imam Luqman Ahmad

[1] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[2] Collected by al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood

The Psychology of American Muslim Sectarianism, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

 

SectarianismYeah I know it’s a long title. Nevertheless, this some deep stuff. When people become Muslim, they’re not thinking; I’m becoming a Tijaani, I’m becoming a Shaafi’ee, I’m becoming a Jihadi, or I’m becoming a Salafi. They’re thinking; ‘I’m becoming a Muslim’. It’s only after they take their shahaadah that people indoctrinate them into this or that sect or group, at a time when they are most vulnerable. I’m not knocking your group here but darn, can’t we just let people get used to being a Muslim first before we sectarianize them? That’s some cold you know what…..  to do to a person. This article could have been titled ‘American Muslims and the Oftentimes Perplexing Sectarian Identity Politics’ but that’s heck of a long and confusing title so I settled for a shorter and slightly less confusing title.

Still, this is really a complex topic because for many people, entering Islam is awesome, but what comes next can be a let down after they’re ushered through the labyrinth of supplemental isms which have become attached Islam.  Hey don’t misunderstand me; I get it that one man’s ism is another man’s source of enlightenment. However, considering that according to a Pew Research study published earlier this year, the American Muslim convert community is at a zero growth rate, meaning that for every ten people who converts to Islam, ten other people end up leaving Islam, I wonder whether all these isms confronting the new Muslim might have something to do with it. Hey, we are human beings and we need to have groups for a whole bunch of reasons, we just don’t need a whole bunch of groups thinking that they have the monopoly on the truth. The haqq, if you will.

First of all, if you choose just to be a regular Muslim, you might not get much love in the first place because just about every sect, sub-sect, tariqa, group, or movement is looking to increase membership. If  you end up as part of a sect or a particular group, you have to become indoctrinated not only in basic Islam from the Quran and the Sunna, but now you have to become indoctrinated and taught again, the tenants, beliefs and practices that are particular to your sect or group. This is not to say that every group is inherently bad, evil or wrong. I already mentioned that as human beings we need groups, Not every group is wrong and the Muslim ummah agrees to the legitimacy of the four orthodox schools of islamic legal doctrine as well as the Ja’fari and the Zaidi schools from amongst the Shiite, and there are all kinds of groups who follow the Quran and the Sunna. So let’s just say that right now, I’m not referring to any particular group; I’m just talking about sects and sectarianism. Just a little chat. Additionally, it is well known at least in what I believe that as Muslims, we are to follow the methodology of knowledge as set forth by the scholars of the first three generations of Muslim or the Salaf as-Saalih.

Still, you have to admit that sectarianism is an encumbrance on the new Muslim, and in my humble opinion, it’s hit us pretty hard, especially for the American Negroe. We come from a people that’s been pre-programmed for self-destruction, and a culture where our young men (and women) routinely fight and kill each other on the streets for next to nothing. We have people who fight over turf that they don’t even own and then we give them Muslim sectarianism to fight over. That’s the last thing we need; something else to fight over. I’m not seeing where that really worked for us, or where sectarianism has built anything for indigenous African American or convert Muslims. Sectarianism can produce a Crip versus Bloods mentality. People ready to argue and fight with someone over their sect, their sheikh, even over their madhhab or tariqa. When you join a sect, and of course most every sect has its protagonists and antagonists, you have to learn all the tenants of your sect that makes your sect different or better than the other sects, and different from the Islam that existed before your sect or group came into being. If seem people kicked out of their sect because they didn’t want to follow the rules. The Prophet ﷺ and the Salaf, preceded all of these sects. Then, every sect has their particular reasons why their sect is better than the other, otherwise there is no reason for people to be in the sect in the first place. Then once you become in full doctrinal mode then you have to be appraised of the sects (if any) that your sect or group is opposed to, as well as the ones that are opposed to your sect.

Most every self-respecting sect these days has its enemies and detractors to gather people against. The nature of sectarianism is that it is easier to gather people in opposition of something than it is to get them together in favor of something unless its some bid’ah. Sectarianists love them some bid’ah. Not just them. Any one of us can get caught up in some bid’s these days if we’re not careful. If the bid’ah is exciting enough and you’re going to get good news coverage, people will flock to some bid’ah. If someone belongs to a sect, then best believe if you look hard enough then you will likely find some religious innovation. Sometimes just a minor smidgeon of bid’ah, but sometimes you find the weird stuff. I mean real weird stuff. I remember a recent group that some brothers belonged to where they do turn off the lights to do thikr. Now that some weird stuff to me. Why turn off the lights? Unless maybe you’re trying to save money on the light bill, but why do it at thikr time? I wasn’t there and I’m not part of that group and it could be totally innocent, just trying to save money on electricity. I just have a thing when men and women gather together and then turn out the lights because it reminds me of back in the day house parties.

Once you enter into sectarianism you can easily find yourself in the unappealing position of attacking anyone who criticizes your sect, your sheikh, your madhhab, or your particular group. Or even worse, taking it personal. As you become deeper and deeper indoctrinated as happens to many people, they find themselves defending their sect even when the criticism is warranted and upholding the views of their sect and their shuyookh even when those views contradict the Book and the Sunna. This is how sectarianism gets out of control and for Muslim converts, and it gets out of control quite often. Bottom line, if you think that your sect is the way to go, then al-humdu lillaah. If you think your madhhab is the way to go then al-humdu illah. I follow the Shaafi’ee madhhab in most every issue of fiqh but I’ve been known to take a Maaliki position here and there. I know that some people say that’s not allowed and they are free try to bring it up when we all stand before Allah on the day of Judgment.  I’m still of the view that if it agrees with the Book and the Sunna, I’m for it, and if it doesn’t well… not so much.

Sectarianism may have its benefits and of course like I said, all groups, tariqas, islamic political parties, and movements aren’t bad and they all aren’t 100% pure good either. so don’t go off half cocked because you think I insulted your group or your sheikh. My advice is that if you’re going to be Muslim then learn the basics. Learn your prayers, do your prayers, pay your zakat, fast your Ramadan, and if you get a few dollars, or excuse me, a few thousand dollars to spare, go ahead and make Hajj. Do the five pillars. If you want to go deep into one sect or another, okay ma sha Allah, but still try to stick to the basics and keep your options open. If we can pay dues to all of these groups and spheres of foreign influence in our communities and still manage to all work together to address our problems with family, Islamic communal infrastructure, our many fatherless homes, and the other problems in our shared communities then fine. If not, we should think a little more about the impact of Muslim sectarianism on what’s left of our fragile communities. In the meantime, obey Allah and His Messenger ﷺ and your leaders that you are connected to in matters that are right, but remember,  you have to trek your own path to Allah. No one else can do that your you. Not your sheikh, not your group, not your Imam, just you. Above all else, keep your loyalty and your sincerity to Allah and to Allah Alone. Wal Allahul Musta’aan.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

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

The Gritty Side of Aqeeda Politics, By Imam Luqman Ahmad

The word aqeeda comes from the Arabic word aqd [عقد], which means knot, or something to bind around. The word also means contract; as mentioned in the verse: “O you who have believed, fulfill [all] contracts [عقود]. The derivative word aqeeda [عقيدة], does not appear in quran laid outthe Quran, nor was it mentioned by the Prophet ﷺ. The terminological meaning of aqeeda in the religion of Islam is creed, or belief system. The word aqeeda is also sometimes used synonymously as tawheed, sharia, even Islam. The discipline and knowledge of aqeeda is a critical and important part of Islamic knowledge and of the sharia [Islamic law]. Aqeeda has to do with your belief system as a Muslim. Aqeeda in the classical sense constitutes the boundaries of faith and heresy. If you are a Muslim, then you should know what you believe. You do not have to be an aqeeda scholar to have proper aqeeda. If a person believes that there is no god except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and they agree wholesale with everything that is in the Quran, and everything that is authenticated in the words of the Prophet ﷺ, [the Sunnah], then that person has the correct aqeeda, even though they do not know all the details. This is based upon the hadith, “Whoever witnesses that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger, Allah forbids the Fire from touching him“.

The central foundation of what we know to be aqeeda is la ilaaha illa Allah [there is no god except Allah], and to worship Him alone without partners. This was the message of all the Prophets starting with the Prophet Adam; وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ [Verily We have raised from amongst every nation, Messengers (proclaiming) to worship Allah and to avoid the taaghoot], [16:36]. During the time of the Prophet (SAWS) the companions did not argue with each other about the issue of Allah and His oneness. If there was ever a disagreement or misunderstanding, on a point of faith, they referred it the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and it was settled.

After the era of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ heretical and idolatrous beliefs and practices started to make an encore into Muslim society after the Prophet ﷺ had rid idolatry from the Arabian Peninsula.  These false beliefs and heretical notions returned to Muslims lands either by Arabs who went back to their pre-islamic practices or influences from foreign and conquered lands. Hence the need for more specificity about aqeeda and what constitutes kufr and eemaan. The first books about aqeeda were written during the time of the taabi’een starting with Imam Ibn Shihaab az-Zuh’ri. The written discipline of aqeeda further evolved during the first part of the second century of the Hijra when Imam Malik wrote the Muwattaa. He organized hadith into chapters dealing with aqeeda such as the chapter on emaan, and the chapter on tawheed, and the chapter on knowledge. Imam Malik’s work was the budding of the independent discipline of aqeeda.

What prompted the scholars to delve into specialization on the topic of aqeeda were the ideological splits that started to appear during the latter period of the companions of the Prophet (SAWS). One of the major clashes in aqeeda was in the appearance of the khawaarij [kharajites] and the practice of declaring a person to be an unbeliever because of a sin he committed. Hence, the scholars of the Sunna saw the need to elucidate just what is the creed of ahlus Sunna in detail. One of the first books devoted to belief clarification was the book al-Fiqh al-Ak’bar by Imam Abu Hanifa. Imam Shaafi’ee wrote a book with the same title [al-Fiqh al-Akbar] where he addressed specific issues of aqeeda point by point. Over the years, scholars of the sunna developed variant views on issues of aqeeda but agreed with the foundation. These scholars became known as the Ahlul Sunna.

Amongst the Ahlul Sunna are the aqeeda of the Ash’aris, the aqeeda of the Maatureedis, the aqeeda of the Salafis, and the aqeeda of the Sufis. Within these groups are points of agreement which are the foundational points of faith, and then are there are points of divergence. Sometimes the differences are scholarly, and civil  in nature; at other times differences lead to name-calling, anger, killing and bloodshed. In many Muslim countries, people have blown up masaajid, and killed innocent men, women and children while they celebrated the Prophet’s birthday, or murdered people in cold blood simply over differences in aqeeda. There has been a lot of that in our ummah, and even until this very day, it continues.

Aqeeda wars are nothing new except that in the past these ideological skirmishes were waged by scholars, jurists, politicians, and people who had knowledge. Now days, it’s largely an internet, free-for-all where anyone, regardless of knowledge or training, can participate. Al-humdu lillaah we haven’t had any violent aqeeda clashes in the United States yet, and were it not for the rule of law and the mercy of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, we would see it here. The undercurrent for it is pretty strong. Aqeeda wrangling keep American Muslims very busy. Busy enough to have split masaajid and communities, severed long standing relationships, and caused crippling stagnation within Muslim communities, especialy amongst converts and African American Muslim communities. People are very quick to pronounce takfeer on others because they regard their aqeeda heretical. People will sever long standing relationships over a fine point in aqeeda. In my opinion, it’s gotten completely out of hand.

Throughout history, aqeeda was used primarily as a topic of learning, but also as a political hatchet and an avenue for extreme discord. Some of the greatest scholars of Islam were persecuted, imprisoned, and killed on the charge that their aqeeda was amiss. When scholars had issues with other scholars, the easiest way to shut them down was to accuse them of an aqeeda breach. Imam Shaafi’ee was once accused of supporting Shiite rebels in Yemen and was arrested and taken to Baghdad in chains. The Turkish scholar of Islam and intellectual, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was once arrested for violating secularist laws; in other words, thinking as a Muslim and teaching Islam. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was persecuted by the Caliph Ma’moon and imprisoned and tortured for 28 months under the Caliph al-Mu’tasim because he refused to accept the notion that the Quran was created. Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, whom people today regard as amongst the greatest scholars of Islam, were both prosecuted and jailed on the charge of having heretical aqeeda. Ibn Taymiyah died in prison on those accusations. If we didn’t have the rule of law in the United States people would probably be pulled off the pulpit amid trumped up charges of violating aqeeda. Aqeeda is a scholarly discipline but it is also a political tool to sow discord and to silence dissent.

The word aqeeda did not find it’s way into American Muslim dialogue until the mid to late ‘70s, and it didn’t gain traction in the America Muslim community until the early ‘80s. It started with simple education about Tawheed and helping people in the United States, mainly new converts to Islam, understand Muslim orthodox theology. It quickly escalated into a war of words. Since the ‘80s we have seen the incessant aqeeda wars rage on amongst Muslims in America, primarily African American Muslims, continuing until this very day. Other than a long trail of character assassination, split communities, torn apart friends, and a nation of young Muslims who argue with each other over their sheikhs and who is or is not an not an infidel, tell me, where is the net benefit?

Aqeeda is an in-depth and highly specialized topic. Anyone with advanced knowledge of Islamic theology and creed and can look into another Muslim’s belief detail and find where he or she has technically stepped outside of standard Islamic orthodoxy. People who engage in candlelight vigils have gone against our aqeeda. Individuals who declare that everyone who has a criticism of Islam or who does not like Muslims or Islam is an Islamophobe have diverted from our aqeeda. Anyone who thinks that their race is superior to others has gone outside of our aqeeda. Anyone who thinks that a person declaring the shahaadah performing the five prayers, paying zakat, fasting the month of Ramadan and making Hajj has not done enough to be regarded as a Muslim, has stepped outside of our aqeeda. There are dozens of examples where one person can declare another person to be outside of our aqeeda if you dig deep enough. That’s why we have aqeeda wars.

One of the casualties of the aqeeda wars is that people become obsessed with it to the point that they don’t choose their battles wisely. I am not a member of the Nation of Islam and was raised as a Sunni Muslim all my life. However, I recognize the contributions of the N.O.I. in the African American community, and I acknowledge that some of their held beliefs, at least on the surface, seem heretical. They are evolving as a group and that many, if not millions of them have taken the shahaadah, begun to pray the five prayers, fast Ramadan and make hajj. Many have moved beyond the N.O.I., and in recent years, many have started to practice Islam and the five pillars while maintaining their N.O.I. identity.

Still, there is a strong push to not work with nor associate with them, and to declare them as enemies to Islam and to other Muslims. This is in my view is a mistake, and I suspect that the impetus for this comes from outside our communities. The N.O.I. have evolved just like all Muslim groups in America have. They establish the prayer in many of their masaajid, they hold Friday prayers, they give zakat, fast Ramadan and make Hajj. They openly declare the two shahaadas. The prospect of the N.O.I. and traditional Sunni communities working together to confront inner city problems is too positive of a potential to go unnoticed by those who would like to see the African American Muslim communities stagnate in marginalization.

The best way to see that there is no cooperation between these two groups is to hammer the aqeeda issue. The claim being that the aqeeda of the N.O.I. is faulty, all of them are mushriks, and therefore Sunni Muslims must oppose them, not work with them, and disavow them is skewed. Interestingly enough, I’ve seen American Muslims march side by side, hold candlelight vigils, endorse political campaigns, rebuild churches and houses of worship, take money from and give money to, virtually every type of religion, class, lifestyle, and political ideology in the United States. We promote interfaith work to learn how to cooperate with people of other faiths, and people have even (perhaps unknowingly) committed shirk, to get good press. The moment people talk about traditional Sunni Muslims finding common ground and cooperating with the Nation of Islam, people go into a tizzy. All of a sudden there is an uproar.

Declaring people to be kuffaar after they take shahaadah, pray the five prayers, pay the zakat, fast the month of Ramadan, and make the hajj is closer to kufr than giving them the benefit of the doubt. After they do all of the above, we should leave their hisaab to Allah. The Prophet ﷺ said: “I have been commanded to fight against people until they testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, perform the Salah ‘Prayer’, and pay Zakah ‘obligatory charity’. If they do that, their blood and property are guaranteed protection on my behalf except when justified by Islamic law, and their affairs rest with Allah.[1]”.  Sheikh Bin Baaz (RA) said, in explaining this hadith: “All Muslims have thus, to fear Allah, worship Him Alone, and believe in His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) as being sent to all Jinn (creatures created from fire) and mankind and as being the final Prophet. All Muslims have to perform the Obligations of Allah, abandon His Prohibitions, help one another in righteousness and piety, enjoin one another to truth and patience, and renounce all Deens (religions) of Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship). Whoever dies in the state mentioned above will enter Jannah without being reckoned or punished”.

Bonding in aqeeda versus bonding in Islam

The bond of aqeeda advanced by the Prophet ﷺ was the bond of laa ilaaha illa Allah. When people talk about the bond of aqeeda, they have to be clear what they are talking about. Do they mean the bond of laa ilaaha illa Allah? Or do they mean bonding based upon the specific, individual points of Islamic theological doctrine? If they mean the latter then it is very difficult for Muslims to unite and we will always be in a state of internal conflict. If they mean the former then this is the sunna, that we come together on the basis of laa ilaaha illa Allah, Muhammad Rasoolullaah. The different points of Islamic creed number in the hundreds. It is impossible to sit down with someone and go over point by point to see if you agree on every detail. It is highly improbable that Muslims in America will bond on every point of aqeeda. This is why there is no such thing as the ‘bond of Islamic creed’. The Prophet ﷺ never spoke of any bond of Islamic creed, nor is it mentioned in the Quran. This is a modern-day terminology that gives people the license to dig into everyone’s detail of what they believe to call this or that one a kaafir or a mushrik. What the Prophet ﷺ did say was: “Whoever prays our prayer, faces our Qibla, eats our thabeeha, then that is the Muslim. He is under the protection of Allah and His Messenger, so let not any of you betray Allah in His protection (of people)”.[2]

You cannot be brothers in creed since faith is internal, point specific and people’s individual creed varies from person to person. You can, however, be brothers and sisters in Islam. The Prophet ﷺ did not advocate the examination of every individual’s personal creed outside of them declaring the shahaadah and establishing the prayer. This is the bond of Islam. In the hadith of Abu Hurraira the Prophet ﷺ said: “I was commanded to fight the people until they say that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and that they establish the prayer, and pay the zakat, and If they say that their blood and their wealth are safe from me except in the right of Islam and their reckoning is with Allah[3].  Sheikh bin Baaz (RA) said that this hadith on the surface means that if a person does these things, they are to be considered Muslims unless they come with something (specifically) that will nullify their Islam. He further stated that: “Anyone who comes with Tawheed and belief in the message then he has entered Islam. Then after he is requested to fulfill the rights of Islam such as the salat, the zakat, the fast, the Hajj and things like it then performs what which Allah had made incumbent on him, then he is entirely a Muslim”.

I have not met any member of the N.O.I. claiming to be Muslim, who has rejected any of the above. Nor have I met any N.O.I. in recent years who openly rejects the five pillars of Islam. Now as far as picking apart people’s aqeeda, you could do that with just about anyone and find glitches and inconsistencies in their belief system. Even the notion that a person can perform the five pillars, and openly declare the shahaadah, yet still, be considered an unbeliever such as some Muslims apply wholesale to some groups, this itself is an issue that contradicts the aqeeda of Islam.

The concept that after taking their shahaadah, a person has to openly denounce every belief, and every principle they previously held, is not something established or practiced by the Prophet ﷺ. That added requirement contradicts the aqeeda of Islam. The aqeeda of Islam is that whoever comes with the two testimonies, establishes the prayer, pays the zakat, fasts the month of Ramadan and accepts and performs the hajj, they are a Muslim, and their reckoning is with Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. This is the Islam of the Prophet ﷺ. Anything outside of that, then a person needs to produce daleel.

We as Muslims living in the United States should stop letting people tell us who we can work with and who we can’t can’t; which firemen we can have help us put out the fire and which one’s we can’t. People dial 911 and accept anyone to come and help settle their dispute or help with their problem without asking about their aqeeda. But when it comes to getting help fixing up the neighborhood, stemming crime, and making the streets and the people safer, you have to worry about their aqeeda?

There is no greater word on the scale, nor stronger bond between believers than the bond of لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله [There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah], Hostilities were ended because of this word, blood was spared because of this word, protection was given by our Prophet to the inhabitants of Mecca because of this word. People enter Islam with this word. Sins are forgiven because of this word. If this word is not a strong enough bond for Muslims, then let whoever wishes, seek their bond. Let them seek their own word.

The modern-day politics of aqeeda in Muslim America is that aqeeda can become a built-in incendiary device, detonated anytime someone wants to cause discord between African-American Muslims in the United States. Anytime anyone wants, they can only (and selectively), inject the aqeeda card and all of a sudden, African American Muslims are stuck. We’ve been stuck for the last forty years.

Islam and our practice of it in this modern pre-Dajjaal age are mired in politics, power, public relations and scheming. We have to get back to the basics of our religion which is the five pillars, the seven beliefs, and the simple religion as practiced by our beloved Prophet ﷺ who said: “The religion is easy, and the religion is never made harsh to anyone except that it will overpower him[4].”

If the shahaadatain [the two testimonies] the establishment of prayer, the paying of zakat, the fasting of Ramadan and the agreement to the hajj as an obligation, is not enough to consider a person a Muslim, then those who disagree should take their argument to Allah. These are his rules, not mine.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

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

If you like our blog, and find benefit to our message than donate to help us  establish a new Masjid; the Islamic Center of Del Paso Heights with your secure donation Click Here.

[1] Muslim.

[2] Bukhaari.

[3] Bukhaari

[4] Muslim.

How Political Correctness Have Crippled Meaningful Muslim Dialogue. By Imam Luqman Ahmad

 

offesnsively truePeople are tired of all this political correctness. Part of President Elect Donald Trump’s electoral victory is because he dared to defy the culture of political correctness. Political correct verbiage have crippled meaningful dialogue within the American Muslim community to the point that we think we have to be hush hush about so many of our problems.

Can American Muslims freely and candidly discuss issues without crossing the boundaries of political correctness? The simple answer to that is; no, no we can’t. Now pay attention. Political correctness is incompatible with moral correctness. Although it’s probably politically incorrect to say that, it is the hard truth and we need to recognize it. If we as Muslims living in America want to engage in honest discourse amongst ourselves as American Muslims, then we cannot continue to gloss over the obvious and take the bogeyman approach to problems as if they do not exist, or cast aside our deep-seated dysfunctional problems like they are figments of our imagination. We have to be spiritually and emotionally mature to have the open and candid dialogue that we need, and we need to be brave because it won’t be a walk in the park. No, we need not get personal by calling each other names and blasting leaders personally.  There is no one person responsible for our condition, and as it stands today, there are no individuals that I can think of who are standing out front taking responsibility as a National Muslim leader of the Muslims in America.

There are, however, national organizations with presidents, chairman’s, boards, and umbrella groups, some with unknown personages who make up the corporatized national Muslim American leadership structure. There are presidents, imams, shuyookh and amirs, who are leaders of particular congregations such as the national leader of Muslim of the Americas, and national leaders of several Sufi orders who have bonafide constituencies but none of them as far as I know goes around stating they represent the Muslims of America. Oops, I’m getting a little off track here but so what? This is my blog and I write what I like.

Additionally, morally correct candid dialogue means that we have to open up about racism and the issue of the two Muslim Americas. We’d have to talk about Muslim-owned liquor stores and how that impacts the call to Islam and the neighborhoods which house inner city masjids where liquor stores abound. It will be a difficult, grown-up conversation. However, to make the big-boy move and go beyond the surface in addressing our problems as a Muslim people, we are going to have to dismiss with some of this political correctness. There is no way we can get around it.

Political correctness will mask the truth like like a Hollywood make-up artist masks a pimple. The Prophet (SAWS) spoke wisely, but he did not adhere to the politically correct status quo of the society in which he was raised. Tawheed (monotheism), by nature, resists political correctness because it assigns supreme will and final authority to the word of Allah and assigns all other words beside it to a secondary station. The only people with complete and unconditional authority to speak on the Lords behalf are His Prophets and in the case of Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).

These realities alone make political correctness incompatible with moral correctness in any absolute sense. Now does what I just said mean that we should not use wisdom in our words, or not follow rules of civility, and use good speech in how we express ourselves? Absolutely not. Allah says” “invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and good rhetoric”[1]. In order to move ahead spiritually, we have to speak religious truths according to scripture whether they are politically correct or not. Truth according to orthodox Muslim belief is not, and cannot be subject to the constraints of human beings, nor society.

If the Prophet (SAWS) were alive today, people, even some Muslims would probably label him controversial, even radical. During the time that the lived (SAWS), he was called worse than that, but the Prophet (SAWS) was never described, or thought of as, politically correct. The word Islam, which for fourteen-hundred years has meant submission to Allah, now simply means peace in the minds of many Muslims, and as articulated in modern-day Muslim vernacular. When people understood Islam to mean submission, they associated the word with action and doctrine beholden to a higher authority; Allah.

When people, Muslims included, understand Islam simply as peace, it devaluates Islam from a world faith resulting from revelation and renders it into a simple human trait that requires no action but is instead characterized as inaction. It takes doing something to be a Muslim, but it takes doing nothing to be peaceful. This not so subtle lexical lunge into la la land regarding the word Islam is just one casualty of modern-day political correctness. The religion of Islam is built upon divine truths, not politically engineered truisms.

 

Imam Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a life long Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, patriot, and author of the new book; “Double Edged Slavery“, which is a book about how indigenous Muslim Americans are marginalized and put down. Imam Luqman Ahmad is committed to Muslim converts and helping them realize their full potential as believers and people of faith.  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 City of Sacramento CA. He is also a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at salafiyyism the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He has written blog posts challenging ISIS, Anwar Awlaki, and BOKO Haram on his blog, imamluqman.wordpress.com. The sentiments shared in this article are his own and not representative of any of his professional affiliations. He can be reached at imamluqman@icdph.org.

Support the establishment of the Islamic Center of Del Paso Heights with your secure donation Here.

What my wife means to me. My short story. By Imam Luqman Ahmad

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 9.31.52 PM.pngMy wife once said to me; It’s amazing what Allah can do to the heart, and how much love, or hate, that He would allow between two people. In this case, it is the love that she and I share that I want to talk about. When I told my wife that I was inspired to write a blog post about her, she didn’t particularly like the idea and asked me why I would do it. I said, I couldn’t help it. I told her that I wanted people to know how a rough dude like me can still fall in love with a woman like her. I’ve always heard, read, and seen movies about two people made for each other, who fell in love and became like one. I believed it was possible but it was never something that I looked for, or expected would happen to me.

As an Imam, I’ve performed dozens of marriage ceremonies throughout my lifetime, and I have had my share of challenges in my own failed marriages. Still, I always in the course of performing a marriage ceremony, mention the verse: “And from amongst his many signs is that He has created for you from your souls, mates, to live in harmony with them and He has made between you love and mercy. Surely in that is a sign for those-those who reflect”. [Sura 30:21] I want people to have high hopes and to know the possibilities and the love potential that exists within a marriage. The love that Allah creates between a husband and a wife is something very special, and something that we have no control over but it can turn into one of life’s greatest gifts.

Luther Vandross said, “Love is so amazing”. Whatever you think about Luther, he was right about love. The Prophet (SAWS) said; “The whole world is a provision, and the best of its provision is a righteous wife. When you look at he, she pleases you, in you command her she obeys you, and when you are absent from her, she guards your possessions and guards herself”. I know that Allah’s word is true. I know that His power is real. I know that His decree is final, and I know that his grace is unending, but I never expected to find the love, peace, and harmony that I have have found with my wife Monique, in this little life of mine. Don’t get me wrong. We have our moments, challenges and difficulties as a married couple and as parents. But by the grace of Allah we have never had a problem that did not end up being a source of enlightenment and faith building for us both.

Every time I look at her, I think that she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Every time we go out together, even if it is to make a quick run to the local supermarket, I feel like we are on a date. If we go out together to an event, its as if we are attending a movie premiere or the opening of a grand play. It never fails that I will think of something, and she’s thinking the same thing, or I’ll call her on the phone, and she’s calling me at the same time. That is our life, a life full of smiles. Her smile makes me smile and when I smile she never fails to smile back. Sound like a fairytale? Maybe it does, but al-humdu lillaah it is a true tale.

I don’t know what the specific ingredients are that makes a happy marriage, but I know that to appreciate your spouse is one of them. I know that to see the good in them is another, and I know that to forgive them is yet another; “O you who believe, verily from amongst your spouses and children are enemies to you. Be guardful from them, but if you overlook, make amends, and forgive, then verily Allah is Forgiving and Merciful”. [Sura Taghaa’bun 64:14]. My wife means more to me than I could ever explain. She completes me. I ask Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala that she be amongst the inhabitants of paradise, and that I am with her there.

I was thinking the other day about the verse: “O Lord, make for us from amongst our wives and our children, that which pleases the eye, and make us leaders (imams) of the righteous”. [Sura al-Fur’qaan 25:74] I thought about how Allah has actualized this verse in my life and how fortunate I am. “As for the ni’mah of your Lord, talk about it”. [Sura Du’haa 93:11]

One of the things that compels me to love my wife so much is that I love Islam, and so does she. She loves it when I talk about Allah; she loves it when I talk about the Prophet (SAWS); she loves it when I read to her or explain to a her a mas’ala of fiqh, or of aqeeda, or tafseer. She never ceases to thank me, and she tells me that she’s honored to be my wife. Heck, I’m nobody special in my mind. I am just am a regular guy, with regular guy problems, regular guy issues and regular guy strengths and weaknesses, but my wife sees through all of that, and thanks me for the smallest things.

She never asks for much and sometimes I fear that I’m not giving her enough, but all she asks for is my love and I give her all that I have. Call me starry-eyed if you want, but all the love that I could have for a woman has been captured by my wife. Best of all, after everything else, she is my best friend and my sister in faith. I mean seriously, we are best friends, and we were bought together because of Islam. Our very first meeting was because of an act of faith. How bout that for a story. A true story I might add.

I’m no expert on marriage, not by a long shot. However, I am, an expert on giving advice. My humble advice for other couples is, brothers, if you are married, appreciate your wife, love her, honor her, protect her, be kind to her, and treat her well. As for you sisters, if you are married, thank your husband, say good things to him, honor him, stand by his side, and protect him. Lately, as I have been going through a transition in my life, I’m spending a lot of time at home. It seems that my wife and I do everything together now. We pray together, we plan together, we raise our children together, we shop together, we laugh together, and we remember Allah together. I think that perhaps in my maturity, I’m starting to realize what love is all about. I’ve come to the conclusion that my wife, my sister in faith; she is my Khadija, she is my Aisha, she is my Umm Salamah, she is my Umm Habeeba, and she is my one and only Monique, Umm Idris, the umm (mother) of our household, I love her dearly, I am content with her, and I’m happy, blessed, and fortunate to have her as my wife. She is my partner, and together with our children, we worship the One God that has no partners. Amazing! Wal hamdu lillaahi Rabbil aalameen!

Imam Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a life long 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 City of Sacramento CA. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at salafiyyism the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He has written blog posts challenging ISIS, Anwar Awlaki, and BOKO Haram on his blog, imamluqman.wordpress.com. The sentiments shared in this article are his own and not representative of any of his professional affiliations. He can be reached at imamluqman@icdph.org.

Support the Islamic Center of Del Paso Heights with your secure donation Here.

Why American Muslims should not vote as a bloc by Imam Luqman Ahmad

blogvoteph2016As provocatively empowering as it may sound, American Muslims should not consider voting as a bloc. None of the terms used to describe Muslims living in the United States; Muslim American, American Muslim, or Muslims in America if you like, describe or represent any single race, class, ethnicity, religious or theological category of Muslim Americans. additionally, none of these terms in any practical sense, is used to describe all of us. There is no such thing as a distinct ‘American Muslim perspective’, or a specific American Muslim political aspiration. There is no political platform or published manifesto that legitimately or conclusively represents ‘American Muslim values’ as a whole or American Muslims as a  whole, so in reality there is no such thing as a Muslim bloc vote. The only thing that can be rightly categorized as genuine Islamic values are those contained in our scriptures and religious texts. Otherwise, American Muslim values are as varied as American values are, and have a wider spectrum of diversity than there are colors in a rainbow.

American Muslims are different, with different views, different aims and goals, different attitudes about religion, different politics, and different sets of allies and adversaries. Even within our faith, there are different philosophies, groups, sects, madh’habi associations, and influences both foreign and domestic. Many Muslims in America are staunch, free and proud individualists not aligned with any particular group, political or otherwise, others are hardwired sectarians and will follow their group though to the end.

There are Muslims who are apolitical and care nothing at all about politics, and there are those who politicize nearly everything and would politicize eating a Snickers bar if it served their interests. Despite the falsely propagated narrative that American Muslims are the same with the same politics, domestic trajectory, and aspirations, nothing could be further from the truth. American Muslims have different views on liberalism, race, money, sexuality, islamophobia, morality and moral priority. We also have varying levels of education, insight into American society, national allegiance outside our borders, and patriotism.

Some American Muslims are recent immigrants, some have dual citizenship, some are not yet citizens and some were born here having never set foot outside of this country. Of those born here in the United States, there are the descendants of slaves, as well as second and third generation sons, and daughters of immigrants. Some American Muslims are multi-lingual, and others only speak English. Some are refugees with enough problems already than to be pulled further into the bowels of Muslim American politics. As far as political preferences go, some of us are principled individualists, others are theologically sectarian, some are perpetually undecided independents and some, when operating politically, do it from a markedly pronounced tribal or group perspective.

In my view, people who advocate Muslim Americans voting as a bloc are simply opportunists, championing a fanaticized version of reality. According to a 2014 PEW survey, Muslims are less than 1% of the population in America, hardly enough to be considered a ‘make or break’ constituency in any national or federal election. The only things that Muslims in America do as a bloc perhaps are to worship, attend Friday prayer, make Hajj and recognize our two religious holidays; (Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Ad’ha). None of these functions will be affected one way or another way by one presidential candidate winning over the other.

In their enthusiasm to be regarded as a political force, many Muslim mega-organizations mix politics with religion. This enthusiasm, is understandable except that to do that effectively in an advanced constitutional republic like the United States, one must both understand the true essence of the religion of Islam, and the nature of electoral and campaign politics in America. I’m not questioning anyone’s understanding of religion here, but as far as American electoral politics goes, people go into the voting booth as individuals. We don’t have group votes, ethnic votes, tribal votes, or religious votes. Those who want to advance and control a ‘Muslim vote’ in America should go ahead and start their own political party, and be transparent about it so that the rest of us won’t get labeled and typecast by the politics of a few. We do not need at this juncture, opportunistic Muslim politicians seeking brownie points claiming they can deliver the ‘Muslim’ vote.

Muslim Americans who intend to vote, should vote their conscious, vote the issues that are most likely to affect them, and look more to local elections to make a difference. You can vote as a citizen who happens to be Muslim or vote as a Muslim, who happens to be a citizen.  In each case, a presidential victory by either Donald J. Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton is not likely to affect whether or not you will go to heaven or whether or not we can pray our five prayers, pay zakat, fast the month of Ramadan or make the Pilgrimage to Mecca. If an American Muslim wants to enhance their level of faith and practice of Islam, then the work must start within ourselves and in our mosques with a focus on faith issues, and the way that we treat people and serve humanity. All of which can be handled outside of the electoral process.

Both the official 2016, 51-page Democratic platform, and the official 58-page Republican platform, contain points that on the one hand support certain aspects of Islam, and on the other, contradict moral axioms of our faith. Otherwise, the political platform of both parties is fundamentally secular in nature and much of the same excrement. Voting according to your conscious offers the best bang for your electoral buck in the short and long term for American Muslims. At least then, people may start not to lump us all together as some zombie class and start to see that American Muslims are people just like everyone else; each with his or her individual way of looking at things including personal differences, preferences, and degree religious influence and consideration. In doing so, we would be debunking the idea of the Muslim fifth column in America.  An idea that American Muslim organizations inadvertently helped to perpetuate, and who by attempting and failing to represent us all, helped to create in the first place.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad is a writer, public speaker, consultant, Imam and Executive Director of the Islamic Center of Del Paso Heights, and President and CEO of Lotus Tree Institute, an American Muslim Think Tank. Contact him at imamluqman@icdph.org. Donate to our da’wah and educational work and to establish a place of worship by clicking here.

 

 

 

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