Black American Sunni Muslims and Their Leaders, Contextually Speaking, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

In consideration of the trials that we currently find ourselves in, there are issues that need revisiting. This is one of them. Black American Sunni Muslims and converts to Islam are arguably the most leaderless Muslim demographic on the the planet. And what Imams there are, are the lowest paid imams in the United States of America, and that’s if they get paid at all. Many aren’t compensated at all. Yet, they get the lion’s share of the blame for the woes of Black Muslim and convert America. Can we blame that on the Muslim leaders themselves? Is anyone to blame? What contributes to the absence of leadership? Do the few leaders we have get the support of the people? Do they deserve it? All these questions cannot be answered in one article. However, it behooves us to at least unpack the conversation. One thing for sure, being leaderless is not a good disposition for believing Muslims in America. It is said that it is better for people to endure 100 years under a tyrannical ruler then to endure one night without a leader.


Although Muslim leaders and teachers (of any race) are obligated to call to and teach the truth, an imam or Muslim leader is no more obligated to be righteous or to follow scripture than the average Muslim. It cannot be left up to a leader or an Imam to get people to trust them. True, his style, knowledge, demeanor and other factors may play a part, however, there were people who didn’t trust prophets or who didn’t trust the Prophet himself (SAWS).

There is an arrogance amongst our people that convinces us that we cannot go or be astray and many of our people are astray in many key areas of the religion, and think that we are somehow immune to falsehood. Some of us (a minority I reckon) feel that our being Black, or converts makes us true and righteous, and that we can move forward as a civilization without leaders or leadership.

As far as leadership, any Muslim leader that calls to what we know to be right by Kitaab and the Sunna, it would seem to any reasonable believing person that you would follow or support him in what is correct. Just about any hadith about leaders and leadership would easily suggest that; Patience with your leaders, obeying those in authority, obey only in what is obedience to Allah, if you differ in a matter return it Allah and His Messenger (SAWS), the best leaders are those who you love them and they love you, hadith about the end times when people would take ignorant leaders who lead them astray, and they themselves (leaders ) are astray, the virtue of just leaders, dying without bay’at being the death of jaahiliyyah , are all concepts supported by Quran and authentic hadith of the Prophet (SAWS). I didn’t mention the verses and hadith here because it would be too long.

The issues Black Muslims have with leadership has more to do than our general state than it has to do with any leader. We routinely attack our leaders, even the best of them. We do this knowing that any of our leaders who is truthful, forward, or effective will be subject to opposition, persecution, and attack. We know that by our own history. The average Black Muslim family that has cable, spends roughly 100 bucks a month. When was the last time you heard a Muslim attack a cable company for bad service? Or they’ll complain but still subscribe. .People have abandoned the jamaa’at or their community for the most minor of infractions, only to see themselves and their families go back into jaahiliyya. I’ve seen it myself, hundreds of times.

We come up with all kinds of beautiful and inciteful suggestions and projects that we think our imams should do, or could do, or shoulda done. However, hardly ever is there any mention or offering of resources by which to embark on these lofty and inciteful suggestions. People think Imams are Leprechauns. We’re not. And when you talk about Black American Imams cooperating with the greater Muslim community’s Imams on issues, that is a great idea. However, you have to keep in mind that as Black American imams, we have maybe 1/10th of the resources they have. Cooperate how? By serving the tea at meetings? Most of our Imams are nearly dead broke, and live from week to week. Most don’t have budgets for projects, and as a group we can’t even afford to hold our own regional meetings or summits, let alone cooperate with other Imams and Muslim leadership organizations that have 10 times our resources and backing. We are invited to a seat at the table, but that is usually only to ratify what’s already been decided or to simply assume a subordinate position.


Leadership, just like following, having a Muslim leader, and everything else, comes down to believing in Allah, Hs word, and following His Prophet (SAWS), and his sunnah. On the day of rising, a leader will not be held accountable for his people, and people will not be held accountable for their leaders. That is proven by Quran and the Sunna. The Prophet (SAWS) will see some of his followers approaching the houdh of Kauthar, and will call out to them, my ummah, my ummah! And it will be said, “but you don’t know what they did after you”, and they will be shoed away. Eesa ibn Maryam will be asked about his followers, but not held accountable for them. The followers of Sayyina Musa (Moses) AS, worshipped a calf in his absence, but he was not held accountable for them. Did that make them bad leaders? Bad teachers? Musa was a chosen by Allah. Yet, his people abused him. The Prophet was the Beloved of Allah, yet, people apostate after his death, and innovated in religion.

Both, Muslim leaders and people who follow them are accountable to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. A leader has his duty, and people (who are not leaders), or followers have their duty. That is the point. So we can dig ourselves out of a lawless situation.

I know many, many Imams, none of them were or are perfect including myself. However, every single one of them from amongst our people were and are dedicated servants to the cause. Whether they had big plans or simple plans, they all stood their ground and were dedicated. Some had much help, some had little help. Some were endowed with wealth and most are poor. Most have small circles, 2-5 people whom they can trust or depend on. Imams are also targets. The more he is liked, the more effective he is, the more he is a target.

Back in the day we used to give bay’at to the Imam. Some of us still do. Bay’at means that you tell him straight, but you got his back, and that you support him in what’s right openly. The imam is a shield, and when a person makes bay’at to an imam, it strengthens that shield because people know that he is not alone. The laws regarding Imams and Amirs in Islam are strict very strict. In todays time, most people couldn’t handle what Islam says about Imams or Amirs. Our view of Imams is different today. We hardly give them the honor that pastors have in the church. People expect Imams to be like stage performers. We hardly support Imams anymore. We clap for them, or excoriate them, and ever so ready to tear them down.

An Imam has to trust his wife, people around him. He wouldn’t be a good Imam if he didn’t start off giving the benefit of the doubt. He as no choice. One of the worst possible things for an Imam is when he trusts you, and you are deceiving him. The Messengers of Allah were Imams too. Most of them were betrayed or deceived. Even Jesus, the son of Mary (AS). People will find every reason in the world not to support an Imam, even when he is upright and calling to the truth. This is why the Prophet (SAWS) said, “whomever dies and does not have a bay’at attached to his neck, (has no bay’at) then he has died the death of jaahiliyya. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to hell, it just means that you died in a state of ignorance.

And Allah knows best. – Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad. Support at cash app to: $abulaith2

The Gritty Side of Muslim Aqeeda Wars, 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, His oneness, or his attributes. 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. It is not incumbent upon every Muslim to possess advanced, scholar-grade knowledge of aqeeda; that is a common misconception of some people. For the everyday Muslim, such information is necessitated on an as-needed basis.

The first books about aqeeda were written during the time of the taabi’een starting with Imam Ibn Shihaab az-Zuh’ri, (died 124 AH/741-2 CE),. The written discipline of aqeeda further evolved during the first part of the second century of the Hijra when Imam Malik ibn Anas (711–795 CE / 93–179 AH), 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 (699-767 CE). Imam Shaafi’ee was born the same year that Abu Hanfah died, (150 AH). Hewrote 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 that are the foundational principles 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 t hasn’t stopped, even until this very day. It continues.

There is nothing new about aqeeda wars 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, especially amongst converts and Black 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 and sectarian hatchet and an avenue for extreme discord and transgression.

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, as well as deviants, in the case of Ibn Tayiyyah, 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 Black 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. 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 and sisters in advanced 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”.

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, is itself practice that contradicts the aqeeda of Islam.

The concept that after taking their shahaadah, a Muslim has to openly denounce every belief, and every principle he previously held, or denounce every idol, every ideology, every thought that is counter to Islam, is not something established or practiced by the Prophet ﷺ. This 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.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a life long Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam.

Imam Luqman Ahmad is an Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo Ohio. He can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com 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 imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

[1] Muslim.

[2] Bukhaari.

[3] Bukhaari

[4] Muslim.

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

image2016 Top Ten Priorities for American Muslims

(faith based list)

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

Top Priorities for American Muslims (Politically based list)

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

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

Are Black American Muslims Arguing Themselves Into Oblivion? By Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad


The Prophet said, “No people ever went astray, after they were guided, except that they were overcome by arguing”. [at-Tirmithi]

la tanaaza'ooWe have particular pathologies as a people. Nearly every new issue is polemicized with us, as if it is some sort of Black Muslim ritual. We follow the same pattern. Take an issue, argue about it, create further splintering, no resolve to the issue, the issue fades away, another dimension of splintering remains, while we await the next argument. And with us, every issue is worth fighting amongst ourselves about, and it goes on over and over again like clockwork. After a half a century of this incessant type of circular insanity, we have to conclude that perpetually arguing about our religion does not, and cannot ever make sense.

One thing that is clear. Muslims like to debate and argue with each other. We are a contentious people to say the least. I can’t speak for everyone else, but indigenous American Muslims seem to have an unhealthy appetite for arguing, and debating. We argue about aqeeda, we argue about food, we argue about clothes, we argue about family ties, we argue about polygamy, and who can marry who, who has the most hate for the kuffaar, who is imitating the kuffaar, and we argue what constitutes kufr and who’s faith is at risk. We argue about who is on the haqq (truth), and who is not. We argue about Allah, we argue about his Holy names and attributes, we argue about His mercy, who deserves it and who doesn’t. We argue about who is guided and who is astray, and we don’t stop arguing, night or day.  We argue about the length of our pants, the shortness of our beards, and we even argue about the sajda marks on our foreheads, and the permissibility of partitions in the masaajid between men and women.

The culture of arguing and sectarianism has become part and parcel of Muslim life in the United States. It is alive and well, and has found a home amongst indigenous American Muslims in our masaajid, in our dialogue, and in our relationships with one another. We argue about groups, we argue about gatherings, and we argue about saying hello to a stranger. We argue about alliances and disavowal and we argue about friends as well as enemies. We argue about sects of Islam, even ones that do not exist anymore. We argue about words, we argue about the meanings of words, and we argue about the meanings of the meanings of words. We argue about class, we argue about race, and we argue about titles that we make up and proclaim to be sanctified. We invent new titles and then argue about those.

We argue about the prohibited things, we argue about the permissible things, and we seem to argue most unfalteringly about the things that are in between. When we get tired of that, we find new things to make prohibited and then argue about that. We argue about fiqh, we argue about tafseer, we argue about theology, and we even argue about whether a person can recite the Quran in a melodious voice. We argue about thikr, we argue about thikr beads, and we argue about how many times a person may glorify his or her Lord. We even argue about circles of thikr around which the angels gather.

We’ll take something that is clear, and befuddle it so that we can argue about it. We even argue about arguing, and argue about ways to argue, what to argue about, who you should argue with and when you should argue with them, an who is best at arguing. Even that is not enough, so then we argue about who is not doing his or her fair share of arguing. We argue about verses in the Quran, we argue about ahaadeeth of the Prophet , and we argue about proofs, and we argue about the strength and weaknesses of prophetic tradition. We argue about people who have been in their graves for centuries, and we argue about who will be amongst the inhabitants of paradise, while none of us has ever stepped foot upon it.

We argue about books of religious knowledge, we argue about who has knowledge and the places where knowledge can be found. We argue about speeches and we argue about what the Imam said in last week’s khutbatul Jum’ah.  We argue about holidays, we argue about days of the year, we argue about crescent moon sightings, and the days of the Eid.  We argue about people’s intentions, and whether they should state their intentions or keep it silent and we argue about things that are known only to Allah. We argue about who has taqwa, who is a believer, who is an infidel, who is righteous, and who is a deviant. and we argue about  how a person points his finger in tashaahhud. We argue about where you place your hands during the salaat and whether or not your feet should be parallel with the person next to you or at an angle.

We argue about da’wah, the methods of da’wah, what constitutes da’wah, and who is qualified to give da’wah. We argue about how a person comes to Islam, and how a person takes his or her shahaadah. Even after people become Muslim, we argue about the conditions of the shahaadah, which masjid is worthy or less worthy of his or her attendance, and whether or not they can read from a book to help them complete their prayer. We argue about the word convert, revert, and what type of Muslim is the real Muslim. We argue about socks, finger nail polish, and whether or not a sister has to wear black gloves. We argue about make-up, we argue about baseball caps, and we argue about coffee, American sports, and the world cup. We argue about America. (We really like to argue about America), being an American, and whether we have to make Hijra from our country.

We argue about the Prophet’s birthday, we argue about baby showers, we argue about anniversaries and we argue about things that we do every year. We argue about how to raise our children, we argue about the money we drop in the zakat box, we argue about charity, and we argue about wearing sunglasses. We argue about joining a club, going to a non-Muslim college, and we argue about who is capable or incapable of understanding the religion. We argue about revolution, we argue about Muslim leaders, and we argue about who can collect the zakat.

We argue about patriotism, loving your own country, and standing up to show someone respect. We even have arguments about the pictures that appear on your driver’s license. We argue about women attending burials, reciting the Quran over the sick, and we argue about people paying their last respects to their dead. We argue about funerals, about visiting the graves, and we argue about the cost of a coffin, and the length of kafan. We argue about wearing boots in the masjid, we argue about soap, and we argue about sitting down to a dinner table. We argue about voting, we argue about making bay’at to an imam, we argue about declaring citizenship and we argue about whom can be included in a majlis as-ashura

We argue about witr, we argue about the qunoot, and we argue about when a person should end his suhoor of Ramadan. We argue in defense of shuyookh, we argue in defense of our sect, or our group, and we argue about skittles, Doritos, and slices of cheese. Wives argue about their husbands, husbands argue about how many wives they should have and people fight in the masaajid over the color of someone’s clothing. When we run out of things to argue about, we invent new things and then argue about that. We are a people who are beset with arguing. We argue in the masaajid, we argue on the internet, we argue on the phone, and we argue face to face. If we had leaders, then perhaps we could let our leaders argue, but most of us don’t and that is another argument all by itself. So we are left beloveds, to argue the time away, getting very little done in the process. Some people have more arguments to their credit than they have prayers. Some people even live for the next argument, as if it is an addiction.

Many Muslims have grown weary of arguing, and have lost the heart to do to much of anything in the way of building, or establishing the deen. There are just enough people who are willing to argue every word, every point, and every fatwa and beat people over the head with it, creating hardship, sowing doubt and spreading discord within the indigenous American Muslim community that people have lost the will to move forward on hardly anything. This is the natural result of tanaazu’ تنازع   (contention). It is the discord, and dissention itself, which causes people lose heart and give up. They are simply tired of arguing.  “And obey Allah and His Messenger; and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: For Allah is with those who patiently persevere”.  All these years of arguing back and forth, and pointing fingers at each other and very little to show for it except broken families, broken friendships, broken down masaajid, crumbling communities, children who left the religion, some killed in the streets, or doing time in prison, and an abundance of illiteracy, unemployment, and single parent households.

So after all the fighting, all the arguing, and all the turmoil that resulted from it, where has it gotten us? Especially for the indigenous Black-American Muslim community in America who in most cases have no imam, are not a committed member of an Muslim community, under no type of Muslim leadership. Arguing has become a lifestyle for many; a lifestyle of debating. We even are on behalf of people who have long since stopped arguing. So what is the net gain from it all? The answer is not much. Some would say, nothing at all. So was it worth it? Have we had enough, or do we want to continue another fifty years of fussing and arguing with each other. There are signs that American Muslims are starting to see the futility of incessant arguing about religion. That is a topic of another discussion. I guess time will tell, and Allah knows best.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, a researcher and Associate Imam and Khateeb  at Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Ohio.  He is also and the author of the new book, “Double Edged Slavery “, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a look at the ideological underpinning of modern-day Salafists and author of the recent book “Killing Marriage in Black Muslim America“. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

Racial Politics in Muslim America, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imam Luqman Ahmad.


[1] Quran, 49:11.

[2] Quran, 49:13.

Advice for Muslim Brothers Who Still Want to Run the Streets, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

[There is hardly anything more unbecoming of manhood, than a grown man, who is married with children, still running the streets, kicking it with his homies]. -Imam Luqman Ahmad-

North philly
A lot of brothers still want to hang in the streets. I understand the lure of the streets. Lights, cameras and action, and maybe a few dollars here and there, but the problem is, many brothers are getting caught up, beaten down, and eaten alive up by the streets. The streets will chew you up, and spit you out, and won’t even remember your name. It will turn you into a number, and have your butt writing letters from a jail cell, and wearing an orange jumpsuit for the rest of your life, or at least for a big chunk of it.
Sometimes the streets will just take you down like you just a mere statistic, and the next thing you know, you’re in a casket with the choir singing, and the Pastor, praying to Jesus (AS) over you, talking bout you was saved. If you’re fortunate, the brothers will get a hold your body, lower you in the ground like a Muslim, and make du’aa for you, all the while, feeling some kind of way, because the Prophet (SAWS) said; “each servant will be raised (on the Day of Judgment) upon what he died on”.[Muslim]

Sometimes, Allah just turns you into a living example of someone who plays with the deen and you be one of those dudes walking around, shuffling his feet, mumbling, and talking to himself. Or you’ll end up as a joker; one of those has been dudes, who lost your wife, your kids and your family, completely broken down, of no benefit to nobody, and still can’t even say the Faaitiha correct. Don’t say it doesn’t happen because I have seen it with my own eyes.

Any Muslim man who is afraid of taking on the responsibility of marriage and parenthood, cannot reasonably be depended upon in hardly anything in the way of establishing this deen. Too many brothers use the religion of Islam as a game, without realizing the damage they are doing to the ummah, and to successive generations. it is one thing to be unable, it’s another thing to be a coward, or a P.A.N.; and we all know what a P.A.N. is.
So lemme tell you something brothers; there is a big difference in being in the streets, getting your halal hustle on when necessary, and being a joker, calling himself Muslim, hanging in the streets, kicking it wit da homies. Nothing wrong with gettin the grind on, and sometimes, there is no other choice but that. However, when those demons in the streets start to follow you back home, and wreak havoc in your family, many times destroying it, that ain’t cool. If a brother gonna be in the streets like that, he better know how to find a masjid for Jum’ah and be able to shake and move, so he’s not bringing the streets home to where he lays his head, and where his wife and children live.

Some brothers trek out into the street and come back with diseases and illegitimate babies. Sometimes they say they are heading to the store for milk and cereal and come back on bail. Lots of times, brother simply get stuck in quicksand. Some parts of the streets are where, once you step in it, you ain’t coming back home. I can’t tell you how many brothers were dippin and dabbin in the streets and got snared and never made it back on Siraatul Mustaqeem. Some of them we’ve had to go see behind bars, and there are still others, we had to end up doing a janaazah over them. I come from the old school; Muslim men ain’t got no business running the streets for nothing. They shouldn’t be rolling with the unbelievers on the block, and kicking it with them like they’re bosom buddies, unless you are doing straight up da’wah cuz, birds of a feather, flock together. Or better still, the Prophet (SAWS) said: “a person is on the deen of his close friend”.

You should only really warn he who follows the Message and fears the (Lord) Most Gracious, unseen: give such a one, therefore, good tidings, of Forgiveness and a Reward most generous”. (Quran, 36:11)
Bottom line; If you wanna rub shoulders with the kuffaar on the block, and kick it with them, then you should be prepared to give them straight up, hard core, da’wah to Islam. Straight up da’wah means that you drop the truth on them, without watering it down, and you keep it movin. Hardcore, means that if they take the da’wah, and want more, you put him on your hip, drop more word on him, and get him on your program, and give him the glad tidings. If they don’t take the da’wah, don’t want to listen, think it’s a joke, or are just not ready, you keep it movin, take care of your business, swing by the Masjid for Ishaa, and head home. That’s how Muslim men supposed to get down when it comes to the streets.

If you are a grown up, married man, and you still insist on hanging in the street, just chillin, doing nuthin, then check this out; The Prophet said, “Beware! Avoid sitting on the roads.” They (the people) said, “O Allah s Apostle! We can’t help sitting (on the roads) as these are (our places) here we have talks.” The Prophet said, ‘ l f you refuse but to sit, then pay the road its right ‘ They said, “What is the right of the road, O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, ‘Lowering your gaze, refraining from harming others, returning greeting, and enjoining what is good, and forbidding what is evil.” [Bukhaari]. If you are addicted to street life, then at least have a purpose.
This is what we teach: You roll like this; Home, work, and Masjid. Outside of that; everyday errands, visit some family, get out to handle necessary business, a little halal recreation now and then, school, if you’re on that mission, occasional dates time with the wife, and then back home with the family. It ain’t even that complicated.

Imam Abu Muhammad Luqman Ahmad
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center, Sacramento California.

imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com

Audio Khutba: Call Yourselves into Account Before You Are Called into Account, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

scales and gavelIt is an expectation from Allah that the Muslim Ummah police itself and call itself into account, and that we as a ummah, stand up for what is right. It is also expected that we as individuals stand up for what we believe, and put it into practice to the best our ability. It is unacceptable that during these times, Muslims abandon its role as an ummah that stands up for righteousness, even it’s against our own-selves. This is the topic of this khutbatul Jum’ah recorded at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento Ca. Click on the link below to take a listen.

New Book Release! The Devil’s Deception of the Modern-Day Salafiyyah Sect, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

salafi book cover amazonThe modern-day Salafiyyah, or Salafiyyism, or the Da’wah Salafiyyah has done much to highlight the Sunna of the prophet (SAWS), and its importance. However, in the process of spreading the new ideology of, “The modern-day Salafiyyah, many of its proponents have perhaps unintentionally made casualties out of the very persons for whom the so-called “da’wah Salafiyyah” was intended.

Excerpts: “For many practicing Muslims, Salafiyyah is a bitter dose of questionable medicine. No one committed to this religion rejects the Salaf as-Saalih or the principles on which they agreed. However, the Salafis and their modern-day da’wah do not suit the tastes of all the righteous. Too much of their methodology revolves around character assassination, claims of monopoly on Allah’s guidance, a fanatical obsession with uncovering the faults of the Muslim”.

Another Excerpt: [Salafiyyism as presented by its modern-day adherents is not a simple methodology; it is a myriad of ideals, slogans and tendencies which burdens the average Muslim with understanding complex issues of theology, jurisprudence, exegesis, hadith methodology, language etc. It effectively abrogates the simplicity of tawheed and gradual assimilation of the Quran and Sunna, and replaces it with unreasonable demands of immediate perfection] -Imam Luqman Ahmad.

[Taken from the new book from Lotus Tree Publications; ‘The Devil’s Deception of the Modern-Day Salafi Sect’ by Imam Luqman Ahmad] available now @ imamluqman.com. Get your copy of this important and pertinent book today!
Go to imamluqman.com to order your copy. Or you can get it at Amazon.com.

Free Audio Khutba: Da’waat Mus’tajaaba: The Supplications of the Prophet (SAWS), by Imam Luqman Ahmad

Da'waat Mus'tajaabaatIn the sunna of the Prophet (SAWS), there are many ways of calling upon Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, and in this khutbatul Jum’ah taped @ Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, we explain in sha Allah  a few of the oft repeated du’aa of the Prophet (SAWS) their profound meanings, and what they mean for you as a Muslim. Listen to this recording beloved, you will be amazed at the wisdom of the Prophet (SAWS) and the beauty and the depth of guidance contained in the supplications of Rasoolillah. Wal Allahul Musta’aan

001_A_009_abulaith_Da’waat Muztajaaba_2013_01_25

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