Are Indigenous 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'ooOne 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 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. 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 currency, 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 African-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 Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the CEO of ‘Mosque Without Borders’, an organization that address Muslim sectarianism. He is also and the author of the new book, “Double Edged Slavery “, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a look at the ideological underpinning of modern-day Salafists. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.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.

The Alcohol, Crack Pipe and Lottery Ticket Da’wah, By Imam Luqman Ahmad

Liquor stores

One of the reasons that Muslims who knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate marginalization have very little to say is that their argument cannot hold to a legitimate discussion. Our scriptures unequivocally reject marginalization or oppression of one Muslim people by another. This is one reason why the issue of Muslim owned liquor stores is a muted discussion in Muslim America despite its devastatingly harmful effects on our inner city neighborhoods. The neighborhoods where many of us live and do da’wah. Such a terrible blemish on the legacy of Islam in America.

So what does beer and alcohol, lottery tickets, drug paraphernalia, and pornography have to do with Muslims living in inner city America? Well ideally, the two should be worlds apart. After all, the religion of Islam is strictly against all of the above. Besides, we as a society are all too well aware of the dangers of illegal drugs, alcohol, gambling and pornography. Volumes have been written and researched about the harms of these things.  However, at least for now, the two appear to be inextricably connected to one another. It seems that almost every place that you find Muslims and masaajid in inner city neighborhoods in America, you’ll find nearby, Muslim owned liquor and party stores.

Thus, in the inner cities America, where the majority of converts to Islam reside, you have two competing da’wah messages coming from the Muslim community; you have the da’wah of the masaajid and faith community, calling for worship of One God (tawheed), social stability, morality, freedom from drugs and alcohol, aversion to pornography and freedom from gambling, and then you have the da’wah from a portion of the Muslim business community that says that we are just here to make money, at any cost. Theirs is a message that facilitates and profits from the use of illegal drugs and alcohol, and encourages people to gamble away their money on lottery tickets, and buy over the counter pornography. Welcome to the reality of modern-day Muslim America; Salaamu alaikum boss, have a Hennessy.

All across this great land, thousands of unscrupulous Muslim businessmen have set up shop in poor neighborhoods populated primarily by African Americans and Hispanics where they are purveyors of alcohol, beer, lottery tickets, drug paraphernalia, and pornography, all in the name of making a buck. They cater to, and aid and abet the very harmful types of activities that our Lord, be He Exalted and Glorified, has condemned and prohibited in His Own Holy Words, and that have proven to be destructive to individuals, families and neighborhoods. Sometimes you can even find behind the cash register counter on the wall, a placard with the name Allah or the name Muhammad, as if somehow the prominent display of Allah’s Holy Name will bless their endeavor or make up for the fact that they are selling alcohol and lottery tickets.

It some cities like Detroit, Chicago, friction has developed between African American residents in these neighborhoods and the Muslim businessmen (almost all immigrants) who have set up these liquor and party stores. Regardless of how much success a person may enjoy for his or her family in these types of business, there is no blessing in it and it does not offer real success in the long run:

 [“O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan’s handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper”. 5:90]

The thousands of Muslim businessmen who prominently sell alcohol, pornography, lottery tickets and all sorts of drug paraphernalia in our neighborhoods and act like leeches, preying upon the addict and the alcoholic, constitutes one of the most disgusting ironies of Muslim life in America. That is undermines the teachings of our beloved religion of Islam and of the work of the masaajid in this country is an understatement. It seems that across the country, no low income neighborhood is unscathed from this scourge. Just take a walk through any of the low income neighborhoods in any major American city; Harlem, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Charleston, Buffalo, New Haven and in many others, you will find a non-nondescript Mosque attended primarily by converts to Islam and right near it you will find Muslim owned liquor stores. Even if there is no masjid in these neighborhoods, there will be Muslim owned liquor stores.

Muslims who try to invite people to Islam in these neighborhoods often face an increasingly uphill battle as they try to convince people of Islam’s moral value. As one young Muslim put it; “here we are on one corner, inviting people to Islam and explaining to them the morality of Islam, and the detriment of a 40 ounce drinking, weed smoking, crack smoking lifestyle, while there is a Muslim business on the other corner selling them everything they need to partake in that behavior”. It’s interesting to note that in my hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the city that without a doubt the da’wah (call) to Islam has penetrated more than any other American city and the city where there is less opposition to Islam and Muslims than in other major American cities, all of the liquor stores are owned by the State of Pennsylvania, and the beer market is dominated by Asians and indigenous Americans. The phenomena of the Muslim owned liquor store does not exist in Philly, and probably contributes in some way to the mass acceptance of Islam amongst people in that city.

Liquor, beer and drinkable intoxicants are a 50 billion dollar industry and Muslim liquor store owners are amongst the wealthiest and most affluent members of our communities. Many of them try to justify their businesses by saying that they are not selling to Muslims while others offer no justification at all and simply retort that this is America and they can do whatever they want. Some are marginally repentant when asked about it and say that they are only trying to support their families and many say that part of the proceeds from their liquor sales is to support poor Muslims in their home countries. Still no matter how you look at it or try to rationalize it, the prominence of liquor and party stores that sell in addition to high priced groceries; beer, wine, liquor, lottery tickets, and drug paraphernalia is not a good thing and does not represent what the majority of Muslims in America want to be known for.

This issue is particularly disturbing and troublesome to American Muslim converts, many of whom live in these neighborhoods. Why is that? You might ask. Well the reason is many converts to Islam in America have come from a lifestyle that includes alcohol, drugs, gambling, and sexual promiscuity. So the notion that fellow Muslims would come to this country, a place where there are so many opportunities to be in any business you want, and make it their business to sell alcohol, pornography, drug paraphernalia, and lottery tickets in neighborhoods that we live in and that are already suffering from the ills of these products, is absolutely reprehensible. It’s sickening! Imagine if during the time of the Prophet (SAWS), people converted to Islam and found that the Muslims, people who they look up to and admiring the faith they profess, were in their neighborhoods promoting idol worship, selling idols, selling swine, and selling alcohol!

In a recent Lotus Tree Poll[1] conducted on a prominent social network, over 90% of respondents felt that the existence of Muslim owned liquor stores in America’s inner cities is a detriment to the da’wah to Islam. 93% felt that it contributes to the negative image of Islam in America, and nearly 96% feel that is takes away Allah’s blessing.  One has to wonder if some of the turmoil, famine, poverty, and unrest that we see today in Muslim countries is not a result of the ways we are handling our affairs. It’s bad enough that Afghanistan, a Muslim country, is the #1 producer of heroin and is responsible for 75% of the world’s opium production according to the New York Times[2] and other sources. Now we have Muslims business owners right in our own back yard, profiting and contributing to the ills of drug addiction and its deleterious effect upon our communities.

 [Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned, that ((Allah)) may give them a taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from Evil).” 30:41]

As the world grows smaller, we as Muslim must increasingly concern ourselves with events and actions that not only affect individual Muslim but have a profound impact upon modern Muslim civilization; here in the United States as well as abroad. Muslim Americans must take a clear and decisive moral stance against this plague. Many converts and indigenous Muslims have tried and some have made a little headway. However, I doubt very much that we will ever get a handle on this issue until the immigrant community as a group stands up to this behavior and makes it unacceptable. Many of these liquor store owners have served on boards of masaajid and Islamic Centers are touted in the Muslim communities as examples of successful Americans.

This is a difficult issue to address, and nearly half of the people in the Lotus tree Poll mentioned earlier, felt that there is an unwritten taboo against speaking about it publicly. However, whether you care to accept it or not, this is indeed an issue of consequence. There has been a long-held belief by many of the Muslim businessmen who sell alcohol and drug paraplegia that since we are in the United States, our divine religious and spiritual laws of morality and common good do not apply. Nothing could be farther from the truth.  This is not a matter of anyone being holier than thou, or an unwarranted attack upon Muslim business in America. This is merely a reminder that Allah is our Lord;  we are accountable to Him, Islam is our religion and that we, not withstanding our faults because all of us are only human, have a standard of righteousness and morality that we must attempt to uphold, despite the way the world is moving. Every people shall have their time upon this earth. This is our time, and what we do, does in fact matter. And Allah knows best. Imam Abu Muhammad Luqman Ahmad

 

Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom and Executive Director of Mosque Without Borders. He can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, a researcher and Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the CEO of ‘Mosque Without Borders’, an organization that address Muslim sectarianism. He is also and the author of the new book, “Double Edged Slavery “, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.


[1] Quran, 4:1.

[2] Quran, 3:19

[3] Quran, 7:158

[4] Quran, 98:5

[5] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[6] Collected by Muslim.

The Islamic Ruling Regarding Morals and Ethics on Social Networks, by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

social networking 2Social networking can be an effective tool for maintaining contact with relatives, giving sincere advice, inviting to Islam, spreading the word of Allah, and disseminating the words of His Prophet (SAWS), as the Prophet has said: “inform about me, even if it’s only one verse.[1] All of these actions mentioned are praiseworthy manifestations of faith if done with the right intention and in the right manner. Millions of Muslims across the world use facebook and other social networking outlets to do these things on a daily basis. Internet networking is the new international meeting place, and it can be a sometimes, spiritually uplifting, engaging, and profitable venue for global interconnection, spreading good, and familiarization of peoples from different backgrounds, cultures, and faiths. Human beings by our nature, are social beings, and social interconnectivity by itself is not prohibited in Islam, as Allah has indeed sanctioned it;

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

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. 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)”.[2]What is not sanctioned however is that people connect with one another and engage in behavior in ways that are prohibited by the Quran and the Sunna and that contradict the moral and ethical standards of our faith.

One of the first common casualties of social networking is shame

One of the first casualties of online social networking is modesty (hiyaa).  The Prophet (SAWS) said: “And modesty  is a branch of faith”. When a Muslim loses shame then they have lost a part of their faith. Facebook is a public forum; the words you say and conversations that you have on Facebook and other social media are public. You are willingly stating your views, your positions, your beliefs, and your personal discretions out there for public consumption. Therefore, if you openly report your sins without shame or modesty, then you are telling the world that you are a sinner. Therefore, If you openly and shamelessly backbite, then you are telling the world that you are an open backbiter, and if you glowingly talk about your escapades with your boyfriend or girlfriend, then you are telling the world that you are an open fornicator. You are still accountable for it but you are now deliberately publicizing it. Deliberately publicizing something is called (mujaahara) and mujaahara of sin, is itself a sin, and it shows that you lack modesty.

 Ibn Abbaas said: “Shame and faith are in the same horn, when shame is taken away, the other follows”[3]. And Salmaan al-Faarisee relates: “when Allah wants destruction for a person, he takes shame away (from his heart).  The invisible wall of the internet sometimes lures people into a false sense of anonymity and they become unabashedly immodest.  When people start to lose modesty/shame, their faith as a whole begins to dwindle, and it can continue to where they have no shame at all. This is why the Prophet said: “If you do not feel any shame, then do as you wish[4]. People put out things shamelessly and fool themselves into thinking that since they are behind a computer screen, there are no repercussions for what they do and say, and all they need to do to hide is to turn off their computer. That is a wrong asumption.

The difference between public and private actions in Islam

When you intentionally publicize something to the world, you are making a public statement about yourself, who you are, what you believe, and what you are about. With respect to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, is doesn’t matter if what is said is done in private, or done publicly, each is accounted for;

سَوَاء مِّنكُم مَّنْ أَسَرَّ الْقَوْلَ وَمَن جَهَرَ بِهِ وَمَنْ هُوَ مُسْتَخْفٍ بِاللَّيْلِ وَسَارِبٌ بِالنَّهَارِ

It is all alike [to Him] whether any of you conceals his thougt or brings it into the open, and whether he seeks to hide [his evil deeds] under the cover of night or walks [boldly] in the light of day”.[5]

With respect to the public, when you publicize things to people without shame, you give them license to form opinions about you that you, yourself, have confirmed. There is the additional harm of opening yourself up to criticism, recrimination, and ruining your reputation. Facebook is a public forum; the words you say and conversations that you have on Facebook and other social media are public. If you unabashedly lie to the public, then you only confirm to them that you are a liar. If you are unabashedly lewd to the public, then you confirm to them that you are lewd.

Everything on Facebook is recorded

Everything that you put on your facebook page becomes a permanent record that will bear witness for, or against you on the Day of Judgment. The angels that record words and deeds are not intimidated by the internet; and even though you can set your privacy settings to limit access for people, there is no way that a person can shield his or her online actions from them or from Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. Sometimes people are misled into thinking that since we are sitting comfortably ensconced in our homes out of view from the public; our words and actions online do not fall under any divine jurisdiction and have no spiritual consequence. This could not be farther from the truth; every deed, and every word, is recorded;

And whoever does an atoms weight of good shall see it, and whoever does an atoms weight of bad shall see it”[6]. The angels who record deeds, and words, write down every word whether it is online or offline;

مَا يَلْفِظُ مِن قَوْلٍ إِلَّا لَدَيْهِ رَقِيبٌ عَتِيدٌ

[Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready (to note it).[7]]

Facebook Fitna

For all its benefit, Facebook like other social networks can be a great source of fitna (trial); an alarming amount of marriages have ended, been weakened or have been threatened by the involvement of one or both spouses in risky facebook activity. People are insulted, maligned and slandered, and in turn, are tempted to return insults, and often do.  Peoples sexual exploits are divulged shamelessly and people regularly report their offline sinful behavior. It is not permissible for a Muslim to use social networking as a means to cheat on one’s spouse, cultivate unlawful relationships, post revealing photographs, spread bedroom secrets, or to uncover the faults of others without just cause. All of the above are prohibited in Islam by agreement of the scholars, and have toxic consequences upon the soul.

Likewise, we shouldn’t use the internet to make fun of people, exhibit bad character, or to backbite and slander one another. Those of you who are looking for spouses should keep in mind that it will only take a few clicks for your potential husband or wife to see the extent of your bad character, in fact the world can see it and all who see it or read it will bear witness to it. Some people have taken it upon themselves to use social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, to show the worst behavioral qualities that they have to the public. Remember, whatever any one of us puts out on the internet, multiplies and can spread way beyond our control.

How Sins or virtues are multiplied on Facebook

When it comes to good words or good deeds, they are automatically multiplied by at least tenfold; [مَن جَاء بِالْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا وَمَن جَاء بِالسَّيِّئَةِ فَلاَ يُجْزَى إِلاَّ مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لاَ يُظْلَمُونَ] “He that doeth good shall have ten times as much to his credit: He that doeth evil shall only be recompensed according to his evil: no wrong shall be done unto (any of) them.[8] However, bad words and statements, on the other hand, require more caution; a bad word, bad action or deed under normal circumstances, by itself constitutes only one infraction or sinful act. However, when you take into account the duplicitous nature of internet posting in that information is often re-tweeted, re-posted and forwarded to and read by others, who in turn, repeat the information, a single bad word, false statement, accusation or slander is multiplied exponentially, so one personal attack is not just one personal attack, it can easily become 1,000,000 personal attacks, and one heretical statement becomes 1,000,000 heretical statements. Then it’s all written down and goes on a scale that we will see on the Day of Judgment.

This is why the Prophet (SAWS) said: “A person will say something that angers Allah and not give it any thought, then (that statement) will throw him into the hell-fire a distance of seventy autums[9]. A singular online statement of backbiting, slander, or disbelief, may multiply long after you have logged out of your computer, and become a cause for your own spiritual ruin. May Allah protect us from that.

Good and Bad Precedents

This is the true danger of using bad words, bad adab and bad judgment when posting, liking or commenting on things using the internet, is that since it is a public forum, you increase the likelihood that someone else will follow your example. As in the hadith of Jarir ibn Abdullah, who reported the Prophet (SAWS) as saying; “Whoever sets a good precedent in Islam will have the reward for that and the reward of those who do it after him, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. And whoever sets a bad precedent in Islam will bear the burden of sin for that, and the burden of those who do it after him, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.[10] It is important for Muslims to be aware of the potential consequences for what they are posting. In the hadith of Abu Hurraira, he said: the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: “Whoever calls others to guidance will have a reward like that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. And whoever calls others to misguidance will have a burden of sin like that of those who follow it, without it detracting from their burden in the slightest.[11] With respect to the two previously mentioned hadith, Imam Nawawi says; “These two ahaadeeth clearly encourage us to set good precedents and forbid setting bad precedents. The one who sets a good precedent will have a reward like that of everyone who follows it until the Day of Resurrection, and the one who sets a bad precedent will have a burden of sin like that of everyone who follows it until the Day of Resurrection. The one who calls others to right guidance will have a reward like that of those who follow it, and the one who calls others to misguidance will have a burden of sin like that of those who follow it, whether this guidance or misguidance is something that he initiated or it was started before him, and whether that is by teaching knowledge, acts of worship, etiquette or anything else”[12].

This is important to consider, because long after you have logged off of your computer, deleted your social network account, changed your profile, or in some way shielded your identity, your actions are still spreading and having consequences. This can continue long after your soul has left your body and you are in your grave. It is common that people post and say things that they give no second thought to, and it will turn out that those statements and posts will result in their being thrown into the hell-fire. In the hadith of Abu Hurraira, the Prophet (SAWS) said: “A slave of Allah might say something which pleases Allah Almighty without realizing it on account of which Allah raises him some degrees. A slave of Allah might say something which angers Allah Almighty without realizing it on account of which he falls into Jahannam.[13]

Major infractions we commit on Facebook

Spreading marital secrets.

 The Prophet (SAWS) said: “Verily among the worst people before Allâh on the Day of Judgment is a man who approaches his wife sexually and she responds and then he spreads her secrets.”[1] This is when either a husband or a wife, and sometimes boyfriend and girlfriend pretending to be married, discloses about their personal bedroom manners. This is prohibited behavior in Islam and has terrible spiritual consequences, and places people amongst the worst people on the Day of Judgment.


[1] Collected by Muslim, Ibn Abi Shayba, and others.

Heretical statements or sentiments

Another common problem that we see are when people make statements, or take positions that are tantamount to kufr (heresy); such as when people openly reject verses of the Quran, or authentic  hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) without any ta’weel [acceptable interpretation] . A person may state on facebook or another social network like YouTube, twitter or instagram and say, I believe such and such a thing, or so and so is correct when they say such and such a thing, all the while, the statement that they make or say they believe in is a statement of unbelief. Kufr, does not cease to be kufr, just because it’s on the internet.

Speaking without knowledge

Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala makes it clear; وَلاَ تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولـئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْؤُولاً   [“And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning).”][15]  Too often, people make claims about religious matters without having any knowledge. It is common that people make their own tafseer of the Quran, or ignore agreed upon positions of Islamic scholarship, many times, committing heresy in the process. The Prophet said: “Whoever speaks about the Quran without knowledge, then let him have his seat in Hellfire.” [Tirmithi]. Making capricious statements about Quranic verses is a cardinal sin. Even if the person happens to be correct, the fact alone that he or she takes such liberties as to freely interpret the sacred word of the Almighty God Allah, after it had been sent down from seven heavens, delivered by the archangel Jib’reel to the Prophet (SAWS) and preserved in the hearts of men is enough to warrant condemnation.  “The Prophet said: ”He who speaks about the Quran on the basis of his own opinion, he commits an error even if he is right”. [Tirmithi and Dawood]

Disclosing the faults of others

This has become rampant on face book and other social media. Many Muslims have followed the path of tabloid television and spend an inordinate amount of time in trying to disclose the faults of others; such behavior leads to punishment in this life and in the hereafter;
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحِبُّونَ أَن تَشِيعَ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِي الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

“Those who love to see scandal published (and) broadcast among the Believers will have a grievous Penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: Allah knows and ye know not”[16] (Quran, 19-24) The first principle to follow on this matter is to cover up your brother’s faults and resist scandal, based upon the hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) “Whosoever covers (the sins of) a Muslim, Allah covers (his sins) on the Day of Judgment”.

Backbiting and Slander

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it…But fear Allah. For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful”.[17]

Backbiting is the most heinous of sins, and bears grave consequences. The Prophet (SAWS) was reported to have said: “Allah may forgive a person if he repents after committing adultery. However, Allah will not forgive the one who backbites, till his victim forgives him.”[18]

Dear beloveds, let’s be mindful of what we post or comment on the internet because bad words, bad adab, profanity, personal attacks, false accusations, lewdness, and misinformation about the religion, has its consequences. Hiding behind online anonymity may work for some people to conceal their real identities from the public, but it doesn’t work with Allah; “And every human being’s destiny have We tied to his neck; and on the Day of Resurrection We shall bring forth for him a record which he will find wide open, and he will be told:] “Read this thy record,! Sufficient is thine own self today to make out thine account!” 17:13-14 Quran. Remember to think before you post, like or comment. And Allah knows best.

Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

Shaykh Luqman is the weekly Imam/Khateeb at the Islamic Society of Folsom in Northern California  and Executive Director of the Lotus Tree Institute, an American Muslim Think Tank based in California; he can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.


[1] Collected by Bukhaari

[2] Quran, 49:13

[3] Jaami’ Uloom wal Hikam, By Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, p. 248.

[4] Collected by Bukhaari.

[5] Quran, 13:10

[6] Quran, 99:7-8

[7] Quran, 50:18

[8] Quran, 6:160

[9] Collected by Imam Ahmad, and Abu Eesa at-Tirmithee.

[10] Collected by Muslim

[11] Collected by Muslim

[12] Sharhu Muslim 16/227-227

[13] Collected by Bukhaari

[14] Collected by Muslim, Ibn Abi Shayba, and others.

[15] Quran, 17:36

[16] Quran, 24:19

[17] Quran, 49:12

[18] Collected by al-Bayhaqi

Why Thugs Can’t Raise a Nation; The Importance of Good Parenting

Dear beloveds, you and I know that without a doubt, young black men are an endangered species. Today’s reality is that a young African-American male is more likely to be murdered on the street in Philadelphia or Chicago than he is to be killed as a soldier in the war in Afghanistan. It’s time to spread the message that thug life is not working to our advantage. This situation will exacerbate unless we as men, start to do something about it. We can’t do anything about the past except learn from it. However, we can do something about the present and the future. I implore you brothers first of all to embrace fatherhood in every possible way. Do it by any halal means available to you.

The problems in our community are systemic; they didn’t happen overnight. Fatherless homes, drug abuse, high incarceration rates, illiteracy, family violence, dysfunctional families, and teenage delinquency are taking a high toll in our communities.  This is a systemic problem, and there are hardly enough resources; men, families, programs and solid indigenous communities left to address these issues. We have a crisis on our hands and we can’t expect the government to fix this for us, and the so called thugs and wanna-be thugs in our communities aren’t helping. In my opinion, we’re going to have to start from the ground floor and strengthen our families and communities and establish new families, and we as men and women (especially men), have to shoulder our responsibilities to help insure that another generation of Muslims doesn’t end up repeating the cycle of dysfunction all over again. We have to make a decision as a people, to get off the roller coaster

Amongst the top priorities my brothers is to make it your mission to be a parent or a step parent, in the true sense. Relish in it, meet it head on, accept it, value it, immerse yourself in it, work it, embrace it, grab it by the horns, greet it with enthusiasm, cherish it, be about it, face it, love it, handle it, smile at it, get down on it, step up to the plate, seize it, man up to it, and don’t turn away from it, don’t be afraid of it, and do not let parenthood escape you. Be believing and dutiful parents beloveds; by any means necessary……

The best thing that you can pass down to your children is guidance; “Were ye witnesses when death appeared before Jacob? Behold, he said to his sons: “What will ye worship after me?” They said: “We shall worship Thy Allah and the Allah of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma’il and Isaac,- the one (True) Allah. To Him we bow (in Islam).” 2:133

In these last days, where children often do whatever they want, and effectively run the households of their parents, where teenage pregnancy is at an all-time high in our community, juvenile delinquency is common, and where it is acceptable that 25 and even 30-year-old young men sit around in their momma’s houses playing video games and smoking weed all day, we have got to address the issue of parenting and family order in our communities. Acting like a thug may look good on television but in my opinion, thugs can’t raise a nation. They can hardly hold down a good job! And for all you weed lovin, pill poppin, needle pushin, crack smoking, drug dealin, and meth takin parents; you just adding to the problem.

People have to start acting like grown-ups and start raising their children and not let their children raise them. You have to teach your children right from wrong and not let your home be ruled by the whims of a child, or be ruled by your own whims for that matter. When I see the extremely high rates of black on black killing, and crime in places like Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Compton, Detroit, and Brooklyn, I’m thinking; where are the parents? Where are the fathers?

The plight of our black youth in America is not just a police or school issue; it’s a parenting issue! Where are the parents in all of this? Where is the proper teaching and raising of children? Where are the examples of decency and rightful thinking in the family? For that matter, where are the families in our community. We’ve got plenty of baby mommas and baby daddies but very few real mothers and fewer real fathers.

I see too many mothers and fathers in their 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s trying to live like they are still teenagers. I see brothers paying more attention to their 20 inch rims on their car than they do to the proper care of their children. Perhaps the biggest problem with thugs and thug life is that many of them end up dead, addicts or in jail where they can’t help anyone. Too many children live a legacy where their dad is holed up in some state penitentiary, doing time.There’s nothing glamorous about that.

The time for excuses is over. Something has to be done. I don’t know the answer except to follow the guidance of Islam; get married, establish a family, be a dutiful husband, be a dutiful wife, be dutiful parents, teach your children morals, teach them religion, give them religious instruction, set boundaries for them, teach them right from wrong. Stay close to the masaajid and to the gatherings of Muslims. Eat together, pray together, do things together.

It is a tragedy that many of our men and woman have been conditioned to seek out the thug path, glorifying thug life, (street life), believing in the thug creed, (there is no right or wrong); it’s only what makes you happy. While worshiping the thug god, (money, gold, cars, and shiny things), and having   incarceration as a rite of passage, While idolizing and painting murals of other dead thugs. Whose daily staple is weed, who is fond of the forty, and who spend more on their dogs and their cars than they do on their own families. In the religion of the thug, they curse their absent fathers, defy their mothers, live off their women, and spend an hour in the mirror primping themselves.

The scriptures of the thug are the rhymes and raps of debauchery and narcissism. They have taken self-love to an extreme. They damn the virtues of righteousness, while mentioning the name of God, and sometimes Allah in the same breath. Thugs cannot raise a family, let alone a nation.  They don’t honor life; they only destroy it.  How many of our women are raising the illegitimate children of some has-been thug, who is doing time.

Make no doubt about it; the commander-in-chief of the thug nation is none other than Shaitaan himself. The cure to end the cycle of madness is Islam, but we first have to submit, submit in a total submission. O ye who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the evil one; for he is to you an avowed enemy.” 2:208  

With all due respect to the single mothers out there, and may Allah reward you for the extraordinary job you are doing. It takes men to raise men. With so many the men in our communities ether incarcerated, dead, gay, effeminate, emasculated, in the streets, on drugs, weeded out, washed up, faint of heart, or still, over forty, pretending that they are still teenagers, there just aren’t that many men left standing in our communities. So for those of you who are left; if you are able to shoulder a little extra responsibility, then now is the time. If you have to partner with other men of like minds, then do so. But don’t sit back and do nothing.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

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Hurdling the American Muslim Challenge, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

American Muslims have perhaps the best chance to alter the narrative of rage, extremism, tribalism, and Muslim on Muslim killing that’s been going on in the Muslim world. We have among us, Muslims from all over the world, from all cultures, backgrounds, languages, and math’habi or theological leanings. We have it within our grasp to change the status quo of sectarianism, intra-religious hostility, and classism based upon race, and ethnicity. In addition to that, we have the freedom to practice our faith, the freedom to dialogue in sincerity, to freedom to employ critical discernment in addressing our problems, and we have the freedom to make important decisions about what we want our future to look like. We should do everything possible not to waste this opportunity.

I’m not saying that it will be easy; but I do believe that it is well within the realm of possibility. However, it will require that we address issues of race, racism, ethnic separation, and religious sectarianism within our own ranks. It will also require that we learn to respect each other’s differences, cultures and social norms, and not impose upon each other practices that have been added to the religion that were not from it originally. One thing that we must keep in mind is that we are a diverse community; however, that diversity is only a virtue if we navigate it correctly by coming together. American Muslims have done extremely well in adjusting to a multi-cultural society and to get along with their neighbors, co-workers and fellow citizens. We just need to transfer that success to the way we deal with each other.

The biggest hurdle by far I think will be to reconcile between immigrant and indigenous American Muslim communities. People don’t like to admit it but we are still living with the tale of two Muslim Americas; one, made up of indigenous American converts and second generation Muslims, and the other, immigrant communities who by and large view indigenous American Muslims, most of whom are African-American, as subordinates. We don’t like to talk about this or even acknowledge it; nevertheless relations amongst the two groups of Muslims need work.

The very first snapshot of the Muslim community was not only multi-racial, it was egalitarian, as characterized in the hadith of Ammar; “I saw Allah’s Apostle and there was none with him but five slaves, two women and Abu Bakr”[1] (i.e. those were the only converts to Islam then).[2] The Prophet had little regard for anyone’s race, social status, wealth, ethnicity, influence, looks, physical prowess or defects when it came to his choice of associates, and neither should we. He preferred the company of the believers whomever they happened to be, and he valued those who possessed good character.

We have to be concerned not just about the future of Islam, but the future of Islamic civilization as we know it, and have to realize just what it is that we as Muslims have to offer to the world. Muslims all over the world are dependent upon the west; for technology, for military armaments and advanced weaponry, for systems management, for advanced education and for industrial advance.  The greatest asset that Muslims have to offer the world is Islam, that is, if we decide to believe in it, practice it and apply its moral principles to the emerging world civilization. I’m not talking about Taliban, or Salafi style imperialism here. I’m talking about the greater Islamic ideal of moral fortitude, justice, egalitarianism, and human rights.

Muslims must embrace the theory of Islamic idealism based upon justice, fairness and righteousness and apply it to our emerging civilization. We must demonstrate our ability to not only get along with each other but to work together a people of faith, as partners, and not as masters versus subordinates. Moral action during the Prophet’s time (SAWS) began with social justice at home and amongst your own people; it’s an idea whose time has come. Let us begin now. .

Imam LuqmanAhmad

American born Imam, Luqman Ahmad has been serving since 1996 is the Imam and Executive Director of a Northern California Mosque, [Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center]. He is a classically trained Imam who is a graduate of Omdurman Islamic University in the Sudan and has also studied at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca Saudi Arabia. He a memeber of NAIF [North American Imam’s Federation], a founding member of COSVIO [Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations] and a prominent and active member of the Sacramento Muslim community. He can be reached @ imamabulaith@yahoo.com., or read his blog @ imamluqman.wordpress.com.


[1] Collected by Bukhaari.

[2] Collected by Bukhaari.

Can Muslims Create an American Identity? By Imam Luqman Ahmad

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

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

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

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

Imam Luqman Ahmad

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

Essential Tips for Raising Muslim Children of Converts, by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

There is no perfect way to raise Muslim children in America, or in anywhere else, and in a complex society such as the United States, there are a lot of different elements which factor into the overall process of healthy child-rearing for Muslim American children; neighborhoods, education, background, family support, community participation, parental involvement, income, experience or lack of, knowledge of the deen, common sense, the role of father, as well as other factors.  Some of these things we have control over and others, we have no control over. However, there are principle elements of child-rearing that are based upon the Quran and the Sunna, and that have proven effective for children of American Muslim converts to Islam. Similarly, there many things that have proven not to work and that have shown to be destructive to their religion.

Imam al-Qurtubi says; “knowledge is acquired through two means; nusoos (textual evidence) and tajriba (trial and error)”. Something very disturbing is happening in Muslim America amongst children of converts; many of them are either leaving Islam altogether, or at least abandoning the meaningful practice of Islam.  Some of them are speaking out about how growing up in dysfunctional Muslim homes where there was extremism, abuse, conflicting religious messages, moving from sect to sect, or living under ridiculous, imported fatwas and rulings made their lives difficult. Some are even converting to Christianity and heading for the churches, and others grow up confused about their identity which is something that should never befall a Muslim child. This generational backlash is widespread, and warrants that we need to take a look at what has and hasn’t worked as far as raising Muslim children in America because judging by the lack of the generational continuity of Islam in many new Muslim American families, we indeed have a problem.

Islam has been in the United States for a long time now, and people have been converting to Islam in high numbers for the last fifty years or so. Since that time, what we have seen is that a high percentage of the people who converted to Islam, failed to pass it down to their children in a healthy, seamless way that their children continued to practice the faith into the next generation and the generation after that. There is a great disconnect between those who convert to Islam and the ability to pass it on to the next generation. At this point in our juncture it is only prudent that we take a good look at what we are doing and how we are going about raising our children and what are we raising them upon.

From what I have seen over the last thirty years, parents who have had the most success in maintaining Islam within their children have been the ones who kept their Islam simple and emphasized following the Quran and the Sunna, without any additions. The parents who complicated their Islam with too many foreign elements, or who neglected their Islam, and replaced it with secular teaching and ideas, or who mixed their Islam with Christianity, tend to raise children who are very confused about their Islamic identity (if they still have one), and who opt not to practice their religion. By simple Islam, I mean the emphasis upon what was contained in the hadith of Jibril (AS) regarding the five pillars, and basic beliefs; (Allah, the Prophets, the angels, the Day of Judgment, and the Books). When the importance of the primary foundations of Islamic belief and behavior such as prayer, fasting, family bonds, goodness to neighbors, charity, honesty, loyalty, taqwa, kindness, family, the Masjid, and brotherhood, were stressed, children seemed to have an easier time coping in the long term, and maintaining a healthy and active Islamic identity. I’m not talking about a perfect Islam or perfect child because there is none, but there is such a thing as an active and healthy Muslim identity.

It is important for Muslim parents to keep in mind that it is absolutely vital that you make sure that your children have a secure foundation in their deen. Giving children a foundation in their religion usually takes the entirety of their growing up under you. It is not something achieved in one sitting, one experience, in one month, one summer, or one year, and it’s not something that you can buy, or contract someone to do for you. You as a parent must do it yourself, starting at home. Children are born in a state of fitra, and by their very nature they are predisposed to take the path that their parents put them on. When they are exposed by the parents to too many different truths, or too many different religious sub-ideologies, they will tend not be secure in their faith. Faith insecurity is something that you do not want to happen with your children under any circumstances because once they become insecure in their faith, they are likely to fall for anything.

The Prophet (SAWS) wasn’t a complicated person. He didn’t preach or teach in a complicated style, and he didn’t like excessive questioning about matters which is why he said; “It was only their excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their Prophets which destroyed those who came before you[1]  He (SAWS) never liked when the deen was made burdensome, and he said; “The practice of religion is easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will be overpowered by it. Therefore, be moderate, try to be near perfection but within your capacity and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded.” [2] Instead, our beloved Prophet (SAWS) preferred simple messages of guidance that were simple to grasp and easy to implement, as long as you didn’t complicate it. For example when asked what the best type of Islam was, he replied: “Feeding food, and spreading salaams[3], when asked for advice he simply replied in one tradition: “don’t get angry”.

When children are put upon simple, firm and true deen from the very beginning, it is likely that they will not be swayed or moved by anything different; whether it is a different madhaahib, deviant ideologies, or faddish Islamic sects. You don’t want your children to end up being like the people who spend more time researching and arguing about the deen, than they spend practicing it. This is why the Prophet (SAWS) said: “I’m leaving you with two things that if you hold fast to them you will never go astray after me; the Book of Allah and my Sunna”. [Bukhaari] Holding fast to anything else after that is just a gamble, and gambling is haram in Islam. Keep in mind is that the true religion of Allah will always be Islam and the only one of our ummah who is ma’soom (free of error) is Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, the Last Prophet (SAWS). So teach your children to live according to the Quran and the Sunna beloveds, anything else is just someone else’s experiment, for which Allah has revealed no authority. Let your children identify themselves as Muslims. It is the Sunna of the Prophet (SAWS) to call yourself a Muslim, and that is the best possible identity for them.

وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَى وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ

[“And strive in His cause as ye ought to strive, (with sincerity and under discipline). He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the cult of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular Prayer, give regular Charity, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protector – the Best to protect and the Best to help![4] ]

Indigenous American muslim converts, mostly whom are African American, have a unique and distinct history in that we are the descendants of slaves and are historically and fundamentally cut off from the rest of the Muslim world to a very significant degree, and we need to recognize that and stop trying to fit into everyone else’s reality. Indigenous American Muslims ascribe to groups and ideologies in different ways that people generally do from the Muslim world, which is a subject by itself that I won’t address here, and I’m not saying this in a good or bad way except to say that the American Muslim convert community has a uniqueness that warrants we keep our assimilation of Islam, very independent and progressively simple. Principally because since many of us are converts, and second generation, we should assimilate into Islam in the same simplistic incremental way the first converts of our Umma i.e. the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) did.  This was to keep their Islamic identity, simple enough to minimize complication and flexible enough using principles from the Quran and the Sunna, that it was inclusive of everyone who came to believe laa ilaaha illa Allah and accepted the basic principles of Islam.

Therefore, do not teach your children that they are, Shaafi’ee, Qaadiri, Tijaani, Tablighi, Salafi, Hanbali, Maaliki, or any other designation. Teach them that they are Muslim. Even if you happen to follow a particular school of thought or a tariqa be it Shaafi’ee, or Maaliki, or Shaadhili, or if you ascribe to a group such as Salafi, or a Tablighi, or anything else, don’t let these designations become your children’s principl identity. Do not, and I repeat, do not teach your children that anything represents the totality of Islam, other than Islam.  If you teach them that your group are the only true Muslims, or that if they follow this or that tariqa or madhhab, there Islam will be better than everyone else’s, then you will only confuse and mislead them; as many people are already doing.

Islam, as an identity, has more depth, more security, more longevity, and more spiritual potency than any of the other sectarian additions to it. This is because Islam, in its pure form is sanctioned from above seven heavens and is supported by the authority of wahy (divine revelation). The Prophet (SAWS) was sent to all of mankind by agreement of the scholars. قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعً” [Say: “O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah,][5] However, this or that sheikh, or that companion, or that taabi’ee, were not dispatched to all people as a mercy to mankind. In reality; people are only commanded to worship Allah Alone, and to make the religion for His sake only, and that is the most important message that we must pass on to our children.

The point is, that if you teach your children the truth, (the Quran and the sunna), you don’t have to spend a lot of time teaching them about all the falsehood that they may or may not encounter during their lifetime, or teaching them about all the different sects and ways that people do this or that. Truth is stronger than falsehood, and there is no end to the amount of falsehood, differences of thought, deviant and orthodox ideology, and opinions in circulation amongst the Muslims. It takes years for most people to sift througfh all that. Their time on earth is limited just like ours, and the more truth they know (from the Kitaab and the Sunna) and the more they are aware of what is important, then the more time and energy they can devote to practicing it and preparing for their hereafter.

There are so many sunnan and vital aspects of deen that Muslim children grow up knowing nothing about.  Whether it is family issues, moral value issues, character issues, adaab issues, belief issues, fiqh issues, social issues, or simple lifestyle issues upon which Allah and His Messenger have rendered guidance. The idea is to pass the deen down to your children in a way that they will remain firm in their faith, and in their practice of Islam, and not find themselves running from one thing to another thing to another thing. Or constantly questioning this and then questioning that, and questioning what they believe, every time something new comes on the scene, like many Muslims are doing today. It’s really a sad situation. However, it can get better in sha Allah but we have to go back to the basics.

You don’t need advanced and complicated aqeeda books to teach children their belief. People have been doing it for years, with simple, basic instruction and by word of mouth from parent to child. If a parent really wants their child to learn aqeeda, then read the Quran to them. Everything they need to know about Allah is contained in His Book, and whatever essentials that are left undisclosed in the Book, the Prophet (SAWS) has covered it abundantly. When they grow up and want to get deep down in theology, or if they want to become polemicists when they get older, and debate back and forth about aqeeda on the internet, then let them do that on their own, but let not you as the parent, be the one to start them off on this path. For most parents, you will find that the Quran and the Sunna is more than enough for your children. When it comes to religion; teach them exactly what the Prophet (SAWS) taught us.

Simplicity and the fundamentals are the first step in restoring order amongst indigenous American Muslims, and most vital in that is in establishing the prayer with your family, your wife and the children of your household. Your children must see that you bow your head down to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. That way, they will know that you are accountable to Him.  If they see that you are accountable to Allah, they will find it easier and more palatable to be accountable to you as a parent. If there is no prayer in your home, then it is almost assured that Shaitaan will soon become the imam of your household.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

imamabulaith@yahoo.com


[1] Collected by Bukhaari.

[2] Collected by Bukhaari.

[3] Collected by Muslim

[4] Quran, 22:78.

[5] Quran, 7:158

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