The Conning of the American Muslim, Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

bamboozledNo one likes to admit that they’ve been conned. Nevertheless, there comes a time when you have to cut your losses and get out of the game which is what most victims of scams are advised to do. It seems that many American Muslim leaders have trouble recognizing a con job; even when they are conning themselves.

Just for the record; the practice of speaking on behalf of others without their permission, and without authority, is fundamentally un-American, not withstanding that it is wholly un-Islamic. When one or two Muslim organizations speak on behalf of all American Muslims about our fears, our politics, our emotions, our faith, our patriotism, or our response to this incident in San Bernardino, it undermines, and contradicts everything previously expressed about wanting to assimilate, or having already assimilated, or that we are just like other Americans, that we’re not a fifth column, or that we believe in freedom.

It says that we all think the same, feel the same, are of the same mind, in the same condition, have the same priorities, and accept the same absurdities. It also sends the message that we are disingenuous, and not to be trusted. When have you every seen or heard of a Christian or Jewish political or advocacy organizations get on national television and say they are speaking for all Christians or all Jews. Even our beloved Prophet (SAWS) allowed the Arab tribes to speak for themselves in many matters.

American Muslims are the only so-called religious demographic that allows their political and advocacy organizations to speak on behalf of their religious congregations. When these organizations bring along highly respected scholars such as Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqui and religious leaders to a press conferences as window dressing while they do all the talking, it confirms for many Americans that Islam is a political ideology more than it is a religion. It says that we are fundamentally secular with little moral fortitude.  It also s the message that we are dishonest, have no stable identity and that we practice a moral code other than what our scriptures teach. All of this is dangerous and fuels the very thing [islamophobia] that we say we trying to stamp out.

Now I’m a Muslim, I love Muslims and this is all abundantly clear to me. Imagine those who are not Muslim, or those who never had a problem with Muslims but come to a negative conclusion about us because of the way our politics have hijacked our morality. You may not agree with me but you do not have to look very far to read what many ordinary Americans say about Muslims as they bring up these very points as well as many others. The sad irony about us is that we are so arrogant, so pompous, so blinded by ego and wanting to be accepted we do not even believe anymore that we could possibly share some culpability for the anti-Muslims sentiment that plagues us so much.

We complain so much that they do not understand Islam while we make it abundantly clear that perhaps we do not understand Islam. Not even enough to know that the word Islam means submission and not peace. We think that the press is doing us a favor when they convey our message to the entire country how all Muslims Americans are now in fear, dismayed, disheartened, disappointed, that America has let us down, that we’re bracing for the backlash. When in reality what the media is doing is showing the extent of our moral immaturity.  We may be cheering, but others are seething with disdain, many are laughing, and some of us are crying.  At least if we took an Islamic approach to these matters we would have the hope of spiritual growth, and reward from Allah. Attempting to craft a pre-packaged sanitized Muslim identity through the very media that we blame for distorting our identity is like trying to beat the devil at his own game; we have nothing to show for it except disappointment. I know that certain groups of American Muslims have a lot of education and we think we’re really smart, and maybe some us are, but not that smart if we think we can play poker with Shaitaan and win.

We have our children and teenagers crying that we cannot practice our faith anymore because of all this islamophobia. People read these types of statements and conclude that Muslims are so full of themselves that they cannot see the forest for the trees. There is nothing, nothing at all that prevents any Muslim living in the United States from believing in Allah and the Last Day, from praying five times a day, from giving zakat, or from fasting during Ramadan. People practiced Islam here while they were slaves! Yet we cry anytime our ego is bruised. The sad reality is that we’ve raised a whole generation of Muslims Americans who cannot distinguish between Muslim political hype, and actual Islam. Ask your child or teenager the meaning of Islam. If they say ‘peace’, then you have deceived them already, and if we think that on the Day of Judgment, Allah will accept the excuse of Islamophobia for not praying, not giving charity, and not fasting, we have deceived ourselves. – imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad

imamabulaith@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Massacre in Paris; Assessing the Muslim Response, by American Imam, Luqman Ahmad

Iterror-attack-paris-510x287 do not regard lightly, the loss of any innocent life that Allah has made inviolable. Innocent life is sacred, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, nationality, or ethnicity. It is Allah who grants life to whomever He pleases, and no one has a legitimate right to take that life unjustly. When people die, other people’s lives are affected. When innocent people are mercilessly killed, slaughtered, gunned down, beheaded, massacred, blown up, suicide bombed, or droned for no sense at all, it amplifies the tragedy.

I agree wholeheartedly that condemning violence against innocent souls is an appropriate Muslim response as it falls into the category of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil (al’amr bit a’roof wal nahyi an al-munkar). However, condemning selected instances of violence, while remaining silent about others that are equally if not more heinous, only perpetuates the widely held notion that Muslims living in the West are disingenuous, and self-serving. If Muslims are in fact, morally outraged about the terrible slaughter in Paris, then we should be equally outraged when it happens in Beirut, North Africa, Palestine, in suburban Connecticut, or in a Chicago slum.

There is a difference between taking a firm, unequivocal, morally principled position against injustice and murder of innocent lives of any kind, and taking episodic stances against occurrences of extreme violence’s against innocent civilians, according to hyperbolic pressure from the media, or our own political, and public relations considerations. This recurring, and seemingly automated Muslim reaction to these types of selected and sensationalized acts of extremism only takes us deeper into an ostentatious black hole, with no foreseeable ending or win game.

If we still believe that selective condemnation of Muslim violent extremism will somehow convince the media and vocal critics of Islam, and Muslims, to put the brakes on their vitriol, and give the rest of us a break, then history has shown that we are terribly wrong, and have not succeeded by any measure.

That we continuously find ourselves in the circuitous predicament of feeling compelled to condemn yet another incident of Muslim violence, and then complaining with the same frequency that no one’s listening, is testimony enough that just as violent extremists have hijacked the image of Islam, our politics has hijacked our morality.

We cannot continue to calibrate the shelf life and intensity of our moral consciousness based upon the length of a news feed or the broadcast schedule of the news media. Politicizing our Islam has virtually eviscerated Muslim moral credibility in the West. If people believed that we were truly a people of conscious and not a people of convenience, there would be no expectation of Muslims to condemn selected instances of violence, nor would we feel any compulsion to do so.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad has been the Imam of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento California, for close to 20 years. He is the author of the Book: ‘The Devils Deception of the Modern Day Salafiyyah Sect, a detailed analysis of extremist salafiyyism, which is the mindset of the modern ISIS extremists. Available on Amazon.com. He can be reached at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com

Respectfully Mr. President; Some American Muslims are not afraid, and we darn sure aren’t worried

We the peopleDear President Barak Obama, you mentioned in a recent in a Los Angeles Times op-ed; “But we know that many Muslim Americans across our country are worried and afraid”. Gee Mr. President, with all due respect, did any Muslim American leader tell you that American Muslims, or at least some of us, are concerned, but are patient, faithful, believe in the power of prayer, and have put our trust in our Lord?

You see Mr. President, to many of us, Islam is a religion; not a political ideology. And as such, there are numerous verses in our scripture and prophetic traditions that teach us how to deal with negative statements about Muslims and Islam. I’ll just mention a couple of verses: “All that is with you is bound to come to an end, whereas that which is with God is everlasting. And most certainly shall We grant unto those who are patient in adversity their reward in accordance with the best that they ever did.” 16:96. Here’s one more; “Endure, then, with patience (all that they who deny the truth may say] -always remembering that it is none but God who gives thee the strength to endure adversity and do not grieve over them, and neither be distressed by the false arguments which they devise:” 16:27. So you see Mr. President, some American Muslims simply do not have the time to sit around being afraid and worried about anti-Muslim sentiment. Our faith, and trust in the Lord, keeps us calm.

Some of us are more concerned about health care, unemployment, paying our bills, and getting our children through college than we are about who praises, or who criticizes Muslims. Don’t get me wrong Mr. President, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t concerned about the rising anti-Muslim, and anti-Islam rhetoric, however, that’s not the only thing that we are concerned about. Some of us, Mr. President, are concerned about the erosion of free speech in this great country of ours. Some of us are concerned that there are American Muslim leaders who fraudulently claim to speak for all of us, when in fact, they do not, and cannot speak for us all.

Some American Muslims believe that in the United States of America, people have the right to like or dislike whoever or whatever they want, as long as they do not resort to violence, or break the law. In fact Mr. President, some American Muslims believe that our right to be Muslim, and love Islam, is connected to the right of others not to be Muslim, and to hate Islam. You see Mr. President, some American Muslims are not a tribe, we don’t have tribal chiefs imbued with the authority to tell all of us what to think, what to like or not like, and how to feel.

If you really want to know who American Muslims are Mr. President, you might want to ask around a little bit more, and not rely on a few Muslim political organizations. By the way, we didn’t even elect those guys to represent us in the first place. We did elect you to be our President, and I at least expect you to dig a little deeper before you ask our entire country to give American Muslims a special pass that other groups who experience negative inference do not get.

You know Mr. President, I clearly remember when the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. I was a fourth grader at Francis D. Pastorious Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We were all instructed to go outside, stand in full assembly and sing; ‘we shall overcome’. The second chorus was; ‘we are not afraid’. I wasn’t afraid then, and I sure as heck, aren’t going to start being afraid now.

In the meantime Mr. President, I will defend without violence, the right of any and every American whether they like Islam, hate Islam, ambivalent towards Islam or is an adherent of Islam, the right to speak according to his or her own conscious, and conviction, whether it be political, religious, satirical, or editorial. You can tell people who you want them to be, but you cannot tell them who they are, and what to think. I also believe that God will call every person into account on the Day of Judgment, based upon who they are, not who they said they were, or who someone else thought they were. In the end, it is God who will decide who is right, and who is wrong, and at that time, nothing else will matter. I don’t speak for all American Muslims Mr. President. In fact, I don’t believe that anyone can – That’s just my take on it Sir. If I can be of any additional service, please contact me. I’m sure you have my number.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Imam and Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, California. He is also a founding member of COSVIO (Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book; ‘The Devils Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect’ available on Amazon.com. He can be reached at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com. http://www.masjidibrahim.com.

Condemning Violent Extremism; Is It Working For Us? By Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

against terrorismI do not regard lightly, the loss of any life; no matter what the cause, or circumstance. Innocent life is sacred, regardless of whether it is a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, a Buddhist, or an atheist. It is Allah who grants life to whomever He pleases, according to His Divine will, and His Infinite Wisdom, and no one; has a legitimate right to take that life unjustly without just cause. When people die, other people’s lives are affected. When innocent people are mercilessly killed, slaughtered, gunned down, beheaded, massacred, blown up, suicide bombed, or droned, for no sense at all, it amplifies the tragedy. The Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon Him) once said, “A time will come when the murderer will not know why he has committed the murder and the victim will not know why he has been killed” [Collected by Muslim]

Since 9/11, American Muslims have condemned, and repudiated terrorism, and violent acts of Muslim extremism, through every conceivable network. We’ve taken out ads, marched in the streets, held vigils, convened press conferences, appeared on broadcast and cable television, written op-eds, penned blog posts, and expended considerable time, money, and resources, trying to convince people that Islam is a religion of peace, and that these violent Muslim extremists, do not represent Islam! We’ve made every attempt to distance ourselves from the so-called violent Muslim extremist, and even coined powerful catch all phrases like; ‘not in our name’, ‘Islam is a religion of peace’, and, ‘they’ve hijacked our faith’. Yet, nearly 14 years after 9/11, it seems glaringly obvious that our message is not getting through, and the people who we are trying to convince are not listening. For the record, I do not consider Islam to be a religion of peace; I do consider our faith to be a religion of submission, of which peace is a component.

I agree wholeheartedly that condemning violence against innocent souls is an appropriate Muslim response as it falls into the category of enjoining the good and forbidding evil (nahyi an al-munkar). However, condemning selected instances of violence, while remaining silent about others appears disingenuous, and self-serving. Especially if we do not take a across the board, moral stance against the very principle of violent extremism in the name of Islam. There is a difference between taking a firm and unequivocal, principled position against something, and between taking an episodic stance against something according to media, political, and public relations considerations. When Muslims condemn acts of Muslim extremism acting on cue from the media, according to what the media considers important, we are entering down an ostentatious black hole, with no foreseeable ending or win game. If the desired outcome of this strategy of selective condemnation of Muslim violent extremism, was to somehow convince the media, and the numerous and increasingly vocal critics of Islam, and Muslims, to put the brakes on their vitriol, and give the rest of us a break, then history has shown that we are not succeeding by any measure. Otherwise, we would not find ourselves in the circuitous predicament of feeling compelled to condemn, yet another incident of Muslim violence, and then complaining with the same frequency, that Muslims still get negative press.

The presence of violent Muslim extremism, that disregards the sanctity of innocent life, honor, and property, based upon sect, ideology, ethnicity, race, land, power, or tribe, and done under the camouflage of religion, goes back hundreds of years.  Addressing it is a complex, and sensitive matter that will take more than condemnation, polemics, or public relations spin doctoring. Over the last decade or so, there has been very little variation in our approach as American Muslims, in responding to incidents of violent Muslim extremism headlined in the news, or combatting the anticipated negative backlash directed towards Muslims, and or Islam. The self-delusional, reactionary condemnation strategy, is chockfull of quirks, ironies, and contradictions, and has just about outlived its usefulness. If as Muslims we took a moral, and principled stance against terrorism, and violent extremism, then it’s not only ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban that needs condemnation; we’d have to talk about despotic Muslims governments, American and European foreign policy in the Muslim world, honor killings, ethnic cleansing, racial injustice within Muslim communities, indiscriminate suicide bombings, reckless fatwas, and an host of issues, of which the pandemic of unwarranted violence of Muslims against innocent souls is just one manifestation.

In the global Muslim community, there is a long, and largely unattended laundry list of deep rooted, and debilitating, spiritual, and emotional illness, that we have not only failed to address in any meaningful or comprehensive way; we are in an almost complete denial that they exist. The easy fallback position is to resort to political or media based solutions in the form of marches, selective condemnations, episodic appearances of unity, and the focus on individual occurrences of violence in the name of Islam, per media suggestion. The much more difficult task is to finally get to the roots of the problem, at least that which pertains to our morality, or lack thereof. We have to rethink about how much we want to allow our sacred moral duties to address concerns of grave importance such as Muslim on Muslim killing, and Muslim violent extremism, to be incorporated and manipulated by media executives, pundits, critics and antagonists. Perhaps it’s time to change our strategy. Maybe we should stop worrying about what the media, and other people think of Muslims, and of Islam. After all, we are a people of faith, and the essence of faith is principle, not politics; and certainly not public relations. Before we can take back Islam from violent extremists, we must first take back our moral imperative from the hands of the media.The clock is ticking, and we are long overdue.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

imamluqman@Masjidibrahim.com

A Muslim Response to Criticism and Parody of Islam

I originally wrote this article nearly five years ago. It still has some relevance. Muslims are still in the position of feeling compelled to condemn selective occurrences Muslim violence, and it hasn’t improved our standing. In the four and a half years since I wrote this article, we seemed to have learned how to ignore criticism of Islam, and the Prophet (SAWS). Now we have to figure out a better way to address extremism than to do a barn dance of condemnation every time an extremist inspired killing gains media traction.  If we truly want to address Muslim extremism, we’re going to have to dig wider, and a lot deeper. Perhaps we need to rethink this whole barn dance.

The Lotus Tree Blog

Part One of two parts: By Shaykh Luqman Ahmad Given the constitutional guarantees of free speech in America, it is not likely any time soon that Americans will simply give up, criticizing or making fun of Islam, the Prophet (SAWS) or Muslims. The national campaign by some Muslim organizations to silence our critics and instill reverence for Islam in every American has not met with the success that people envisioned. In fact, we are now seeing the signs of backlash and pushback from civil libertarians, media, and others free speakers who are questioning why, in an age where every religion is poked fun of and even vilified by some, Islam is off limits. Well our answer to that is simple; Islam is the only true religion of God, Muslims are the best people on earth, and we are all above criticism. The problem is, everyone does not accept that answer, and…

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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.

Defend the Prophet (SAWS) by following His Way, not by Following Our Emotions, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

Some Muslims have come into the modern world with the expectation that Muslims, and the religion of Islam which we profess, are not to be offended. This is a false and unrealistic expectation, as Allah has decreed otherwise; [Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves; and ye shall certainly Hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that will be a determining factor in all affairs. 3:186].

People are free to either believe in the Prophet (SAWS), and what he has come with or to disbelieve in him, [Say, “The truth is from your Lord”: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it) 18:29] The Prophet (SAWS) withstood all kinds of verbal abuse, accusations and invectives from the disbelievers and the polytheists while he was alive, and he endured, owing to his lofty character and high moral constitution [And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character. 68:4] When the Prophet (SAWS) was negotiating the famed treaty of Hudaibiyyah, the Meccan delegate Suhail ibn Amr did not accept the Prophet’s title (Muhammad Messenger of Allah) to be written on the contract and only agreed to the Prophet’s name; Muhammad ibn Abdullah, on the document. Suhail justified the slight by saying; “If we actually thought that you were indeed the messenger of Allah in the first place, we would not be fighting you”. If everyone on earth believed that the Prophet (SAWS) was the Messenger of Allah, then no one would criticize him. However, that is not the case, and many Muslims need to accept that, and move on.

Muslims around the world can either keep on working themselves up into frenzy every time someone criticizes or makes fun of Islam or Muslims, and keep pretending that this is the proper method to defend Islam, and the Prophet (SAW), or we can opt to follow our own scripture on the matter (Quran and Prophetic tradition), and save ourselves a lot of anxiety, frustration and misdirection; [“And endure with patience whatever people may say [against thee], and avoid them with a comely avoidance. 73:10]  Patience and magnanimity is better than carrying on in the streets, as if we are devoid of guidance. The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) is dead, and his place with Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala is assured by the word of Allah Himself; [Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute him with all respect. 33:56]

Following our raw emotions when religious texts dictate otherwise, does not represent what our religion is about.This insulting film about Rasoolillah (SAWS), which people are clamoring about, is not the first time that the Prophet (SAWS) has been disparaged, and it will most likely not be the last time. Defending the Prophet (SAWS) entails believing in him, obeying him and following his way. Not demonstrating in the streets, burning cars, chanting slogans, or killing people. Knowing what we know about the life and struggle of the Prophet (SAWS), he would not sanction the amount of visible rage, rioting, slogan chanting, and wanton destruction that some of us resort to in different parts of the world any time one of the many criticisms leveled against the Prophet (SAWS) mysteriously comes to surface.

If anyone wants to defend the Prophet (SAWS) from those who would criticize him, and assail him, then they would be better served by making every effort to live up to the standards of devotional worship, good character, kindness to the neighbor and the neighbors, charity and upright living that was practiced by the Prophet (SAWS). The legacy and dignity of Rasoolillah (SAWS) lives through our actions and is carried on in following his way of tolerance for those who disparage him, and in bringing the light of faith and strong moral foundation to the world. The Prophet (SAWS) is under no threat from any human being; he is safe with Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, and in the best company. Billions of Muslims praise him and send salutations upon him, and his position with Allah is secure. There is nothing that anyone can say, write, or put on film that will ever change that. The rage, the anger and the violence that result from demonstrating in the streets, only threatens to extinguish the true light and guidance of the Prophet (SAWS) who was sent as a mercy to mankind.

A Muslim is not responsible for anyone’s negative opinion of the Prophet (SAWS) except when that Muslim engages in misguided actions in the name of Islam, and in the name of following the Prophet (SAWS). People can become more alienated and more antagonistic of Islam when they see the unfettered outpourings of rage and anger in different parts of the world resulting from a stupid, ill-conceived film about the Prophet (SAWS).

Historically, these demonstrations and rampages has done nothing to lessen the criticism and negative attitudes that people have towards Muslims and or Islam, and have only buttressed the view that Muslims have an unhealthy appetite for rage and violence.  Many, if not most times, Muslim rage has only resulted in innocent people, most of whom have been Muslim, being killed or injured. This current incident has not only resulted in the deaths of the American Ambassador to Libya along with three others of the diplomatic staff; there were a number of Libyan Muslims killed while trying to defend against the onslaught, and in addition, four [Muslim] protesters were killed in Yemen and at least nineteen people were injured in Cairo as of this writing.

In the din of condemnation of free expression of a negative statements and views directed towards Islam and Muslims, we forget to condemn as well, the misguided overreactions of the world’s Muslims to criticisms of our faith that is only meant as a test of our own moral resolve. Even if we win the battle of expression with our large and boisterous demonstrations and condemnations, we lose the war of faith and moral resolve in the process. The Prophet (SAW) was dispatched as a mercy to mankind and a bearer of glad tidings. It is ironic that so many are repelled from Islam due to our inability to bear criticism. Misguidance is misguidance, no matter who perpetrates it, and I remember being taught even before I entered grade school; that two wrongs don’t make a right. The true irony of this whole matter is that many of us have arrived to a point where we actually believe that the proper way to defend Islam is to go out in the street and disgrace it with our actions. I wonder what the Prophet (SAW) would say about that? Wal Allahul Mus’ta’aan.

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 Salafist extremism. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

Don’t Blame the Media; Muslims Play With their Own Emotions!

By Imam Luqman Ahmad. Muslims Play With their Own Emotions! Contrary to popular Muslim belief, the media does not play with Muslim emotions. News and commentary is not a game to them; it is business. What the media does, is profit from Muslim emotions. They are in business to make a profit and Muslims are a great source for news, commentary, and media sponsored debate. Our issues are all over the place and there is plenty to profit from. Just visit any major book store and the shelves are stocked with books about Islam, Islamo-Fascism, Islamic Terrorism, Islamic Reform, Shariah, American Muslims and everything that relates to Islam and Muslims. Coverage of Muslims and Islam is big business, and everyone is taking advantage of it and profiting from it except every day average Muslims, especially indigenous African American Muslims. The mega media conglomerate Fox, is owned by a Muslim and Muslims from the Gulf States have billions of dollars invested in Western Media. Many Muslims come to America for the expressed purpose of making money, so to many of them, manipulating Muslim emotions is just another way to make money. Many if not most African American Muslims do not have Imams, have sporadic and unfocused agendas if any, and are not active contributors in Muslim congregations so emotional response to the media is about the only form of Islamic activism they know. The irony is that even when responding to a media generated issues most of our activism is limited to simple getting mad and venting our anger, or perhaps we’ll mount a protest or call for a ridiculous boycott, (which usually only lasts for about a week or two). There are a billion Muslims in the planet, and with all the wars, conflicts, ideologies, groups, fatwas, acts of stupidity, and sensationalizing events concerning Muslims, the media as well as selected Muslim organizations and political leaders, have an unlimited selection from which they can tap into Muslim sentiment, and profit from it, and we by our actions, encourage them. Political Islamic Organizations, are more powerful, better financed, and have farther reach than any religious institutions in Muslim America. Almost all of them are funded, managed and run by immigrant Muslims h political agendas, and even Islamic agendas that do not include the indigenous American muslim community except to the degree that they can be utilized to serve the purpose of these organizations or some foreign Muslim group like the insidious Hizbul Tahrir, or to the degree that they can be marginalized. In many ways, the media benefits American Muslims by debunking many of our fantasy plagued, over romanticized views of the Muslim world. When we cheered the Taliban in their pursuit of an Islamic State in Afghanistan, the media helped us see what an Islamic State run by undisciplined Muslim maniacs, and religious fanatics who care little about justice, would look like. While American Muslim converts embrace the modern salafist ideology and turn on each other in the inner cities of America, media coverage of the carnage of Muslim on Muslim killing in Somalia, give us a glimpse of what modern salafiyyah would looks like when armed and financed. True, much of the media coverage about Muslims is selective and focuses on Muslim rage, and killing. However, if Muslim rage, and killing were not so prevalent, the media would not have such an abundance of it to cover. Even where there isn’t any rage, it can be summoned up instantaneously by the publication or broadcast of a cartoon, or negative statement about Islam or Muslims. If there is no available rage on hand, then there is an abundance of Muslim stupidity all over the place to cover. Some national Muslim organizations depend upon negative media portrayal of Islam and Muslims in America to raise money and help perpetuate the American Muslim victim mentality by which these organizations legitimize themselves as self appointed leaders and defenders of Islam and Muslims in America. This helps pay for conferences, trips back and forth overseas, and publishing materials that tell hone grown American Muslims what to think, what their priorities are, and how to look at themselves. The Political organizations determine our religious priorities and they have decided that fighting Islamophobia, and being obsessed with the image of Islam in the media as their number one priority. It is written in our scripture that everyone will not be guided to Islam, “And unto Allah leads straight the Way, but there are ways that turn aside: if Allah had willed, He could have guided all of you.”, 16:9 . So there will always be people who take issue with Islam and the Muslims. Thus, in making islamophobia our number one enemy, national American Muslims political groups and advocacy organizations ensure that they will always have a place in Muslim America, even if it means sacrificing the future of Muslims in the United States. It is not in their interest to improve the image of the American Muslims, which is why they antagonize anyone who criticizes Islam to ensure that their opposition to Muslims and Islam will intensify. This is also why anti-Islamic sentiment has increased in equal proportion to the growth and influence of political Islam in America. The sad part of it all is they are bringing the entire Muslim community into this arena of insanity. As poll after poll shows that American Muslims are increasingly paralyzed by fear, insecurity and worry about the potential of backlash against Muslims, we can take comfort in the fact that although our fear has no spiritual benefit for us whatsoever, there are Muslim American Organizations who are making a tidy profit from it. We can scapegoat the media until we are blue in the face. However, at the end of the day, we are engineering our own destruction

A Muslim Response to Criticism and Parody of Islam

Part One of two parts: By Shaykh Luqman Ahmad Given the constitutional guarantees of free speech in America, it is not likely any time soon that Americans will simply give up, criticizing or making fun of Islam, the Prophet (SAWS) or Muslims. The national campaign by some Muslim organizations to silence our critics and instill reverence for Islam in every American has not met with the success that people envisioned. In fact, we are now seeing the signs of backlash and pushback from civil libertarians, media, and others free speakers who are questioning why, in an age where every religion is poked fun of and even vilified by some, Islam is off limits. Well our answer to that is simple; Islam is the only true religion of God, Muslims are the best people on earth, and we are all above criticism. The problem is, everyone does not accept that answer, and, there is no indication at all that everyone will. The statement itself is not even entirely true. Although it is our belief that Islam is a perfect religion; we would be fools if we think for a moment that we are perfect people. Perfection and freedom from error or blemish is the exclusive domain of Allah be He Exalted and Glorified. Thus we have to make some hard choices here. Either we can continue to work ourselves up into frenzy every time someone criticizes or makes fun of Islam or Muslims, and keep pretending that this is the proper method to defend Islam, and the Prophet (SAW), or we can opt to follow our own scripture on the matter (Quran and Prophetic tradition), and save ourselves a lot of anxiety, frustration and misdirection. Who knows, public opinion of Islam and Muslims may even improve in the process. Generally speaking, a Muslim cannot reasonably expect that every non-muslim will believe in our faith, or share our reverence for our Lord, and His Prophets (AS). When the Prophet (SAWS) was negotiating the famed treaty of Hudaibiyyah, the Meccan delegate Suhail ibn Amr did not accept the Prophet’s title  (Muhammad Messenger of Allah) to be written on the contract and only agreed to the Prophet’s name; Muhammad ibn Abdullah, on the document.  Suhail justified the slight by saying; “If we actually thought that you were indeed the messenger of Allah in the first place, we would not be fighting you”. Fast forward to 21st century America; the fact that Islam garners a great deal of respect from non-Muslims in United States is itself a testament to Allah’s mercy and the higher ideals of a still largely civil society. The persecution suffered by the Prophet (SAWS) and the early Muslims in Mecca at the hands of the non-Muslims was measurably worse than what American Muslims deal with in the United States. 1400 years ago people were literally rounded up, kicked out of their homes, tortured and even put to death simply for saying that there is no god except Allah. Today, the chanting of laa ilaaha illa Allah Muhammadarr Rasoolillah (There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet (SAWS),  resonates from coast to coast, five times a day, seven days a week. So let’s not get too carried away in self victimization. That’s not to say that some of this does not still occur in other parts of the world outside of the United States; the massacre of Bosnians, Palestinians, Kashmiris, and others for simply being Muslim is still fresh in many of our minds. Notwithstanding that there are Muslims being massacred by other Muslims, simply for being a certain ethnicity, sect or type of Muslim. However, there are more than a billion Muslims on the planet, and we cannot address the entire condition and modality of Muslim peoples across the globe with a one size fits all answer. Such methods contradict the principle of Islamic problem solving. In the meantime, since the topic is not likely to go away, let’s start first by looking at the issue of criticism and parody of Islam from a purely Islamic perspective without the emotional and psychological baggage. Imam Luqman Ahmad Luqman Ahmad is a freelance writer and the Imam of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in California. He is also an executive committee member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and a General Council member of the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA). He can be reached through email at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com Next: Part Two: Apparently, no one’s paying too much attention to our condemnation

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