How Political Correctness Puts a Kibosh on Meaningful Muslim Dialogue. By Imam Luqman Ahmad

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Imam Luqman Ahmad

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

The Life and Afterlife Benefits of Raising your children upon the Moral Standards of Islam, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

children_of_muslim_ummah_by_ademmmA lot of pundits are weighing in on how we should raise our children these days. I say; let the pundits have their say. Because as Muslims, we already have our way. (Didn’t really mean to rhyme but…) The beautiful thing about raising Muslim children, or raising your children to be Muslim, is that your children will one day, in sha Allah, grow up to be adults, and end up being not just your children, but your brothers and sisters in Islam.  Now, you not only have children but you have companions, who are in sha Allah, righteous. You’ll still love them as your children, and as your companions, but you’ll love them for their values and their righteousness, and they will be not only your children, and your companions, but they’ll be your friends. Once you have done that, then you will have done justice to their fitra (natural state) upon which Allah entrusted them to you;

مَا مِنْ مَوْلُودٍ إِلاَّ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ، فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ

There is no child except that he is born in a state of “Fitrah”, then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian” (Collected by Al-Bukhari).

When you raise them correctly, with the proper values, and with the sense of morality, knowing right from wrong, you’ll find that they will acquire wisdom at a younger age than most, and now you not only have children, but wise companions and friends whom you can trust. Then, as they grow older, and have their own children, they will take the values that you taught them and instilled in them, and use these same values to raise their own children. At that point, they will have learned to be grateful for what you taught them, because now as parents, they will find themselves armed with guidance, precedence, and a valuable parental skillset. They will be grateful, and so will you in sha Allah. When this happens, you can expect an increase in your life, and in your children’s lives;

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ

And remember! Your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed.” 14:7

This sense of gratitude to Allah and the increase from Him that accompanies gratitude will, in turn, compel your children who are now your brothers and sisters in Islam, to appreciate you even more, appreciate the value of that religious knowledge and guidance that you imparted to them, and to thank Allah. Even at this juncture you will see your children in compliance with the word;

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَى وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ

“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal”. [31:14].

All this is ni’ma [grace], and it is now flowing through your family line. This appreciation and value of religious knowledge will compel your children to pass down the faith and knowledge that you imparted to them. They will be anxious to spend the wealth of knowledge which they inherited from you. They won’t wait until you are gone, they’ll start teaching and raising their children upon the deen of Islam, from the very beginning when they call the athaan in their child’s ear. It will continue through the aqeeqa, and their whisperings of Allah holy and beautiful names into their children’s ears even as they are suckling, and through their first wudu, or rak’at of prayer beside you. They are just following your path, and what you taught them.

“Whosoever does a good Sunnah he will get the reward for it and the reward from other people doing the same thing until the Day of Judgment”. [Collected by Muslim] All of this is the Grace and Mercy of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala.

With all this abundance of grace, mercy, and goodness that your children are now seeing with their own eyes, your children will  love you even more, and appreciate you even more, not just for raising them,  but for nurturing them in true faith. Now you, your children, and your grandchildren will be on the same path of Islam. Three generations of laa ilaaha illa Allah, and counting.  There is a feeling like that of a parent who sees what they have taught, embodied in their children, and in their grandchildren, and God willing, their great grandchildren.

And if it is decreed by God that He extends your life, you will see your values, the values of Islam, being passed down to your grandchildren, by the children that you have raised on the minhaj of the Prophet , such a sight will warm your heart, and bring tears to your eyes, and you will thank Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, because you will feel reasonably secure in the knowledge that were you to die at that very moment, that laa ilaaha illa Allah, has already passed from you to future generations.

أَمْ كُنتُمْ شُهَدَاء إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ إِذْ قَالَ لِبَنِيهِ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن بَعْدِي قَالُواْ نَعْبُدُ إِلَـهَكَ وَإِلَـهَ آبَائِكَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَقَ إِلَـهًا وَاحِدًا وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ

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]

When Allah does decide to take your soul (and He has already decided when), he may bless you to leave some or all of those children behind. You will be in your grave, and all of your deeds will have stopped, and nothing else is added to your scale, except for perpetual charity, beneficial knowledge that you have left behind (yes, this included what you imparted to your children), and the prayers of your children for you after you have passed on to the next life.

It doesn’t stop there. If, by Allah’s mercy, He allows you entrance into His Eternal Garden, you will not be alone. For your family who followed you in righteousness will join you. At that point, you will know for a fact that your dedication and perseverance in raising your children in righteousness, upon the Quran and Sunna of the Prophet , was worth it, despite the hardship, the occasional headache, the difficulty, and the cost.

Finally, by living a righteous life according to the standards and morals of Islam, and raising our children as such, and they in turn, raising their children the same way, we may have the opportunity by Allah’s  opportunity, to be rejoined with the righteous of our families, in the afterlife.

جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ يَدْخُلُونَهَا وَمَنْ صَلَحَ مِنْ آبَائِهِمْ وَأَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَذُرِّيَّاتِهِمْ وَالمَلاَئِكَةُ يَدْخُلُونَ عَلَيْهِم مِّن كُلِّ بَابٍ سَلاَمٌ عَلَيْكُم بِمَا صَبَرْتُمْ فَنِعْمَ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ

Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring: and angels shall enter unto them from every gate (with the salutation): “Peace be upon you,(salaamun alaikum) because you have patiently persevered!” How excellent, then, this fulfilment in the hereafter! [13:23]

It is in this final moment, after you have persevered, held fast to your faith, imparted it to your family, and met with the pleasure of Allah, and His forgiveness, that you are granted permission to enter the gates of paradise. Then, the angels will enter upon you and your family from every door, saying: :salaamu alaikum, because you have patiently persevered:  At this point, it all becomes clear. The struggle is over, there is no more reckoning, there is no more judgement, and you have finally arrived at your destination.

Thus beloveds, window of opportunity to raise your children is small, and it will close without waiting for you to make up your mind, or to experiment with all of the nuanced studies. Raising your children in righteousness and Islam during these times is difficult for some, unpopular by many, and certainly not fashionable in this age. However, considering what is at stake, it is certainly well worth it; by any means necessary.

 

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento California. He can be reached at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com.

Audio Khutba: The Importance of Simplicity in Religion, and Sincerity to Allah, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

angels amongst usThere is nothing that is simpler, more gratifying and more useful to the servant in this life and in the hereafter, than ikhlaas lillaah (sincerity to Allah). This is the topic of this khutba recorded at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, California. Click on the link to take a listen wal Allahul Musta’aan

Audio Khutba: Quran; The Divine Inheritance of Every Believer, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

quran up closeRemember beloveds, that as Muslims, we have the divine, God given right, to take from the Quran, and from the authentic sunna of our Prophet ﷺ, anything, and everything, that benefits us in our religion, and in our lives, and no imam, sheikh, scholar, fatwa, or leader of any group, has the right or authority, to prevent us, or prohibit us, from doing that. “And whatsoever the messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it). And keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is stern in reprisal”. [59:7] We were given the Book; it is our inheritance. “Then We have given the Book for inheritance to such of Our Servants as We have chosen: but there are among them, some who wrong their own souls; some who follow a middle course; and some who are, by Allah’s leave, foremost in good deeds; that is the highest Grace”. [35:32] We are first and foremost, servants of God and God alone.This is the topic of this khutbatul Jum’ah recorded at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento. Click on the link to take a listen. Wal Allahul Musta’aan.

The Islamic Ruling Regarding Celebrating Thanksgiving Day, by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

thanksgiving dinnerToday’s scholars, are faced with a task, that scholars of previous times, did not have to reckon with; before the age of globalization, scholars would render religious edicts (fataawa), about their own people, and their own cultural affairs, and their own countries and lifestyle, about which they were uniquely familiar.  Today, scholars face, and sometimes simply take upon themselves, the colossal assignment of electronically rendering religious edicts, about people, places, and cultures, sometimes thousands of miles away, where they have not lived, do not have an intimate working knowledge of, and are woefully unfamiliar with.

Fatwas, that apply to well-known, and necessary matters of worship, aqeeda, theology, and religious practices, can be applied globally, across all nations and people. With regard to such issues, all Muslims are the same, and they all have the same obligations, and responsibilities. For example, in issues of salat, fasting, inheritance, and the like, all Muslims must adhere to the same ah’kaam. However, in matters that has to do with tradition,  cultural norms, and regional circumstances, Muslim scholars should refrain from making rulings which prohibit the cultural practices people in faraway lands.

It is not common, and virtually unheard of, for scholars of Egypt to render fatwas against the people of Syria for what they do in their country, or for the scholars of Saudi Arabia to render fatwas against the People of Bahrain for what they do in their country, or for the scholars of Lebanon, or Algeria, to render fatwas against the Muslims of Sudan, for what they do in their country.

Were they to do that, people would be insulted and take hyperbolic umbrage over it. There is a certain respect, and acknowledgement of scholars, to respect the boundaries, intelligence, and independence of Muslim peoples in other countries, to understand their own condition, and to handle their own affairs accordingly. This gentleman’s understanding and respect, should also extend to Muslims, and Muslim converts living in America.

Muslim Americans have lived on this continent, since the 1600’s, long before this country even became a republic. They have endured under slavery, torture, illiteracy, and being bought and sold like cattle, and still managed to hold on to their faith. So to think that American Muslims of today, do not know how to maintain or practice their faith in the midst of a country like the United States of America, is untenable, and untenable is a soft word because it’s more like, ludicrous. It would be unthinkable for an American Muslim scholar or Imam to render a ruling about practices in another country, and be taken seriously.

The Prophet , and his learned companions, knew how to navigate their way through their society in a way as to avoid what was prohibited upon them. This is true for most Muslims, once they know what is prohibited upon them according to the Quran and the Sunna. If we can accept, as the majority of scholars do, that the companions of the Prophet were able to navigate through Arab society using the guidance of the Quran and the Sunna, then how can we not accept the possibility that American Muslims could do the same, without outside help? The reason the Prophet migrated from Mecca to Madinah, was not because they were unable to conduct their affairs morally and comprehensively in an un-Islamic society; the reason he made the Hijra, was because the Muslims were under persecution. It is a historical fact that the first Hijra was because of persecution, and the same went for the second Hijra. This is why the Prophet “said the best of you in jaahiliyyah are the best of you in Islam if they understand (the religion)”. In order for people to understand the religion, the focus has to be upon the primary texts of the Quran and the Sunna; not the secondary opinions, that are inconsistent with the original intentions (maqaasid) of Islam.

During the last four or five decades, millions of Americans have converted to Islam, and their families and extended families were not Muslim. People have used Thanksgiving Day for a day of strengthening family ties, keeping in touch with their relatives whom normally, they would not have the opportunity to visit because of work obligations and distance. And in the overwhelming majority of cases, the non-Muslim families because of love and attachment to the Muslim, accommodates them in every possible way.

It would be grossly irresponsible to say that Thanksgiving, or any observance of it, is prohibited. Because to do so, is to say that people gathering to eat, to be amongst their family and loved ones, and to express their thanks to God, is an abomination, and something that angers God. To render the holiday and all of the practices haraam would say that it is evil, an abomination, and something that God hates. “Say: My Lord forbiddeth only indecencies, such of them as are apparent and such as are within, and sin and wrongful oppression, and that ye associate with Allah that for which no authority hath been revealed, and that ye tell concerning Allah that which ye know not”.[1]

Thus, when a convert to Islam is now told that eating with his family, visiting his grandma, and keeping ties with his family is a shameful, hateful thing to God, is sends a dangerous psychological message, that is antithetical to our faith. To say that doing these things are permissible on other days but not permissible on the day that it is easiest to accomplish keeping ties, goes directly against the standards of our Prophet in fulfilling godly obligations. Which was to prefer ease. “This religion is easy. No one becomes harsh and strict in the religion without it overwhelming him”.[2] It is easy for scholars from abroad to prohibit something when they have no direct experience upon the matter. This is why we seek to clarify the whole issue of Thanksgiving so that people will be upon clarity بينة.

What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Day is an American cultural holiday that is marked by family gatherings, cooking and feasting, being thankful, watching football, parades, staying home from work, and discounts in the malls on the following day. For many American families, thanksgiving dinner represents a day when the family comes together. For some, it is the only day where so many of the family are present on the same day and in the same place. Maintaining family relationships is prescribed in our scripture, and it is the Sunna of our beloved Prophet .

 Is sitting down to a meal with one’s family prohibited on Thanksgiving? Some modern-day scholars of Islam are adamant that participating in any part of thanksgiving; going to dinner, taking off from work, eating turkey, visiting the family, taking advantage of the discounts in the malls,  is expressly prohibited. Some have even likened such behavior as disbelief. However, the evidences from the Quran and the Sunna seems not to support that notion.

Thanksgiving is an American holiday, not a religious holiday

Although Thanksgiving was originated by Christians, it was not born of pagan origin; amongst some of the early Christians in this country, special blessings viewed as coming from God, called for days of thanksgiving.  In its current form as practiced in the United States, it is not a religious holiday; it is an American holiday observed in one way or another by people of all faiths. A person if they like, can use the occasion to reflect upon the blessings of their Lord, and thank Him. However, observing Thanksgiving Day does not require that a person worship, thank, or show gratitude to other than Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, nor does it require that a person worship other than Him be he Exalted and Glorified.

Contrary to some opinions, there is nothing in the Book or in the Sunna of the Prophet that prohibits a person from being American living like an American or behaving like an American or engaging in American culture as long as the lifestyle, behavior or actions do not contradict the Book of Allah, or the Sunna of the Prophet . If America, being American, living like an American or thinking like an American contradicts the wishes of some of the scholars, then the Muslim is not answerable to them in that; we are answerable to Allah for our actions first and foremost.

Operative principles of Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day centers around five points, all of which are prominently placed values in the religion of Islam.

1.      Thanking Allah: “And remember! your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favors) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed”.[3]

2.      Being grateful: “He showed his gratitude for the favours of Allah, who chose him, and guided him to a Straight Way”.[4]

3.      Reminding yourself of His favors: “Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny”?[5]

4.      Keeping family ties: “Those who join together those things which Allah hath commanded to be joined, hold their Lord in awe, and fear the terrible reckoning

5.      Feeding food. The Prophet was asked; what is the best type of Islam? He answered, “Feeding food, and spreading the salaams”.[6]

If the Prophet wanted to make it prohibited for a Muslim to visit his or her family during certain days of the year, then he would have done so, especially since the overwhelming majority of the companions of Rasoolillaah had relatives who continued to engage in pagan worship. Even if they converted to Islam, their family members continued to observe pagan rites, rituals and functions. It is confirmed in authentic hadith that the Prophet himself, as well as numerous companions were present at the Ka’ba while people were engaged in idol worship. However, they themselves, did not participate in anything of idol worship, nor did they engage in prohibited activity.

The Prophet , and his learned companions, knew how to navigate their way through their society in a way as to avoid what was prohibited upon them. This is true for most Muslims, once they know what is prohibited upon them according to the Quran and the Sunna. Thus, is our view that scholars, who are not intimately informed about people’s daily lives, and exchanges with their environments, cannot and should not, attempt to micro-manage people’s interactive navigation through life, as they pursue the religious ideals and values for which God holds them accountable.

Errant Islamic rulings which prohibit Thanksgiving

A surprising number of religious edicts or fataawa rendered upon people, events and circumstances which occur in the United States are made by scholars who are qualified and astute in their own regard, but are distressingly uniformed about the details and social-cultural minutia of life in the United States of America. Subsequently, many rulings are made that are faulty, and harms the Muslim in areas of their faith, rather than benefit them. It is common that a fatwa is rendered, usually from abroad, which ends up requiring the Muslim to disobey Allah and His Messenger , or to hate something that Allah loves, or to ignore a basic principle of deen in order to comply with the ruling of an uninformed scholar. This phenomenon is one of the causes of American Muslim moral dysfunction. This problem is further exacerbated when we see that in many Muslim countries, holidays commemorations, and events, other than the two Eids are celebrated with the consent of the scholars while some of the same scholars, render prohibitions against Muslims celebrating anything besides the two Eids here in the United States.

There is hardly a single Muslim country on earth that does not celebrate their National Day, or their Independence Day, or the Prophet’s Birthday or their Revolution Day, or their Election Day, or million man marches as was held in Egypt recently. In Saudi Arabia they celebrate, in addition to the two Eids, the June Solstice on June 21st, the September Equinox on September 22nd, and the New Year on the first of Muharram, or November 5th, and the scholars are silent about that.  There are millions of Muslims who came to America, applied for citizenship and then went to the citizenship celebration held by the U.S government, and the scholars are silent about that. In fact, many of them participate in it every year.

When the Abbasid Dynasty came into being, it started with a huge celebration and feast for the leading Umayyad princes, and ended with them all being slaughtered. Muslims celebrate victories in battle. They celebrated for days when Mu’ammar Qadafhi was killed, they celebrated in the streets of Egypt when Husni Mubaarak was deposed, and they celebrated in the streets of Kuwait, after the Gulf war and the scholars sanctioned it. Even the Muslims, who cry about thanksgiving being haraam, commemorate it every year by arguing about it, so they still participate in the holiday; they just do it by arguing about it. In Pakistan they celebrate Pakistan Independence day on the 14th of August, Pakistan day on the 23rd of March, and Labor Day on the 1st of May, and the scholars are silent about these things and participate in them

Thus many of the fatwaawa (Islamic legal rulings) which prohibit thanksgiving are biased and use a double standard, or are issued by people who may mean well but who do not fully understand western society and how we celebrate our holidays. They are unaware of how we differentiate between the religious and the cultural and they are uninformed about how we navigate our affairs so and sift through the prohibited actions in order to engage in that which is permissible. Some scholars are also uninformed about the operative meaning of the word ‘celebration’ in the modern American context; they infer that by celebration, we mean worship, or that we mean partying, from morning to night, dancing in the streets, and making a spectacle of ourselves. Additionally, the notion of a holiday to many scholars is that it is religiously incumbent, and that participation is mandatory, not optional.  This is not the case not only for Thanksgiving but for many American holidays, even the religious ones.

People in America celebrate thanksgiving differently. There is no one way that the whole population; all 311,591,917 of us, observes the day. For some it is merely a paid or non-paid day off from work, which is permissible in either case. For others, it is a time when shopping bargains are available in the stores and online which is also permissible in Islam since there is no prohibition in purchasing an item that has been discounted.  For others it is a day of preparing a feast for the family and serving it to them which is a praiseworthy action in the religion of Islam. Or spending quality time with the family which also a praiseworthy action according to the Quran and the Sunna. Still for others it is no different from any other day at all. Some people abhor the thought of Thanksgiving, and others simply sleep through the whole day and don’t wake up until the next day. So anyone can see the obvious difficulty and absurdity in rendering any acknowledgement, involvement, celebration or participation in anything that has to do with Thanksgiving as prohibited

Many scholars of Islam, (may Allah bless and strengthen them), are also unfamiliar with the operative meaning and concept of the term ‘holiday’ means in the United States. Holidays in America can be religious, political, cultural or environmental (like earth day), historical (like Presidents Day), or patriotic in nature, like Veterans Day. Since the United States, thus far, is a free society, people generally are free to observe them any way they like. It’s not like religious holidays in the Muslim world whereas on the Eid for example; you aren’t considered to have observed the Eid unless you attended Eid prayer. If a woman is menstruating, she would be considered to have observed the Eid if she attended the prayer even if she didn’t pray.  30,000 people in the city where I live, observed Thanksgiving today by running a 5k race to raise money to feed the homeless, and it’s hard to find an argument that makes raising money to feed homeless people haram.

A Muslim is not obligated to live his or her life based upon the ignorance or misinformation of a well intending scholar.  Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya alluded to this issue very succinctly; when commenting of the necessity of understanding people’s cultural practices, he said: “This is a major foundation that every mufti (legist) or ruler needs; he must be both well-versed (in people’s traditions) as well as matters of command and prohibition and then apply them both simultaneously. Otherwise he will do more harm than good. If he is not intimately aware of an issue in which people have particular understanding, a transgressor will appear to him as the transgressed and the truth will appear to him as falsehood and vice versa.”

Ibn Qayyim went on to say: “Because of his ignorance of the people, their traditions, their conditions and their habits, he (a scholar) will not be able to distinguish (between truth and falsehood), Thus, it is imperative that he understands the machinations of the people, their deceptions, their cultural traditions and their habits because fatwa (religious rulings) change with the changing of time, place culture and condition, and all of this is part of the religion of Allah”.[7] Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya.  There is a fatwa floating around, attributed to our esteemed Shaykh bin Baaz, (RA) that prohibits celebrating any festivals, holidays, or special occasions of non-Muslims. I regret that during my time of study with him, I did not ask him specifically and in detail about Thanksgiving in America. Had I done so, I doubt if he would have found it prohibited but Allah knows best.

The correct Islamic ruling on celebrating Thanksgiving Day

Deeds are reckoned according to intentions, based upon the hadith; “surely deeds are reckoned by intention”.[8] There are several Sunnan and Quranic injunctions that are found in the observance of thanksgiving such as the Prophet’s exhortation upon the believers to feed food; when asked what is the best type of Islam, he replied: “feeding food, and spreading the salaams”[3]. Thanksgiving also is marked by gathering with family and strengthening family bonds, which is a praiseworthy act; “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.[4]”additionally, it is not prohibited in Islam to visit the homes of your relatives, and eat there; “It is no fault in the blind nor in one born lame, nor in one afflicted with illness, nor in yourselves, that ye should eat in your own houses, or those of your fathers, or your mothers, or your brothers, or your sisters, or your father’s brothers or your father’s sisters, or your mother’s brothers, or your mother’s sisters, or in houses of which the keys are in your possession, or in the house of a sincere friend of yours: there is no blame on you, whether ye eat in company or separately. But if ye enter houses, salute each other – a greeting of blessing and purity as from Allah. Thus does Allah make clear the signs to you: that ye may understand”.[9]

There are no verses in the Quran or authentic ahaadeeth of the Prophet that expressly prohibit celebrating thanksgiving. Even though there are scholars who triangulate different ahaadeeth and verses and interpret them to make Thanksgiving prohibited, this is without warrant according to our understanding.

It is not possible to prohibit an entire day, since all the days of the year belong to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. However, activities that occur on any given day can be prohibited if there is sufficient proof. So based upon the evidences that we have provided, observing Thanksgiving Day by itself, is not prohibited, and just like every other cultural occasion, the activities that one participates in on that day, should be looked upon on a case by case, compartmental basis.

It is permissible for a Muslim to prepare a meal on Thanksgiving Day, or any other day in their own homes, and eat thereof. It is also permissible to invite guests to your home on that day or any other day of the year to eat your food. It is permissible to cook turkey, chicken, duck, lamb, beef, or any other meat that is allowable according to the Book and the Sunna. It is also permissible to go vegetarian if one likes. Allah has made no restrictions on which days people can feast and which days they cannot except in the case of Ramadan.

Likewise, If one sees benefit in taking a paid day off from work to spend with their family or to rest then they should do so. If they see benefit in spending that time with their families over grandma’s house and enjoying a good meal of allowable food, then they should do so. If the see benefit in spending halal money, on permissible items that are discounted in the mall, then they should do so. However, if going to grandma’s house for dinner or preparing a special meal in your own home will cause problems in the family, sour relations with the relatives, or somehow cause you to lose your religion, or disobey Allah and His Messenger, then you should not participate. Likewise, if a person wishes to avoid everything about that day, pay full price instead of the discounted price at the mall, return to their employer, their day’s pay when they took off, and behave as if it is just another day, then they are allowed to do that according to the Kitaab and the Sunna.

Another important point is that, if we can accept that scholars can make ta’weel (interpretation) of divine ordinances so as to render an affair like Thanksgiving to be prohibited, despite that that there are no direct texts that say such, then it should be more acceptable that the opinions of scholars are also subject to interpretation, as to render their opinion erroneous, or invalid. Scholarly opinions are not divine writ. If the Book of Allah, and the ahaadeeth of the Prophet , are subject to interpretation, then so are the opinions of scholars.

Conditions for celebrating thanksgiving:

·        That you thank Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala first for the good that He has given you.   It is permissible to thank others as well according to the hadith; “whoever does not thank people, does not thank Allah”.

·        That you thank Him on all of the other days of the year as well, and not pick only that one day to be grateful to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala.

·        That you do not participate in any activity that is prohibited in the religion, such as drinking alcohol, using intoxicants, or displaying lewd, and unlawful behavior.

·        Thanksgiving dinners sometimes invite to overeating or gluttony, so a Muslim must be mindful of that, not just during thanksgiving but during the whole year.

·        That you do not waste food, and if there is excess, then you should feed others with it, or refrigerate it until a later time. But you already knew that.

·        That you do not eat in the name of other than Allah, or eat an animal that was killed in the name of other than Allah.

·        That you do not sit at a table where alcohol and intoxicating beverages are served.

Follow-up question: Is celebrating Thanksgiving imitating the kuffaar?

There is no evidence in the Book or in the Sunna that everything that a non-Muslim does is prohibited. It is impossible for Muslims to not imitate anything at all that a non-Muslim does. They are all; both Muslims and non-Muslims, human beings and inhabitants of this earth. They shop at the same stores; they wear the same brands of clothes, eat the same kinds of foods, use the same types of utensils, use the same brands of computers, and sport around in the same types of automobiles as the so-called unbeliever. Muslims use the same types of tools that non-Muslim use; power drills, electric saws, lawn mowers, and weed whackers.

We also use the same weapons as the non-Muslims use; in fact, Muslims don’t even manufacture weapons; all the advanced weaponry that Muslims use in today’s modern warfare are imitations of the non-Muslim types of weapons.  If you turn on any television (which by the way was invented by the non-Muslim, you will see Muslims in all parts of the world, wearing thobes made in China (atheists), eating on dishes made in France,  wearing diamonds mined in South Africa, bearing military ranks (general, captain, lieutenant , sergeant) invented by the so called kuffaar. So it would seem that 99% of the Muslims in the world have entered into what some scholars would characterize as disbelief.  I’m not buying it. The only one who is free from error and whose opinion must be accepted without question is Rasoolillaah . When we see textual evidence which prohibits virtually every product, action, celebration, festivity, or cause of joy that exists on the planet, as the fatwa prohibiting Thanksgiving seems to say, then we will accept it. Otherwise, we must look at all actions on a case by case basis. And Allah knows best.

Second follow up question: Does Muslims have to celebrate Thanksgiving Day?

No one is saying that you have to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, or to be any way involved in it. People do not have to eat with their family on that day, they don’t have to cook, or even think about cooking if they don’t want to. They don’t have to take off from work, (unless their job is closed that day), or participate in any Thanksgiving related activities. They don’t have to answer the phone when their auntie calls them to ask are they coming, and can they bring some extra plastic cups for the kids. They don’t have to take advantage of 20-50% off, in any Thanksgiving Day sale, and they don’t have to watch the parade, watch football on television, or finger through the big Thanksgiving edition of their city’s newspaper. They don’t even have to get out of bed, except to perform their prayer. They don’t have to get dressed, like they are going somewhere, and if a woman is menstruating, she can sleep through the whole day, and wake up the next day if she wants. They do not even have to mention the word; Thanksgiving, if they choose not to.

Participating in Thanksgiving in any way, is not a religious obligation. The deen of Allah is easy, and the Lord that we worship is above pettiness of any kind. He is also very clear about what He wants us to do, and about what He wants us to stay away from. ‘He hath explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you’.[10] Thus, if someone wants to declare something haram, and declare that anyone who participates in a thing is committing a sin against Allah, then they need to bring clear evidence, otherwise, they risk forging a lie against Allah sub’haanahu wata’ala, and that’s what we have an issue with.

When someone, says that something is haram, then they are speaking on behalf of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, and they need to bring conclusive proof, and not just their dislike for something or dislike for a certain people. It is not permissible in Islam for anyone to render something prohibited on their own accord. 7:32 “Say: Who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided) for sustenance? Say: They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Judgment. Thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who understand”.[11]

Personal sentiment by itself, is not enough to manufacture law. Law is made by the use of textual evidence, or decisive proof, not merely that people do not like Christians, or don’t like America, or don’t like the kuffaar, or don’t like the Pilgrims, or don’t like the idea of families getting together and expressing their gratitude for each other on that day, or don’t like turkey, or don’t like what some people did in celebration of Thanksgiving, or don’t like the oppressors of hundreds of years ago. A Muslim should not let their dislike for a people, prevent them from being just.  “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you, make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is closer to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do”.[12]

A Muslim may engage in any activity that is not expressly prohibited by Allah, or His Messenger, or by a unanimous consensus of Muslim scholars. They can engage in any activity that does not compromise their faith, does not require from them that they ascribe partners with Allah, does not require or encourage that they disobey Allah or His Messenger (SAWS), and that does not place them or their religion, or the practice thereof, in harm. They can engage in any activity that does not invite to haram, or leads to haram, or that glorifies something that is haram. Muslims are not allowed to engage in any activity that promotes or glorifies, kufr, shirk, disobedience to Allah and His Messenger, or that makes a mockery of our noble religion. We don’t do Christmas, Easter, or Halloween, since all of these celebrate, commemorate, or invite to disbelief, or glorifies evil, as in the case of Halloween. . If you don’t want to have anything to do with the Thanksgiving Day, then leave it alone completely; there is no blame in that, as long as you fulfill your other obligations to Allah. Wal Al-humdu lillaahi Rabbil aalameen.

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad in the Imam and Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento California, you can reach him at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com, or visit the Masjid website at http://www.masjidibrahim.com


[1] Quran, 7:33.

[2] Collected by Bukhaari.

[3] Quran, 14:7

[4] Quran, 16:121

[5] Quran, 55:49.

[6] Collected by Muslim.

[7] Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (D. 751 A.H.) quoted from: “Ii’laan al-Muwaqqi’een an Rabbil aalameen” vol. 4, p. 157

[8] Collected by Muslim.

[9] Quran, 34:61.

[10] Quran, 6:119.

[11] Quran, 7:32.

[12] Quran, 5:8.

A Fatwa About Celebrating Your Country’s National Day [By Sheikh `Abd Allah b. Bayyih]

Every country has its National Day. This day is not a religious festival. The new holidays that we as Muslims are prohibited from introducing into our lives are new religious holidays. We are not prohibited from other occasions where people get together for one reason or another. People celebrate their marriages, they celebrate the birth of a new child. They might celebrate any number of other occasions, and there is nothing wrong with this, as long as their celebration is not a religious observance.

It is essential to clear up the misunderstanding that many people have about this issue. Due to this misunderstanding, people have been placed in great difficulties, since so many religious people have been made to think that by observing these non-religious holidays they are committing some sort of sin.

Observing these days is not sinful. In Islamic Law, the default ruling for an activity – barring any evidence to the contrary – is that of permissibility. We should consider how scholars related to such events in the past. There was a tradition that hailed to before the time of Islam known as `Atîrah. It was a day in the month of Rajab where an animal would customarily be slaughtered. Scholars of the Hanbalî school of law regarded it as permissible. Mâlikî scholars disliked it, since it was a practice from the times of ignorance before Islam.

Nevertheless, Hanbalî scholars saw no problem with it. They argued that there is no text forbidding it. The fact that people from since bygone days had a day in Rajab where they would traditionally slaughter an animal – called a rajabi or an `atîrah – is something that is permissible by default. If people want to get together on a day in the month or Rajab or Sha`bân or any other time that of the year that suits their customs to slaughter an animal and have a feast, then that is up to them.

The same can be said for the anniversary of a country’s independence – which is usually what is meant by the “national day” in the countries of Africa and Asia that used to be colonial possessions. There is nothing in Islam to prohibit this.

We need to properly understand the hadîth where the Prophet (peace be upon him), upon his arrival in Madinah, found that the people there had two festive days wherein they would play and enjoy themselves and said: “Allah – most blessed and exalted – has replaced them with what is better: `Îd al-Fitr and `Îd al-Adhâ.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (1134) and Sunan al-Nasâ’î (1556)]

These were pagan religious holidays tied in with their idols. The Prophet (peace be upon him), therefore, mentioned to them the two religious holidays of the Muslims, `Îd al-Fitr and `Îd al-Adhâ. This does not imply in any way that people are forbidden to engage in any public assembly or celebration whatsoever. As long as participating in these celebrations does not entail any sinful conduct, people should be allowed to celebrate. It is unwise to raise objections, disturb people in their traditions, and cause division in society when there is no text form the Qur’ân and Sunnah to forbid those traditions, nor any scholarly consensus even within the schools of thought. Islamic Law is easy with regard to matters wherein there is no clear objection and where the disapproval that is expressed is not based upon any unequivocal evidence. People should be allowed the scope to express their customs. The principle of maintaining ease and facilitation is an essential principle of Islamic Law. Allah says: “He has not placed any difficulty upon you in religion.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 78] He says: “Allah desires that He should make light your burdens.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 28] Anas relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Give glad tidings and do not become divided.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (69) and Sahîh Muslim (1734)] We say again that the religion of Islam, essentially, seeks to make things easy for the people. The other opinions and views that scholars have on this matter should be treated with respect. Nevertheless, those opinions are not sacred scripture.

And Allah knows best. By Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Bayah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com

Audio Khutba: It is the Duty of the Ummah and Every Muslim to Be Bearers of Witness! By Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

bearing witness

It is the duty of the Ummah, and of every single Muslim to be a bearer of witness, to the degree that you are able. This was the function of our Prophet (SAWS), and the function of the Prophets that came before him. This is the topic of this khutba recorded at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento California. Click on the link above to take a listen. Wal allahul Musta’aan.

(2:143 Thus, have We made of you an Ummat justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves;)

 وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا

Why Allah (God) Always Wins, by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

Allah 3dHere it is folks; the key to really benefiting from your Islam is to simply submit. Everything in the universe submits to Allah either willingly or unwillingly. So you might as well surrender. When you submit, your Islam works in your favor. When you fight it, it works against you. And remember that without fail, Allah always wins. Always… –

No matter how influential you are, how smart you are, how healthy you are, how strong you are, how many friends you have, how many degrees you have, how well you eat, how much you exercise, what color you are, what you family background is, what country you come from or what your IQ is, you will find yourself one day soon, at Allah’s mercy. He will have His way with you, He will test you, He will manifest His glory to you, and you will be required to recognize Him, and submit to Him. He will be patient with you if He so wills, and He may even hasten your punishment or your reward as He often does, but without a doubt, you shall submit to Him wither willingly or unwillingly.

You will not outlive Allah, you will not get ahead of Him, you will never outsmart Him, and you will never overpower Him, or even come remotely close to it. Long before any of us were brought into existence, there was Allah, and long after we are gone, there will be Allah. You may think that you are in control but in reality, you are not; Allah controls everything. In fact; He is complete control. And a day will come when there is no one left standing on the planet earth, and on that day, Allah will still be God, He will still be the King, He will still be the Supreme being, and whether you like it or not, you will be resurrected.

If Allah wishes harm for you, there is nothing that you can do to stop it and if He wishes good for you, there is nothing than anyone can do to prevent it. Allah does whatever He pleases, and there is nothing that you, I or anyone else can do about it. He is a God that is always Victorious. Sometimes people do things that they say are for sake of Allah (God) maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. However, in the long run, Allah will bring out the truth of that action and we will find that many of the things that people say they do for Allah (killing, raping, unlawful plunder, terror), were not really for Allah. Then they will have to pay the price, because it is Allah who will always win.

Allah always wins because He is Allah, He is God, He is the only God, and He is the Wisest, Holiest, Strongest, and Most Powerful Being that ever existed and that ever will exist. He is Allah, and there is no other rightful god besides Him. If you are a Muslim, then you submit to Allah, plain and simple. So don’t be one of those people who convert to Islam, and then tries to re-write the rules about what it is to be a Muslim, as if you’re going to enlighten somebody. Those who submitted have already found their light.

Imam Luqman

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

 

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