The Philadelphia Negroe Muslim, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

 

city-hall-philadelphia-pennsylvania-usa_mainThis article is a generalization but it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fabrication. I happen to be from Philadelphia, and even though I have not read the entire book, “The Philadelphia Negro”, By W.E.B. Dubois, I always liked the title. So I used the title for this article although my article here has little if anything to do with the book written by W.E.B. Dubois. This article is about growing up as a Muslim in Philadelphia. One thing about growing up in Philadelphia is that you never forget where you came from. Now that may be true for many places but if you are from Philly, no matter where you move to in the country or the world, you still consider yourself from Philly and a Philly person. There is something that can be said that is the Philly vibe. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so.

It is not one characteristic. It is many characteristics rolled up into one. And all those characteristics do not go for everyone. It all depends where you grew up, and how you grew up in Philadelphia; what kind of home, what kind of lifestyle, what kind of parents, what neighborhood, and one combination of home and street values where you raised upon. All that goes into who you are as a Philadelphian, and of course like I said, this is not just for Philadelphia, but I just happened to be from Philadelphia.

I grew up in a working-class, two-parent Muslim household. For the most part, we were always the only Muslims in the schools, the only Muslims on the block and for most years the only Muslims in the immediate neighborhood. Both of my parents were heavily involved in Islamic work. Our lives as I remember it, revolved around Islam. Does that mean that we were perfect Muslims, or the perfect Muslim family? No, of course not, and there’s no such thing by the way. It is just that Islam was a focal point of our lives and our identity growing up in Philly. Every city and region has it’s own personality when it comes to culture, politics, and religion. Philadelphia is no different, and when it comes to the religion of Islam in the United States, to IslamI grew up in the area of the city called Germantown. I grew up at a time where we had gangs in the neighborhood, and if you did not know anything else, you had to know how to fight, you had to know how to stand up for yourself and to stand up for your religion which was frequently under attack. Philadelphians tend to speak straight to the point, and tend to take a stand on things; for or against, with you or against you, agree with you or do not agree with you, your friend or your foe. I do not know about now, but back in the day people did not tend, at least the people that I know, to be wishy-washy.

Then there were always the con artists, and the con games, and the people who would always like to BS. I never had too much of a stomach for those types. Once you are known as a con artist and everybody tends to look at you as a con artist, and if you were a con artist you had to take your chances, if you got over, got over. If he got caught, then there were consequences and you just had to live with that. Those were the rules back then, and I do not know what the heck the rules are today. If you had a butt whuppin coming, (or worse) because of your actions, the police couldn’t save you. If you conned somebody, set someone up, or where treacherous, most likely, you had to pay the consequences for that.

I do not ever recall having to live under the guise of political correctness. I do not even think that they had the terminology back then. You would say what you meant, and you meant what you said. One of the worst things that a person could be back then was to be two-faced, to run your mouth too much about other people’s business, to be wishy-washy, or to be a coward.

Philadelphia was always a city of uppity Negroes who would dare to speak up, to keep coming back, and to not give up, and the Philadelphia Muslim Negro is an uppity Muslim who will fight off the yoke of second-class Muslim citizenry. There were times when our city was very racially polarized and we used to fight for respect. Many brothers from Philadelphia have went overseas and study Islam. There are many graduates from Islamic universities who were from Philadelphia.

The first indigenous American Muslim who memorized the Quran, Shaykh Anwar Muhaimin, is from Philadelphia. Some of the oldest indigenous American Muslim families who have four, five, and six generations in Sunni Islam are from Philadelphia. Our country was founded in Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. The underground railroad came through Philadelphia. Frederick Douglass and the abolitionist movement thrived in Philadelphia. Martin Luther King was influenced by Philadelphia during his time in Chester, Pennsylvania. Noble Drew Ali and the Moorish American Science Temple flourished in Philadelphia. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded by Richard Allen in Philadelphia. John Coltrane settled in Philadelphia. Will Smith is from Philadelphia, Pattie Labelle settled in Philadelphia, Grover Washington Jr. was from Philadelphia.

The religion of Islam has a very rich history in Philadelphia. We were taught from a very young age to take our Islam seriously. Although much of the history has yet to be written, Islam in America amongst indigenous American Muslim converts has a lot to do with Muslims in Philadelphia who spread out and strengthened other communities, and established communities. Philadelphia is a city of courage, and

So when I wrote the book Double Edged Slavery about the modern-day colonization of African American Muslims, you have to keep in mind that I am very much a product of Philadelphia. You may or may not understand what that means but Philly people understand what I’m saying. I was raised not to be afraid to say what I have to say. I learned this from my mother and my father, and this is what you see reflected in my writings. Much of the passion that I drew upon in writing my book, had to do with me growing up and being a son of Philadelphia, and about the willingness to call a con-game, a con-game, and that what my book is about. It’s about liberation, and removing obstacles from between you and Allah.

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a Philadelphia native, a writer, consultant, patriot, and until recently, has been the Imam of a Northern California mosque for twenty years. Currently he delivers the Friday sermon (khutba) at the Islamic Society of Folsom in Folsom California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the new book “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States. He also authored, “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at modern-day extremist salafiyyism, the ideology which in part formed the mindset of ISIS. He blogs at, imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

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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.

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

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

Muslim owned liquor storeWhat 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 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 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 and Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento California. He can be reached at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com.

 


[2]Source:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/16/world/asia/afghanistan-opium-production-increases-for-3rd-year.html?_r=0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Available Now! New Book: ‘The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafi Sect by Imam Luqman Ahmad

 salafi book cover amazonJUST RELEASED BY LOTUS TREE PUBLICATIONS, THIS BOOK IS A DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THE MODERN DAY SALAFIYYAH SECT IN THE UNITED STATES: THEIR BELIEFS, PRACTICES AND INFLUENCES UPON THE RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE OF MUSLIM AMERICA, AND IN PARTICULAR, THE INDIGENOUS AMERICAN MUSLIM POPULATION. “A DETAILED AND INFORMATIVE READ!” Price: $20

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Hurdling the American Muslim Challenge, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imam LuqmanAhmad

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


[1] Collected by Bukhaari.

[2] Collected by Bukhaari.

Can Muslims Create an American Identity? By Imam Luqman Ahmad

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

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

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

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

Imam Luqman Ahmad

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

Fatwas and the Responsibility of Muslim Scholars in America, by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Islamic scholars occupy an important place in Muslim society. They are the guardians of sacred law and are often considered to be amongst the elite of our faith. In one tradition, the Prophet (SAWS) stated; “The Scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets[1]. The preservation and transmission of sound Islamic knowledge and guidance is compromised without the works and efforts of our scholars. Without them, people are destined to being misinformed about their religion, and to be misled by Iblis in handling their affairs. In another tradition, the Prophet (SAWS) said: “One Scholar is harder against the devil than a thousand worshippers[2]. The Quran states that people are elevated by their religious knowledge “Allah will rise up, to (suitable) ranks (and degrees), those of you who believe and who have been granted (mystic) Knowledge. And Allah is well- acquainted with all ye do.” Quran 58:11. As teachers, guardians and interpreters of sacred law, Islamic scholars deserve our respect, support, and our gratitude.

Scholars of Islam are responsible for upholding the sacred trust that accompanies the acquisition of religious knowledge; which is to explain the religion clearly and concisely and not cover up any part of it, “Those who conceal the clear (Signs) We have sent down, and the Guidance, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book,-on them shall be Allah’s curse, and the curse of those entitled to curse” 2:159. In today’s turbulent times, the role of Muslim religious scholars and qualified[3] teachers takes on a special significance for three reasons;

  1. The first being; the scarcity of people who possess sound and accurate islamic knowledge; It was related in the hadith of Anas ibn Malik that the Prophet (SAWS) said: “From among the portents of the Hour are (the following): 1. Religious knowledge will be taken away (by the death of Religious learned men). 2. (Religious) ignorance will prevail. 3. Drinking of Alcoholic drinks (will be very common). 4. There will be prevalence of open illegal sexual intercourse[4]. We      are living during times of pervasive ignorance of religion, and in the United States, we are the only major religious group where our political and advocacy groups eclipse religious groups as the de-facto leaders of the Muslim community, and who routinely take upon ourselves religious edicts (fataawa) from scholars in faraway lands with limited knowledge of our domestic customs, our history and our condition.
  2. The second reason is that religious scholars have the responsibility to stand as barriers between ignorant Islamic      leadership and the Muslim people themselves; “Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but He takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars, so that when He leaves no learned person, people, turn to ignorant as their leaders; then they are asked to deliver religious verdicts and they deliver them without knowledge, they go astray, and lead others astray[5]. Scholars of today need to not only address the condition of the general public; they must also be willing to address those who are in authority,      and those who make decisions for and on behalf of Muslims.
  3. The third reason is that the world has changed, and in today’s globalized environment, Muslim people are mixing cultures, ideas, ethnic tendencies, and beliefs into one big melting pot in America.       Muslim scholars are tasked not only with helping to help break down the obvious and sometimes intractable barriers between the diverse Muslim peoples living here in the United States, they are also (the ones who make our business, their business), charged in helping to maintain the religious and spiritual nature of the American Muslim trajectory, and making sure that our politics does not trump our morality. That means that they have to understand Islam in a morally applicative sense, understand what’s going on in the land in which we live and work, and understand the people upon whom they deliver critical rulings of law. Scholars of Islam have to take the added step whenever and wherever  possible, to familiarize themselves with the common people, and the intricacies of American life and culture, about which they render judgments and opinions. The Prophet (SAWS) said, “The Muslim who mixes with the people and is patient with their ills is better than the Muslim who does not mix with the people and is not patient with their ills.[6]

Some Islamic scholars residing in the Muslim world, find themselves either woefully unfamiliar, or subtlety indifferent to America in general, and towards American people specifically, and in the process, issue unfair and unrealistic rulings towards Muslims Americans who are socially integrated into our country’s fabric. For example, the fatwa ruling that it is not permissible for any Muslim to even reside in the United States. Some, due to their ignorance of American culture and her people, and often operating from abroad, have managed to demonize virtually every aspect of American culture and way of life. Sports, birthdays, Thanksgiving, family photos, decorating homes, designer clothing, thikr beads, wearing jeans, baby showers, attending graduation ceremonies, saying what’s up brother to a stranger on the street, being in a good mood during Christmas season, wedding rings, visiting graves of relatives, bereavement practices, women entering Masaajid, loving one’s country, and a host of other things have ended up on the prohibition list of one scholar or another. Other scholars have done great disservice to Muslims and to Islam by issuing verdicts that allow the sale of intoxicants in our cities, despite the Quranic ruling against it.

Some Muslim Americans find themselves apologizing for being born in this country of ours as if it were a curse. Because of irresponsible law rendering, the average Muslim, especially the convert, who simply wants to worship his or her Lord, and live an Islamic lifestyle, is often left in an almost perpetual state of confusion. Because of the multitude of conflicting and sometimes nonsensical religious rulings, such as the fatwa that American Muslims wage military jihad upon our own neighbors, or the fatwa that selling intoxicants in American is permissible as long as the buyers are not Muslim, many Muslims are resigned to a state of moral dysfunction. Scholars, as they learn more about American society alternately prohibit things in one instance and then make them permissible according to their own evolutionary knowledge of our country, our culture and our way of life.

Anti American oratory has surreptitiously made its way into the modern canonical dialogue of Islam. Many American Muslims have been morally blackmailed into having to repudiate American culture in order to find acceptance as Muslims by immigrant scholars. Even today, rhetoric from a minority of Muslim scholars and some imams are replete with anti-American invectives or rallying cries against so called ‘western culture’ or values. It is ironic however, that from an Islamic theological perspective, morality has no hemispheric basis; “to Allah belongs the east and the west, wherever thou turnest, you shall find His (God’s) Face”.

Thus, Islam for many Muslim Americans has become too complicated to be user friendly. The dozen or so, often conflicting spheres of scholarly influence has created a virtual merry-go-round of Islamic thought in America, and we need to do something about it. Understanding how to apply Islamic law and morality, in the United States, require a thorough understanding of the shariah, the culture norms of the people, as well as the inclusion and consultation of indigenous American Muslim imams, laymen and intelligentsia.

The famous 14th century jurist, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya[7] 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 peoples 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 will not be able to distinguish (between truth and falsehood), Thus, it is imperative that (the scholar) 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.”[8]– Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (D. 751 A.H.) quoted from: “Ii’laan al-Muwaqqi’een an Rabbil aalameen” vol. 4, p. 157

American Muslims need to realize that this is our country, and for indigenous American Muslims, and others who intend to stay here permanently, this is our homeland. We don’t have a “back home” to go to. So we need to be certain that Islamic rulings for and about american Muslims  are not tainted by anyone’s political prejudices, cultural sensitivities, or ignorance about America and our way of life. Granted, this is a difficult topic. Nevertheless, it is one that must be addressed if we have any hope from curbing the undercurrent of extremism that still germinates in the minds of some of our youth. As Muslim Americans, our first duty is to our Lord, and our number one priority is our own salvation. As American Muslims, we have the god given right to look out after our own spiritual self-interests.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

Shaykh Luqman Ahmad is a freelance writer and the Imam of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in California. He can be reached through email at imamabulaith@yahoo.com


[1] Collected by at-Tirmithi, Ahmad, Abu Dawood and others.

[2] Collected by at-Tirmithi and Ibn Majah.

[3] We mention qualified teachers because unqualified teachers should refrain from teaching religion.

[4] Collected by Bukhaari.

[5] Collected by Muslim.

[6] Mish’kaat al-Masaa’bih.

[7] Died 751 A.H.

[8] I’laan al-Muwaqqi’even an Rabbil Aaalameen, vol. 1. P. 157.

Leaderless in Muslim America by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

Shaykh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah once said: it’s is better for people to endure under a tyrant for 100 years than it is for them to go one night without a leader. The general rule regarding leadership is that without it, one can only expect chaos and disharmony. Religious leadership in Islam is a necessity mandated by divine law; (daroorah shar’iyyah) and something that Muslim people, wherever they may reside, should never be without.
There is no such thing as a perfect leader; some are better than others. Leaders and followers both learn through the experience if they are fortunate. Leaders are people and as per their nature, people change from state to state. Ignorant leaders can learn or receive advice, weak leaders can find strength, arrogant leaders can learn humility, unjust leaders can become just, and inexperienced leaders can become wise with time. Of course the opposite can be true with respect to all of the above.

The truth is, no one really knows in advance just how well a leader will perform in discharging his duties. Leaders die, and are succeeded by another and in some cases, leaders are voted in and out of office. Some leaders are removed for various reasons and replaced by someone else who may be better or worse then the previous one, and there are leaders, that have been forcibly deposed, overthrown, or assassinated.

A leader can inspire you as well as cause you to loose heart. Oftentimes there are layers of leadership so if there is a void, someone can step up from behind and serve in his stead. Throughout Muslim history, there have been numerous types of leaders at different times, for different Muslim peoples, and each had their own set of responsibilities, sphere of authority, function and challenges. There are leaders who guide people to the truth and there are those who lead us astray. There are great leaders and there are dismal ones. The underlying premise behind leadership in Islam is that someone has taken responsibility for the affairs (umoor) of the believers.

The highest form of leadership in Islam after prophethood itself, is the Khalifa , and the most basic form of religious leadership is the Imam of the home, and congregational prayer.Much can be said about leaders and what is ideal and desirable with respect to them, and the Quran, the sunna, as well as the books of fiqh and usool are replete with information and guidelines on the topic. However, to be leaderless in Islam is simply unthinkable. The fact that it is a condition to which many of us have become accustomed, does not mitigate its negative consequences. May Allah guide. …

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

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