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

Thug Life; A Means to No End. A personal story by Imam Luqman Ahmad

Thug lifeWhen I was about 15 or 16 years old, there was a guy in our neighborhood who was also a member of the local street gang (the Haines Street Gang) his street name was Ball bearing, and he and I were neighborhood adversaries. At that time, he was also a neighborhood bully, and we ended up fighting several times as I was not a gang member and didn’t have automatic protection when I walked around in our neighborhood. Besides I was sternly prohibited by my father from even thinking about joining a gang (being Muslim and all). Although to tell the truth, I kinda wanted to join one so I could be part of the cool.

Nevertheless, I was more afraid of my father than I was of the gang members in the neighborhood. With the gang members, I felt that at least I had a chance at getting in some blows and maybe knocking one of those lames out, or letting off a few rounds if it came to that. With my father, I knew that there was no chance at opposing him, parents didn’t do time outs back then, and furthermore, I revered my father (as I still do) and it was unheard of in our family to go against my Abu. We were after all, raised as Muslims.  So I would have scrapes with local gang members, and wannabes from time to time. Al-humdu lillah mostly it was only fist fighting, what we used call a ‘fair one’ back in Philly, but every now and then it would escalate to more serious types of confrontation, which is another story. After time, I became cool with most of them, plus my cousins Jessie and Vincent when they weren’t in jail, would keep an eye out for us (the Muslim side of the family) and say; hands off.

Anyway, this dude was testy, we fought several times and each time it ended in somewhat of a draw, with people breaking the fight up before it was clear that one of us got a butt whuppin by the other. Thus, he I were sworn enemies in the hood, with unsettled business, (although we didn’t call it the hood back then, we called it around the way), where we grew up in Germantown, in the area of Locust ave.and Musgrave st., bordered by Chew ave to the north, and Chelten Ave. to the west, (Northwest Philadelphia) and whenever we met each other on the street, on the basketball court, or in the playground, there was tension.There was no love lost between us.

As the years went by, the gangs died out in Philly and former gang members became drug dealers, and this brother became a big time dope dealer in the neighborhood, and surrounding area. He was busy making his money and doing his thing, and I was busy growing up as a sometimes errant Muslim, trying to stay on the path, with all my faults and insecurities as a teenager who was different.  We were the only Muslim family in the neighborhood where I grew up, and everybody knew us and knew how we got down because back in those days, we believed that it was better to be packing and not need it than to need it and not be packing. The burglars and petty criminals in the neighborhood used to always avoid our house and our property because there was this spectrum of retribution, and back then, people had a lot of respect for Muslims. We were known as; that Muslim family on Locust Ave.

Years later, I had just finished making salatul Jum’ah at the Islamic Center on Broad St. (near vine) and was sitting down doing my little thikr after the salat, when I heard someone say: “Assalaamu alaikum”, as I turned and glanced over my shoulder, I saw that is was my nemesis from the old neighborhood. My first impulse was to grab the 9mm automatic from my waistband, which I did, but I didn’t pull it out because just as I wrapped my hands around the grip of my gun, he said again in a louder voice and with a big smile on his face; asslaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu. This time, we were looking eye to eye. There is something about the salaams from one believer to another which cannot be explained. His salaams went through me like a hot knife through butter, and I replied: wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh! We looked at each other for what seemed like an eternity, and then we embraced.  We started talking and he explained to me how he became a Muslim, and we became the best of friends. He was married and had four sons. We used to eat together, pray together, read together and go to the Masjid together.

As the years went by, we started to lose touch, and I heard that he had gotten back into the street game here and there. I was busy with my own family and children by that time. So when I did see him on the street now and then, he was moving fast; we exchanged salaams and some niceties, but not much more than that. Then one day, all of a sudden, I heard that he was dead. Shot multiple times in the street. I never knew the exact details of his death, who did it, what lead up to it, or whether or not his killers were ever caught. In Philadelphia back then as it is today; black men are killed on the street all the time; many of them Muslims. Most of the times when it happens, nobody knows nothing and people tend not to talk about the details even if they knew something. Nevertheless, I was hurt when I heard the news, and I wondered whatever became of his four young sons whom I knew now, would grow up, wherever they were, without their father.

Twenty years or so later, while I was the imam of a Masjid in Philadelphia, I got a phone call that a young African American Muslim was killed in the streets of Philadelphia. Such calls were not uncommon. I think that we had at least one homicide per month during my time as Imam of the United Muslim Masjid on 15th Street; sometimes more. So I arranged for one of the brothers of the deceased to meet me at the Masjid to discuss janaaza arrangements and so on. When I met him, he reminded me of my friend who was killed years ago. As we talked and he explained to me who he was and who his father was, I realized that he, and  young man in his twenties who was killed, were  the sons of my close friend, who twenty something years ago, met the same fate. When I went to see the body at the funeral home, I was taken aback that the young brother who was killed, looked exactly like his father. To this day, other than the janaaza of my mother (rahimuhaa Allah), that was the most difficult salaatul janaaza that I ever performed.

Throughout the years, I have had many children of my friends who were gunned down on the street, or who gunned someone else down, while they were involved in the street game, and are now doing life in prison; some whom I have known since they were born. I remember one case (people reading this from Philly may remember) where a young Muslim man in his twenties got caught up in street life and was gunned down in his car with multiple gunshots, then stuffed in the trunk of his luxury car, and the car set on fire. That hurt me deeply also because I remember when that boy was barely out of diapers, running around our house as a toddler while his parents were visiting our house.

I don’t have any so-called street cred, and by the grace of Allah, and by His mercy, I have never been a thug, and have never been a gang member (although I’ve done other things and may Allah forgive). However, I am certain that I am not the only one who has been touched in one way or another by someone’s senseless death. There are countless of families across the country whom this issue of wanton crime and violence has touched them in much more personal and profound ways than it has I. Still, I, like many other people, am not immune to its effects.  Death is inevitable. But senseless death and killing in the streets is not only inexcusable; it is one of the most insane phenomena of our time, and something that we as Muslim Americans, should be very concerned about. The number of young black men who are shot, stabbed, assaulted, and killed every day by other young black men is staggering. For every one that is killed, there are countless numbers of orphans left behind, parents and siblings grieving, families hurting, and ends up with either another young black man in jail, or a killer, or criminal loose on the street.  Every time of these horrendous events occur, a part of our community dies for no good reason. I can tell you dozens of more stories like this. So if people wonder why I take such a tough stance with regards to thug life, street life, gang life, hood life, criminal life, and drug life. This story tells you a little bit why; and that’s just part of the story.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

salafi book cover amazonNew book available by Imam Luqman Ahmad: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern day Salafi Sect”, A detailed analysis of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect, their beliefs, practices, and influences upon the religious landscape of Muslim America. In particular, the indigenous American Muslim population. Available @ imamluqman.com

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