From a strictly religious perspective, the goal of the Muslim is to please Allah, practice Islam, and go to paradise. In another context with respect to our existence and condition as a people living in the United States, a non-Islamic country, we should start thinking about what will ultimately be social-political as well as religious norms for us as Muslims living here. The dilemma is that although we have to be Muslim, and adhere to and obey Islamic laws, which can only successfully be done in a system, we have decided to do this in a country that is fundamentally non-Muslim. This, is a delicate undertaking at best, requiring a high degree of intelligence and commitment, or an impossible dream, destined for failure at worst.
The decision regarding whether we are going to stay and be citizens or are we going to migrate and return to that presently non-existent "Muslim State" that we all say we want, seems to have already been made. At this juncture I do not see any mass exodus of Muslims from this country and almost all of the ones I see leaving to go back "home" are being deported. In fact, Muslims are steadily populating the waiting lists to get into the United States. Lets face it we are settling in for the long haul. We just haven't figured out how we are going to settle. I'm not going to debate here the Islamic rulings regarding hijra (migration) or staying put. The argument and ensuing scholarly deliberation about it has merit. However for practical purposes it is a moot point. Notwithstanding the follow-up question of where will we go? Thus, the obvious focus needs to be normalizing the practice of Islam in America.
In the United States, Islam has not yet evolved into an organized religion in the conventional sense; we do not have a synod, an ecclesiastical council, a board of bishops, house of deputies or any other religious governing body with real legislative powers. Instead we have an amalgam of imams, sheikhs and political pundits and organizations each with their own limited sphere of influence. It is true that most masaajid, Islamic organizations and Islamic centers have boards and councils and even imams with authority to set rules and guidelines and to adjudicate the affairs of their local community. However with respect to normalcy what we have now is a veritable circus. If someone disagrees with the policy at one masjid, they simple go to the masjid on the other side of town or a few blocks away where a totally different understanding of Islam awaits them. Something can be haram (prohibited) at one masjid and mubaah (permissible) at the next.
The system of marriage and divorce is in shambles. In fact there is no real system in place at all. In too many instances, marriage and divorce are characterized by a capricious recklessness that borders on the insane. All kinds of horror stories are circulating from husbands with multiple welfare wives, sometimes not even knowing of each other's existence. To the unchecked and increasing frequency of HIV infection, to the numerous and undocumented instances of divorce and broken families, to the widespread abuse of the rights and bodies of Muslim women, and that's just touching the surface. Some of us emphatically detest the notion of civil court-sanctioned marriages because it legitimizes the "kaafir" system. Yet, the cavalier disregard of a good number of Muslims for the sanctity of marriage, an institution that the prophet himself hailed as "half of religion", suggests the need for some sort of legal enforcement apparatus. Not in the way of a Muslim police force that goes around arresting people for infractions, that would be unfeasible for obvious reasons. However, across the board consistency would raise the level of compliance and go a long way in establishing normalcy. The simple ma sha Allah scout's honor approach is not working.
It is lamentable that there is such a thing as an Arab Masjid, a Pakistani Masjid, an African American Masjid and so on. We can try to deny that this is the case but who are we kidding? Most Muslim schools in the United States are segregated, Arabs in Arab schools, Pakistanis in Pakistani schools and indigenous Americans in their own schools. The degree of cross-cultural cooperation is at an undesirable low, and tragically, this trend is being passed on to the next generation. In general, Native-born American Muslims are more openly accepting of immigrant Muslims and their culture than the latter are of them. Roughly a quarter of the Islamic practices that we have adopted have been culturally based, imported from the Middle East and other Muslims lands, and not textually based. That trend needs to change.
For Islam to make sense in America, systemic predictability needs to evolve. We need a type of unity that will place the whole of the community on one spectrum. Currently Muslim communities are demarcated primarily on the basis of race; ethnicity and nationality all of which are ludicrous notions especially given the current attack that Islam is under. The irony of Islam in America is that except for a few instances, we are thoroughly integrated secularly and civilly but grossly separated and dysfunctional religiously. For example we are very conscious of obeying civil laws like paying fines and taxes, keeping traffic court dates, even registering to vote. Meticulously adhering to every regulation and being honest, law abiding Americans. In fact, many of us pride ourselves on being law abiding "regular" Americans, especially in this post 9/11 period we are living in. I've even heard Muslims leaders say publicly, "we're as American as apple pie" whatever that means. However, in a religious sense, we are woefully lacking in Masjid attendance, paying zakat (charity), creating our own systems or taking care of our own. There is no such thing as a Muslim hospital in America despite the presence of close to 7 million Muslims. I am an Imam of a Masjid and virtually every Masjid and Islamic Center I am aware of is pathetically cash strapped and has be in a perpetual fundraising mode just to survive.
The majority of Muslims living in the United States aren't part of any organized Muslim community or body in this country. Yes, many of them are sickened by the inability of many Muslim leaders to work together in a meaningful way or to even realize that they are not in the "old country" anymore! Still despite the backwardness of some of our leaders, we have to gather the fortitude work through this quagmire. Somebody needs to kick them in the head (figurative speaking) and say, Dorothy you are not in Kansas anymore ala the Wizard of Oz. We have virtually no religious system of law in place and in many cities; we seem to not be able to agree on which day to celebrate our holidays. Some of us aren't even sure what our real names are. We'll be Yusuf when we come around the Muslims but John to everybody else. Or the even more odious example of the man who goes by Moe the liquor store proprietor during the day but on Fridays and in the Masjid he's Muhammad, the Masjid board member. Give me a break!
Islam as a system does not function well without cohesion, unity or order. As Allah has said "and do not conflict (with one another) for you will fail and your energy will be dissipated" (Quran 8:46). Nor does Islam function well without command (amr). It was ibn Taymiyyah who said: "it is better for the Muslims to live under a tyrannical ruler for 100 years then to be without a ruler for one night".
In the United States, there is currently no Islamic rule, not even on a limited basis, except in the local ways that I described earlier. Muslims in America need to establish a system of law that is comprehensive and applied across the board. Starting on a local, citywide level would be a good beginning. Whatever we are unable to establish we are pardoned from as Allah has said: "Fear Allah to the degree that you can" (Quran 63:16). However to accept a mediocre application of Islam because we are too comfortable living the good American life or because it will cost us more money or because we are afraid of trying is not acceptable. Just look at the Amish in Pennsylvania, the Mormons in Utah or the Jehovah's Witnesses. Three examples of comprehensive religious order right here in the good old USA. If anyone thinks that Muslims can't learn anything from other religious groups, let him be reminded of the hadith of the Prophet (saws): "Wisdom is the lost item of the believer, wherever he finds it, he has more right to it". Perhaps Allah has brought us all here to set an example for Muslims around the world.
Such a system needs to be representative of the full spectrum of orthodox Islam. It needs to be for all Muslims, and representative of all Muslims. Sunni versus Tablighi, Salafi versus Sufi, and modern versus traditional differences need to be tabled for the time being until we have a system that works for all. I refuse to believe that Muslims can go to work everyday with, be neighbors with, or do business with Christians, Gays, Atheists, Jews, hip hoppers, punk rockers, alcoholics, and anyone else, but are unable to put aside differences with other Muslims, even theological differences if need be, for the sake of ensuring a better future for Muslims as a whole. Don't get me wrong, I am a Sunni Muslim, and an adherent of ahlus Sunna wa jamaa'ah (orthodox Islam). However, when a city elects an openly Gay councilman there is no mass departure of Muslims from that district. Yet, we will take umbrage at a person who is a Sufi and will refuse to work with him on that basis alone or vice versa.
There is strong resistance to organized religion amongst Muslims for various reasons. The historical abuse of power by Islamic clergy is one, as witnessed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Ayatollahs in Iran and the Wahaabi Ulema in Saudi Arabia. However, I think that Muslims in the United States have been presented with a unique opportunity because they themselves are a minority and any power granted to a religious body is voluntary and not subjugative. In other words, you won't see a situation where someone's head is chopped off on a whim. Furthermore, Americans are accustomed to cooperation and coalition building. Our whole system of politics is built upon it.
In some ways, the Muslim community in America is in a state of hysterical neurosis, a type of multiple personality disorder where a person is unable to integrate new information and instead narrows their field of consciousness. We are tragically at odds with our own selves. Our short sightedness has backed the Islamic system into a shaky legitimacy that is easily threatened. We will never come out of this abyss unless we aggressively address the problem of racism, nationalism, mathhabism and all the isms that rust the purity of Islam. We are living in tough times that require a greater degree of sacrifice and soul searching. America, despite her faults, decaying morality, capitalist constitution, and relative bias against Islam, is basically a free country and as Muslims we are free to behave intelligently, and practice our religion in an organized, practical and responsible way. We are also free to behave like idiots, bent on self-destruction, with no discernable direction. The choice is ours. It is a hard pill to swallow but sometimes deep-rooted illnesses require drastic measures.
You have asked your readers to contact you if we had any concerns about what is reported on your site. I am of the belief that it is important to highlight the Imam's in our communities that represent Islam in the most honorable way. Well, I must inform you that Imam Luqman Ahmad does the opposite for your site. He is a brother who inflicts emotionally and sometimes physically abuse on the woman whom he has married. Often calling them B-tches, and many other derogatory names. I have come to the conclusion that he is not the one who should write any articles on marriage because his record of being married 12 to 14 times says it all.
You might ask why I am informing you of Imam Ahmad's bad habits; my answer would be that since he uses these sites and articles to persuade sisters to marry him, I must use these same vehicles to inform the sisters and the believers that he is not what he claims to be. I found him to be somewhat psychotic in his treatment of me, and do not wish that any other person be subjected to such abuse.
I thank you in advance for your ell Imam Luqman to normalize his own personal life.
Excellent article overall.
I agree with the points highlighted in your article. It is troublesome to see our Ummah plagued by so many problems which stem from diseases of the heart. It all lies in the basic or fundamental order and that is to worship Allah and recognize His Oneness. How can we ever unite until this is done? I absolutely agree with some of the other comments of others on this article, living in the US gives us a unique opportunity to come together as one Mulsim community. Yes we do have our differences i.e. cultural, racial, but lets be honest alot of it stems from arrongance and ignorance- can these two diseases truly exist in one who loves Allah and His Messenger? I've felt that alienation that many speak of from both immigrant muslims and native muslims. The lack of acknowledgement when one gives salaams...it is troubling. I can go on forever and we all can, but lets decide to do something about the problems that exist. I currently reside in Buffalo, Ny. There is a considerable amount of muslims in Buffalo, many international and many from the US, yet in private discussions with others you here of the same complaints...I am willing to convene and discuss this problem and help provide applicable solutions. We will start small InshAllah, but by Allah's mercy will expand. Someone suggest a place and lets begin.
I truly believe that. Allah plans and He is the best of planners. Islam in America is fairly young, socially and politically. I would say that majority of muslims are recent immigrants from the last 2 decades.
Thus it is natural that such a society in such a geographical land mass would take time to organise itself and co-ordinate its actions socially and poltically. So, take heart and look at what you have achieved so far in such a short time.
It is patenly clear that American muslims need a concerted effort and this can be arranged between the leaders of each community. That is where it needs to happen next. "Wa amrakum shura beynakum." discuss your issues amongst yourselves - in the best manner - and arrive at judicial solutions based on inclusion of all. A policy based on exclusion does not last. Forget about the ills of the societies you left behind otherwise there would have been no need to leave those socities in the first place! Seeking a better life must have propelled you to go to America.
So, inlcude all, especially the young and other sects and races. you do the reaching. Allah has put you in a unique position and the signs are many. Lead by example and be united - Islam is nothing without its wonderful message of unity. The prophet pbuh was a blessing to "mankind". he was not sent only to Arabs but to humanity at alrge.
God bless you all. Knowledge and wisdom when practiced in a free and just society produces amazing results. Unlike you many of us who live in muslim countries, do not live in just societies. It is a sad indictment on our affairs.
My thought of a muslim immigrant to the US has always been that of a person who is not only having a heartbreak cos his home government has gone astray but is also strong enough to face the fact that he needs to strengthene his Islam and strive in a way to see that the place of aboard he is migrating to, hold on to the rope of Islam(as stipulated in the Quran and Sunna of the Prophet(SAW)). This, my brother is what the first muhajiroon did and this is what is required of you. Take Br. Jamal Badawi as your role model. See what he is doing to Islam in Canada, 'm sure If US muslims will unite they may do more than what the Canadian muslims are doing and we will witness the much talk about "Islamic Renaiscance" of the 21st Century evolving.
The adage for you my brother should be that whatever u wanna do, THINK ALLAH first.
I agree the points from the letter written by Shuja from Las Angels
Every time there is violence perpetrated in the name of Islam there is widespread condemnation from Muslims individuals & governments alike. If your source of news information is CNN, FOX news, MSNBC then you will never hear it. Please keep looking for unbiased web-sites like Islamicity ..
error of the Ummah, complains is very negative.
But he does not say what positive, productive
things he is doing to make things better.Stop
the crying and complaining Muslims! Role up your
sleeves and get to work!! Allah(swt) doesn't
change the condition of a people until they
WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO TO MAKE THINGS BETTER?
You can start by reading Holy Quran everyday.
He says he's a sunni Muslim but he uses the
same loaded language as the non-Muslims!!
What the heck is a Wahabi? Every Muslim should
go to their home library or bookstore right
now pick up their dictionary and look up
every word they use to describe us!!
The list goes on and on but please step out of
their mentality, step out of their box, and
realize they have defined who and what you are
as a Muslim. Only Allah(swt) and the Prophet
define who we are as Muslims. Wow even the
imams are caught in the mind warp!!
WAKE UP AMERICAN MUSLIMS!!!!
Incidentally, as I understand it - "sl" is Aramaic for "bow" - and Islam is primarily a religion of submission. The Peace comes from submission to Allah (who definitely has honored servants - but no equals).
I invite you to Islam, John Miller - at first at least in your heart (if not outwardly). Peace be upon you.
I am not trying to be provocative or rude, but I truly wish to understand. I fear you and fear is the father of mistrust, division and violence. Please help me to understand what looks like such a basic contradiction.
As a new muslima, less than a year, I have noticed such confusion and clamor in the ummah, and sometimes I feel lonely and alone, with no real community to reach out to.
The fact is that during the apartheid some Muslims from the Cape Malay and Indian communities wanted to live together (black Muslims were virtually unheard of during those days). But because of our prejudices, the vast majority of both communities voted against such a thing-and we regretted it. Today we've come a long way. Especially in my city, Port Elizabeth, intermarriage between these two groups are increasigly common. Also I am Indian and many of my Muslim friends are Cape Malay.
Our communities sometimes do have racial tensions but we are always set straight by our Imaams. We hope that you guys in America will realize that in certain bad times all you'll have is each other.
PS: And tell those immigrants to stop being such snobs. We also have a problem where Pakistani and Arab immigrants treat you like you're from Mars! It's reaaly quite annoying. Are they scared or something?
I could not have said it any better. May Allah bless the author of this article. Knowing the problem is half of the solution. Therefore knowing our weakness as Muslims in this country gives us direction to follow. May Allah guide this Ummah.
my name is hussain alli ahamed bey and i live in south africa.
i have read your article on islamicity.com and i must agree with you that we need unity
in the muslim ummah as a whole.
i live in pretoria - laudium and we are very fortunate to have mufti akbar hazarvi as our imam and leader
of our community,he has done so much for the community of laudium,whereby he has established a sunni darul-uloom for the youth and teenagers,for both male and females.my son goes to the uloom on a part time basis as he goes to another islamic school during the week and he learns quraan and naaths and salaami at the uloom.
i am writing to you in the hope that you can be of assistance to me,i have been trying to get into the usa for the last ten years thorught the green card lottery an each time my application has been unsuccesful because i believe that those that are running the lottery just take my money and do not even get back to say whether i have been unsuccessfull or successfull,so i am writing to you in the hope that you can assist by refering me to any muslim or muslim organisation that will be able to get me into the usa.
if you cannot help do not feel bad because i know that living in the usa at this present time is very difficult,but i believe in what you make of it and how you conduct yourselve that make a difference.
i await your reply and appreciate any assistance you can be of to me.
One huge problem we have to conquer in order to be successful in this country. Is racism. There are some people who will not even return Salaams if the person is of a different race. Muslims are becomming like Christians in this country. Black Christians dont go to White Churches. White Christians wont go to Black Churches. Whites cant marry blacks, blacks cant marry whites. Muslims in this country are often more racist then hillbilly whites. Some families have refuse to talk to their children because they married someone of a different race. Racism is plaguing the Muslim community in America. I hope and pray that the next generation does not adopt our parent evil views. The racist Nationalistic approach of many African Americans, and the Uncle Tom mentality of many immigrants.
Akh you have spoken the truth. I as an immgrant but grew up in this country, I have seen all the issue that you explained. In my state, which i leave nameless I see the same problem, we alhamudlilah are working on MOM (Muslim Organization of M)We see a good start, but face many of the issues that you have explained. Alhamudulilah I hope the future is better.
your brother in Islam.
May Allah sub7anahu wa ta3ala continue to guide you to his light and bestow upon you and your loved ones his blessings.
Being aware of the efforts that you and the community of Masjid Ibrahim have put forth in Sacramento, your article acquired additional richness and meaning. Your comments are necessary at this point of evolution on Muslim history and the islamic experience in America. In my hasty opinion, I feel that a necessary preliminary step that should lead in the positive direction that your comments point to is the proactive institution of an Islamic learning and research center in America that is dedicated to laying the ground work (and more after)for such endeavor. The coming together for minds to lay out agreement based solutions at this stage is as critical as the building of embryionic mosques was in the past 20 plus years. The masajid helped aggregate individual Muslims in communities and in spite of all the problems that you so accurately describe still allowed individual Muslims to find each other ( like I found the almost newly built Masjid Ibrahim years ago as I was looking for a place to pray in Ramadan!) What you describe the need for in your good article is another (higher) form of aggregation of our community. Inshallah, we would see it soon in our lives. The first step should be a dedicated scholarly activity of laying ground work that maximizes our points of agreement but only in light if the Quran and Sunnah. May be we would find many things about America that are surely Islamic (more so than in so called Muslim countries.)
Imam Luqman has very eloquently voiced what I have also thought. That it is time to put away these differences. Islam has a great chance of flourishing in the US. And, I believe, depending on the face we show the rest of the population, on actually influencing and improving the life in the US for people of all religions. But we cannot do any of these things if we are fighting amongst ourselves. And I remind you, as I remind myself, brothers and sisters of a hadith in which our beloved prophet (saw) asks for Allah to protect our ummah from various attacks and subjugation, and it is granted (alhamdul'illah) but then Allah admonishes that the worst attacks will come from inside. (Sahih Muslim Hadith 1342 narrated by Thawban)
The first time I went to Jummah I was struck by the fact that there were so many brothers and sisters from so many countries. I had no idea at the time how unusual this was in this country. I was blessed, alhamdul'illah, that it was at a large college and that it was the fact that people came from all over the world that made the congregation there so diverse. But soon after I heard about all the different ethnic Masajid that the brother speaks about. I was very sad at that.
We need to acknoledge that this is a starting point. That we can unite our ummah in this country and put aside differences for the greater good. What would our prophet (saw) say if he saw us? Look deeply into the Sunnah and the Quran. Allah gave us all we need to know
Finding Islam has been the greatest blessing in my life. I will never forsake it. It troubles me to see the ONLY true religion on earth in such a poor condition in this country. May Allah give us the strength we need to correct this situation.
My job as a project manager forces me, in the job market of post 9/11, to move across from one state to the next. My partner and I are seeing more of the Muslims in the United States in one year than most see in five years. We regularly walk through one Muslim community to the next as my projects are completed and I'm sent to the next one to do my work. Your comments are applicable to each one of them just as they were applicable to Australia!
I want "this Khotba" to be more action-based. We need to take it to the next step of laying down an implementable plan that is agreed to by all the scholars in the US and work from there.
I also realize that you have a vision, I agree with what you said in the article and I welcome and encourage you to write again to Islamicity to push on and take it to the next level. You never know, Allah swt may have given you this insight for a reason! It may be your test to speak up (as an experienced Imam and scholar) with courage and our test (the common members of the community) to listen and respond. Either way, Allaho Allam what is best but I would like to hear the rest of your vision for the next step. wawaw, Ashraf
Islam is clearly a faith that places total responsibility and accountabiltiy (spiritual, moral, ethical) onto individuals. No decent Muslim ummah will materialize unless and until we have in our midst individuals who live their lives as Allah SWT has specified for us in the Qur'an. Only then will we have leadership that is honest, just, humane and Islamic. And this state of being is not possible with a passive, ignorant, uneducated and/or fearful-of-all-but-not-Allah SWT populace that we call the Muslim ummah today.
When we change our paradigm and our way of thinking, and move ourselves towards this grassroot-up concept, many, if not all, of the problems facing the ummah will disappear as dark clouds after a thunderstorm, inshallah.
All efforts of da'wa, and efforts to build a stronger and better functioning Muslim ummah in the western world, need to take this into consideration.
Inshallah, with Allah SWT's guidance, we may yet be able to do His bidding and prove ourselves to he worthy of His Trust as representatives of His Rule on Earth. Amen!
This is a serious situation and one that needs to be addressed by our masjid elite.
jazaka'Allah Imam for your analysis.
This is a serious situation and one that needs to be addressed by our masjid elite.
I have no idea where are you trying to lead us? First of all, Libya has always wanted to have good relationship with U.S. because of its superpower status, but never got a positive response from the other side. Libya was forced to pay billions despite the fact that Libya has nothing to do with Lockebere bombing. It is forced upon a weaker country. What do you mean by friends of Jews? Brother, instead of the whole Muslim world concentrating on liberating Palestine from Isralies, we are cowardly routing our efforts towards humiliation and that will also not bear any results. Muslims should be friends of everybody. It really does not matter. Not standing against evil and injutice is haraam and will bring the wrath of Allah (sbt). There is no need to get overenthusiastic about meaningless friendship with Jews. They don't give damm to our efforts. They are considering you as weak, disunited, disoriented and finished. Having good relationship with non-Muslims is different thing, but running away from the core of the problems is cowardliness. By the way, I condemn the Pakistani initiative to recognize Israel. These shameless Pakistani rulers are taking the Muslim world to destruction.
"Seek knowledge, even if it be in China" 'hadith' applies equally to America. In today's world, instant communication on the internet has created a sort of global village for all mankind to know each other better and to learn to live in peace and harmony.
It is claimed that Islam has become the fastest growing religion in both America and Africa. My sincere recommendation in this respect is to create an Islamic organization on the pattern of Mecca where the world Muslim community perform 'hajj' and 'umrah'. Secondly, to give serious consideration to forge a peace truce with the Jews. There is an authentic 'hadith' that the world Jewry would assemble in its ancient land before the end of the world. The Jews have lived for the better part of their exile under the Muslim regimes. The solution to the Israeli problem lies with Islam. I would place my modest and pragmatic solution for Libya to incubate and advance on hearing from your good self.
Thanks and best regards.