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Respectfully, Mr. President: American Muslims are not Afraid

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Dear President Barack Obama,

You mentioned in a recent 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 most American Muslims, although concerned, are also 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:

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.

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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 criticizes Muslims.  Don’t get me wrong Mr. President, this doesn’t mean we are not concerned about the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric. However, that’s not the only thing that we are concerned about. Some of us 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, American Muslims believe that our right to live as Muslims and to love Islam is connected to the right of others not to be Muslim and to dislike, even hate, Islam. 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, how to feel, or what to fear.

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 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 have endured negative criticisms of their faith did not have.  Some American Muslims prefer not to be held hostage by fear and anxiety about things that we do not control. Only God has full control over what is in people’s hearts. Our time is better spent believing and trusting in Him and calling ourselves into account, before the Day comes when we are called into account.

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 am not going to start being afraid now. It does not serve any noble purpose that Americans, Muslim or non-Muslim, live in a perpetual state of fear.

In the meantime I will defend, without violence, the right of any and every American, whether they like Islam, hate Islam, are ambivalent towards Islam, or are an adherent of Islam, 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 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 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.

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American born, Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad who comes from pioneering Muslim parents, has been an Imam for 24 years is an associate Imam and resident scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam, housed in the first building built originally as a Mosque in the State of Ohio. He is author of the book; “Double Edged Slavery”, a book about the civilizational status of Black American Sunni Muslims. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com and can be reached at: imamabulaith@yahoo.com Shaykh Luqman graduated from the language and usool ud-deen program at Omdurman Islamic University in Sudan and received his ijaazah in Hafs Quran recitation from the Quranic village of Wad al-Faadni in the Jazeerah Province of Sudan. Shaykh Luqman also studied at Umm Al-Quraa University in Saudi Arabia and at the Haram al-Makki. While in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, in addition to the teachers at Um al-Qura, the Imam studied with Sheikh Suleiman al-Hazmi, Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq who was his sheikh of tafseer al-Quran, and Sheikh Muhammad al-Ghazaali. Shaykh Luqman learned usool al-hadith from Sheikh Muhammad bin Humayad a classic era Az’harian trained in the Ottoman period. Imam Luqman also took lessons from the late African American Shaykh; Muhammad Ghulaam Al-Haarith, one of the first indigenous American Muslims to attend Azhar University.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. GregAbdul

    March 2, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    Interesting…i was just watching a Green Lantern movie last night. “I am only human,” was its dominate theme. This is Quran and it appeared in the movie. Our Prophet was only a human being, just like we are merely human. Fear is a human emotion and to say I have no fear…is an attempt to place me beyond the range of human emotion.

    There are Muslims in America who are persecuted, who strain everyday against the hate machine that operate openly in America and the West. Mosques are burned and shot at. Our women are harassed. We are denied jobs and economic opportunities. In the most recent case, a Quebec woman was thrown out of a courtroom because she refused to remove her hijab. We are out here catching it from the haters. Maybe some of us aren’t. Maybe some of you, by Allah’s mercy, never encounter hostile non Muslims in your day to day lives. Knowing that the final result rests with Allah is one thing. To be tested through physical or verbal confrontation, these kids were shot dead in their homes, to say we have nothing to fear is simply not true.

    We are told over and over to fear Allah, with the fear of what can happen when we displease Him. I fear mass denial. There is white denial, that says America is a jannah and that everything is wonderful here and anyone who says otherwise is un-American and I am afraid for my Muslim brothers and sisters who think that Muslim bravado and denial are solutions to the rampant anti-Muslim sentiment in America and the West.

    The Green Lantern movie sort of sucked, but it was very American in reminding me of a simple American theme: courage is not a lack of fear, but going forth boldly in spite of it. I pray we overcome our faults and that tests that Allah gives us and grants us the highest and true Jannah.

    ..Ameen.

  2. saeed khan

    March 2, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    To often I hear Muslims using imprecise words or failing to understand the reality of something before conveying their understanding. Islam is a religion not a political ideology. What do these words mean? What is religion? What is a political ideology? In light of this what is Islam? Although Islam has a religious aspect is, it defines a relationship between man and his Creator it is undeniable that it also deals quite comprehensively with man’s relationship with other men. The prophet (saw) was not just a prophet he was also a political leader to Medina. After his (saw) passing the leadership role was passed on to his companions who ensured the Islamic laws were applied across society, those who defied then we’re held accountable, the Islamic armies were released etc etc. All these are examples of political actions undertaken by an Islamic leadership. So why should we shy away from stating that Islam is political. If people want to use the word ideology then they’re is a strong case that can be made. If people want to use the word religion, which is less precise, but so long as the correct understanding of the word is there what’s the harm.

    Simply because Muslims are in ‘defensive mode’ at this moment on time does not mean we should dilute Islam. Islam offers a comprehensive way of life and we should study all aspects of it.

  3. Ali

    March 3, 2015 at 9:19 AM

    To begin with, I apologize if anything I say is offensive. But I did not find this article to be constructive at all.

    Certainly, people have the right to like or dislike whatever they want, and to express this in whatever manner they want, whether it be satire or what have you. As you said, the exception being if they resort to violence or break the law.

    And therein lay the problem.

    What’s happening on an almost a daily basis these days is tangibly harmful.

    Muslims being shot to death. A mosque set on fire. A school vandalized. A woman being disallowed into court due to wearing a hijab, and another one jailed for it (even more worrisome – is the law itself becoming anti-Islam?). The nature of Stephen Harper’s re-election campaign. The hurling of hate speech in Oklahoma and Texas during peaceful Muslim assemblies. The litany of violent threats that many of us have to deal with more often than I care to mention. (TONS more examples – this is just off the top of my head, and all within the last few weeks alone. Just look at the comments section of any article about Islam in any news outlet, even liberal ones.)

    Yes, of course all that happens is by God’s will and we need to have patience, faith, and trust, and of course we shouldn’t live in perpetual states of fear (a far-cry from what the President actually said). But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop wearing my seat belt when I drive.

    The reference you’re “rebutting” is a single sentence that expresses support for the American Muslim community, support from possibly the best ally we could have as this spiral of intolerance directed at us gets deeper and deeper by the day. I just cannot fathom why you would want to alienate our communities even more. It’s because of rhetoric like this that next time we won’t even get a sentence or acknowledgement.

    As an American Muslim, I sincerely hope the President doesn’t happen to come across this article.

    • StickyBug

      March 9, 2015 at 2:02 PM

      You are not serious. Not serious at ALL. Why would the author want to alienate Muslim communities? What is this, the 1960’s?
      Yes, I agree with you on some points, like the importance of seatbelt safety and how we should put our trust in Allah and all.
      And I HOPE that Mr. P comes across this because he needs to know that our unappointed ‘leaders’ are not our representatives.

      • GregAbdul

        March 9, 2015 at 2:43 PM

        he means that article like this one cause non Muslims not to sympathize with Muslims. If we have no fear, it implies we there is no Muslim suffering or danger of Muslims suffering in America. He did not say the author wanted to do this on purpose, but that it was an effect of the Imam’s opinions. Many of us in our modern age have a problem following. At my masjid, I see a lot of chiefs who hate the real chief. I get people who almost never attend masjid, walk in, see me studying and come and interrupt my studies because, hey, I am obviously the black American convert and they are the immigrant and in their mind it means I am supposed to be taught by them, never mind your teaching is not quite there because you do not practice Islam on a regular basis. Our leaders are our Imams, as they are appointed by the various boards and governing bodies at our local mosques. ISNA is one of our leading organizations. I pray to Allah, that if I disrespect this Imam, I ask Allah to forgive me, but I am a little tired of the fake sheikhs and their fatwas they want to give when no one else is looking. Just the other day one of these secret when nobody’s looking leaders had me praying over a glass of water…Ya Allah!

  4. Joyce

    March 9, 2015 at 1:09 AM

    as salamu aliakum,

    I have to say, I loved the last line. And I think I understand a certain sentiment the author is getting at-however I agree with the other comments, is it more accurate to say that despite our fear, we believe in patience. Or maybe that we are not afraid, though we know there is much to fear- because Allah (swt) is our refuge. We believe all of this is a test- and state favor is as much a trial as persecution, if not more so.

  5. Beth

    March 13, 2015 at 12:28 AM

    I am glad to know American Muslims are not afraid at this time. Do let us (the non-Muslims) know if you become afraid at some point and we women will put on the head scarves and all like we did the last time it came up.

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