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Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid: An Obituary

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Imam Asim Abdul-Rashid

On Monday, the 1st of February, the Muslims in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, buried one of the distinguished Imams of the Sunnah – Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid (may Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) have mercy on him). He was the longest sitting Imam in Philadelphia, and his absence will be felt deeply.

Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid’s imamate was representative of the longest chain of the Sunni tradition, going back to 1936 to the first Cleveland Mosque founded by Shaykh Wali Akram, and branching up through the State Street Mosque through Shaykh Dawud Faisal in Brooklyn, through Rajab Mahmood and Imam Yahya Abdulkarim; who took the deen to Queens and founded Dar-ul Islam. His death is a loss to Muslims, but his legacy of continuous leadership upon the deen of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and what he left behind, is a gain for us, and we ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to multiply his scale.

Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid was born on Oct. 12, 1951 as Alexander Thompson to the late Bill Phillips and Ellen Thompson, and raised in North Philadelphia (Francisville). He embraced Islam in 1972 upon the Sunni tradition under the leadership of Imam Ali Ahmed at the original Masjid Mujahideen (which was then located at 19th and Columbia). In 1974, a large part of the community established Masjid Ash-Shuhud in West Philadelphia under the leadership of Imam Zaid Abdul-Subur. Masjid Ash-Shuhud was a member of the Dar-ul-Islam movement, under the leadership of Shaykh Imam Yahyah Abdul-Karim.

Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid first completed his Hajj pilgrimage in 1982, and subsequently completed Hajj four more times, and Umrah five times.

Imam Asim obtained his Islamic education under the minhaj of Ahlus-Sunnah Wa’l-Jama’ah, as well as under various shaykhs and a’lims. He was the leader and Imam of Masjid Mujahideen at 60th and Osage since 1984, and the amir of the Majlis Ash-Shura of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley since 2010. He was also the Amir of the national jammat, Al-Ummah, composed of several masjids in the country. Since 2000, he had been a representative of Imam Jamil Al-Amin (formally known as H. Rap Brown). Overall, he has worked toward the advancement of Islam and the unity of Muslims in Philadelphia, the country, and the world.

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Imam Asim was a strong, fearless leader. He upheld the practice, integrity, and Sunnah of the bay’ah, and inherited the leadership of al-Ummah under Imam Jamil al-Amin. His succession was ratified by bay’ah as per the Sunnah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the practice of the companions of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). We are taught the essence of service to humanity by our beloved Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and this was one of the guiding principles that Imam Asim lived by.

He served his community -Muslim and non-Muslim- for over 50 years. He was revered as a community leader and ambassador, he offered chaplain services to incarcerated Muslims, and worked tirelessly to stop senseless violence in his community. He was admired and respected as a devoted Muslim who never hesitated to answer someone’s call for assistance. His dedication to advancing and establishing Islam in Philadelphia, the country, and the world, will be a lasting legacy. He was the founding member of Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA).

Imam Asim was also a passionate outdoorsman and one of the city’s leading horse farriers, also operating a horse stable in North Philadelphia  His efforts revived, maintained, and strengthened the sunnah of learning horseback riding and archery amongst the Muslims in the Philadelphia area and beyond.

He was an accomplished hunter with the bow, and a member of the Jawala Bowman – a Muslim hunting organization that specializes in archery hunting. He loved camping, fishing, marksmanship, drumming, martial arts, and caring for dogs.

I’ve known Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid for over 40 years as both an ally and Imam in the struggle to uphold the word of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), the Most High, as a keeper of our tradition and covenant, and also a senior and esteemed Imam of the Muslims. He spent 50 years in continuous service to the Muslim community, and used to always enjoin the good and forbid the evil. He gave good counsel, provided steady leadership in the Sunnah, and did not fear the blame of the blamer. Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid lived his life in unwavering worship to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) upon the deen of Al-Islam, based upon Quran and Sunnah.

Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid, leader of Masjid Mujahideen, died on Saturday, January 29, 2022, at the age of 70. He leaves behind 20 children and 55 grandchildren who were born and raised upon the deen of Islam, and his family continues to live upon his legacy of unwavering worship and service to the community.

Having had the pleasure of knowing the Imam Asim since I was 14 years old, and working with him throughout the years, I make dua. Salaam a’laykum Imaamunaa. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) place you upon a pillar of light on the Day of Judgment, with those who love each other for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). You preceded us, and we will inshaAllah catch up with you. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) make you firm during questioning and enter you in His paradise.

We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to forgive Imam Asim of any infraction or sin, magnify his good, have mercy on his soul, and raise him amongst the muqarrabeen wal ab’raar, and count him amongst our best Imams, who loved us, and, in turn, earned our love for him.

إِنَّا لِلَّٰهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ‎

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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.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Spirituality

    February 23, 2022 at 7:39 AM

    Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajoon. May Allah forgive all his sins and grant him Jannat al Firdaus.

    May Allah also help his wife and family during these difficult times.

    By the way, I encourage people to check out the link to help his widow and donate. It includes pictures of the Imam and his family. What a strong and amazing family he and his wife raised. And she looks amazing, Masha Allah! So radiant! She was his wife of 41 years, but she doesn’t even look 41 to me in the pictures! I only wish we could know her name. May she requested privacy.

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