An Umar Lee Rerun
I had been led to the well by my readings and by friends from the Nation but being led to the well and drinking from the sweet waters of Islam are two different things entirely. Before attending the mosque and before meeting actual Muslims my knowledge of Islam was honestly very limited.
Islam is not primarily a political movement or some kind if ism akin to socialism or nationalism but is about submission to the Creator and recognizing the oneness of God and following the message He sent via his Prophets and Messengers to mankind. Islam is a complete way of life that affects every aspect of the believer’s life and it gives the Muslim a solid spiritual foundation and a unity with creation.
Walking in to the mosque for the first time all I was interested in was a grand political movement aimed at changing America; but that is not really what Islam is all about and I would soon find that out. Islam was not about Black Nationalism, or any kind of nationalism, and it isn’t fundamentally about overthrowing governments and things of that nature; Islam is about living a life in submission to Allah and following the Sunnah (example of His Messenger Muhammad) (pbuh).
As I had never been in a Muslim gathering before I did not know what to do when I entered the mosque seeking to attend a Sunday class that was titled Introduction to Islam. When I arrived there were only two people there and they were middle-aged African-American women. Trying to be polite I went and sat next to them and then suddenly I had this feeling that maybe I shouldn’t be sitting next to women at the mosque and it was an instinctive feeling because I had never been to a Muslim gathering in my life.
Moments later a middle-aged Pakistani man (a professor of anatomy and a pioneer of American Islam) Dr. Waheed Rana walked in and kindly asked me to sit next to him at the other end of the table. I sat next to him as the room filled with mainly African-American Muslims along with one white Muslim and a sprinkling of Arabs, South Asians and Africans. Many of these Muslims were dressed in the traditional clothing of their homelands and most of the men had beards and the women wore the hijab. This was not like any environment I had ever been in but at the same time I did not feel the least bit uncomfortable which I think can be attested to my experiences as an outsider in the black community and me being used to being the outsider in a group.
I did not pay close attention to what was being discussed in the book but I do know that the book that was being studied was Towards Understanding Islam by the Pakistani scholar Abdullah Maududi. For me there were too may distractions and I couldn’t keep my mind focused on what was being discussed and after the class I was mobbed by Muslims giving me their phone numbers, inviting me to dinner and asking me all sorts of questions.
A little overwhelmed I walked off to get some time to myself when I was approached by an older Pakistani man named Badrul Hasan who was very friendly and told me that he would like to get to know me better and help me in any way. Moments later I found out that his son attended my school and they lived near to my grandparent’s home. I rode home with his son and his brother-in-law and we chatted the entire way.
Badrul was true to his word and we began meeting on a regular basis and it was Badrul who took me back to square one and taught me about tauheed (the ones of Allah), Quran, the Sunnah, ibadah (worship of Allah) and the main theological underpinnings of Islam (Aqeedah).
He systematically deprogrammed all of the shirk (blasphemies) that I had grown-up with in my mind. Christianity was not false because some of its adherents were racists he told me, because there are also bigoted Muslims ( but to a much lesser extent than in Christianity and those bigots are produced in spite of Islamic teachings on racial equality as opposed to Christianity were many racists find their inspiration from their faith).
No I was taught that Christianity was false because it deviated from the path of Allah. Allah had sent prophets and messengers to humanity and that Jesus (Isa bin Miriam) was sent as the Messenger to the Sons of Israel and was born to Mary who had not been touched by as man. On the one hand most Jews rejected his message and on other hand, through Paul and others, Christianity was founded upon fabrications.
The Quran says that Allah begets none nor is He begotten and there is none to be compared to Him. The belief that G_d would appear in the form of a man was so contradictory to the message of the prophets that anyone familiar with their message could not accept this falsehood. Christianity was not founded by Jesus but by Paul and later it was further distorted in Rome. The Bible is not a creation from God; but it was written by men and the Bible itself was put together more then three-centuries after the death of Jesus. Matthew did not write Matthew, Mark did not write Mark, etc. Therefore Christians were following second, third and forth hand stories that were later interpreted by a Hellenized Jew named Paul whose theology was not even remotely connected to that of Jesus or the Jews and was in almost complete harmony with pagan Europe.
Those Christians that I grew-up with had no clue as to how the Bible was put together. Furthermore they have zero understanding of the culture of the people that Jesus was born to and the fact that Jews never expected the messiah to be the Son of G_d and that the belief that G_d has a son is a completer heresy. They worship in completer bliss and sing the old songs like “There is Power in the Name of Jesus” even refusing to call Jesus by his proper and given name.
Allah has promised to protect the Quran until the Day of Judgment and it cannot be distorted. From the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on people memorized the entire Quran and if anyone makes a mistake in recitation he or she is corrected by those around him. The Quran is also protected by the Arabic language and that is why to be an Islamic scholar and a true student of the Quran and Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) you must be an expert in the Arabic language.
The Quran is the Word of Allah and the Book of Allah (Kitab ul-Lah) and every word of it is studied by the believers on a word by word base. Muslims do not go to the Masjid (mosque) and sit in a class where they open up the Quran and randomly off the top of their heads say what this verse means to them ( as if the verse was only speaking to them). Muslims pray to Allah and pray for His guidance; we do not sit in our bedrooms and believe that we are receiving revelation from God on what 401K to choose. Our leaders, unlike George W. Bush, do not make policy based on conversations they have had with Allah. We are not prophets, the age of prophets is over and Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (peace be upon him) born in 570 CE was the last prophet; the Seal of the Prophets. We have to base our lives on the revelation that was sent to us when the angel Jibrael (Gabriel) revealed the Quran to the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (pbuh).
The Quran is first interpreted by the Quran itself, next by hadith, next by the companions of the Prophet (the Sahabah) and next by the Arabic language itself. The classic works on tasfeer, or interpretation of the Quran, have now all been translated into English such as the tasfeer of the scholars such as at-Tabari, Ibn Taymiyah, Ibn Kathir and others.
In addition to the Quran we have the Sunnah, the ways of the prophet that were collected in books on his life (sira) and in books of hadith such as Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Muslim, Al-Muwatta, Sunan Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, Ahmed and other books of hadith.
Today all of these works can be found in English as well as books on the biography of the Prophet such as The Sealed Nectar by Mubakpuri.
A translation is a crutch and a translation is never perfect and that is why you should only rely on a translation for as long as you have to. It is laughable in the West to see so-called Christian theologians who do not understand Hebrew (other than maybe a semester they got in seminary) and then claim to be experts on the scripture. Language is crucial to understanding the texts (for instance why this word was used for son and not another word). Some Christian theologians study Greek or Latin; but who in the Bible spoke those languages?
Muslims have deen, Jews have an old deen, and Christians have a handful of beliefs with a million different interpretations and have no code to live by. The average American Christian prays to the Big Cardinal in the sky in St. Louis while sitting on the toilet defecating out pork chops or while taking a piss at a Bronx subway station and chewing gun. There is no reverence in American Christianity and if there is any it is just made-up with no roots in any kind of an historical tradition.
The traditions that do exist, for example in the Catholic Church, such as praying to idols( statues) and burning candles and calling on saints ( i.e. polytheism, the worship of humans and associating partners with Allah) have their foundations in Europe and not in the scriptures and are in and of them selves a violation of several of the Ten Commandments.
In America the truly religious Christians are few and the vast majority of American Christians are just some kind of cultural folk Christians. They receive no guidance on how to live their lives and they have no law so everything is up to interpretation and the different Christian groups vary greatly on even the most basic concepts.
Islam gives the believer complete guidance and a wealth of knowledge to support our stances. The life of a Muslim is not only a life of worship but is in fact a life of seeking religious knowledge and knowledge is something that is just not a priority in Christianity.
When one enters Islam all of the traditional American labels and titles lose meaning and a new person is born. For one who completely accepts Islam this means swearing off all other identities. The American Muslim becomes the brother or sister to the Palestinian, Kashmiri, Bosnian and British Muslim and the connection with them often supercedes that relationship you have with your fellow Americans. An American-Muslim goes through a process of globalization and suddenly eats foods from all over the world (and not from trendy eateries in gentrified neighborhoods but in the homes of immigrants). Immerse your self in Islam and you will feel a greater connection to a nomadic herder in the Sudan than you will with your non-Muslim next door neighbor.
The language of the Muslim is different; when asked how you are you will not say “I’m chillin”, “I’m cool”, or “fine buddy how bout yourself”, no you will say alhamdudilah (Praise be to Allah). When you make a meeting with someone you will say Insh’Allah (God willing).
For the white American convert the biggest impediment into integrating into the Muslim community and becoming a true believer is arrogance. Many white Muslims refuse to submit to the will of Allah and accept Islam for what it is. They want a new Islam or a reformed Islam and they are joined by many westernized Muslims who instead of submitting to the will of Allah seek to create a religion of convenience that bends to their reasoning and their desires. Many white Muslims think they have done Islam a favor by being Muslim ( and our treated that way be may immigrant Muslims with inferiority complexes) when in fact they are the ones in need of Allah, not the other way around.
One of the deviant leaders of this modern Islam said “why should I turn a perfectly good 21st century European into a seventh century Arab.”
Well, for starters, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a seventh-century Arab and it his Sunnah that Muslims are obligated to follow and it is the path of his Sahabah that we strive to be on. The 21st century European may be advanced in science and technology but his civilization has become culturally decadent and immoral, they are out of touch with the Creator, they are off of the fitra and are headed for an implosion. For one not to accept this after becoming Muslims means that the white Muslim has not discarded their internal-beliefs in white supremacy no matter what amount of politically correct speech they may have learned.
Many white Muslims have been able to do this, Masha’Allah, and thousands of white Muslims are now active members of the American-Muslim community and are even in leadership positions. Think of the contribution to American-Islam that the likes of Ibrahim Hooper, Suhaib Webb, and others have given to the community.
In the African-American community the problem is not arrogance, like we see in the white community, but the problem is nationalism. Because of the way that Islam entered the black community, through the door of Black Nationalism, many African-American Muslims have refused to shed off the shackles of that racial ideology which has no place in Islam. However, alhamdudilah, if one observes the growing Masjids in the black community they are almost entirely groups that are dedicated to the Sunnah. The new leadership of the African-American Muslim community is at the forefront of bringing the Sunnah to this country (Siraj Wehaj in Brooklyn, Abu Muslima in New Jersey, Abu Usama, Mahdi Bray, Johari Abdul-Malik, Jamil al-Amin and others). Furthermore if you look at the Islamic universities in Mecca, Medina, Yemen, and Egypt they all have large African-American contingents.
This is far from the stereotype of the black prison Muslim (but we must thank Allah for those prison Muslims) or the brother on the corner selling a bean pie. Today the Black Muslim community, especially in the Northeast Muslim Corridor (Northern Virginia, DC, Maryland, Phillie, New Jersey, and New York) is home to many second and third generations Muslims who are fully integrated into the Muslim community and are in fact global leaders in formulating a modern Islamic vision.
Islam is now spreading into the Latino community in America and there are a number of Masjids now who have large Latino memberships and there is even a Masjid in the Bronx where the Jummahu Khutbah is in Spanish.
In my travels I have met Jews, Arab Christians, Hindus, Evangelical Missionaries, Catholic seminary students, communists, atheists and Buddhists who have become Muslims. The American-Muslim community is growing and diverse and no matter what anyone tries to do to stop it nothing can stop the message, They can bomb, jail and murder Muslims but they cannot conquer the Word of Allah and Muslims are in this country making this society a much better place to live in for all Americans and this Dawah of al-Islam will spread no matter what measures are taken to try and stop it.
For those of you who are not Muslim Islam not only solves many of the social ills of the society (disrespect of elders, racism, sexual perversion, drug addiction, materialism, arrogance, greed, etc) but it more importantly puts you on the natural path of submission to the Will of the Creator.
If you are a Muslim these are times to stand strong. Everywhere you turn people vilify Muslims and you must know that we are hated by many on the right in this country because they see us as a foe and by many on the left because they hate religion. Our friends are few and far between but we must hold fast to the rope of Allah as the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) instructed us and we will succeed. We also need to be saburun, people of patience, and realize that if we follow Quran and Sunnah victory is ours in this life and the hereafter.
Who would ever think that more people in London would attend a Masjid on Friday than a church on Sunday? And who would think in some Western European countries that more than half of the children are Muslims? But both of these things are true and Islam is on the rise in Europe. If you look to Africa you will see that wherever you find Christianity there is AIDS and death and wherever there are Muslims there is life and that is why people are turning to Islam in places like Rwanda and South Africa and not because missionaries with millions but because of the message of Islam, deen-ul-Haqq.