The African-American Muslim in 2013
Unity vs. Clarity
This is a continuation of the “The African American Muslim in 2012.” It’s just that I ran out of days in 2012 to complete the series. Well, with that said, let’s continue. There has been a long standing idea among African-American activists that religion and doctrine needs to be put aside for the greater good of black solidarity. Granted, sectarianism (among self-identified Muslim and Christian groups) has long been a cause for black disunity and factionalism, this does not mean that black people should ignore the true belief in the Creator. Furthermore, ultimate social unity should be founded upon recognizing the Unity (Oneness) and Perfection of God and not anything less than that.
This should be most evident to the self-professed Sunni Muslim. The Prophet came to unite people under a single—the correct—belief in the Creator. That belief the Prophet called people to is from the revelation of Allah; that creed is clear; that creed is rationally consistent; that creed is intellectually irrefutable. There is One Perfect Eternal Creator, the Creator of everything, Who absolutely does not need or resemble anything. This is the Creed of the Prophet Muhammad and the Sunni Muslims. (For more on the Sunni Muslim belief in God, please see here: https://facetofloor.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/a-primer-to-the-muslim-belief-in-the-creator/
Unity of African-American Muslims (and Muslims, in general) is based upon the recognition and acceptance of the the proper belief in God. The sincere Muslim cannot unite in the name of Islam with a person who rejects the correct belief in the Creator. To the contrary, it is the duty of the Muslim to advise such a person to abandon his ill convictions, and to warn others about the devastating consequences of having a bad belief in God.
It is a folly in the extreme to claim to unite Muslims while not clarifying the most fundamental aspect of Islam—namely, the correct belief in Allah. This is especially so when we know doctrinal confusion is rampant amongst African-Americans who self-identify as “Muslims.” One, largely African-American, organization claiming to represent Sunni Muslims, attempts to indulge in such folly. In their mission statement, they claim that they wish to they base their organization upon the teachings of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah (The Orthodox Sunni Majority). In one article on the site, they claim to “respect the diverse opinions of the great scholars of Islam.” And then they proceed to list not only genuine Sunni scholars, such as, Imam Malik, Ash-Shafi`iyy, and Al-Ghazali, they also list deviants who blatantly opposed the Sunni Creed. Among those listed are:
1. Ibn Taymiyyah (died c. 1328 C.E.): An extremely controversial figure, who was imprisoned multiple times for deviant fatwas (Islamic rulings) and blasphemous beliefs, including: claiming that there are entities that are beginningless; that Hellfire will terminate; that Allah is a giant object with organs and limbs. All of these beliefs contradict the Muslim creed.
2. Bin Baz (died 1999 C.E.) He was one of the main proponents of Saudi-Wahhabism. Infamous for his deviant fatwas (verdicts) as with the Wahhabis (quasi-Salafis), in general, Bin Baz deemed the vast majority of the Sunnis (those who follow the Ash`ari- Maaturidi method of explaining the Sunni doctrine) to be heretics. Furthermore, Bin Baz, like Ibn Taymiyyah, believed that Allah is a giant spatial entity with real-actual body parts. (This hideous belief stems from the Wahhabi distortion of Qur’anic Verses and Hadiths. For more information about the Wahhabi movement, please see: https://facetofloor.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/the-difference-between-the-sunni-and-quasi- salafiwahhabi-doctrines/.
Sayyid Qutb (died 1966 C.E.): He was an Egyptian who was radicalized, in part because of the white racist treatment he received during his stay in the United States. He became the leader of what is known as the “Ikhwan” (“Muslim Brotherhood”) and turned it into a revolutionary organization that had among its ill beliefs, the creed of the Khawarij. Sayyid Qutb claimed that any Muslim ruler who governs by any judgment other than Islam becomes a disbeliever by doing so, and he must be removed from power. He even went further to claim that anyone who works in the government for such a ruler is a disbeliever, and also anyone who does not rise up in rebellion against such a ruler is a disbeliever. And from these erroneous conclusions, he claimed that it was permissible to murder such people. Such a claim is fundamentally contrary to the teachings of Islam as found in the famous work on Sunni doctrine by the genuine Egyptian scholar, Abu Ja`far At-Tahawi:
“We hold that we must not revolt against Imams (Muslim rulers) and their appointed governors, even if they act unjustly.
At–Tahawi also says: “We do not deem any member of the People of the Qiblah a blasphemer because of a sin, unless he deems it lawful [that is, if someone deems a known sin to be permissible, then they are belying Islam, and this is blasphemy—but the mere indulgence in a sin is not blasphemy].
It is the ideology of the Qutbis (followers of Sayyid Qutb) combined with the doctrine of the Wahhabis that has inspired Al-Qaeda and laid the basis for much of the terrorists activity that is taking place over a large swath of the earth today.
Additionally, Sayyid Qutb claimed that Allah is literally everywhere in all places. This opposes the Muslim creed that Allah, the Creator of space existed before space, and after creating space, Allah did not transform and materialize in a place. Allah knows and has power over everything everywhere. Allah, however, is not a spatial entity. Allah exists without a place.
4. Al-Albani (d. 1999) He was the self-taught, imagined to be scholar of Hadith and another notorious figure among the Wahhabis (quasi-Salafis), who adhered to the corporeal (object) worshiping doctrine of his Wahhabi-Saudi brethren.
Furthermore, the author of the article welcomes those who adherents to the Sunni madhhabs and qualified scholarship, as well as, those who reject the following thereof.
We can see how this attempt at unity is futile from its inception. The Sunnis, who constitute the vast majority of the Muslims and their scholars, do not hold the same belief as the so-called “Salafis” (Wahhabis). Whereas, the Sunnis say that Allah is absolutely Free-of-Need and absolutely Incomparable, that the Creator of space, direction, and time exists without being in space, direction, or time, the quasi-Salafis worship a giant shadow-casting extraterrestrial smiling face bipedal object with a single shin. (The quasi-Salafis come up with such a deranged belief about God because of their literalism and distortion of the Qur’an and Hadiths.) It is not possible for a sincere Sunni Muslim to be Islamically united with the worshiper of a imaginary (or real) spatial entity.
Furthermore, the quasi-Salafis consider the Sunni Majority, the followers of Ash`ari-Maaturidi theology, to be—in the least—heretics in the extreme, and many of the quasi-Salafis consider the Ash`aris and Maaturidis to be kuffar (disbelievers). And of course, the Sunnis, such as, Imam An-Nawawi (who, incidentally is mentioned in the very same article) consider the one who thinks Allah is an object to be a disbeliever. The sincere Muslim does not ignore centuries of Islamic scholarship and the numerous works of heresiology written by the Sunnis to change our position regarding the Wahhabi-literalists and their deviant corporeal doctrine. The bottom line is that the the Sunnis worship Allah, the One Who exists without a place, and the Wahhabis (quasi-Salafis) worship a giant object that is the product of their demented imaginations.
When it comes to Sufism, the organization does not clarify the difference between this genuine Islamic science, and the likes of pretenders to tasawwuf (Sufism). Again, the objective of the sincere is clarity and when one has clarity, one can establish bona fide unity with like-minded people. Among the pseudo-sufis, there are many blasphemous beliefs. The true belief is that Allah is not a “jism”–a spatial entity. Allah is not a solid-dense body; Allah is not a subtle or ethereal entity. Allah does not occupy a location, whether it be a location of the upper worlds, or in all places, or inside our bodies. Allah exists; Allah is not a spatial being; Allah exists without a place. Hence, the claims of some pseudo-sufis that Allah is literal “light,” or that Allah exists everywhere, or that everything is Allah, or that Allah is a spirit that enters the bodies of the righteous are all contrary to the pure creed of Tawheed as taught by the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wasallam). Such beliefs constitute blasphemy, for the person who worships a light, or worships everything, or something that is inside himself or others, would not, in reality, be worshiping Allah. And the one who worships something other than Allah would not be a Muslim.
One cannot help but question the sincerity of those who advocate “unity” over clarity. Why not simply educate the masses about the proper belief in Allah and the genuine Sunni doctrine, and draw the people’s attention to those ideas, groups, and individuals who teach beliefs that contradict the positions of the true Sunnis. It is not difficult to do. There is a single correct belief in God. It is easy to understand and not difficult to explain. When one knows that belief, it becomes obvious why the belief that, for instance, God has limbs and organs or occupies space is wrong and entails blasphemy. For the misinformed person who honestly wishes to follow the Truth, when he hears the Truth, he accepts it, and rejects his previously held bad beliefs, and says the Declaration of Faith (Shahadah) to become Muslim.1
As for Alladhina fi qulubihim zayghun—“Those with diseased hearts”–they not only will stubbornly reject the true belief in Tawheed (the belief in the Oneness and Perfection of God) when it is presented to them, they will actively oppose it. And for anyone who is familiar with the inner-city quasi-Salafi experience, the Wahhabis have no problem turning to violence to stop those who oppose their “minhaj.” By teaching the true Sunni Creed, one is able to segregate those who sincerely wish to have the proper belief in Allah from those who do not. And it should be obvious to all (who are sincere) that it is not possible to “unite” under the banner of Islam with those who choose to worship an (imaginary) object instead of Allah.
Also, this issue of “uniting” Sunni Muslims with heretics and those with blasphemous beliefs in the name of Islam absolutely disregards the principle of amr bil-ma`roof wa-nahi `anil-munkar, that is, the enjoining of the good and forbidding evil. It is the duty of the Muslim to invite people to the Truth—and not to falsehood and confusion. Our goal shouldn’t be to “unite” with those who have strayed from the Sunni Way, but to advise such people to follow the Truth, and if they refuse, then there should be declarations warning the public about such people’s deviance.
To fail to educate Muslims about misconceptions in creed and warn against those who propagate bad beliefs leads to a “tragedy of errors,” like we see here where a person who is suppose to be a representative of traditional Sunni Islam is on a panel with Louis Farrakhan:
Louis Farrakhan claims to be Muslim, while also promoting the blasphemous belief that Allah was created from electricity trillions of years ago—and was also born to a white woman in the year 1877. The Qur’an, on the other hand, says that Allah does not have offspring and Allah has no equal and is beyond comparison. (For more on the beliefs of the Farrakhanis, please see this link: https://facetofloor.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/refutation-of-farrakhanism-the-so-called-nation-of-islam/.)
Contrary to the claims of one author on the circuit, African-American Muslims do indeed need a more detailed study of the matters of Islamic Doctrine and `Ilmul-Kalam as employed by the Sunnis.2 `Ilmul-Kalaam is the science by which the Sunni scholars systematized the proofs from the Qur’an, Hadiths, and the rational proofs for the Islamic Doctrine. This was done to expose the fallacious arguments of deviant factions and to demonstrate the intellectual invincibility of the Sunni creed. As a result of the thorough work of the Ash`ari-Maaturidi scholars, the Sunnis at large adopted their method for defending the creed of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam).
The merits of such study are numerous. Studying the details of the Sunni doctrine would encourage African-Americans to think more rationally and be less emotional. Such a study would instill intellectual confidence in a people woefully lacking in it. Also, at a time when religion, in general, is being assaulted by the atheistic claim that belief in God is irrational, the one equipped with `Ilmul-Kalaam can defend the belief in Tawheed with rational arguments—something the atheists claim to respect. A more detailed study of Islamic Doctrine would also connect African-Americans to their intellectual heritage—for the Muslims of West Africa have historically been Ash`aris in doctrine.
Understanding `Ilmul-Kalaam, would make it much easier for African-Americans to give da`wah in a clear and rationally consistent manner. The questions that the typical seeker would ask about the Creator and religion, such as: Destiny, good and evil, human will, and the Attributes of God have been addressed by the great scholars of Doctrine not only with Qur’anic proofs, but also with easy to grasp rational proofs. These rational proofs are often indispensable when talking to non-Muslims about Islam (for they do not accept the Qur’an as a point of reference). Educating African-American Muslims about this knowledge doesn’t “cause confusion”—it causes clarity. With this knowledge, one understands what he (or she) believes, and one can distinguish the rationally consistent belief of the Sunnis from the various deviations in doctrine of the misguided.
Why would someone discourage African-Americans from acquiring this precious knowledge—or at least neglect teaching them it? One, would be groups, like the Wahhabis (quasi-Salafis), who oppose this knowledge because it makes their object-worshiping doctrine immediately appear absurd. As for those who claim to be “Sunni-Traditionalists,” there is a movement going on among them—which seems to motivated largely by the desire to plunder people’s pockets—to avoid going talking about `Aqidah (Doctrine) beyond the most rudimentary aspects. This is done so that there will be no apparent “disagreements” amongst those who have studied the Sunni Ash`ari-Maturidi Doctrine and the likes of pseudo-sufis and Wahhabis. The more speakers (regardless of doctrinal persuasion) at conferences, the more people they can attract. And the more people they can attract, the more money they can make. May Allah protect us from the lust for lucre.
In conclusion, the deplorable condition of the African-American Muslim cannot improve until there is a sincere desire to attain clarity in the Creed. Many African-Americans are simply lazy about the matters of `Aqidah, and don’t strive to put forth the effort to study and get to the bottom of various doctrinal controversies. Many of us act as if there is no way to know the difference between the True Creed of the Prophet and the heresy of deviants. This needs to change, God-willing. And this can change, if a there is a sincere commitment to studying the Sunni Doctrine as expressed by the Maaturidi-Ash`ari scholars. This has been the way of success for the Sunnis in the past, and in-shaa’ Allah, it will be the way to success for the African-American Muslim in the future.
And Allah knows best.
1One becomes Muslim by saying the Declaration of Faith: “Nothing is worthy of worship except Allah. MuHammad is the Messenger of Allah.” This is all that is needed for one to embrace Islam (witnesses or a ritual bath are not required).
2This does not refer to the `Ilmul-Kalaam that was employed by the Mu`tazilah and other deviant factions that was condemned by the early Sunni scholars.