A Great Imam: Leaders for the Future

After the article about Malcolm X, someone might rightly ask me: Brother, who would you classify as the righteous Imams in the grass roots?

Furthermore, who would you put forward as you think are leaders in the black community? These are valid questions and I intend to answer them. I shall do so in an uncensored and unambiguous way and the consequences of the statements I well understand.

The people that I speak of will be those that I see as heroes. I have either met them or met their students. I believe that these figures – those that are still alive especially – represent everything of what Islam should be in truth.

The first I must start with is Luqman Amin `Abdullah. I met the brother in the mid 1990s only in passing. I remember watching a lecture by him at brother Mustafa’s house and being immediately draw to him.

The shape of his `imamah, the cut of his sunnah clothes and the nobility of his beard was unmistakeable. I righteous and upright Muslim brother. He was everything that Malcolm X could have been if he had lived, Allah knows best.

A former Black Panther, martial arts enthusiast and lover of the Qur’an. Imam Luqman was respected and feared by the Arabs and the police. After the jailing of Shaikh `Umar `Abdur-Rahman, who I had met in passing and prayed behind when he was on the West Coast and the jailing of Shaikh Abu Marzuq (more about him later), I had to leave the Arab community as it was stagnating.

I would frequent many different masjids. Sometimes I would be chided by the Arabs brothers: “Akhi, you come from a good family. Why are you with the niggers (zinjeen) and slaves (`abeed)?”

However it was not the Arabs (with the exception of Shaikh `Umar `Abdur-Rahman) that were a great catalyst in ending the paramilitary street wars of the 1980s and ‘90s that I and other Bedus, Mexicans and blacks were hopelessly involved in, but the Imams Luqman Amin `Abdullah, Rami Muhammad, Abu Marzuq, Jamil Al-Amin and `Abdul Alim Musa.

Let me be as open as possible. Out of all the communities that I have lived in throughout the United States, it was the blacks who were the most welcoming, submissive to revelation and uncompromisingly courageous.

Whatever lack of knowledge that they had, they opened their doors and gave you everything. I slept on countless beds, received help from the different Slaves of Allah and in university received shoes and money in the mail when I refused to use money that I had taken illegally in the past.

Those lessons stayed with me a great deal. The Arabs had the knowledge but the simple, uncompromising and unfettered faith was lacking. I believe that the tenacious nature that the blacks showed me is owed to the Black Solidarity movements of the 1960s onward.

Thus for this reason, against the advice of some of the Arabs even to this day, I keep links to brothers in death row (two of whom we lost in Philadelphia, Allah have mercy on those Muslims), the streets of the West Coast and the barrios of the Tortilla Flats.

I make no apologies for that. Luqman Amin `Abdullah was always active, seeing that people had food, drink, access to the people such as him that were Imams. I jumped at the opportunity to be around him. He famously was shot in the `imamah and was unharmed, praise belongs to Allah.

Throughout the United States, brothers that were in the know had much love and respect for him. His living quarters were basic, even meagre, but he was open to everyone. People often insulted him, called him a criminal and such; but he never replied.

His mission was simple. He attempted to forge greater bonds with the Arab community. After numerous rejections and losing some congregants, the Arabs began to see that he was really an authentic Imam.

He indeed was a shepherd for the people in his flock. He never positioned himself as a shaikh and resisted the term but was one of the Imams of his community. He had no mistakes in his fatihah recitation, prayed well and constant and was constant in his tahajjud. All the points of beard were known and practised by him and the clothes of the sunnah he wore proudly.

The only times he could not be seen in these clothes was when he was working (he was his own boss) and training. He taught the value of entrepreneurship, hard work and dedication to one’s principles.

Although not a qadi, faqih or mufti, he had the prerequisites of Islam to lead the prayer, conduct marriages and gave the general guidance needed by the Slaves of Allah. He had a great respect for the scholars and never was in rebellion to them. Indeed he held the four Imams in high regard.

So hearing about him after his murder and indeed martyrdom on 28 Oct 2009 again brought home the reality of Malcolm X and this Imam. They were both Muslims, but look at the difference in martyrdom.

The jama`ah of Malcolm X, sadly died with him; but the jama`ah of this Imam and others I want to mention continues after him. Although lies have been abundant, I have such high praise for him having known him and his students personally that I know better than to fall into the trap.

The week of his murder I hungrily looked for articles about him in the Muslim News, Horizons or any of the other Muslim owned/controlled organs of Muslim journalism. There was nothing. The internet had a few flames, but really nothing.

I was angry and filled with a type of need to explain this man (the same one I felt when I went on the radio the day of the martyrdom of Shaikh Ahmad Yasin and discussed his life) so I decided to do this in the khutbah.

Far removed from the West Coast and Mid-West satellite states, some people in the UK would like to believe that they know a great deal about the Muslim situation in the United States; but after some television programmes and Hollywood, it is difficult for some brothers to move beyond the façade.

I spent the khutbah trying to explain why the Ummah being wide includes our brothers in Oakland, Compton, Inglewood and Watts and not to mention San Quenten, Pelican’s Bay, Chino, Riker’s Island and Soledad.

I questioned the fact of why this man, this larger than life figure, was not mentioned and given more help. Brothers understood and responded in kind by asking for more information on this figure. Some also wanted to help his wife and children if possible.

This man is the type of leader that I was talking about regarding El-Hajj Malik El-Shabbazz. Indeed Imam Luqman Amin `Abdullah is one of the very cornerstones of the Muslims in the United States as far as I have known and been shown.

was-Salaam,

brother in Islam,

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far al-Hanbali

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