An American Muslim Imam’s Response to Imam Anwar Awlaki’s call for Jihad Against America

In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful 

From Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, to Imam Anwar Awlaki

Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh. In a recent videotaped statement attributed to you, you posed a very serious question to American Muslims, and in addition you suggested that we as American Muslims are obligated to embark upon the unconscionable act of waging war against our own land and countrymen. You asked; “To the Muslims in America, I have this to say: How can your conscience allow you to live in peaceful coexistence with a nation that is responsible for the tyranny and crimes committed against your own brothers and sisters?”

Well, now that you’ve posed the question, I’ll tell you why, and may Allah grant us His mercy. First of all, peaceful coexistence is not a crime; it is a mercy from the Almighty God be He Exalted and Glorified. As American Muslims, we peacefully coexist with our country because we are not under attack because of our faith and we are not driven from our homes; “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.” 60:8 Quran. We live here because some of us were born and raised here, and it is the only home that we know. My forefathers came here as slaves, and have helped build this country with their bare hands. Millions of other Muslims have sought and received refuge and safe passage through this vast land of ours, and have made it their home. As American Muslims, we are of different origins; nevertheless we are here now, and it is the result of God’s divine Providence, and we are connected to this soil.

We live here because we are free men, women and children. We have the right to live here and this is our country.   We live here because Millions of American Muslims attend this nations masaajid every week without being accosted, bombed while in prayer, or hindered in any way from worshipping our Lord. Many Muslim Imams and scholars have branded our country as evil, even calling her the ‘Great Satan’. I say that the Lord that we worship favors not the east or the west; He favors the righteous wherever they dwell. “Say: To Allah belong both East and West: He guideth whom He will to a Way that is straight.”  Quran, 2:142. So to answer your question about our conscience as we peacefully coexist in The United States of America, my conscience, and the conscience of many Muslim Americans who live in this great land, is clear. As for those Muslims whose conscience and belief compels them to leave this country for another land, then the door is open for them to leave.

As for your call for American Muslims to wage jihad against our country and homeland; the land that you are urging us to wage war against, is the land of our homes that we are obligated to protect. In a prophetic narration by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As, he said: When we were around the Apostle of Allah (SAWS), he mentioned the period of commotion (fitnah) saying: “When you see the people that their covenants have been impaired, (the fulfilling of) the guarantees becomes rare, and they become thus (interwining his fingers). I then got up and said: What should I do at that time, may Allah make me ransom for you? He replied: “Keep to your house, control your tongue, accept what you approve, and abandon what you disapprove, attend to your own affairs, and leave alone the affairs of the generality.”[1] Therefore as Muslim Americans we are obligated by faith to protect our homes, and our homeland upon which they stand, as our homes are our refuge.

The people whom you claim we are obligated to take up arms against are our neighbors whom we live next to and share neighborhoods with, and our Prophet (SAWS) informs us to honor our neighbors by his words in the hadith reported by Abu Shuraih; “By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe!” It was said, “Who is that, O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, “That person whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil.[2]   Furthermore, in the hadith of Aisha, she mentioned that the Prophet (SAWS) said “Gabriel continued to recommend me about treating the neighbors kindly and politely so much so that I thought he would order me to make them as my heirs.”[3]  They are our co-workers whom we work alongside them, our students who we teach, and our teachers who we learn from. The people whom you incite us to violence against are our firefighters who defend our homes and our property from ruin, our law enforcement officers who patrol our streets at night, and municipal workers who restore power after the storms, and remove injurious objects from the road. The individuals whom you suggest we wage jihad against are our physicians, nurses and medical professionals who care for our sick and mend the broken bones of our children. They are university professors that you yourself have benefitted from and under whose instruction you obtained your engineering degree. So in summary, my dear Imam and may Allah guide us, we must categorically reject your petition that we wage jihad against the United States of America as in doing so we would be in disobedience to Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala and His Prophet (SAWS).

Innocent blood is shed all over the globe by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and that should be a concern for us all. This great nation of ours has indeed committed its wrongs just like every other nation on earth and I am confident that the Almighty God Allah, in His Infinite Power and Wisdom will render unto each his due for its good and for its evil. However in the meantime, I shall not lift a finger in jihad against the only country that I can call home. This is the United States of America, and I do not have a home to go back to. My family is here, my tribe is here, and when I bow my head in my duty to my Lord, I prostrate upon American soil.  She is a blessed land, crafted and designed by God Himself.

Our faith is a faith of reason, not rampage, and while we recognize that there have been people of all faiths who have, and will continue to shed innocent blood without just cause. We as American Muslims should take the higher ground of faith and godliness and forgive those who transgress against us, and set our sights upon the nobler ideals of Islam. My conscience is clear, and your call for American Muslims to engage in jihad against America is rejected. As an imam and as a Muslim, I pray for your salvation and the salvation of us all. May the Almighty God Allah, Glorified be His Holy Name, guide us all to righteousness, and may He bless the United States of America.

Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakaatuh,

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

[1] Collected by Abu Dawood in the Sunan

[2] Collected by Bukhaari

[3] Collected by Bukhaari

22 responses to “An American Muslim Imam’s Response to Imam Anwar Awlaki’s call for Jihad Against America”

  1. So nobly stated, my eyes fill with tears. May Allah’ta’alaa guard and guide us to the higher ground in word and deed. Ameen.


  2. as salaam alaikum my dear brother in islam, your words were timely and right on point, we can’t let these individuals who really are the enemies of islam voices be heard over ours. their words and actions are dangerous so let us continue to promote the beauty of our marvelous way of life islam so that it will shine from this land to the whole world ameen.



  3. As salaam alaykum. I too reject this call!


  4. ASA my dear brother,
    May Allah, SWT, reward you greatly for your timely and wise words. And may He guide the Muslims who have gone astray back to the straight path. Ameen


  5. I agree!! May Allah continue to reward you in all of your efforts.


  6. Abdul Rahman Abdullah Avatar
    Abdul Rahman Abdullah

    Beautiful article may Allah bless you. For those who are addicted to blaming others for their woes we must always remember we are following a script upon which the pen has been lifted and the ink is dry. It would be wise of us to consider why Allah has written any given situation we find ourselves in. What is the message for us in the lives Allah has written for us. Even for this minute.


  7. Salam alikum,

    While i love the tone of the article, it left me with many questions unanswered. I do agree that many of us take patriotism as a virtue, but i am not sure if it actually is. While you are expected to obey the law of the land, blind nationalism is something Islam has condemned.

    I would compare an American Muslim with a Muslim living in Israel, both America and Israel being oppressors of Palestine and other muslim countries. An Israeli Muslim has all the rights to feel everything about Israel the same way an American Muslim has, to feel about America. Just like how rest of the world considers Israel to be rogue nation, every person with an opinion have the right to rightly say that about America, we like it or not.

    The article implied that in this country we attend the masajids with out the fear of being bombed. How irony is that we are claiming that about a country that is directly or indirectly are behind most of such bombings that happen in rest of the world. I am not talking about east or west or black or brown or white either nor that an American life is more precious than that of an Iraqi or Afghani.

    The same fellow country men you are proud of are the same men who form US Military or Black water Inc or many other military contractors and kill our fellow muslims (ya, unfortunately they are not American!) and I am not ashamed to say that they are not neighbors I am very proud of. These people might not have driven you out of home personally, but surprise! They have raped and killed our many innocent brothers and sisters all over the world. Muslims are like a body, and if one part of the body is hurt, the whole body hurts, insha Allah. No one is asking to take up arms and go on shooting rampages in neighborhoods as happening in many parts in this country, but least we can do is to think that we don’t have any responsibility towards our fellow muslims.

    Patriotism is good, but this article reminds me of Allah’s Apostle Salallahu Alahyi Wa Salaam said, “I was ordered to migrate to a town which will swallow (conquer) other towns and is called Yathrib and that is Medina, and it turns out (bad) persons as a furnace removes the impurities of iron. “ He said this when some (so called) Muslims made excuses not to move to Madina. There is a lesson we can learn from this Hadith.
    When you see injustice, stop it with your hand. If you cannot, then speak against it. If you are weak to do that, atleast hate it in your heart.
    Let us not love the oppression and feel good about it. May Allah bless all of us with courage to speak up, and act to forbid evil and promote good. Ameen


  8. Jazaaka Allahu khairan for your comments. You might not have had the freedom to express your sentiments in many Muslim lands. The irony of Muslims dying is that more Muslims are killed daily by other Muslims than are killed by non-Muslims. The truth of the matter is that it is far more likely that a Muslim is killed while praying in a Masjid in Muslim lands than they will be in the United States of America as shown by recent and current events. We are killing, raping and maiming each other daily in Muslim countries, yet we are conspicuously silent about that. There seems to be an indication that we hold unbelievers to a greater moral standard than we hold ourselves, wherein in the shariah, the opposite is trueWe kill each other, and we are silent; a Muslim is killed by a non-Muslim and we cry foul. Both are wrong, however, since the believers are a single body as we know, our first responsibility is to address our own ills. “O ye who believe! Guard your own souls: If ye follow (right) guidance, no hurt can come to you from those who stray, the goal of you all is to Allah, it is He that will show you the truth of all that ye do.´5:105 We should follow our own guidance before we set off trying to change others. “Remind; for verily remembrance benefits the believers” 51:55. American Muslims do not hesitate to call 911 for police protection or use the nation’s hospitals and emergency wards when they are sick, why should we not appreciate safety and healing when it is available? The argument is not about Palestine, or Israel; it is about the religion of Allah and what is right and proper on all accounts.


  9. Wa iyyakum, and Jazak Allah khairan for taking time to respond to my comments.

    In contrast to popular belief Middle East and so called “muslim nations” have only 1/5th of world’s muslim population, but I am not surprised if anyone attributes any muslim to be from one of those countries, Thanks to the media and many people who don’t use their brains to think or know better.

    While i didn’t get a chance to live in all the “so-called” muslim countries, I had a chance to live in some so-called muslim countries where puppet governments of American empire rule over. I also had chances to live in places where they brag about free speech but if you speak up, chances of your ending up in a torture cell in a country with those puppet governments is high, or may be you just vanish when big brother knocks on your door.

    I am not white washing a terrorist who bears a muslim name, but I am not just against them but also against the empires who feed them for their political and “oil” benefits. If I take Iraq as an example, It is foolish to blame the people who engage in civil war after forcing them into civil war by the kind of deception that was done there, which only devils and their counterparts can do.

    We shouldn’t fail to understand that we have 2 problems to solve, but solving the root problem would automatically solve the other problem resulted from it to a very great extend as in many past Muslim killing Muslim incidents in the history. I don’t think forgetting what is happening in the rest of the world is fit for a muslim, in order to enjoy the comfort and coziness what he gets in a country that massacres – on an average – a muslim every five minutes. I don’t believe American Muslims should be excluding themselves from the Muslim world to be politically correct or impress anyone other than the Almighty.

    Jazak Allah khairan,


  10. Enrique Rasheed Avatar
    Enrique Rasheed

    As Salaam alaikum akhee Abu Laith,
    Thank you for your well put expression of what I agree is the correct adaab (manners) for a Muslim American on an important yet difficult issue. May Allah reward you for speaking the truth even if it is for or against yourself. I believe you have put the best construction on a situation that many want to excuse or be silent on. Never did I hear you say that you supported any wrongdoing by any party. You were kind even in your critique of the brother’s appeal. You sighted some strong proof from the Qur’an and traditions. I applaude your bringing the issue to the forefront and arguing in the best way. Thank you for a fine example of Islamic scholarship and ettiquette. Peace


  11. Very nicely done. USA has been my home since 1983. Undoubtedly this country is the most free Muslim Nation on the face of the earth. Ask a majority of muslims why they live here and the answer is obvious and easy. We practive our religion in the free form without a single interference.

    In fact, I was shocked at the level of interference I received when I was in Makkah and Medina from the ill informed self righteous Saudi Religious Police! And they profess that they are the “Guardians of the Two Holy Masjids!” — Who made them such guardians? They stand in front of the Holy graves of Rasullah SA with their backs to them!

    Yet in this country I practice with no fear, no interference!



  12. I don’t believe a word any of you say. Muslims values are not those of the West. We believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equality and separation of religion and state. You believe in a god that preaches subjugation, hate and violence. You love and respect a man that attacked, raided, plundered, killed, enslaved men women and children, tortured, let his men rape captive and even beat Aisha, his child wife. Read the Quran and hadith. Here is a verse for you: Quran 9:111.

    Until more Muslims dare be honest (like Abu above) about Islam and Muslims, there is no hope. Of course, even Muslims that dare speak out about the evils Muslims do refuse to blame their theology – instead it is just “bad” Muslims who “don’t follow the real Islam”. NO, these people that preach hate , discrimnate and do violence are just doing what their religion teaches.


    1. This is in response to Jay kactuz. We don’t believe a word you say. What crap! I don’t understand why no Muslim responded to this knucklehead.


  13. How on earth did you become an IMAM?

    The only thing we recognise is Islam. We only align with the muslims and stand againest everything that opposes them. Did the prophet (SAW) not fight his neighbours? his countrymen? his own blood?

    You will be raised with whom you love


    1. Asalaamwa alaikum Brother, I totally agree with…..


  14. salam ,i reject wat u say .imam anwar is on the haq may allah swt preserve him. join the call and wage jihad


    1. alaikum salaam, the question is; are we as muslims supposed to act simply upon our whim and emotion? Or should we act upon the guidance that was revealed to our Prophet (SAWS)? Should we behave justly or unjustly? Is it justice that Muslims in America set out to destroy the very land upon which they live and upon which they prostrate to Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala , and set about to kill every non-Muslim in America? If any of you thinks that this is guidance, then you have been decieved. Imam Luqman Ahmad


  15. inshallah may allah guide this imam upon huqq


  16. The only true haqq is that wh theich is found in the Book of Allah and the authentic sunna of the Prophet (SAWS).Allah is not a politician; He does not favor the East over the West, the Arab over the non Arab, or the American over the non American. He favors righteousness and justice.The haqq is based upon knowledge and revelation, not upon ignorance and emotion.May Allah guide us all upon the truth. Anyone who believes he or she cannot go astray is already astray…


  17. May Allah make us love that which he(swa) love, And hate that Which he(swa) hate’s, Aameen


  18. […] the record, in April 2010, Muhaimin responded favorably to an  article repudiating al-Awlaki by fellow Philadelphian Abu Laith Luqman […]


    1. I read the article and although I don’t agree with all of the authors sentiments, I concur that radical Islam which incites violence against the innocent is a problem that need to be addressed within American Muslim communities. At the same time, I believe that our communities have other pressing problems which are more immediate and of much higher priority. For the record. Shaykh Anwar Muhaimin as well as his brother Imam Anas are my dear friends and brothers in Islam.


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