“Black Imams are seeking power” That’s rhetoric from an ancient internal anti-Black, self-hate, slave mentality playbook. One that should have been discarded along time ago. Over the last 50 years or so, many Black American Muslims have been convinced that their Imams are good imams as long as they are struggling, not able to do much outside of giving sermons, teaching a class, maybe a little of counseling and nowadays, looking good on camera. The Imam’s ideas according to many, must be in line with those of the larger, immigrant Muslim community. Independent thinking by a Black American Imam, is still looked down upon by many Black American Muslims, and I’m speaking from personal experience as an Imam and Muslim first responder of 24 years, as taboo.
Black American Imams who seek greater resources for themselves in order to work, are thought by some to be power hungry. Well I got news for you, if Back American Muslim Imams were out for power, then we are in the wrong business.. There’s more power in the local drug game and in the neighborhood liquor stores then there is in the local American Muslim imamate. Besides, all power is to, and from Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala.
What Black American Imams (including myself) are seeking however, are resources. That’s what we talk about amongst ourselves and that’s what we lack the most. We never talk about getting power, we talk about getting resources. -We talk about how we’re viewed in our communities as sincere, and brave, but weak when it comes to local politics and influence. Despite the obvious powerlessness and lack of resources, Black American Imams have been the target of much blame from a non-committed Black American Muslim demographic.
In deen just like in politics, you can’t move very far without navigation. That’s why you have imams in the first place. “And We made from among them imams, guiding by Our command when they were patient and [when] they were certain of Our signs.” [32:24] Having Imams is a necessity of Muslim life, anywhere on the planet. When the Imam lacks resources, it weakens the entire community. Our own history in the United States has shown that to be true.
Perhaps the greatest of resources available to Black American Imams are the Muslims who work with him, who aid him, who supports him in what is right. These are the basic building blocks of jamaa’ah (congregation), which is a fundamental concept of Islam that seems lost upon many Muslims today.
It is arguable that one of the biggest problems to beset Black American Muslim and convert communities by far are that most are not part of any communities. A lot of things have been done over the last twenty-years to undermine Black American Muslim communities such as multiple spheres of influence that owe allegiance to a foreign entity, scores of fatwa that undermine social and family cohesion, millions of pamphlets, books, cds and propaganda which promoted mutiny within Muslim communities, and many Black American Muslims pinning there futures on Muslims who were not looking out for their interests.
This is created a very unstable religious environment; especially for someone new to Islam or a first generation convert to Islam. The basis of success for a community is enjoining upon each other truth and patience. This is best done with congregation (jamaa’at). When there is no jamaa’at, there is no leadership, when there is no leadership then there is no cohesion, and when there is no cohesion, people are left to their own individual machinations and when they are left to their own machinations, there is no religious order, and when there is no religious order, chaos almost always ensues. The Prophet (SAWS) said; “Whoever among you wants to be in the middle of Paradise, let him cling to the Congregation.” [Sound, collected by Abu Eesa at-Tirmithi]
In my view, people should want their Imams and leader that they trust have their best interests at heart, be adequately resourced. Communities with an Imam or an Amir, and a shura (council) and people designated to attend to the affairs of the ummah, is better than a mob based free for all system. Muslims who reject a basic Islamic system of communal stability and governance which is the jamaa’ah (congregation) are just blowing smoke. Moral anarchists without even knowing it. And Allah knows best.
Imam Luqman Ahmad
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is a 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 can be reached at: email@example.com You can support him @ cash app, to: $abulaith2