Arguing Over Creed in Black Muslim America; Following the Yellow Brick Road. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Somewhere, over the rainbow, Dorothy and Toto are still on that yellow  brick road | Archive |

Most people, even scholars cannot tell you the difference, or even explain to you in detail the differences between Maatureediyya and Ash’ariyyah aqeeda (creed), or elucidate the details of each one. Some Ash’ari and Sunni scholars consider the Maatureediyya the people of bid’ah. (It gets messy) lol.

Aqeeda wrangling is messy business period. It was always messy, and if you study Muslim history, it can be deadly as well. Being branded with the wrong aqeeda will get you labeled as a deviant, an unbeliever, astray or misguided, even if you pray, fast, give charity, make hajj, and believe in Allah, His Messenger, and the last day. Some people consider it a legitimate reason to take someone’s life.

In recent years, people have bombed masaajid (mosques) full of worshippers, because the people praying inside were believed to have the wrong aqeeda. Oftentimes they do not even know the name of the founder of the creed that they ascribe to.

In the United States, because of the rule of law, people don’t commit acts of violence over aqeeda. It could land you in jail, and it would make you look like a depraved religious fanatic. However, that does not mean that the aqeeda wars and skirmishes amongst Black American Muslims have not been a roller coaster of fitna, and division, and a Yellow Brick Road leading to nowhere. It leaves in its wake, acrimony, division, and religious hostility.

If you go beyond the outward platitudes and theological blurbs that people think that they’re supposed to say to be creed compliant, it’s a can of worms. Most people, when they say that they follow so and so creed, don’t know what that creed entails, or actually follow a set of principles related to the creed, except a couple of points that has to do with anthropomorphism, because anti- anthropomorphism is what’s trending as far as aqeeda is concerned.

The study of aqeeda (scholastic theology) is a legitimate and intellectually rich Islamic discipline of knowledge. However, most Muslims in the world don’t think in terms of aqeeda, they think in terms of faith; eitheryou are a Muslim, who believes in Allah and His Messenger, or you are not. This aqeeda wrangling amongst everyday people and novices on the topic in the United States, was designed specifically for Black Americans and converts. It promotes civilizational dysfunction, and stagnation. It has no actionable conclusion or ending. You can’t say, “people who have the correct aqeeda do this or that”. People don’t say, “if we had the right aqeeda we could build a masjid or operate a school. Or, “if he had the right aqeeda, he would help the elderly woman cross the street.

Muslim scholars since the second century of Islam, have always had differences surrounding aqeeda, but those differences was left almost exclusively in the hand of trained scholars.

Abu Faraj Ibn Jawzi (1116-1201 CE), who in my humble view is amongst those balanced and extremely smart scholars, and defenders of (prophetic tradition) Sunna, like Imam an-Nawawi, Jalaaluddeen as-Suyuti, and Imam al-Ghazali, voiced serious differences with Abu Ya’la (990-1066 CE), who was considered a Hanbali Mujaddid, on matters of aqeeda.

There are untold numbers of aqeeda disputes amongst scholars, and betweeen governments, that are chronicled in history, some of which became deeply personal. Scholars were after all human beings. Taqī ad-Dīn Aḥmad Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328), one of the greatest and most prolific scholars who ever lived, and who was once a sharia judge in Baghdad, was was imprisoned for what was alleged to be deviant aqeeda. He actually died behind bars.

There are dozens opinions by scholars about who any one of them, or group of them considers to be of Ahlus Sunna and jamaa’at. Aqeeda was always left in the realm of scholars and scholarship, and occasionally, in the realm of politics. The waning, yet still present aqeeda wars amongst Black American Muslims and converts is nearly entirely orchestrated by foreign influences domestically and abroad. When people could have simply believed in what was confirmed in our scriptures (Quran and Sunna) and have been much better off. Some people argue about aqeeda and barely know 20 Suras of the Quran.

Since aqeeda is essentially philosophy and not necessarily faith (eemaan), there are hundreds of Muslim philosophers and scores of aqaa’id (plural of aqeeda). If you count the Sufis, with hundreds of different tariqas (Sufi paths), many, with different aqeeda, there is even more types of theology to wrestle with. Ash’ariyyah and Maatureediyya are the most common because that was the official aqeeda stated and adopted by various Muslim governments and powers, that ended up staying in power.

For example, the Ottomans were Maatureediyya, and the Ottomans ruled a big chunk of the Muslim world for about 600 years, so their aqeeda became dominant. Still, the Ottomans didn’t impose that everyone was aware, versed and adherents of it. When Muslim governments did that, or tried, it was considered oppressive.

When an Abbasid Caliph forced the scholars to say that the Quran was created, and jailed Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbali over that, it was considered an act of oppression by the Caliph, who was aligned with Mu’tazilizm, yet, another brand of aqeeda. In fact, the founder of Ash’ari aqeeda, Abu Hasan al-Ash’ari (874-936), was himself a Mu’tazilite for 40 years before he switched and created his own aqeeda, the very same aqeeda that some Muslims say people must a crime themselves to today. The people who follow the Quran and the Sunna are the people who follow the Quran and the Sunna. The people who do not follow, are the people who do not. Those who do their best but fall short, are those who do their best and fall short. Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala is the Best judge in these matters.

People have invested so much time and energy in arguing, debating, and worrying about people’s aqeeda, and touted this shaykh, or that shaykh as an aqeeda savior, and even went through three or four Islamic aqeedas in a period of less than twenty years in some cases, and each time they were certain they were on the haqq (truth). It’s hard to admit that we’ve been chasing our own tail. It’s like Dorothy seeking out the Wizard of Oz, only to be told that what she needs is at home.

What we need in deen is found in the Quran and the Sunna, All this aqeeda madness, we could have just followed the Quran and the authenticated Sunna, and been much better off.

According to the great scholar of Islam, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, who himself was a leader of philosophy, there are ten destructive evils arising from public debates (about religion); envy, arrogance, malice, backbiting and slander, selfpraise, seeking other’s faults, gloating at misfortune, hypocrisy, ostentation, rejecting the truth.[2] It ruins relationships, splits communities, breaks associations, tears away at the bonds of brotherhood, and greatly undermines the religious communal trajectory of Islam amongstWhat we need in deen is found in the Quran and the Sunna, All this aqeeda madness, we could have just followed the Quran and the authenticated Sunna, and been much better off. American Muslims and converts to Islam o the United States, even when that is not the intention.

The problems, the disruptions, the splitting up of masjids, or brother and sisterhoods, the name calling, the labeling this or that person deviant, or unbeliever, the fitna of arguing over theology, multiplied by the thousands, has taken it’s toll. It’s too much for a person to admit. Part of some aqeeda is that you are right, and everyone else is wrong, So people become victims of their own after-market theology. That’s pretty self-evident. Like I said, it’s okay, if you don’t get it right away. Even better, if Allah spared you of the aqeeda wars. Why search for a Wizard of Oz when we have the Prophet of God (SAWS)?

Aqeeda wrangling amongst Black American Muslims is one of the most ill-thought out, civilizationally stagnating, and backward pursuits of this age. It may had had some utility in the beginning, but has long since out-lived its usefulness here. Except to remind people to stay away from it.

If the overall toll of aqeeda disputing on our ummah had not been so great, so consequential, so destructive of communities, relationships, and with it families, and so severing of trust, I would have left it alone. Unfortunately, the aqeeda wars still stands in the way for us here in the United States.

This forum and social media only has room enough for casual discussion of aqeeda’s finer points. Scholastic theology is an exhaustive topic. My main concern is prioritization and practical applicability. Governance, marriage, generational continuity, abuse, addiction; finance, the masaajid are pressing issues within the Black American Muslim communities, and have virtually nothing to do with aqeeda philosophical nuance. The fact that people who prioritize aqeeda inquisitioning do not realize this is bewildering. I trust more in what Allah says about Himself than what scholars say about Him. Sometimes scholars differ over Allah, even debate over Him. But Allah never differs about Himself. Not ever.

Anybody who knows our people should know by now that we were never equipped to argue or debate about Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. It’s not for us. We shouldn’t push it. And Allahu ta’ala knows best. -Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, an associate Imam, khateeb, at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo, Ohio. He is also and the author of the book, “Double Edged Slavery “, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism. He blogs at, and can be reached at





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