Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Hidden Jewels in the Ghettos of DC" by Mujahideen Ryder

Many of you who are regular Internet surfers are aware of the rise of Muslim bloggers in recent years. They have become an increasingly influential voice in our vibrant community. For those of you who are familiar with this phenomenon of Muslim bloggers, Mujahideen Ryder is not a foreign name. Last Saturday, the brother visited our community in Washington, DC. Here are his thoughts:

Hidden Jewels in the Ghettos of DC

  • Author: Mujahideen Ryder
  • Date: Apr 5, 2009

The few who know me personally, know I have a fascination and love for “ghetto” neighborhoods and giving dawah to the people there. Any city I visit, I’m always asking about the ghetto areas and how to get there. Some think I’m crazy, but I just feel the need to help these people because Islam has many solutions for their problems. They don’t need to look at the Hip Hop or sports stars to get out. The just need to get out with Islam. Which brings me to an amazing community that is unheard of, for the most part, outside the DC area in the Maryland-Virginia suburbs and most definitely the entire country.

‘Asr time was almost ending and my wife and myself were in DC enjoying the beautiful weather. I remembered there was a masjid in South East DC that my wife had been to before for a wedding. For those who don’t know SE (South East) is the ghetto of DC. If you told the average resident of the Maryland-Virginia suburbs that you went to SE DC, they’d probably react with the “OMG” and then some stereotypical question that involved robbing, fried chicken, drugs, street corners, boarded up houses, etc. Alhamdulillah for Islam and alhamdulillah we are Muslims. I put my foot to the pedal and we were off to Masjid al Islam in SE DC.

Getting there was not fun. The roads reminded me of the BQE (NYers know what I’m talking about) and the local streets were the typical looking blocks of Brooklyn or Queens. Again, alhamdulillah, not to worry because we’re going to connect with Allah (swt). So a few craters on the road can’t hurt.

We arrived at Masjid al-Islam just as ‘Asr time was pretty much over. We saw Muslim children playing outside as we walked up to the masjid. There was an elderly man outside in which I greeted. He returned the greeting with a nice big smile. We went inside and I saw the sign for brothers wudhu area and I went there, and my wife disappeared to where the women’s section was (or at least I thought she was gone, read on to find out how we reunite). Bathroom was the average masjid bathroom facility, but better than average in cleanliness, mashaAllah.

As I made my way to the musalla, I passed by some pictures of young Muslim children. Then I passed a classroom and a table full with lectures from many speakers. At this point I’m thinking to myself: “They have a school. They produce lectures. Who are these guys? Why haven’t I heard or seen any events in the DC-MD-VA area?”

I continued on to the musalla feeling ignorant not knowing anything about this community and on my way I pass a huge professional copy machine. What? They even got their own copy/printing machine! Usually only the big community centers with more than one jummah have these type of machines, not a masjid in SE DC. There were also some network cables connected to it, so I know they have some techie people in here. That got me excited, because at least I know they must have some web presence.

I got to the musalla and it was huge mashaAllah. From the outside I couldn’t tell, but when I walked in, I felt like I was in a “real” masjid (real meaning with a dome, minaret and the rest of the whole nine yards of the typical masjid with Islamic architecture). I focused my attention on a brother reading and then preparing for ‘Asr. I quickly entered into the state of prayer and began. After completing ‘Asr, I turned around to see my wife making her salah right there. I then realized that the men and women pray in the same musalla with absolutely no divider at all. That impressed me, because it is rare to find a community that is following the musalla for women and men exactly like the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

Upon leaving the masjid my wife and I met a few brothers walking in. They all had long beards, kufis and thoubs or regular clothing. They greeted us with big smiles and one of the brothers said “you’re not staying?”. I responded that we were in the area and we came to pray ‘Asr. Then the brother explained that the first Saturday of every month is family night and we were invited to come. I responded saying we couldn’t stay tonight, but inshaAllah now that we know, we will try to attend the next one.

Walking to the car, I looked at my wife and said “Family night?”. What masjid does this? I’ve heard of halaqahs, lectures, dinners, programs, classes, etc. but never “family night”. On a continuous basis too.

After doing some research with Shaykh Google, I realized the brother I spoke to when leaving was Imam Abdul Alim Musa who is the Imam of Masjid al-Islam and the Amir of the Sabiqun movement in DC. I listened to some of his lectures available on YouTube and many of them are extremely powerful and profound, especially for youths in urban and city neighborhoods.

I’ve saved this for the last, but as I was doing my salah, some brothers came up to the musalla to talk to the brother who was originally there before I came up. One of them spoke and said “He wants to take shahada.” After chatting with a few people about this community, one brother told me they have converts on a weekly basis.

To sum it all up, I’d say I just experienced 100% home-grown Black American Islam straight form the Qur’an and Sunnah. This blog post wouldn’t explain it, but my heart felt at peace at that masjid.

May Allah (swt) continue to bless this community. May Allah (swt) preserve Imam Abdul Alim Musa. May Allah (swt) continue to uplift this community in such a unlifted surrounding. Ameen.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Imam Musa on the Ahl al-Bayt (Household of the Prophet)

Some of you may recall a khutbah delivered in 2004 by Imam Musa regarding the Ahl al-Bayt (Household of the Prophet). It went platinum on the Internet a few years ago. In January of this year, several excerpts from this khutbah were transcribed and published on one of our member's blogs. It is re-posted below:

By Yusuf Trombly

Introduction by Br. Muhaafiz Khan (Washington, DC)

Despite Imam Musa's Sunni background, he has always had good relations with the Shi'a community. As a matter of fact, this principled commitment to Muslim unity played a significant role in his being ousted from the ISNA speaking circuit in the mid-1980s, at a time when the Saudis had funded a global-scale propaganda attack against the Shi'as due to the monumental events that had unfolded in Iran.

There is an oft-forgotten time in our early collective history when top-notch scholars and fuqaha' from both Sunni and Shi'a backgrounds maintained good relations and carried feelings of the highest mutual respect. This sincere unity is needed more today than ever, at a time when the world's imperialists and oppressors--the enemies of Allah (swt) and humanity--are intent on dividing and weakening us.

Below is a collection of excerpts from a khutbah delivered by Imam Musa in March 2004, dealing with the Ahl al-Bayt (Household of the Prophet), diligently transcribed by br. Yusuf Trombly of Boston, MA. All of the cited hadiths come from traditional Sunni hadith sources. Directed mostly toward Muslims with a Sunni background, Imam Musa's khutbah was aimed at providing a sound basis from which to pursue unity with fellow believers in the Shi'a community.

For those who agree with Imam Musa's timely points, let us unify around our commonalities and not dwell on differences. This unity should have a sense of shared destination, however; therefore, let us work together for justice and the establishment of Islam.

Lastly, for those further interested in literature which promotes the building of intellectual and activist bridges between Sunnis and Shi'as, please refer to the books and papers published by the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT), with which Imam Musa is closely associated. The ICIT works to foster progress within the Islamic movement based on critical examination of Islamic history.


"Allah only desires to keep away uncleanness from you, O people of the House! And to purify you a (thorough) purifying"

-Qur'an, Chapter Al-Ahzab (The Allies) 33:33

On March 5, 2004, Imam Abdul Alim Musa, the charismatic leader of Masjid al-Islam in Washington, DC, and the Amir of the As-Sabiqun movement, delivered a khutbah entitled: "Ahl-ul-Bayt (The Household of the Prophet)". Once widely available on the internet (before seemingly disappearing), the timely sermon was inspired by the events taking in place in Iraq - namely, sectarian violence in Baghdad and the holy city of Karbala during festivals marking the day of Ashura. In an effort to help his community understand the cause of this fitnah, Imam Musa educated and reminded his listeners about historical episodes surrounding the death of the Prophet (pbuh&hf), as well as the deep importance of the Household of the Prophet in the religion of Islam. Imam Musa discussed the failure of American Islamic leadership to talk to about this serious subject. The following are excerpts from Imam Musa's khutbah, including some of the hadiths he cited and his analysis of them:

"Brothers and sisters, I know probably most of us have been watching the news over the last few weeks, and something continues to come up every year, and I thought this would be a good time to discuss an issue that is not brought up enough amongst the Muslims, and as we read through the hadith, we will probably see why. We see the other day over 200, almost 300, people martyred in Karbala. Another 100 people or so were martyred in Baghdad. In Quetta, Pakistan, dozens of people were slaughtered also. All during the month of Muharram. I wanted to read a few hadith. These hadith come directly from Sahih Muslim, Sahih Bukhari, a few of them will be from Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and Tirmidhi. These are all Sunni sources. This is about the Ahl-ul-Bayt, or the Household of the Prophet (saw)."

(Hadith Manzilah): Sa'd ibn Waqqas has said, "The Prophet of God said to Ali, 'Are you not satisfied to be to me what Harun was to Moses except that after me there will not be another prophet?'"

Muawiyah, the son of Abu Sufyan, gave order to Sa'd, and told him: "What prevents you that you are refraining from cursing Abu Turab (nickname of Ali)?" Sa'd replied: "Don't you remember that the Prophet said three things about (the virtue of) Ali? So I will never curse Ali." (Sahih Muslim, Chapter of Virtues of Companions, Section of Virtues of Ali - see Chapter p1284, Tradition #5916)

"A lot of people think that Shi'as started the cursing of the Sahaba, but here we can see from Sahih Muslim that it is directly Mu'awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan that has initiated it, and made it a policy of his administration....that when he appoints someone, he wants them to have a certain political slant about the Prophet's family."

(Hadith Mubahala): "Ummul Mumineen A'isha reported that Rasoolallah (saw) went out one morning wearing a striped cloak of the black camels hair...then came Sayyidina Hassan ibn Ali, he wrapped him under it, then came Husayn ibn Ali and he wrapped him along with Hassan. Then came Fatimah and he took her under it. Then came Ali and he took him under the cloak too. The Messenger of Allah (saw) then said "Allah only desires to take any uncleanliness from you, O Ahl-ul-Bayt, and extensively purify you". (Sahih Muslim: Book 31: Hadith Number: 5955)

"Abu Sufyan was the arch-enemy of Islam, right? Up until 11:59, just before they walk into Mecca, right? (He's) been an advocate of hatred against Islam. The Bani Hashim, the Hashimites, have been in conflict with the Umayyad clan for 100 years or more. OK? Before Islam. Now...30 years after (the death of the Prophet), we have Abu Sufyan's children in charge of Islamic army, and the Prophet's children being oppressed. Simple as that. You can do your own investigation, come up with whatever you like, but that's as simple as I can put it. Abu Sufyan's children were the so-called caliphs, or rulers, or dictators, or whatever you want to call them. After the Prophet, only 30 years later, we have this situation."

Narrated Yazid Ibn Hayyan: We went to Zaid Ibn Arqam and said to him: You have found goodness (for you had the honor) to live in the company of the Prophet and offered prayer behind him, and the rest of the hadith is the same (as 3 traditions before) but the Prophet said: "Behold, for I am leaving amongst you two weighty things, one of them is the Book of Allah...", and in this (hadith) these words are also found: We said: "Who are his Ahl-ul-Bayt (that the Prophet was referring to)? Are they his wives?" Thereupon Zaid said: "No, by Allah! A woman lives with a man (as his wife) for a while; he then divorces her and she goes back to her parents and her people. The Ahl-ul-Bayt of the Prophet are his lineage and his descendants (those who come from his blood) for whom the acceptance of charity (Sadaqah) is prohibited."

"All of us here, we've heard the hadith a thousand times, that the Prophet (saw) said, 'I leave behind you two things', right? 'The Qur'an and my Sunnah', right? But how many of us have heard that we are supposed to hold on to two thaqals (weighty things), the Qur'an and the Itrat/Ahl-ul-Bayt? Now, if you're gonna get frowned up, go grab Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and Abu Dawd and frown up at them. You see what I mean? Don't we say (tashahud) in our prayer, all day, every day?"

Imam Musa explained that "Ahl Muhammad" refers to the Prophet's family, not his "following".

"We say it all the time, everyday in our prayers, but we don't know what we're saying. Somebody is playing around with us here, who don't know the Arabic. Somebody is playing little games. Somebody is hiding something we're supposed to be close to, something we're supposed to love."

Narrated Ibn Umar: A man asked him whether a muhrim could kill flies. (I heard him) saying; "The people of Iraq are asking about the killing of flies what they themselves murdered the son of the daughter of Allah's Messenger. While the Prophet (saw) said, "They (Hasan and Husayn) are my two sweet basils in this world." (Bukhari)

"If you notice, there's a lot of sentiment in Iraq today. Iraq, even at that time, was the center of a lot of serious fitnah. So Ibn Umar says, 'you have just killed the grandson of the Prophet, and now you wanna come ask me if it's all right to kill flies.' You get the feeling that he was very upset with the people..."

"What we are saying, dear believers, is that this is absolutely a part of Islam....we don't want to get into all of what happened after the death of the Prophet (saw), but from the hadith, it is a part and parcel of Islam to love the Household of the Prophet (saw). It's not rare, it's not strange, it's not anything. These hadith are constant, they're regular, and they're well-known. And there's many more."

Imam Musa then mentioned the Prophet (pbuh&hf) weeping for Imam Husayn (as) when he was still a baby (in a hadith narrated by Umm Salamah), as well as Hadith Safinah, in which the Ahl-ul-Bayt (as) is compared to the ark of Noah (as).

"When you see all of these things going on in the Muslim world, and you don't understand where are these people coming from. Why are people going to Karbala? Why is it that there are seven million people going to Karbala? Think about it. Why are so many millions of people going to Najaf?"

"When you see things happening in the Muslim world today, some of it is related to people playing games with our Islam, and especially here in America. Most of us don't know these hadith, right? Or we read them and read right past them."

"Out of sincerity, the Muslims feel - Ahl-Sunnah-wal-Jammah - if we discuss these issues in details, it would shatter our faith, because we would learn things about big Sahaba that we don't feel comfortable with. Our brothers told us, 'well, we just don't talk about it.' I said, 'what do you mean we don't talk about?' We as Muslims here in America, especially African-Americans, we're saying this: we should study history for ourselves. Anybody that feeds us something, they're going to feed us their side of the story. Any story. If you look at all the speakers (in America), on every pulpit, on every mimbar, there's only one criteria for allowing you on the mainstream mimbar. How many programs have you heard from the majority of Muslims on Ahl-ul-Bayt? We've talked about salat, zakat, jihad fisabilillah. We've had Seerah conferences. Which conference have you been to when the title was 'The Household of the Prophet'? Something has to be going on if in 30 years of us practicing Islam here in America, nobody had one single seminar. We've had conferences on everything but the Household of the Prophet. You ought to be happy that someone is finally mentioning this to us, but mentioning it in a way that we can gain understanding."

"Every speaker on this circuit in America...there's only one criteria to get on board. You know what that is? That you do not mention anything about Ahl-ul-Bayt. You can be Black, you can be Mexican, you can be Chinese. You can be jihadi or non-jihadi. You can be a voter or non-voter. Think about all the famous speakers. How many famous speakers have ever talked to you about Ahl-ul-Bayt? Which one of the famous Muslims on the (African-American) circuit?"

"Some of the sheikhs say 'do you want us to send a sheikh to your masjid?' I say absolutely not. No. You know, to help us with the Arabic. I say 'no, because I don't want anybody in our community to come out like y'all, that know all that Arabic, all that history, and scared to stand up. Scared to take a position. We don't want to learn that.' How many of the heavy 'ilm scholars' have told you one word about the Household of the Prophet? Just one?"

Imam Musa finished his khutbah with a hadith concerning the A'immah (as). It is a hadith which is mentioned in various forms throughout the Sihah Sitta, the six hadith collections considered the most reliable by the Ahl-Sunnah-wal-Jammah. The following is from Bukhari:

Narrated Jabir ibn Samura: I heard the Prophet saying, "There will be twelve commanders (amir)." He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, the Prophet added, "All of them will be from Quraish."