Islamic Studies

Thoughts on the Subway and the Imam of America: Siraj Wahaj

Asalamu alaykum,

I’m sure you’ve all heard about what is going on in New York with our ICNA brothers/sisters (may Allah raise them) and our dear teacher, friend and the “Imam of America” Siraj Wahaj. While we are outraged by the actions of a few zealots and misinformed folks, now is the time to stand together and come to the defense of the Imam and the Dawa with cool heads. Making it short, this battle is greater than Islam and the Neo-Cons. Since 9-11 we have allowed these people to intimidate us and until we put up a sustained, organized and unified response, they will not stop. Although they are using Islam as a cover, it seems that there is a greater objective to their plans which will harm all Americans of all faiths and walks of life. Therefore I think it is important to frame this argument around our right as Americans and the bigotry of the others. By creating  a discourse that makes the foundations of this society they key, we will build alliances with others who feel the same way. Thus, it might be wiser to frame the argument in secular terms instead of a strictly religious discourse. Malcolm X said “Let’s leave our religion at the door.” It will take a lot of wisdom to understand that we can, perhaps, serve the cause of faith by not making faith the center piece of our discussion.

We must be brave, whether the storm and take a few hits to the jaw if necessary. After the injustice shown towards our Sr. Debbie al-Muntasir, we must take a stand in front of these people and say: “Enough is enough!” An excellent example is that of the Boston community. After years of being assaulted, unity kicked in and the Muslims stood in the face of fascism and bigotry. The same can be said for what we are witnessing today. Our Imam has been plagued with this for a number of years, not allowed to travel and treated as guilty until prove innocent. Our community must unite behind this cause and offer any support to the “Imam of America” Siraj Wahaj. May Allah reward out brothers/sisters at ICNA and the New York community for having the guts to go through with this. May Allah give them strength and empower them to face this with justice, wisdom and uprightness.


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About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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