This article will be the first piece in a series about American Islamic leaders and organizations that are dedicated to fighting extremism in religion as well as Islamophobia. Most of the people in the series will have been American born, however there are foreign scholars that have dedicated much of their time to helping Americans learn about the true Islam and to prevent extremism within our mosques.
There is a misconception that Muslims in America do not speak out against extremism and terrorism. We are constantly told that we must apologize for the actions of others and if we do not accept blame for others that follow a foreign ideology to us, that we must then be supporting them. This is unfair and unrealistic.
However, we do speak out against extremism and violence. The fact that I am writing this now is proof of that. There are also many American scholars and organizations that are dedicated to stamping out extremism.
It is said that Islam does not truly take hold in a place until that place begins to produce their own scholars. It is important for Americans to deal with issues within the American community because there are cultural differences that someone from a place such as Saudi Arabia would never understand. Some of these topics might be: How do we deal with non-Muslims that attack us; What is the Islamic position on gay marriage; or do we send our children to private or public schools, or de we simply home school our children.
This leads me to introduce the first person in this series: Shaykh Suhaib Webb. Shaykh Suhaib is a personal friend of mine and one of my shaykhs. He was named named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010 and his website, http://www.SuhaibWebb.com, was voted the best “Blog of the Year” by the 2009 Brass Crescent awards.
Shaykh Suhaib Webb has lectured extensively around the world including in the Middle East, East Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America.
I first met Shaykh Suhaib Webb when he was working with the Muslim youth at the MCA SFBA mosque in Santa Clara. We immediately became friends due to similar backgrounds. Suhaib was formerly as deejay who spun Hip Hop records in his hometown of Oklahoma City. I was a producer for Black Market Records and in charge of the marketing for their projects.
Shaykh Suhaib had connections to the ‘hood’ which Islam brought him out of. Due to my connections in the music industry, I was involved in those elements as well. I still maintain to this day that if I did not become a Muslim I would probably have been killed or put in prison.
We are also both white and larger men. I have on multiple occasions been confused for Shaykh Suhaib in the Bay Area. People really thought I was him, or that we were brothers. I actually still have a prayer rug that he gave me.
Shaykh Suhaib became a Muslim when he was around 19 years old. After becoming a Muslim he had intensive one-on-one studies with a Muslim Scholar. He then was accepted into a program at Al-Azhar University which he attended from 2004-2010. His focus was on Islamic Sharia. When he completed his studies he then travelled to Mecca where he completed the memorization of the Qur’an making him a Hafiz (protector) of the Qur’an. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship.
As a Muslim scholar it is his responsible to address the American Muslim community on contemporary Islamic topic subjects. Some of these topics might be about good marital relations; speaking out against spousal abuse; keeping our youth from joining gangs; and speaking out against violence and terrorism.
Shaykh Suhaib came under fire from Islamophobes such as Pamella Geller after the Boston Marathon Attacks. He had only been recently made a resident scholar in Boston when the attacks occurred. As a result, Pamela Geller started making accusations that maybe he had said something to incite violence. This was a completely false claim.
The Los Angeles times also wrote about him in 2011, saying that he was a star amongst American Muslims. This newfound notoriety placed him in the crosshairs of the Islamophobic community because they do not want to see any American Muslim receive positive support.
Even under intense scrutiny Shaykh Suhaib ignored his detractors, and in true Islamic fashion prayed for them and wishes nothing but good for them. He said this is because our Prophet said to take a wrong action and to return it with a good action.
The Islamophobic community is not the only community in which negative things are said. He has received a lot of negative comments coming from the extremist Takfiri community that does not like Shayk Suhaib’s position on unity between Muslims and none. They slander him saying that he is a Sufi and not to listen to his message.
Shaykh Suhaib has been named one of the most approachable Imams in North America. He has a passion to spread the truth about real Islam. He is very sincere and his emotions can be felt amongst the people listening in attendance. I will never forget the time when he was leading a Friday Jummah prayer at MCA SFBA and during the prayer he started crying, then all 2,000 plus in attendance that were praying started crying as well.
If anyone wants to listen to a real knowledgeable Islamic scholar that is opposed to terrorism and will tell the truth about what Islam really teaches, then do a Youtube search for Shaykh Suhaib. I promise that you will not be devoted.
May Allah swt continue to guide him and all of humanity, ameen.
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