Reprinted from the Muslim Journal 1-13-06
Imam Mohammed's Emphasizes on CPC and Prophet Muhammed
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editorial Note: The following interview with Imam W. Deen Mohammed was granted to Ayesha K. Mustafaa, Editor of the Muslim Journal, on Thurs., Dec. 29, 2005.)
Q: Thank you, Imam Mohammed for this interview. We are at another New Year marker. So what do you pray that the New Year will bring with it?
Imam Mohammed: I look for more responsibility in the individuals who are a part of our community or in association with us. There should be more acceptance for personal responsibility - not just spiritual beliefs but for needs of the community, for our mosques, schools and business efforts.
Q: Are you happy to see 2005 becoming a part of the past, with so much devastation throughout it - natural disasters, war, Emmett Till's murderer 50 years later brought to court?
Imam Mohammed: Yes. I'm happy with the justice being done with Emmett Till's case. And I'm happy with the justice brought in the corporate world, with
big, major, giant companies being brought to justice. That means that American justice does work.
I am not happy with the victims or persons who were victims of Hurricane Katri-na. Some things with them will carry over into 2006. But I hope that all good people in religious leadership and in governmental roles will do their best to make 2006 a better year.
Q: Your First Sunday of every month addresses have maintained a standing room only attendance since their inception. And now you have the Worldwide Broadcast coordinated by Bro. Rafah Muhammed every First Sunday. And this upcoming First Sunday is on New Year's Day, so what will be your emphasis on New Year's Day, 2006?
Imam Mohammed: My focus will be the same. I think the focus always for me is the best life we can possibly have on this earth, recognizing that we didn't create it, that there is a Creator over us.
In the New Year, I will be addressing taking a bigger share of personal responsibility, and that we should feel the guilt for the conditions in the life of our people.
If we are not conscious and we neglect these things and it doesn't touch our hearts and minds, that is neglect. It is a sin to be unconscious.
So the focus will be on reform. I will begin this address Sunday on reform, the need to see our own history as a history that shows reform. African American leaders, both males and females, contributed to that reform.
Slavery deformed us -mentally, morally and spiritually. The Hon. Elijah Muhammad, more than anybody else in my view, was the man calling for reform, social reform in the Black people's life. Others called for different kinds of reform.
Carter G. Woodson called for reform in education. He saw the intellect of the people being discriminated against. He called for educational reform that African American people would be responsible for.
We know that education in the United States of America needs reform, for it was influenced by prejudice against Blacks and other minorities, and especially Native Americans. We need to be aware of that, in order to take responsibility to reform our own life.
Our social life needs reform. Our spiritual life needs reform. I am not pleased with our social conditions.
Q: We have heard that there will be introduction of a new clothing line from the Collective Purchasing Conference - CPC - on this First Sunday What will that be?
Imam Mohammed: We have real good news at last. We were having difficulty trying to get suits in for distribution. But now we are sure we have a supplier and don't have to go out of the United States. And they are the same quality of suits that we have been showing to the business people already.
Imam Abu Qadr Al-Amin of San Francisco, Calif., brought in swatches of fabrics and we were pleased. Then we had some doubts and then went to a South America supplier, which had excellent products but were not moving fast enough for us.
But recently Imam Al-Amin and Imam Yahya Abdullah, of Dallas, Texas, have come to know of a contact for us here in the U.S. that looks very good, with good prices, and we won't bother with any less quality suits. We are staying with the high quality of suits.
They will be with us this Sunday, and we expect to see 12 samples to purchase from this new contact. Also we are saving on each suit perhaps more than $20. These suits will be the major focus this year, for business reasons. The biggest income that we'll see will be coming from the sell of these business suits.
There are other things that give us big returns on our money, but they are small priced items, smaller products like the sell of Shea Butter. Shea Butter is an excellent product, but it sells in small quantities. Big quantities don't make nearly as much money.
We are looking at possibly going into oils and buying oils from Pakistan and from others who are Muslims here in America, who came into the U.S. from overseas. And it has potential to give a big return. These brothers are big hustlers - and I mean hustler with a clean meaning, not a bad meaning - in that they are selling a lot of oil.
In Charleston, S.C., there were two big sellers who sell oils and Islamic style garments from the warmer climates in the world. We will sell some of those garments from Pakistan and other countries. We'll also sell incenses and the whole package for a street vendor type person.
Q: You have a new sign up on the property at 2979 W. 167th St., in Hazel Crest. It reads, "Business Tie Clothier Discount Factory Outlet."
Imam Mohammed: The 167th Street space is designed for meat processing, but it will be used for a showroom and to stock samples there in the full line of products that CPC carries.
And we plan to build homes and have on display the kinds of homes with pictures there of the models that we will be building across the street from the CPC property.
Q: Imam Mohammed, we know you put a lot of time and effort into the development and establishment of the Collective Purchasing Conference. What have been the challenges you've faced with CPC?
Imam Mohammed: The greatest challenge has been depending on people without experience, to have people with experience come into the employment in the different areas of need. The next has been that we are a poor community, and financing our plans is difficult. We need financing. But I see relief coming.
We are getting more professional people in the community who are true believers and who believe in charity. They are donating more to The Mosque Cares. We also are seeing an increase in investments; 90 percent are coming from business persons.
Q: We often talk about the African American community in general as being a community of consumers and someone else's market, not a community of producers. We see other people of other ethnic groups come into the African American community and set up stores and do business and then take their revenue out of that community back to their won. Will CPC impact this reality?
Imam Mohammed: I hope so. If not directly, I hope it will be with material progress and with the influence to improve the morale of our people in the neighborhood and to attract more of our educated people and qualified people to go into business and make a success of it.
I think our effort will be a big influence in bringing about progress.
Q: You announced the close out of accepting investors in CPC and the opening for investors into a property development venture. What is this new investors' effort?
Imam Mohammed: It includes everything that we will be doing in real estate, including the homes. We haven't registered the company yet, so this is very informal right now. But once we have registered the name, it will hold and represent our real estate holdings.
We will publish in the Muslim Journal an announcement for a business
meeting, when it is ready.
Q: Imam Mohammed, you recently attended a CPC Conference in New York City. Tell us about it.
Imam Mohammed: Both the CPC Conference and the Seerah Conference were occasions well responded to in a very surprising way. I didn't expect the interest to be so strong there, regarding the future of CPC. There were some concerns, and I think we were able to remove all of their fears.
At the end of the meeting, there were high spirits in the audience, and everyone was pleased. Imam Izak-El Pasha was an excellent moderator in interviewing me. He came across as a TV star, and he won over a lot of his people in accepting him in a much better way. I mentioned his name, and the response from the audience was impressive.
When I addressed the role of the Prophet to the audience, that too surprised me in their response. They were spirited; their eyes were bright.
Most of senior members seemed strong and healthy. They were perhaps in the age range from 55 to 80 or 90, and they were getting to where they knew I would have to pass by them to get to the exit. They wanted to greet me. I got a chance to shake their hands, and their comments were, "Thank you, Brother Imam, for what you brought to us."
One of the things that moved them was my statements that most of the Muslims of the world, not just from our association, but from around the world do not know our Prophet.
They see him in a very small picture or in a small focus. I talked about Prophet Muhammed's interest in business and how he was a businessman, before G-d gave him the Mission of Messenger of G-d to the world. I mentioned that, but that was a small focus.
If we understand the Prophet in Scriptures, in the Qur'an, in the Injil and in the Torah, we will see him as a world figure bringing about a new perception of the global community and the handling of natural resources. He is the one bringing us to a global economy and just system.
Q: Before we close, Imam Mohammed, we see that The Mosque Cares is the sponsor and host for this year's Savior Day Observance to be held in Detroit, Mich., at Cobo Hall. What are your objectives in holding an Annual Savior Day observance?
Imam Mohammed: Our problem in Detroit is that we have not had people there who could finance these events. So The Mosque Cares is the sponsor and the host.
We know of two or three brothers and two or three sisters there who will be used as ushers to welcome the guests in to their seats, but we are bringing our people from Chicago - our own ushers - to meet the guests and see them to their seats and to see that they are comfortable.
The Savior Day theme is explained by two quotes from Qur'an. I have separated the two quotes to indicate that they are from two different verses in the Qur'an. It is: "Save yourselves and your families from the fire..." and "From a fire whose flame leaps over the hearts of the people."
I understand that to be the flames of the wild passions that have caused people to become detached from real human interest and from obeying G-d.
I will address the need for us to control our passions and to purify our passions and our love for things, our hunger for life and for the flesh, our hunger for things in the world that are destroying us.
It is not only African Americans with these problems, they are problems for people in the world high and low.
Q: Thank you, Imam Mohammed and a blessed and happy New Year.
Imam Mohammed: Thank you.