Reprinted from the Muslim Journal 5-24-02 and 5-31-02
"By The Token of Time, By The Hour…."
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(The following address was given by Imam W. Deen Mohammed as the Salatul Jumuah khutbah at the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam on April 12, 2002.)
With G-d's Name, The Merciful Benefactor, The Merciful Redeemer. We witness that He is One, and we give all praise to Him Who sustains the heavens and the earth and cares for all of His creation, especially His human creation.
And we witness that Muhammed to whom the Qur'an was revealed is His noble and generous Messenger. Allah says of him, that we should salute him with prayers and with peace. Allah also says of him that he is a mercy to all the worlds: "We have not sent you except to be a mercy to all the worlds." It says to "all the worlds."
Everything that we have in Islam, from the Qur'an and from Muhammed who received the Qur'an for us, directly or indirectly addresses something that is in the scriptures that came before or is in the religious traditions of the people who had religious communities before the coming of Muhammed, G-d's servant and Messenger, the prayers and peace be upon him.
The Qur'an is all the Words of G-d, whereas other scriptures are not all the Words of G-d. We are not saying this; they say that. It is not us criticizing other scriptures. They are not all the Words of G-d through the prophets. Others came behind the prophets, and they wrote much of what we find in the scriptures.
Outside of Muslims, other scriptures carried the words and teachings of their holy people, of their saintly people, of their rabbis and priests and monks, etc., and it is not all revelation from G-d. Apostle Paul is one of the main authors of the new books in the New Testament. And it is not agreed in Christian history or in the Christian church that all that Paul received was from G-d.
We only have Qur'an that claims to be only the Word of G-d. There is nothing in there that came from Muhammed, himself. He was not able to speak those words. He was not learned in scripture and not even acquainted with scripture; it was all strange to him. It all was inspired and came directly from The Most High G-d, highly gloried and praised is He.
So Muhammed the Prophet is a mercy to all the worlds. We read in Qur'an that this was revealed to him, that he was not knowing of any of this. It says, "He had no access to any of your knowledge." This is made clear in the Qur'an about Muhammed the Prophet. It also says: "They wonder: 'What kind of Book is this that leaves out nothing small or big?'"
What this is referring to is the key for us as Muslims. To understanding the Qur'an, we have to know the context that it is addressing. Does it address every book that ever appeared in the world, when it says it leaves out nothing small or large? No. That is too much, and there is a lot of nonsense and foolishness in books that the Qur'an does not address. The Qur'an only addresses what people claim to be the Word of G-d or what people claim that G-d authorized. It only addresses that and no more.
Does G-d authorize you to do these things you are doing in the Name of G-d. Qur'an has Muhammed challenging it and addressing them. It is to make them prove that this that you are claiming is not from G-d. These are the issues that are found in the context of revealed knowledge and in the context of that which the world used after the revealed knowledge or even before, to say that "this is from G-d."
So Muhammed really comes as a Messenger from G-d to correct what they claim is from G-d. That is what Allah says in Qur'an: "This is a correction on the Books that came before."
....And a plain teaching," it continues. It comes to make it clear and very plain. In addressing what came before, "what came before" also was a plan for the future though it had not been fulfilled. It is the plan for man's future life on this planet, until the day of Judgment. That means as long as we are human on this planet, G-d has already given us guidance to take care of us.
In the early times, scriptures came to prophets addressing their local conditions, but also pointing them to the conclusion of things. So scriptures before Prophet Muhammed and teachers with those scriptures were pointing also to the conclusion of things.
They also were pointing to the signs that addressed the conclusion of things. So when G-d made man and put him on the earth as a responsible creature to carry out G-d's Will, G-d at that time inspired him to not only work in the present, but to also work for the future.
Every human being is created not to live in the present only; G-d created us with a need in our nature to wonder how the future is going to be. I have to prepare for the future. If I can't, I have to help others prepare for the future. So this is what made prophets. The "prophet nature" is in every human being born.
We are the descendants of Adam, and Adam is not only the first man he is also the first prophet. He warned his children. He planned a life for the future. But the need to prophesy grew stronger and stronger, as man lived and experienced life in his environment. The trouble for that life produced more and more seers looking to the future, with striving and straining to know: "Where is this going? How can we prepare better for what we are going to face?"
It is common knowledge that the prophet nature is in all of us. We can not say, "Muhammed is our Messenger." He is only Allah's Messenger. But we always .say that he is "our prophet." He is flesh of our flesh and bones of our bones. He is human like we are, and G-d said to him: "Say to them: 'I am a human mortal just like you are.'"
The public of the world has advanced so much in human intellect since the time of the early prophets and since the time of the last prophet, Muhammed, prayers and peace be on him. The public has advanced so much in their intellect, in the brain, in their knowledge, but we are still talking to them like the people who were in crowds 6 thousand years ago or 4 thousand years ago.
We haven't progressed our communication to our public or our religious public that respects their graduation in knowledge. That is why most of the people, nowadays, don't have much patience with the preacher. They don't care to go to the houses of worship, because the world is so far ahead of them in so many respects. The world is so far ahead of the religious leaders in mosques and churches and synagogues. The Buddhists also suffer from this.
For some reason, that I think can be explained, they think that when you say the Word of G-d never changes, I guess they think it means that the way to communicate never changes either. And that is horrible. We have to respect our public, the intelligence in our public.
If the public now can have more understanding and they are prepared to ask for more understanding, we should give them that understanding. They don't have to ask for it with their mouths, they ask for it with their attitude towards you. They ask for it in their treatment of you. They ask for it with their absence from you.
We praise G-d. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. In the Qur'an, we read the small chapter, Al 'Asr. We ask for Allah's protection from the rejected Satan, the enemy of all human beings. It begins "With the Name Allah, The Merciful Benefactor, the Merciful Redeemer," as does every other chapter of the Qur'an, except chapter 9. Then comes the words: "Wal "asr." It is translated: "By the Time" or "By the Token of Time." It also means "The Hour."
And scripture before said that one day with the Lord is as a thousand with mankind, of our life. So our thousand years is nothing but like one day with G-d. This '"asr" is not by the clock that you get up by on any given day. This is a big measurement in the time of man this hour. And it is a time of difficulty. We know from the word, '"asr." The Qur'an is powerful and rich and potent in this capacity to communicate volumes with a few words.
I used to hear, as a young man interested and curious in the scripture, that some Imams overseas took one line of Al-Fatihah and did volumes. I did say to myself then, "They don't have anything to do but waste time." That was when I was young. But now that I am older, I have enriched my own self with my studies and have entertained myself in such a heavenly environment, just with my curiosity searching G-d's Words.
I have enjoyed it so much and now look back on my young mind and young expressions I made and feel ashamed. I feel sorry and I want to apologize to those learned men who make volumes discussing just one short ayah or one expression. I know now I wouldn't be bored, and I can take "Al 'Asr" and could write volumes.
This very word is so big and broad, that it includes in its concept so much of man's time on earth, man's time in history, man's life in struggle. I could do volumes.
Where do we get the difficulty here? It says "Al 'Asr." It is a hint or play on "usr." We know that G-d says, "I do not want for you difficulty." That's "usr." "But I want that you be purified." Our flesh belongs to the animal kingdom, and there was a time for many nations when their flesh was no more than that of animals. They lived like animals and worshipped animals.
They made deities in animal forms, as gods, and they put upon their heads animal horns, because they were imitating animals as they were one of the animals. They were saying, "I am an animal with this animal's traits or appetite or bravery or cunningness." They wore things that they identified with animals that they loved in the environment.
Ancient Egypt, with its high and great civilization that they developed, chose many animals as deities cats, dogs, lions and others. So in our flesh body, we belong to the animal kingdom. And when the human spirit is out of the animal body, the body is nothing but the flesh of the animal.
When G-d said He was going to make man, the Angels said: "What will you make, nothing but that which will cause bloodshed?" G-d said: "I know that which you know not. And when I have given him of My Own Spirit, then you make sajda to him." G-d didn't say: "Well, this man is worthy of your respect. Why aren't you respecting him?" Without G-d's Spirit in you, you are not worthy of the respect of Angels.
Why should Angels respect you, with nothing but your human make up in animal body? Why? They shouldn't. You are not better than the rest of the animals. There are some animals better than you, when you take the Spirit of G-d out of man. And He says He has given something of His Ruh (His Spirit) to every man. He says: "When I have breathed into him My Spirit...." G-d is talking about that higher plane of inspiration.
There are many planes or levels of inspiration that come to man. G-d made the beautiful creation itself to inspire man. The beautiful creation alone can inspire man and aide man and assist man on the road to his own development to higher life, to more productive life. The creation, itself, inspires that in its beauty, wonderment and wisdom. It is full of messages for the intellect.
But G-d was telling the Angels that this man He created, He didn't create him to be left alone with the creation. "I created him to be influenced by the creation to come to Me, to find Me." The Artist that did this great wonder and gave this great wonder to him, created man to inspire him to come to The Artist. "And if he comes to Me, I am going to give Him of My Own Spirit. And when I give him of My Own Spirit, you make sajda to him."
G-d's message to the Angels was: "I didn't give you My world for you to serve yourselves. Your existence is to serve My man." Praise be to Allah. Muhammed, the Prophet, said that G-d in the battle did not leave you alone. "He sent Angels among you to help you to get the victory." So the Angels were made to work with man, but it is the man that G-d chose to work with humanity, with all human flesh. And Muhammed is a mercy to all the worlds.
"Wal 'asr. Regarding the Time down through the ages." Of difficulty. It is difficulty for what part of man? For his spirit. All of this is implied in this word. His spirit wants to come to rest, rest from that that is in conflict with his better nature. His spirit is the life of his better nature. Life is movement, not standing still. So our life is in our spirit more than it is in our body that can't go very far without the airplane or the car or something else.
The spirit will go beyond the conscious mind. It will go beyond even my rational senses. My spirit will tell my rational senses: "I'm out here and need you to join me. I need to understand where I am." This is the man that G-d made. This is the man I am so happy to be. I know my life. I found myself. And it is wonderful. That is where all of us are created to go. We are to go where G-d created us to go.
It is not to be hung up in this life like a cow or a dog or a cat or a snake. Those are creations much below your creation. Praise be to Allah. 'Concerning The Hour, surely mankind is lost and entrapped." He is not only lost, but also entrapped. He is lost and don't know the way out.
The first progression for this chapter began with "Wal Asr." The second progression began with "Surely, man is lost." The third progression began with "except those who have faith and who believe." Now we begin our journey back to our G-d. What is that? Is it G-d that we need to work with? No. It is G-d that we need to support our work.
We need to work with our fellow man. G-d does not need to be a laborer with us. He made us to be a laborer with one another and among one another.
So my journey back to G-d is really to get authorization for what I have to do from my G-d, because He gave me a soul that is very sensitive when it comes to obedience to my Lord. It obeyed my Lord, before it was given to me. He wouldn't even give me a soul, unless He created it in obedience. Then He gave it to me, and I was born of Clara Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad. That soul is in me and with me to influence me to go where G-d wants me to go. So first we are established in our souls and we stand up erect, spiritually balanced.
This is no material balance; man's balance is spiritually balanced, not physical. It requires the subconscious more than it requires the conscious. Man has too much to do to be thinking on standing up.
So G-d created us to have a spiritual balance in the subconscious, so we don't have to be worried about standing up while we are working. So the world walking around in the animal body may be standing up as an animal but may be down as a human being.
We have to let them know that G-d has sent Guidance to stand them up again in their soul. So when we stand up and say, "Allahu Akbar," we are standing up in our souls, righteous, obedient, with hands clean. Maybe they were dirty just a second ago, but when I put my attention on my Lord, I confess all of my faults. I tell Him: "I want my hands open to You, my Lord. I hide nothing from You. I am innocent in Your Presence. Please accept me and forgive me all my sins and make me perfect and clean before Your Presence."
You then have forgotten all the wrong. You are not thinking about the dope you sold last week to pay the bills, when you stand up in the prayer line with us. That is out of your mind. If it is in your mind, you are repenting for it and hoping your repentance is accepted.
Now from the soul, we have to move up. The soul wants us to get something, and it isn't all here where I am standing. The soul is far reaching. So the soul is making me want to move out.
If I move out, the world is not under Angels only. The world that I came down into, I am now down into it with Satan when he was just a naughty boy. Now all of this time he has had on earth, he has grown up. He was too much of a match for me even then when we were together in the heavenly regions.
Satan's disobedience caused all of us to be cast down together, not separately all together in one bunch. And he has had all this time to do his thing, and G-d said to the Archangel Jibril, peace be upon him, "Let Me show you My creation." G-d showed it to him, and Jibril said: "My Lord, how can anyone go astray in such a marvelous and wonderful and beautiful creation?"
In an instance, G-d showed it to him eons later in time and it was all decorated by Satan. When Jibril saw it, he said: "My Lord, how can anyone go straight in such a creation?" That is the creation that we are in, the one that when Jibril looked at it, he said, "How can anybody be without sin in this creation?" Satan had filled it with allurements, enticements and temptations everywhere.
So to advance with the soul that G-d gave us and with the direction that G-d put in that soul, that soul will also become conscious in man's world and is influenced to have many interests and many appetites and many objectives or aims or hopes.
But there is one that you had before your eyes fell on the world, before your ears heard the world. You had one direction, and that direction was obedience to your G-d: To take your life and your interest in obedience to your G-d, where G-d motivates human life to go.
This is the original soul, the original consciousness of the human being. Now you are in the world and conscious in this very difficult world for one to keep their obedience in. It's difficult to keep "taqwa" in a world influenced and decorated by Satan. This time is very difficult; the hour is very trying "Wal 'Asr." But it is not so difficult for those who have faith. Those who have faith are excluded; it won't be that hard on you. So faith even takes the burden of Satan off my back.
It was Otis Redding, I believe, who said these words: "I wake up early in the morning and the light hurts my eyes. Then I look at you and the world is all right with me. A lovely day...." I don't know what he was addressing, but I know I haven't found a woman to do that for me. Only the Word of G-d does that for me.
G-d is saying that faith is your best weapon against the temptations. Faith is your best weapon even against the greatest tempter, the Shaitan, himself. Faith is your key to victory on the long haul with the heavy baggage to reach your Lord. Praise be to Allah.
What is that heavy baggage? It is my responsibility to develop my life and the life of my environment. It is my responsibility to shoulder the responsibility for the whole world and the state of mankind until the end of time. This is phase number three.
Phase number four: "...Except for those who have righteous works." And their works are righteous; their deeds are righteous. We know this is scripture, and most of you come from Christian environments if not from Christian teachings. Those who come from Christian teachings know this same thing is in the Bible. G-d will not accept faith alone. You must bring Him also good works. That is in the Bible.
That is why Allah says in the Qur'an that this is a correction on the books that came previously, and it is an extended Message but first coming out of the old. It extends it, so that we can go further in the world with the new.
After G-d creates us in strong and healthy life, the Satan influences our life to be diseased and weak. So we need righteous works to advance the works that G-d wants in this world. Satan is here with his plan to defeat the works of man, to prove man unworthy to being given this honor or responsibility by the Creator. He is out to prove man wrong.
Eventually, he wants to make the world, too, to be made for G-d. But he has his own idea of how to make it happen. And listen to that and hold on to that thought. It irks Satan that man takes this responsibility on himself and keeps Satan out of it. So he says: "How can they keep me out of something I was in before they were in it. I used to lead the Angels. I am going to out think them and crucify the whole race of mankind."
Satan told G-d: "I am going to go out before them and behind them. I am going to go on their left and on their right." He was saying to G-d: "I am going to crucify the whole of mankind.' And what is "crucifying?" It is blocking, stopping, checking making static and still what should be moving for G-d.
That is why in the Qur'an, it says: "No, neither did they kill him, nor did they make him static and still. They did not give him rigor mortis." This fourth phase of righteous deeds will take us all down off the cross. Taqwa, by itself, cannot take us off the cross. The cross is static life, where you can't move.
You can have taqwa and maybe you will not move and will say: "I am justified to stand still, because it is too dangerous for me out there in Satan's field of activity." But when the spirit comes into you to do something about your environment, to work and to have righteous work established for your name, Satan has a contender. He is going to have to give up some of the territory.
That is why G-d obligates us not to just have taqwa but to also jihad. Muhammed the Prophet had been granted victory and the environment was in their hands, but we haven't gotten there yet. We are trying to get a little bit of this environment in our hands; we are making progress here in Atlanta more than we are anywhere else right now. But we haven't gotten there yet.
There is not a whole town we can show people and ourselves that we have and that we are the administrators of that town and taking care of the affairs of the people in that town all of their services are given by Muslims. We haven't achieved that. We haven't achieved what Muhammed achieved, with the help and grace of G-d, in Madinah.
Now when he achieved that, did he say, "OK, we have reached the Promised Land. Rejoice. Celebrate." Allah says: "As soon as you have completed one task, immediately take up another."
Consciousness and struggle is what makes all people great. Devotion to what they respect as having the power to support their good life, that is their taqwa for that cause. Then they have a commitment to put their energies, their bodies and their moneys into the efforts, and they become a great people.
I am not going to name any of them who come to my mind now, because we don't want your mind on the struggle of other people. We want you to just be aware that G-d created all people with this nature.
"... And righteous works." Do you know that the heaven that G-d promised to us is a promise He has prepared for workers? We are going to the Paradise, if we make it, that has been prepared for workers, "Oh, soul. Pleased and pleasing; pleased with your own self and pleased with your G-d.... Return you to your Lord. ...Enter you in to My Paradise."
This is the promise in the scriptures that came before. It is in the Bible, and here is the Qur'an certifying it again. It is certifying the faithful in good works; Paradise is made for you! "Enter you first among My Workers." Abd means more than one thing; it never meant slaves. The term "Abd" has been abused by hard task masters; it always meant servant.
Allah came and rid it of the abuse and raised that title up to be the highest title for the human being "Abd." The highest title for the human being is for G-d, The Creator, to call you His Abd, His servant.
There is no title higher than that, according to the most learned in this religion and the most upright. Also it is according to the hint in Qur'an and in the plain talk as well of the Qur'an and of Muhammed the Prophet, prayers and peace be upon him. Then as workers you can have paradise.
He says: "Therefore, enter you My Paradise." G-d has given us the steps for salvation. When Jonah finally got free of his difficulties and was on land, safe, according to the Bible, he said: "I have a three day journey. G-d has established me in my soul, but now I have to find a way to move out. And when I find a way to move out, then I have to perceive my future destiny on this earth among these un-G-dly people."
Not only am I to be established in my soul, I also am to be put on the right road. The right road is the next step for me. After the right road, I am to visualize what I am to have as my community life at the end of that struggle. Don't think this has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with us.
The minimum number we need for this Jumuah is three. Why? Because Jonah's struggle in his soul is our struggle in our soul. Once Jonah was free of the struggle in his soul, he had to establish his life on this planet. G-d created him to have life on this planet and to have a model life that would speak to others and tell them what they should make of their lives.
It should say that G-d guided this man to this model and have it as a witness, as an attraction to attract others to the right life and to the right establishment for man on this earth. There was his destiny. And as we stand up to pray, don't forget the connection.
The Kaa'ba is a sign of the connection. That is exactly what it is. Its greatest meaning is the sign of connections, and it connects that which was separated. It reconciles that which should be together and not against one another or belonging to one another. It is to bring together all parts that belong together, that have been separated and divided by the schemes of Satan.
It is a sign to bring man in unity with mankind, not just with his nation or his race or with his secret order or people of his persuasion. No. It is to bring together people with the human soul, to bring all those who belong to the soul of Adam together, so they again become one life and harmoniously live for righteousness and an abundance of good that G-d created us for.
After work, what pressure are you going to feel? The pressure of correctness. The worker will be under the pressure to be correct, to not make mistakes, to not have flaws in his work.
"... And to cooperate or mutually support the advancement of Truth." But this Truth is not a common truth. This is the broadest picture of truth. This is the broadest context for truth Al Haqq. The truth for the tongue is "sadaqa" or "siddiq." The truth for the whole life is "Haqq."
You may have a truthful tongue, but you may not be aware of reality. Reality is what is real and genuine in the nature and in the picture and in the function that G-d created for you that is Haqq. "The Truth has come and falsehood perishes." So man just speaking the truth is not enough to kill falsehood. But if he ever universalizes his truth to respect all truths that G-d created, now he is ready to slay falsehood.
"And it is of the nature to perish before Truth." Not before anyone's truth, it is before The Truth, the all inclusive Truth, the universal Truth. What happens then is the same thing that happens to the vampire, when the sun shines upon him. He disappears and becomes nonexistent.
These are steps we must take and be aware of in order to guarantee us or to assure us of success in the difficult times for the soul and the human spirit. That time will go on and on for as long as man is making history. That is why it is called by one translator as "Down Through The Ages" or "The Token of Time Through The Ages."
Satan is not going anywhere. And when you stand up in your soul, Satan says:
"Well, they aren't going anywhere, because I have the environment." So you have to have the faith and meet the challenge and know that G-d obligates you, and do not excuse yourself because Satan has the world.
The spirit of man is: "You know you can't do anything." If you invite them to cooperate with you in a great work that involves a contest with the establishment, they say: "You know the White man isn't going to let you do that." We are not asking the White man to let us do anything. We are doing what our G-d told us to do, and we don't have patience with anyone talking about what the White man is going to say.
If you clean up your act, the White man won't be in your way that much. In fact, you can clean up your act to the extent that he will not only get out of your way, he will send some of his associates to you to let you know he appreciates what you are doing. I am not only talking about holy and saintly White people, I'm also talking about those who don't pray.
Remember, G-d gave Solomon the Jinns in his army to help him to work. Allah says in the Qur'an, which is so powerful with its communication and so beautiful: "A party among the Jinns heard him and said, 'This is a wonderful recital.'" They almost got the Holy Ghost. They said: "Neither men nor Jinn should disrespect it." Jinns came to join and help him work.