"An Islamic Formula for a Successful Life": Part 3
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
Editor's note: This is the third installment of Imam W. Deen Muhammad's Los Angeles address.
When it comes to a whole lot of people, a whole group, the masses, black, white, green or whatever color, when it comes to these big groups of poor people, they will point out the fact, but they don't point to the fact until after one of the poor have already called the attention of one of the members of his own lot to the problem They weren't talking about the poor self-esteem of blacks, until (Marcus) Garvey, Frederick Douglass before him, Drew Ali, and many others did and especially the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, they weren't talking about it until they made the point, that the black man has been derived of a comfortable self-image. That he has been told lies about his own individual human worth. And that has to be corrected if the black man is to meet the challenges of the modern times, and competitive world society. It was members of our lot that told us before the social scientists, the so-called learned Western scientists came out and began to make an issue, to get help for the problems.
And believe me, no matter how sincere these people are in education, in the social fields no matter how sincere they are, they can't do but so much. Their ability to help the masses, is greatly limited. They will spend on individual problems, but they will not spend significant amounts on satisfying the problem of the masses.
And if they start to spend to correct t he malfunction in the masses, (and I'm not talking about blacks only) now, the masses-the uneducated, the un-established, the uprooted, that's who I'm talking about. If they spend they will not spend, and if they spend, there will be right away, a counter-movement against their spending. And that movement will be secretly spending to undermine what they are trying to accomplish. I said 'secretly': you won't be aware of what's happening. All of a sudden you've got freedom that you didn't have before; all of a sudden they are promoting liberty on your part that you didn't have before, you didn't dream of, you were even afraid to think of, telling you that you can freak off, and do whatever you like. That's to take the masses away that need help, that come to them.
Now, I'm not telling most of you anything; you know this. But, sometimes you have to be reminded, that the masses are an unwanted lot, they are only wanted in servant roles, and if there is no need for them in servant roles, they are regarded as a burden on society. Now, am I saying this to excite you, to rile you, to make you become dissatisfied or angry, with the Establishment? No! I am saying this to get you to see that you must be responsible for yourself, and whatever help comes to you accept it, if it comes from clean hands, accept it, be grateful to God and be grateful to your fellow man. But don't depend on that — for great help comes in seasons, but you have to live throughout the year. And my religion tells me, that I should direct my attention to a blessed tree, whose fruit comes in every season, and that isn't the world. The world's fruit is seasonal. You remember the seasons of (President) Kennedy, and the season of President Johnson, and now you are in the season of President Reagan. So you know something about seasons don't you? And I think the Christians say, there are those who can read the face of heaven, but can't read the signs of the seasons.
They can look at the sky and say it's going to rain, they see the clouds up there, and they believe most likely, that those are rain clouds, so they say it's going to rain, and they see the winds blowing the clouds, they say it's going to be fair weather. But they can't look down here where everything is happening all around them, and say hey, it's winter in June (laughter).
It is important to know that Scripture will focus on man as an identity, which is the answer for the identity conflict and identity burden. The Scripture focuses upon man's identity as universal man, as common man. Now we know our identity differs depending on the interest we give ourselves to. We even identify a person as a mailman, but that identity of his is not as important, not anything consequential as his identity as a creature who is a member in the material universe, and has a role, a purpose and a destiny, in that reality. That definition is much more significant, much more important for the human sense of well-being, sensor of direction, sense of purpose in life, than the simple identification of him as a mailman. But the mailman — that's an identification, isn't it? He's a mailman. See, some of us think that the identity that the traffic cop wants is the important identity; he's Negro, he's black, you're burly, or you're frail. 'I'm black and burly or I'm black and frail; I'm black and homosexual, I'm black and gay,' whatever. I'm not making jokes; I'm very serious. Those are the silly identities that we live with. Tm black and female, I'm black and masculine.' An ape is masculine — more masculine than you. He'll take your pants down. That ape is bad, tough, real burly. So that's not the identity that you should be proud of.
I'm on my topic, "Islamic Formula for a Successful Life." The first step towards being successful is to see yourself, for the moment you see yourself, according to the Prophet, (PBUH), you know your God. How can man know God and not know himself? You have to know yourself first, and you know yourself by looking at yourself in the cosmic reality. "Oh, what is he talking about, cosmic reality!" Look. Matter is continuous, there is a continuity to matter. Matter has a unity, matter has a sameness, matter makes up one family of matter. Stars and all the bodies and things in the universe; you are a citizen of the universe. You were a citizen of the universe before you became a citizen of Africa, or a native son of Africa; you were a citizen of the universe before you became a citizen of the United States; you're first a citizen of the universe. Your identity begins in the universal reality, and that's where you find your essence; that's where you find your nature. God says He made man and patterned him on the pattern which He made the universe. I hope we understand it as I go on.
Allah says, with the Revelation given to Muhammad the Prophet, speaking to the Jews' stiff-neckedness, their stubbornness. that God revealed to them, that they should enter the door prostrate. You can enter the door prostrate, if you are ignorant and have been misguided, you can enter the door, prostrate, if the right picture is presented to you. What do we mean by prostrate? The Christians say it in a different way. They say. 'you cannot enter unless you come in as little babes.' God created first for us, the cosmic reality — stars, heavens, earth, all of this combined is one great endless, material reality. Now, maybe you can't be as philosophical as I can be. I heard a white man brag once, and he wasn't a high-class white man; he was a common white man — a common white man, of thought and principle, and he said in my presence: I believe he said it in my ears, but he wasn't looking at me.
I sensed he just wanted me to hear what he was saying. See, sometimes a man can look at a person, and can pretty well guess what kind of mind is in that person, and when you sense that a mind is in that person that may hear something that other minds won't hear, and you've been wanting to tell some black man that, the white man will tell that in the ear of that man, that he thinks will listen. So this white man said, 'the white man has great imagination, and that has accounted for his success.' That's what he said. You'd be surprised how help comes to people, from unexpected places.
Now, I agree with that man. Great imagination; imagination that strains itself to comprehend unreachable boundaries of this real environment, not imagination that sees what it can do unreal. See, the fools have great imagination too, but they stretch their imagination to see what they can do that's unheard of, that's unidentifiable, that has no place in the continuity of reality. They want to do something that's freaked way out, that's way-out. So their fiction is not appreciated by the critics of fiction, and they wonder 'how come, you see how they do us, man? Now you now the black man can write, man! The heavy prose, all the great fiction that we write, man. when do we get any recognition for our popular books, the popular fiction of our writers, man?' Your fiction is fictitious' It has no real reference! It's not a message of the truth' in strange apparel! It's just strange through and through! We need to know these things, so we can get our life into our own hands.
So dear beloved people, when talking about self-image, the importance of self-image for a healthy sense of well-being, the bigger picture i> the situation for the smaller picture. If you put a small picture in isolation, you are in trouble. But if you take the small picture and put it in the framework of the lug picture, now you've got a relationship, now you've got reality connected. Now you've got some way of defining the limiting definitions. See, the black man just keeps on going with the definitions of black. 'Yeah, black is beautiful, man.' Now, that's some light stuff to say about your identity as a race. Birds are beautiful — that's not a racial classification. 'Well, we needed that to come back from the negative things t he white man.' Well, all you can do is 'tit-for-tat".' He hit you on the shoulder, you hit him on the shoulder? That's child's stuff. He calls you ugly, don't try and prove yourself beautiful. He calls you ugly, try to prove yourself wealthy, or try to prove yourself wise; go for a bigger victory. He calls you ugly, don't go for that little shallow victor, that he's trying to influence you with, go for a bigger victory.
He'll say. 'you niggers are sure ugly,' you say, 'keep quiet, brothers, let's see if we can show him we're sure wise.' Because he'll let his daughter marry an ugly wise man, and while we are on this facet of the puzzle, you have to understand this, that all white people are not beautiful. Now, they know that. When the white man thinks of himself as the ideal race, with the idea of beauty and all that, he's aware, that some of his people are hideous. He knows that some of his people are so ugly that if he met them at high noon, he would be afraid. He knows that! But lifting himself up. as the ideal picture of man's beauty, has influenced you to think, that he ain't ugly! Sure, white people are beautiful, but white people are also ugly, with all their straight hair. A straight-haired orangutan doesn't make him beautiful. But some straight-haired blacks think that they are OK, that they are beautiful just because their hair is straight. Some are so ugly that they should be apologizing every time they see somebody. But his hair is straight, so he's not even conscious of it — he doesn't even know he's ugly.
And some old brainwashed victim of the white man's psychology, from the women, she'll be fine, she doesn't see anything but his straight hair. She'll have a baby and the baby will be born bald-headed, and ain't nothing there but the orangutan, and she's ashamed for people to come over 'and see my baby' because she married a head of hair.
So in order to work safely with any concept, you've got to see that concept in it> reality. And it is the cosmic concept that has given birth to every other concept— every animal, every plant, human being, body, every stone, every crystal. forms in the concept of the cosmic world.
The white man has that understanding; he makes fiction and he pictures his heroes as cosmic heroes. They don't have United States citizenship. They've got a citizenship in a cosmic galaxy. Now you tell me that hero's concern is as small as yours? No, your narrow picture of your identity makes you very small. Allah says, 'O man, think not that your reality is bigger than the external reality.' He patterned man's life and His reality on the order of the universe. You have universal disciplines in your nature, in your being by nature, and it is those universal disciplines that account for your well-being. If you lose those universal disciplines, you will lose your sense of well-being.
So we need the big picture in order to identify the small one, to find the place for the small one, the value of the small one.
We need to know the role of matter cosmic reality in order to appreciate the role of man. And Allah says the heavens, the stars, the moon, all of those things glorify God. all of those things conform to His purpose, all of those things conform to His will, all of those things follow the nature and aim that He gave them. And for that reason, they remain; their function is preserved for them, while man is constantly losing his function as the excellent creature that God created him to be.
Racist views of ourselves did not come to us from common, natural man. It came from man who gained the feel, the insight, the feel to confuse reality, and pass on pride to the fools that he himself pretends to buy, but does not buy, but only-sells it. If you think racist America was able to achieve the greatness that America achieved in the last hundred years, you are yourself ignorant. It was not racist America that achieved that, no; they used racism as an excuse to keep you out of the competition, to keep you fighting them in a battlefield of nonsense. "What the heck difference do it make if you white or I'm black" or "I'm superior because I'm white - white is better than black" and then we're going to counter, "I'm black and I'm better'n you." "Your skin burns in the sun; mine doesn't. You get sun rash, I don't." And when they come back, they talk about you.