Community And Personal Advancement: Part 4
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editorial Note: The following text is a continuation of Imam W, Deen Mohammed's public address given in Cleveland, OH on November 20, 1988.)
We have a very small vision of what is important for man compared to what Allah can reveal. What we see in our small vision of importance as bettering the life of man is nothing in comparison with what Allah has revealed.
We have had men to come up saying things in the name of themselves, when they were actually borrowing from and robbing scripture. They would make us believe that they were coming straight and strictly from their own separate and independent resources. They were not! And I am now referring to the best things that man has been able to give man. That will include the sciences, themselves. Man did not come into those sciences alone or independently. He came into those sciences after revelation came to him.
We have a model to work with. I don't say this and have no proof. We have a model in a man that was uneducated — Muhammad the Prophet, peace be upon him. He is called the unlettered in history, and this history is not just by Muslims. He came from no institutions of higher learning. He was not tutored by any learned and bright intellects of his day.
It was Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who received revelation from Allah called Qur'an. After receiving Qur'an and giving it to others, in time his society, his community that received that revelation from Allah became the spark for setting the fires for science and to light the intellect for the whole world. This is history. There was a model.
The jahiliyyah Arabs of that peninsula, the area then called Hijaz, had no scientific achievements before Qur'an. They had no real dignified political achievements before Qur'an. They had hardly any achievements at all before Qur'an. They were called people of the Dark Ages or jahiliyyah, which means uncultured and ignorant society. This is the term in history for that society. But after Muhammad came with the Qur'an, the Word of Allah, then they came into great moral life, great spiritual life, and a great sense of civilized community.
In time this community then became the factor for exciting the intellect and also the appetite for science in the West. This is a fact of history. And that tells us something. That here is a model in Muhammad in Al-Islam. Now you can say in response, you can tell me man brought science and civilization by himself, but there is a peninsula of people in history, who had not that at all. And civilization and science came to them after Allah's revelation.
Marxism is the great theory of material dialectics and contradictions for man, of social conflict and material destiny. These are great ideas in Marxism. But they are nothing but distorted conceptions of what Allah had revealed to his prophets taken out of context, beat and twisted and distorted a bit. But have these ideas proven to be as valuable to man over the long run of life as the Qur'an or as revealed religion? No, they have not. And we see a decline of that ideology's popularity right now in our day and time.
I have not been picking on the Honorable Elijah Mohammed in this talk; he is just one of many men who have stood up and offered something to people in his own name. He offered a blueprint or economic plan for the black man. I am not saying that he was like Marxists, for he was not an atheist and not a Communist. He did not say, "Allah has nothing to do with this." But he did say, ?This is my plan.71 He didn't say this is the Qur'an's plan and this is based upon the Quranic idea. He said, "This is my economic program. This is my blueprint for the black man." So, in saying that, he offered something of himself. I saw back then that he could come from a much stronger position and with much greater help, if he had come directly from Qur'an, itself.
I don't think that I am the only one who saw that. I am not singling myself out; I'm talking about myself for I know myself and what I have experienced myself. I'm sure that there are others among the Honorable Elijah Mohammed's followers who also sensed that the best help could have come directly from the Qur'an. But you were in the same situation that I was in back there. You were crippled or had your hands tied. Your mouth was muzzled, or your eyes were cloudy because of the situation.
We are not crying over that. I'm happy and I have learned from that experience. My experience with the Honorable Elijah Mohammed and his teaching in this society has been more positive for me, and I have obeyed this religion without an interruption. I must repeat this, that my obedience to this religion is without interruption. My mother and my father taught me not to eat pork, not to drink liquors, not to be immoral, not to be unjust. They taught me these things in the name of Al-Islam or "Islam."
There was not interruption, for I never became despondent or so disillusioned until I had to say I was going to get a drink. I never said, "I see faults in the Honorable Elijah Mohammad's teachings, so I'm going to drink. I'm going to do anything I want." No one can go behind me or trail me from then to now or even before then, nor is there anyone who has met me that can even give a lie like that against me. No one will say, "Yes, he did stop. He started drinking and smoking." I didn't drink then, and I haven't drank. I didn't smoke then, and I haven't smoked.
If my father could come right now from the grave and say, "Wallace, give me your report." He would have to say, "Boy, you sure have been a good follower of mine!" It is because I followed the best. A man who invites people to follow him is not inviting people to follow him when he acts a fool. So you say, "Oh, you mean your father acted a fool?" That is not what I am saying at all. But certain individuals will do things that they don't want you to follow. I'm sure he had some weaknesses, some defects. But if he could come back it would not be to say, "Who followed me in that petty idea presented at the table that was so embarrassing?" He will want to know who followed Elijah's best behavior.
The Honorable Elijah Mohammed would ask, "Who followed me in being respectful of authority? Who followed me in being respectful of intelligence? Who followed me in being respectful of family life? Who followed me in being responsible for themselves and for their household? Who followed me in stretching their imagination to do something about the material condition of the poor neglected black community?"
Now if he could be the judge that I would face in the resurrection, I will have no fear of him. He will have to say, "Boy, you are alright. You mean to tell me you obeyed those laws without interruption?" And I will say. "I sure did!" I know what you have on me here lately, but you just have one piece of evidence. If you could see all of the evidence, you would most likely change your judgment. Just like misery loves company, as the old folks would say, sinners love company, too. I thank Allah that I can go before any court and not worry. For I have been blessed by Allah to love right and righteousness. I love Allah and I love His Messenger. I love the revelation of Allah, the Qur'an, I love the light it has and the direction in it. I love everything about it. I love goodness, decency, truth, and honesty. All of that, I love.
I'm a human being, and I am going to have weaknesses. But as long as I love these things with the great love that I have for them, I don't think I will ever become a criminal, and I will never be a notorious sinner. I will always be noted for repenting quickly. So let us not exalt any person above Allah. Let us realize that every person is very small and almost nothing when compared to Allah. That goes for every person, and no prophet would ever compare himself with Allah. No prophet ever did that.
The influences from the revelation and teachings of Qur'an and the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which was really nothing but the practical application of what Allah had revealed, was sweeping the whole continent and society. I have introduced that to say that our religion, although other revealed religions did the same, is the most recent of the revealed religions. It also has more history and more living examples to support its claims than any other religion. Our religion has been proven; it has been established for its benefits, for its power to affect healthy changes and a productive life in individuals and in societies.
That should give us good reason for trusting it today. Let us now be quick to say, "Well, we are Muslims and what difference does it make? Our life is no better than Jews and no better than Christians or Buddhists or Protestants, or anybody else." Don't have that kind of attitude. Look first to yourself to see if you are respecting the worth and value of your religion. You measure up to it first, before you begin to criticize it as not having the strength or power to bring about the desired change in your life that you want.
Allah has said, "Never will He bring about a change for a people until they first change the state of their own souls." If there is something in your soul that is contrary to the life that Allah wants for you, then no help is coming to you from any place, until you first become dissatisfied yourself with that bad state in your soul. Allah has given to all of us human beings ,a nature to want better, and it is not just better for our own backs and our physical homes that we live in. But it is better for the inner man and his human condition.
Allah has given all of us that nature to want better for the inner condition of the human being - man and woman. So don't fool self, but be honest with self. Our Prophet said, the best richness is the richness of the soul. And Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is not the only one who has said that. There have been other philosophers and men of great knowledge and vision who said that. We are not saying that Prophet Muhammad was a philosopher. He was a Prophet proper. But there have been other educators who have said similar things about the values of the soul.
I met one gentleman recently who was a recent immigrant from Europe, who shared with me his life story as we were traveling together on the airplane. He told me how the conditions were in Europe, which was not easy for this Caucasian in do. He said, "Do you know how come the immigrants were able to come to America and get more out of democracy than the Americans who have been in this country for generations now?" I asked why. He then said, "It is because we have internal resources. I came here poor with no wealth, but I had internal resources." Wasn't it very decent and courageous of him to tell an American this? (To be continued)