We Must Get Rid Of Selfish Motivations
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: The material following are excerpts from Imam W. Deen Muhammad's address to the West Coast Political Awareness Convention in San Francisco, Calif., on Dec. 8, 1984.)
As-Salaam-Alaikum. Praise be to Allah, the Guardian Evolver, Cherisher of all the Worlds.
First, we would like to express appreciation to you all, the members of AMMCOP and the Political Awareness Workshop, and those who have been assisting the effort to make this meeting here a success — the local Chairperson, Sister Majeedah Shabazz, the National Chairman, Brother Samuel Bilal and all.
WE APPRECIATE the good work that you are doing and pray Allah that He will increase your enthusiasm for good works, and multiply your good work by bringing more people who need vision, direction, opportunity to work and do something profitable, into your works.
I would like to read two verses (34th and 35th) from the 35th Chapter of the Holy Quran:
And they will say:
"Praise be to God,
Who has removed from us
(All) sorrow: for our Lord
Is indeed Oft-Forgiving
Ready to appreciate (service):
"Who has, out of His Bounty,
Settled us in a Home
That will last: no toil
Nor sense of weariness
Shall touch us therein. "
The word used here, for home, is not the ordinary word that is used for home. The Arabic word used here, this also means a house. But is used for an institution a government institution.
The word that is used for "soul" could also be translated "to establish."
We also have a word used for "touch." This word is used for the sense of weariness, toil and weariness. They will not be "touched" by the sense of toil or weariness.
NOW THIS IS quite different from the idea that some people have of the heaven or the paradise that God promised. As a young man, I got the notion that most of the Christian's paradise is a place where you do nothing — no work, just relax and enjoy heaven.
This verse (35:35) says they will not be touched by a sense of toil, and they will not be touched by a sense of weariness. It did not say that they would not be active, that they would not be toiling, but that they would not be touched by it.
It doesn't say that there will not be any cause to worry, but it said that they would not be touched by it, and that's a big difference. Muslims believe that both the conditions of heaven and hell start in this life, and God says that in the end, the final stage, we will receive it in full — but we believe that both start in this life. We sense conditions of hell and also heaven in this life.
If we please God, as we should, and strive for His pleasure, for the excellent life, then God promises us that we will not be touched by a sense of toil or a sense of weariness — toil and weariness. Most people dwell too much on the burdens of life, and they dwell too much on the hurts and the disappointments and sadness.
If you dwell on such things, you will be "touched" by such things, you will be affected by such things. The believers who truly work for God's pleasure and who look to Him for rewards for their goodness, for their excellence, will not be touched by a sense of toil or a sense of weariness.
But there is another strange thing here — the word that is used for "toil" also alludes to private interests, self-promotion, a personal share in something. We also know that this is another thing that causes us to fail in life -- dwelling too much on our personal roles or part in something.
PLACING TOO MUCH self importance into the matter is also a constant failure of too many people in life. The word that is given for weariness is not an ordinary word for weariness. The toil mentioned here is because you place too much importance on yourself.
When persons are all wrapped up in themselves — looking to see what praise comes to them or how much they are being recognized — the burdens of life for them are very, very painful. They can't be happy, because all they are thinking about is themselves.
But persons who are not working for self-promotion don't feel the burden. They are working for something bigger than themselves; they don't tend to dwell on their own particular situation or how much they are getting out of it.
I hear constantly, "What am I getting out of this? I'm not getting anything out of this..,." Well, that kind of attitude, that kind of attachment to things is what causes people to fail and miss the great rewards in life.
WE WANT TO establish ourselves and be a productive people, a prosperous people, and these motivations, these selfish motivations won't allow us to do that.
We have to get rid of these selfish motivations and identify in the group or the collective efforts. We have to stop expecting or looking for the praise to come to us as individuals.
Persons who work for self — self-credit, self-promotion tend to worry also about the future, about the circumstances. They always worry about how is that going to turn out, what's going to happen if this doesn't turn out right. They worry too much.
But if you will accept the work for the greater ends, the collective good, you won't worry that much.
Human beings can't live in this life wrapped up in himself or herself without suffering a great deal. The more we come out of this selfish mold of our own personal needs and come out into the great concerns of man and society, the better we fare in life, the better we fare as individuals.