National Concern And The Success Of The Individual
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: The following article by Imam W. Deen Muhammad, who formally resigned as Imam of Masjid Honorable Elijah Muhammad in Chicago on December 7,1986, is adapted from a Ta'alim lecture he delivered on the same day. In introducing his topic, National Concern and Success of the Individual, Imam Muhammad said by national concern we have in mind nationalism and tendencies toward nationalism by not just the United States but all nations. Below is a second installment from that lecture.)
Look how hard China was ten years ago. Look how China has softened up now. So those things are short lived. But democracy lives on and on because it is human nature and life. When we go away from that, we are oppressing the human life. And it's very, very difficult.
Let us call to mind what Allah says to us in Qur'an, regarding our salvation. We know that by simply giving individuals their property — the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet — they are obligated to teach it to those that don't know. It's their properties. They have a right to it.
While we know that by merely giving this to individuals, we are not going to really guarantee the faith and the security of the society, it's going to put it in an excellent situation. But unless individuals feel themselves accountable to Allah, we'll lose it all in time.
Allah has told us that prayer accounts for our success. Never did a nation fall until it first left off prayers. That's what Allah says. So if Allah tells us in the Qur'an, that never did a nation collapse until it left off prayers, that tells me I won't collapse either, as long as I am dutiful in prayer.
And the Muslim prayer is no ordinary prayer. It's the perfect prayer. I have often thought on the words of Allah in the Holy Qur'an, which says eight holds up the throne. That's mystical, and I don't claim to have the last word on any of the mystical questions.
I said to myself, in the ascension of the Prophet, there are eight. Because if you count from Adam, who is one; Jesus and Yahya, three; Yusuf, four; Idris, five; Aaron, six; Moses, seven; and Abraham, eight. But how many levels do you have? Seven. You have eight persons, but seven levels. There was an eighth or ninth person who ascended the seven levels, and greeted the eight persons. Eight holds up the throne.
We Must Live The Sunnah
We must live in accord with the Sunnah of the Prophet. Don't take the Qur'an and go off and live your own religion. That won't work. The order of Islamic life is demonstrated in the life of the Prophet, and the teaching in Qur'an. The way to carry it out in your personal life, is demonstrated in the life of the Prophet. That's why he was sent. He was sent to us as a Messenger. He's also a prophet, but he's known more as a messenger.
And Allah has called him by the title "Messenger" more than He has called him by the title, 'Prophet.' And He not only called him messenger, but put the servant and the title together: 'ab-dhu-hu-wa Rasoolu. His servant and His Messenger.' A man with a message is a little better than a man with a warning. Because a man can come with a warning, and no message, and we are still left in the same predicament. Many prophets came just to warn the wicked. They are not major prophets; the major prophet is the one who comes with a warning and a message.
He warns you of what can come or what is going to happen, and then gives you a message to save you. The best messenger is the one who carries out what he asks other people to do: 'abduhu-wa-rasuluhu.
His Servant and His Messenger, Allah, tells us in the Qur'an, that he has not ordered anything for the prophets that he has not also ordered for the believers. This tells us beyond a shadow of doubt that in this religion, the Prophet is not looked upon as an extraordinary human being, or superhuman person, who has a life on a plain above ours, therefore he does not have rights and privileges that we don't have.
Allah Set Limits On The Prophet
I know someone will say "Oh, yes he does, the Prophet had rights and privileges that we didn't have." Within limits, yes. Allah set limits upon the Prophet. In those areas that he was given certain privileges over ordinary believers, Allah set limits on him. There are very few instances where the Prophet had some special privilege over believers. The believers could call him to question, and they did. They questioned him and he answered them; he never said you don't have a right to question me.
What does this have to do with our subject?
If we are to be successful as individuals, we should carry the burden of Islamic life; it should not be put on the masjid or the Imam. It is on the individual. The masjid is a facility for us to come to and make our prayers together, and have Jumah. If we have community concerns, that we ought to discuss, we come here, since we don't have a government hall or special house for that purpose.
But we can't put the burden of Islamic life on the masjid or an individual imam. Because if we do, we make him something more than the Prophet. The Prophet himself didn't do that.
There Is No Priesthood In Al-Islam
There is no priesthood in Al-Islam. What does that mean?
It means that no individual in an Islamic society has better access to God than any other. "Oh, I'm going to talk to Sister So-and-So. I know that sister is holy, I know she can really get God's ear." That's not Islamic! Sometimes Allah is more ready for the words of one who is the farthest from holiness because he has been wronged and blinded and kept away from good circumstances and he is ready for the Holy's holy words.
We can't judge these matters. They are too high for us to judge. Just accept that Allah says there is no priesthood in Al-Islam. Don't look for a special man to say prayers for you. The best man to say prayers for you is your own self.
If I May Use My Imagination
If I may use my thinking and imagination, I hope you won't bring the thikr, the Sunnah and all that against me, because I know some of your handicaps. Imagine God as a father — we know in our religion, He's not a father, He's a Creator, caretaker and cherisher — but not a father, because it suggests sex. But we are using this image to bring an idea forward. Now look at yourself, and imagine there is a big family with a father and many children. Do you think that father would want a bad child to ask the good sister or brother to talk to Daddy for them? Or would Daddy feel better if the child spoke directly to Daddy?
My father nature tells me that I would prefer that the bad child speak directly to me. I don't want that child to go to his or her better sister or brother and tell them to come to me with his or her problem. Do you see how Satan has led us wrong? There is no priesthood in Al-Islam. Everyone of us has the same access to God. You do directly to Him.
The Muslim Prayer
Look at the Muslim Prayer, and how it guarantees we will not fall, as long as we keep up our prayers. Not only will the prayer guarantee that we will not fall; see, I can keep standing, but I'll stand as Wallace D. Muhammad, or Warithuddin Muhammad, in my private life, with Shirley Muhammad and my family, and you will stand somewhere else, or you will fall somewhere else.
But if you're standing or falling, and I'm standing here, we are separated and are missing something. Not only will prayer guarantee that we will not fall, but it also guarantees our unity. Allah says in His Holy Book, ("Turn you all towards this Sacred House, (the Ka'aba in Mecca)."
Can we pray without turning our faces in that direction?
We can do it, if we think we are praying in that direction. But that's the only way we can do it, if in our hearts and minds, we think we are praying in that direction. It will be accepted, because we didn't know.
But if we knowingly turn away from the direction of the Ka'aba, our prayers won't be accepted.
The Ka'aba holds a great meaning for us, it is a symbol representing the unity of human life.
What is the unity of human life?
It's only one house.
What represents the unity for human life?
When we study the history of man in society, we find that many things have brought man together: fear of environment, hunger, ambition, political ambition, many things. But what has accounted for mans coming together more than any other thing? It is his social life. Man comes together because of his social nature. It means togetherness. So man has been brought together more because of this common nature than by any other factor.
In fact, when he answers the call of politics, the basis is that social life. When he answers the call of business, the basis is that social life. So it's always there.
Allah has directed us to Ka'aba as a symbol of the unity for man's life. You can unite on the respect and preservation of that social life and as long as all of you turn your faces toward this house. Turning our faces towards it means that we make our personalities conform to it.
The Face Is A Symbol
We bring our own face, which is symbolic of our personality, to conform to the life that is indicated in that symbol.
So if we really live this religion, then when I turn my face towards Ka'aba, I won't turn my face away and have a political face show up, or a face with dollar signs on it.
The Ka'aba is not a house with dollar signs. Nor is it a house of politics. It's a house of social life, a symbol of social life in its most sacred and purest form. There are no riches there in the desert; because riches detract. There are no fancy ornaments in the house, no fancy curtains hanging on the wall or jewels bedecked in the stones. It's a simple construction.
When We Were Simple In Social Life
When we were simple and plain in our social life, we were pure and loved each other as brothers and sisters. Parents cared for their children and children appreciated their parents. The family loved the company of each other.
But when things got complicated; money, power and ego came into the picture, and the whole life was spoiled, for most of us.
So, the Ka'aba represents life in its purest and most sacred form. And as long as we make our personalities conform to this life, God says wherever we may be, he will bring us together in unity.