How Muslims Are To Manage Spiritual And Material Concerns: Part 4
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Imam W. Deen Mohammed gave this public address in Detroit, Michigan on December 3, 1989. It is one essential to the fine tuning of the human instrument in accord with what Allah wants for us.)
Allah says to us in the Qur'an that whoever holds on to "La ilaha Hlallah", whoever holds to the concept that there is One God Alone over everything else, that alone will bring him out of hell in time. I can make mistakes and neglect things in this life and cause a hell for, myself, but as long as I hold on to the belief that there is One God that we have to answer to, eventually that will bring me out of hell.
Believe me, I have had enough experience to say that I am a witness. In my heart as a youngster, there were times that I would be praying and my mind did not feel comfortable visualizing Allah as Fard, a man, the man who taught my father.
I would say to Allah in my prayer, "If I am not seeing you right, please help me to see you right." I did not even tell my parents or anyone else. Back then I thought that was a little bit too heavy and risky, for I did not know how they would react. As I grew older I said to myself, I bet they are thinking the same.
Then on occasions I would get to talk to certain persons whom I considered to very faithful and sincere and studious followers of the Honorable Elijah Mohammed and also loved me. Then I would say, if they love me, then they must think much like I do. And silently we would" just approve of each other. "As-Salaam-Alaikum, Brother So and So. Praise be to Allah, isn't it wonderful to be brothers! Because we know something is missing here, don't we!" It was our sincerity and our truthfulness that saved us. Allah was our God and our Protector, if you understand it.
Allah does not charge us with what we do in ignorance or with what we do without knowledge. He charges us only for what we do with knowledge. As long as the heart is sincere and truthful, Allah will stay with us until we are delivered from a burden of confusion and ignorance.
We have to manage our responsibilities, dear people, in order to be successful. Allah has given us the Qur'an and the life of the Prophet. And the Prophet (PBUH) has demonstrated to us the responsibility that we all must accept. There is a responsibility on all of us, and the focus in our religion is on individual responsibility.
Let's take this meeting here for example, if it does not come about successfully, I can't look at one person like Imam Hafeez who is very important in arranging these engagements for us. I can't look at him and say, "It did not succeed because of you." I can't do that, because if there is another one around I am going to point to that person and say, "If he didn't do it, you should have done it." The responsibility is on all of us.
Whoever is qualified in our company, the charge is going to be made against them if things don't get done. If one person does not do what's needed, then you who are qualified should sense the burden of responsibility. This religion is not closed to anyone. Whoever is qualified should guard the interest.
We do our sunnah prayers. Do you know what meaning that has for me more than anything else? For some people it only means doing what the Prophet did. That is beautiful to me also, for I love doing what the Prophet did and feel obligated to do those things. However, the real beauty in that to me is not that I am doing prayers merely because the Prophet did them in addition to the congregational prayers. The real beauty to me is that the Prophet, by this individual act, demonstrated that every sane and able individual Muslim must be responsible for leading him or herself. The one who leads in the prayers is called an Imam and is a leader. Then, I have to accept responsibility for myself.
We don't have any special prayer for the Imam. The same prayers that the Imam is taught, all of us are taught. If we have people come here for prayer, and the Imam cannot be found, any of us who know the prayers can be the Imam for that occasion. This is a religion that obligates its public to accept responsibility individually to qualify themselves to the greatest degree. Then whenever the need is there, it can be answered. The responsibility is on us all.
This is a beautiful religion and is the most democratic religion that I know of. It invites to the most democratic idea known to man and society. I can't think of one (an ideology) that is more democratic in my view of what is democracy.
This democracy that we have in the West is a progressive democracy. It has begun with one idea of freedom and rights of individuals and has brought us now to a kind of democracy we call a participatory democracy, where we are not satisfied only to have representatives but every man and woman no matter where they are in the scale of importance should have access to whatever opportunities there are in the whole country or society.
They should not leave everything to their representatives. If they can qualify, they too should make some identifiable contribution. Not only that, but also they should be represented in discussions of policy. Now we know we have a long way to go yet, but this is the direction. We are moving to where people in the general public will be responsible more and more for the life of this country, not only through their representatives, but also by their direct influence and contributions. They will be able to exercise a bigger role to influence national policy. Muslims, don't you know that is already granted in Al-Islam ? We are trying to get there, but that responsibility is already ours in this religion.
In the time of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), he (the Prophet) made the people aware of their individual responsibility to such a degree that the men and women knew no matter whether they were called "amir" or not or had a position of power or not, if they saw something wrong, they knew they individually had the power to speak out and give guidance from the Qur'an and from the Prophet and correct the matter right on the spot.
We are regularly present in something of which the importance perhaps escapes us: The Imam will be leading the prayer, and anyone in the group who knows that the Imam just made a mistake can call his attention to it by reciting correctly what was attempted. That tells us and tells the Imam that he has made a mistake and he has to correct it. What religion holds responsible the people in the congregation and authorizes the individuals of the congregation to correct the preacher should he make an error; "Wait preacher, wait priest, wait father, go back and recite it correctly."
We do not like to have interruptions in those special and most important formal meetings. However, this provision (this shared responsibility) tells Muslims the Imam's presentation and the Imam's image that he has before the people are not as important as the responsibility to state correctly what Allah has revealed or what Allah has authorized.
I am sure there are a lot of Imams who have been hurt and went home and cried like babies. They would have such great images as scholars until someone called out "Allahu Akbar", and signaled him to go back and correct his presentation. The correction might be from a man he has never seen before. It can come from someone in the clothes of the poor. Should the Imam be unable to make the correction, that same person under responsibility makes the correction.
This responsibility includes other occasions as well. This shows the important role of the individual in this religion. A lecturer has to accept that he or she is likewise subject to make an error requiring a correction. We are not to look at people and because they do not have wealth or are not looked at as scholars or do not have positions of authority and say we don't have to listen to them. The individual's authority is that he knows what Allah revealed (the Qur'an) and that he knows the way of the Prophet.
Al-Islam is religion that addresses the total life and the total needs of man and does not bring about a dichotomy or a separation in the life of man where one side is working against the other or threatening the other. We know that anytime we give ourselves to extremism, we go wrong. If we give ourselves to extremism in spiritual life, that threatens the life we want. If we give ourselves to extremism in material life, it is again a threat. In our religion all extremism is bad. Allah says guard against the extremes. Again, Allah says the devil invites (you) to extremes.
We cannot close this address without mentioning the great danger that is presented to us by Satan, himself - the devil. We have been taught that when Allah created everything, He created it perfectly suitable to serve the best conditions and the best opportunities for the human beings. We call it "Paradise". Allah created Paradise for us. And we know as Muslims what the Prophet told us, that it was Satan who changed it.
Satan changed it from delight and security to exaggerations and insecurity. He put enticements and attractions to lure man from what Allah wants. Satan made the way very unsuitable and very dangerous on the servants of Allah.
While not playing down the seriousness, we should avoid the emotional tendency to see Satan bigger than Satan's actual size. The real danger is in our misconceptions. We misconceive things and their purposes. There lies the danger for us.
We can look at the pig which is an animal that Allah says we are not to eat. Therefore we cannot raise the pig for somebody else to eat. Among Muslims, there is to be no pig for anyone. But Allah created him. If you leave him out of you, he is a good pig. He is only a bad pig when you start eating him or selling him to someone else for consumption. He is a good pig when left to the purpose for pigs.
I know such commenting is difficult for some of you, for we once made the pig more important to our health than Allah. There were a lot of you who had forgotten about Allah, but if the pig came into the picture, you were prepared for it: "Man I will never touch any pork. How in the world can anyone eat pork?" That would be someone who would not say, "How in the world could anyone stop believing in Allah?" "How in the world could the brother eat pork knowing all the trichonosis and germs in that naked big worm?" I have heard talk such as that. "I can do almost anything, man. But I don't think I could ever eat that filthy pig."
That has also changed now. That time was when we had a strong desire for moral innocence in our lives. The atmosphere has changed now for promotion of loose morals. With loose morals promoted, that same brother may now say, "Man, it won't kill you to eat a little piece of pork."
(To be continued)