America's Growing Moral Concern
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
With the Name Allah (In the Name of God), the Gracious, the Compassionate.
(Editor's note: Following are excerpts from Imam Wallace Deen Muhammad's lecture at the Jackson State Prison (Mich.), March 31,1971.)
We are living now in a very good time for America. A time when moral concern is growing again in government and in the private quarters of American society. A few years ago, moral concerns were ignored and it seemed as though our free world was going to be given to a criminal authority that would finish us off. By that I mean take all our morals away from us and just give us to the destructive forces in a wild, immoral society.
But God blessed us to come into a new spirit. The evils that were growing in the society stimulated a new thinking and provoked a new kind of interest in the community life. Because of that, we now have a moral figure in the President of the United States. We have moral concern being voiced by leaders in government and also in private life.
This is a great change that offers anyone who wants to do something about the conditions of human beings an opportunity to do something.
I'm sure that most of you are acquainted with the Islamic teachings of the World Community of Al-Islam in the West. You know we believe the individual to be the most important thing in society. The community is nothing but an extension of individuals, so what happens to the individual will eventually happen to the community.
We see the dignity of individuals as the most sacred thing in society and we identify what we call the individualities of the individuals. We have our versatile individuality but we also have an individuality that is universal. We give the attention that is deserved to the individuality of the human being.
This has been called the privacy of the individual. Some people loosely say "soul" — the human soul — and some refer to it as the internal life. None of these terms really does justice to exactly what we're talking about.
We have heard a lot of attention given to the need for more respect—to the right of privacy. Not privacy in the home but privacy of individuals. We have seen many writers and speakers address the problem of the individual's loss of rights to privacy.
They have pointed to the snooping devices that are used to get into the individual's private life.
Well, that's not exactly what we're talking about. An electronic snooping device can pick up certain little things about me perhaps that no one has the right to know, but there's something else; there's another invasion, an intrusion upon the privacy of the individual that comes in and influences: influences of suggestive language—harmful influences in the society, disco life and all the other influences—are finding their way into the privacy of our own being. These influences have a way of dominating the development or the growth of the inner person.
They have a way of altering the functional life of the inner person. They have a way of changing the normal movement of thought and spirit within the individual and the result of this is that we lose our individuality.
I'm talking about universal individuality—losing our human universal individuality; we lose our human power. We lose our human identity. We lose our individual freedom.
It takes a long, long time to clear up this problem of preserving the human individuality. This whole universe is one big creation and the human being is a part of this creation. The human being fits in the context of the whole universal creation and has his unique special individuality. A thing is safe, secure as long as it keeps its original nature, its original pattern or design. Once it loses that, it's not safe anymore, it's not secure anymore.
Once we lose the individuality that God created when He created the human being we are subject to be manipulated, to have our minds manipulated. We're subject to have our nature altered and become victims of those real criminal elements that will exploit the weaknesses of individuals, the weaknesses of human nature.
This has been done successfully by materialistic world powers that go back thousands and thousands of years in the history of the human society, the history of civilization. They have done it successfully by hoarding the knowledge of the individual's true nature, by keeping the knowledge of that true individuality from the masses or from the many in society.
A select few having that secret knowledge have been able to manipulate the thinking and the nature of society, of masses, to make you spiritual this year, materialistic next year; to make you a sex fiend this year, to make you a hermit or an ascetic next year, shifting you back and forth from extremes to satisfy the material needs of what is needed today.
So any time the human spirituality presents a problem for wicked people who have been influencing life and hoarding the knowledge, all they do is just shift the thinking, shift the nature, shift the spirit to another position where they can come again with the same trick and produce the same kind of human weaklings—sick, sedated, noise-crazed human beings.
What we have to do as responsible people in the society, Muslim or not, is identify the individuality that God created.
How many people know the individuality that God created? We think of ourselves just as human beings, but what have the words "human being" made us? Little or nothing—an animal that thinks of himself. That's not enough—we have to know more about ourselves.
God has made us something very great. He has shaped us, and given us the best design. But if we don't have that knowledge and preserve what God has made us, we can become the lowest of the low as God tells us in the Quran.