Historic Atlanta Address: Part 5
Imam W. D. Muhammad
With the Name Allah, (In the Name of God) the Gracious, the Compassionate
A strong Muslim is supposed to be a supervisor in the life of a weak man, or a weak woman. When you see a brother going into the street ignorantly getting himself in trouble, don't you know if you are strong and you have knowledge, you are supposed to grab him by the hand and say, "Brother please don't disgrace yourself like that"?
There is in Al-Islam the best form of democracy. Prophet Muhammad (peace and the blessings be upon him), was receiving at that time Divine Revelation straight from God. But on occasion he consulted the people in the community before making decisions.
There is a saying that Prophet Muhammad pointed at the moon and the moon split and in its place stood a mountain. What is the moon? It's symbolic of prophecy, symbolic of the priesthood — done away with the priesthood.
Can we go directly to the prophecy? Each one of us has become an interpreter of our own, independent in our own right.
"Brother, I read the Holy Quran for myself." But you have a leader. If you are more capable of reading than the leader, you come and be the leader. Each one of us should read it for ourselves, but we should respect our leader. The priesthood is done away with, but there is a mountain representing power and authority.
Who is the authority? The authority is the people. God gave us a democracy and the authority is in the people, not one of them, the majority — the majority consensus.
The scholars say this is the third authority in Islamic justice. First is the Quran then, the life of Prophet Muhammad, then comes Ishdima, the mind of the majority of knowledgeable people.
If the majority knows nothing, then that's a bad majority. But in a society where we speak openly, the majority are educated. They know the rules and regulations of this community if they have been here for some time.
Whenever the Imam gets out of line, he has to respect the charges, the complaints of the people. If he will not yield and follow the way that is right, the people have the power to get their bags and go. Let's remember that. There is no dictatorship in Al-Islam. I can't dictate to you unless I just mouth the Word of God. Whatever I say outside the Word of God or the life of Prophet Muhammad, you can take it or leave it.
I have speeches from three years back, stacks of speeches; you can take them all and burn them up if you want to. But obey this Book, follow God's Messenger and respect the will of the majority in this community, that's all we ask. Isn't that an easy democracy?
Concerning Islamic justice, I'm asking you to take this position: if the Imam or complaint officer or treasurer, or none of the officers of your masjid or your community checks violations against Islamic morals, get together and the whole masjid rise up and demand that Islamic morals be respected.
No fornication! We don't want young brothers sneaking into our houses, going with our daughters while we are away from home. We don't want our daughters tempting young brothers or inviting them to get into trouble.
Tell your young people, "Son, you are a man. You are growing into manhood. If you want to live with respect, you are going to have to be able to be a father to the life you put in a woman. Can you pay to keep a wife now, son? Can you provide for children like I'm providing for you? If not, don't bring this on yourself and become a disgrace and have to walk away and leave your manhood crying behind you because you can't bear the burden you brought on yourself."
Talk to your children, they understand. I know because I talk to my children.
I don't tell my son not to mess with a young girl because it's nasty. It's not nasty, it's clean and it's good. I tell him not to mess with her because you are not ready yet to accept responsibility for what you might do.
That's what you should do, talk to the young men, talk to the young girl and let her know that the young man can commit the act and disappear, but when she begins to grow, it's hard for her to disappear.
There is a greater burden on her. He knocks on the door and says let me in. She doesn't have to let him in. Sister, if you have a superiority over the man, this is it. You don't have to get into all that trouble. The young man gets in trouble, but it takes something to get you in trouble, and all you have to do is keep him at his distance and you won't get in trouble.
I have heard our late leader, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad say this: "Where there is no decent women there can be no decent men." I believe that.
Sister, don't you know you are the teacher of both men and women. Every man that is interested in a woman was first taught by a woman. Every man that approaches a woman has in him a natural respect for woman. If you come out strong against him, the average man is going to back down.
He feels like he's abusing his mother. If he doesn't see his mother in you, he doesn't feel like that, but if you straighten up to him like his mother, show him your female dignity, show him the strength of your motherly fibers, that man just can't get up the nerve to take you by force.
If you look like you're not his mother, if you look like that little thing he's been playing with, he can just go overboard.
We need you sister, that's what I'm saying. I'm not talking to hear myself talk. I'm crying desperately, we need the sister! We need the sister to make this society give us our manhood back. We need the sister to save our young children. We need the sister to protect our morals. Without her protection, brother, we have a hell of a battle on lour hands. We need the sister to stand up and be a mother.
Single sisters, you should be a mother. When you see the man behaving wrongly, straighten him up by letting him see that you don't stoop to his ugly, vulgar appetite. Straighten him up! Don't you know this society can be saved by you?
Pretty soon they are going to be attacking us more and more: "The Imam is telling the men they can beat women. With all of this brutality we have he's telling them they can beat the women." They are going to be coming to you sisters to see how weak you are, to see if they can pull you away from Al-Islam.
Sisters, be soldiers. Tell them, "I want my man's dignity back. I want a strong voice of authority in my house so my children will be raised properly. If God has said the man can strike me lightly, I accept it. If God has said the man is to go in front in the public life, I accept it."
That's not taking anything from you sister. We are not saying, if you are a qualified person intellectually you can't exercise your talents. We are not saying if you are a business genius or have business ability that you can't engage in business.
We are not saying you can't be an educator, you can't be a scientist. We are not saying that you can't be a doctor, a mathematician or whatever. We are saying leave the masculine role to the man and you keep the feminine role, that's all.
Why is it necessary for us to always have a man to lead the congregational prayer? To show us that when the society comes together, in a public environment, the man who is physically stronger than a woman should be in front.
If the community is attacked and a woman is in front, will she lead the battle and then the men have to come up and get in front? "Hey! you men come up here and lead the battle." They should already be up there.
It takes nothing from a woman. In her nature, the woman is proud to see her baby standing in the front line while she is sitting behind with the women. "That's the boy I raised, look at him shine." The woman is proud to see her man stand out front and speak to the world. "Look at my baby speaking to the world, telling the world, 'Obey God.'"
Nothing pleased my mother more than to see me standing before the congregation speaking as a minister of my father, preaching and defending what he stood for, defending the life she stood for.
If you had asked her, "Sister Muhammad, don't you think a woman should be able to have your son's position?" she'd have said, "What's wrong with you? Are you crazy or something? That's my choice." Yes, my mother chose to have me lead. She didn't choose to have Sister Ryah or Sister Ethel lead; she chose me, the boy. That's the mother's nature.
In the public life, we have the male. If this were a Muslim country, should we have a female President? No. The President should be a male. If the woman has something to offer the President, it's knowledge. If it's not knowledge, it's moral or some other kind of advice or the support of her femininity or her motherhood or some other experience that she has. What can she offer him except that?
Even in a Muslim society, if the thief steals something, you don't have to cut off his hands although the law says so. You weigh the matter. Maybe it doesn't call for the cutting off the hands.
In this society, you have a lot of things to consider. So who will start chopping hands in this society? No, you start from a different way. And once the society is conscious of the seriousness of the crime you can give more severe punishment. But shouldn't we have some punishment?
In Chicago, a brother was accused of stealing from the bakery. Before he committed the theft, I had already said, "If anybody steals from us in the future, that person is to be brought before the body, exposed, and a picture of them be put in the Bilalian News." Do you think it was done? It was not.
They won't do it because there are people around who are not here for the future of Al-Islam. They're around to keep drawing a check or to get into a position to get a check or more than a check. They're not around for the future of Al-Islam. If they were around for the future of Al-Islam they would have brought him before the community right away and said, "This man is guilty of stealing."
Imams, you have to do your job. Then the Imam would question the brother, weigh the crime and give him the just punishment. But no, no one brought him up. I had to tell them about the two people who helped him commit the crime. They were not members of the community. I said, "Well, they were working for the community business, put them out of the business." They left them in the business. Doesn't that tell you something about the minds of these people? Leaving thieves in the business and leaving a Muslim's theft unexposed.
My conduct was questioned, and right away they brought me before the Court. I had to go before the Review Board to answer for a decision I made. It didn't take them any time to get me before a Court, but people steal and they don't bring them before the Court.
I was brought before the Court for using unorthodox methods to catch a thief. I caught the thief and got him out of the way so he wouldn't rob us anymore, but I used unorthodox, improper methods. So they brought me before the Review Board. They had their right to do it. I accepted it. I would go before the Review Board any time they call me because I believe in respecting the society and answering to the charges against me.
But where is that thief that walked out of the bakery that's not making money? The bakery that we're keeping open with money out of our community until it is strong enough to take care of itself — where is that thief who stole from our poor community? That thief is out there going on as though he committed no crime.
He should have been brought before the body. If they can't find him, bring a picture of him. If you don't have a picture of him, give his name and describe him to the best of your ability and let the people know this man is not to be trusted anymore, he is a thief. I don't want to cut his hand off.
In fact, if the brother really is a poor man and suffering, maybe we will just give him a warning and find some way to help him improve his life. If he has some get-up about himself, if he wants to work, wants to do something, maybe we will give him something to do.
But if he is a thief, we want to punish that thief. The thief s hand is to be cut off. If we weigh the case and find there is some excuse, we don't have to cut the hand.
The adulterer is to be flogged, whipped in the public. In this society, we don't have to do it, but the least expected of us is to expose the adulterer. The public flogging is to expose them and to embarrass them. Islam doesn't seek to inflict pain.
If you study the spirit of Al-Islam, if you would have studied the spirit of Islamic justice, you will see that it is not to inflict pain. The spirit of Al-Islamic justice is to operate as a deterrent, as a check by exposing the thing publicly so others won't follow the same bad path. This is the spirit of Al-Islamic justice.
We don't have to cut hands; we don't have to flog people. In fact, I ask you not to cut hands, not to flog people, but to bring them before the congregation and expose them.
If they commit a crime serious enough, get a picture of them, and send it to every masjid so every believer will know the face of that person and know their crime so when they come among them they know they can't be trusted until that person has repented and established a record of living the good life for years.
If that person has established a record for living a good life, after three or five years we will forgive him and even accept him to perform some job or to hold some office or position.
But not overnight, 30 days, and here he is in a position, or after a year, here he is in a position. It depends on the seriousness of his crime.
Are you for Islamic justice? I'm telling you what we have to have. I told you earlier, I only make requests. You don't have to accept them, but if you don't accept them, that's where we part. I go my way and you do what you want to do.
We've got to bring these people before the congregation, let them be known, let their crime be known.
You know what I was told once in Chicago? — "Don't you think it will do more harm to the family if you expose that person?" It's not my authority. I don't have the authority to question God's justice.
"Oh, if they know that... she would be so ashamed. If you bring that poor little child out there and let the public know what she's done, she will never be the same again," I was told. I hope she won't be the same again.
We have people here with that old permissive, crazy psychology from the devil. "Oh, that little girl committed adultery. She's got a baby, and the boy deserted her. Don't bring her out there and shame her, she will never be the same again."
She did wrong. What about the other girls? Are we going to let her go so the other girls will follow her? Maybe we will lose this girl. Maybe this girl will walk out and never come back to the community again, but the justice will check the other girls. Don't we care something about the other girls?
If it is my daughter, bring her forth. I brought my daughter forth. I didn't hold her back. I brought her forth and she holds it against me right now. I don't care. Justice — protecting the good life of our community is much more valuable than my daughter.
You have to be strong to have a strong society, and the strength is in obeying God's Word. We are too weak as human beings.
What did Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) say when the question came to him about someone being given the justice for theft? He said, "If it had been my own daughter, I would have cut her hand."
What about us? Are you going to let these people go because you don't want to shame the daughter, because you don't want to shame the family, because you don't want to stop the theft? Pretty soon you'll have to go to the morgue and get your son. Do you want this savage way or the Islamic way?
We have an opportunity to influence change in America and in American justice. They are not going to stop us, they love what they see among us. Even under the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, they praised and admired the stand that we took in protecting the morals of the women and the community, and punishing offenders by sending them out of the community.
They loved him for it, they praised him for it. They were weak, but they admired strength. We have the opportunity to influence a healthy, real change in this country.
We don't have to chop hands, chop heads, flog people to death, but bring those people up before the community and let the community know that we don't tolerate this, that we love the Islamic order of our society and we are not going to let it be destroyed by hot pantsed men and women or boys and girls or thieves!
If any one of my children breaks the law, give them the law. I thank you for it. If I'm around, you don't have to give it to them, I'm going to give it to them. But if I'm not around, I hope you will protect our interest and give them justice. March them right up before the congregation, expose them, give them the same punishment that all of us are supposed to get if we break the law. That's the way we have to live, Sisters and Brothers.
This world is after destroying all of us, and what's behind it all — ? Money! You would be surprised how people will go into wickedness just to keep the money coming in.
You have heard money is the root of all evils, well, it's not the root, but I believe that it is the stump. Under the stump is the Jahcubite plan, but right next to it is materialism — material greed. They'll sell their mama out, they don't care. They will slaughter an innocent people, they don't care. Demoralize a whole nation, they don't care. They just want the money out. We have to save ourselves.
Allah is the perfect being. Allah is all righteous, truthful — no imperfections in Allah. Allah is Supreme and Perfect without any imperfections.
O Allah. Make us of those who purify themselves and of those who repent, and guide us in your path. Amen.
Peace be to you
Your brother in service to Allah,
Wallace Deen Muhammad
(To be continued)