October 8, 1999
Imam W. Deen Mohammed Speaks in Baltimore, Md. "A Spiritual and Community Vision: Building Upon Faith in G-d, Contributing to the Improvement of Our Neighborhoods and the Moral and Financial Strength of our Families": Part 1
Peace be unto you. As we greet in Islam, As-Salaamu-Alaikum.
We wish G-d's peace be on you, and we are grateful for our presence here today, for this gathering. We are grateful for the organizers of it, the Muslims of Baltimore and for their leader who has led the way in a very, very remarkable way in correcting the image of Muslims in Baltimore and in these parts of the United States. He is a valuable leader for our future and in America. He is Imam Earl Abdulmalik Mohammed, my son-in-law.
THE NEED IN OUR SOULS
We have a need in our souls asking us to accept responsibility. And for those of us who have been trying to be responsible, that need in our souls is asking us to accept even more responsibility, so that we will be able to establish and be responsible for community structures as much as possible, without us depending on other communities.
I am speaking of us as Black Muslims, as we have been called. I am speaking of us as African American Muslims, and in particular of us as the following of M.A.S. - the Muslim American Society.
Most important among these structures that we hope to establish and be responsible for is to serve the concerns of our spiritual life and our academic interests and our business life. Soon, we hope to realize the model for our life in society. We hope to have structures built from the ground up, structures that will accommodate our needs to increase the number of our private schools and to make great improvements on those private schools that are now in existence.
We hope also to have among those structures that we will be building up from the ground social centers, Islamic theaters. That is, theaters that will give our people in the performing arts room and opportunity to express their Islamic life, their Islamic taste and their Islamic spirit through the performing arts. We hope also to have soon industry. We hope soon to have financial institutions, all built by us, produced by us and managed by us.
The primary motivation is not to have theaters for entertainment's sake or to have it for education's sake or for business' sake or money's sake. The primary motivation forming our vision for life and its future is our life of faith as Muslims - faith in G-d, which has inspired in us a new effort for the establishment of our self-respect as a group, as a race, as Muslims and in our human dignity.
FINE LEADERSHIP IN CATHOLIC CHURCH
We found a fine leadership, with particular thoughts or references to our newly formed relationships with the Catholic church through our friend Cardinal Keel-er, who introduced us to His Holiness, The Pope, and also gave us the great spiritual experience of touring The Vatican and being inspired by all the wonderful things that we saw in that environment.
We hope to join the Catholic church and its group of followers who are very special to us and I am sure they are special to the Catholic church, the Focolare led by their president, Chiara Lubich. We hope to join them in addressing the need for family life in America for the people of faith, the need to address the problem of pornography - especially child pornography. And to battle the drug culture, as the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II calls it "the culture of death."
It is for us to have a better public life and better public environment for the people of faith. All humans inherit not only the original innocence of the human soul from the first man that G-d created, Adam our Father, the father of all humanity, but we also inherit with that original soul and its original innocence, the original appetites of that soul -appetites for human excellence, appetites for the excellence of human behavior and human performance, appetites for a life of excellence and a life of plenty, not a life of want. A prosperous life.
What the soul of humanity wants as a condition for human life is this G-d-given spiritual core. For us, it is taqwa that G-d created us with. In the Qur'an, our holy book, we learn that G-d created every human being with taqwa and also with fujura, that He gave us our taqwa and our fujura. It means the consciousness that makes for a good innocent righteous prosperous life.
And He gave us our fujura; that means human nature and human interest in the things of the environment, in the flesh and the material world. He gave us both, the consciousness for the better end, the spiritual destination that He promised us, but also a consciousness to benefit from this material world.
And that consciousness sometimes, because of us straying from that original innocent life and its purpose, takes us into much trouble - seeking to please the flesh, seeking to please the material appetites. And also the ego, false pride or selfishness in us that deprive us of that good spirit that is unselfish, that is social.
In the Catholic religion, and in Christianity - I think for all Christians -you believe that G-d created you in His Image. We say that G-d has given each and everyone of us something of His Spirit. That we are created to seek His Will for us, His Direction for our life, and the purpose for our life established by Him when He created us.
And for us, obeying His Will and being motivated and inspired by His Existence outside of us and in us is something any Muslim should be aware of. But I don't think we are all aware of it. We believe like Christians. That G-d is not only in heaven but G-d is also in us, in everyone of us, waiting on us to properly respond to Him.
And over and over again in our Holy Scriptures, He says if you will respond to Him, He will respond to you and make your life a good one and give you good establishment - both in this life and in the Hereafter. This core of our existence is right in the center.
G-D'S CLOSER THAN YOUR JUGULAR VEIN
In the Qur'an, Allah says that He exists between a man - the moral life of the man - and his intelligence stream. It comes right up the spine to the head and touches all of the nerves and everything in the whole body. And you can get a little trouble in the spine - like I have right now - and it can make something numb or something itch too much or not operate correctly. It is very delicate.
G-d said to Muhammed, the Prophet (Peace be upon him), "I am closer to you than your own jugular vein," the life vein that carries the blood to the brain. So we believe that it is central in the life of ours, where G-d is suppose to always have accommodations.
The Christians say, "Open your life and let G-d in." We say, "Open your life and hear G-d where He is and where He has always been." And I think we are saying the same thing.
The environment that will satisfy humanity's soul will have its material life serve the human soul by providing the material vocal cords - I am a bit poetic - the material vocal cords, the visual presence or visual reality to the life of industry, art and religion.
Our humanity and our common soul can never be satisfied, until the industry of life has done away with the industry of death, the industry that influences us to follow the way of death. The culture of life has to do away with the culture of death. And I am also taking that expression now - the culture of death - from His Holiness, John Paul II. And until the religion of life has done away with the religion of death.
I was reading a publication that right away caught my eye, it was the Catholic newspaper that I would invite all Catholics to read. Your circulation should increase. We want Catholics to know their life and have direction, and we wish more Catholic African Americans were subscribers to that newspaper. It inspired me; it is beautiful.
It helps me and helps my life, and I am a Muslim, because it respects my life - the life that G-d created for me. Again, I invite all Catholics to subscribe to the Catholic newspaper.
There was in it an ad, and the caption was "the end is near." And my spirit felt something, because I am not with doomsday preachers. But as I read it, it was not talking about the end of our life on this earth now. In fact, it was talking about saving our life on this earth.
It was an invitation from a charity institution to have more supporters and volunteers, so that they would be able to serve the needs of the poor better. It was inviting readers, if they had old cars or trucks they are not doing anything with, to give them to this charity institution. And this charity institution would try to sell them and get some money to help the homeless, the poor, the suffering.
So I felt good after I read it: The end is near." I said to myself, "Yes, the end is near, because salvation is near." I see that as a kind of salvation. This is a time that my soul has been waiting for. .The time when good forces will be coming together from all over the world, from all of the com-munities of faith. The good forces are coming together for the good leadership of humanity on this earth. To me, this is the day of salvation.
FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY
And I tell my associates, colleagues that work with us in the Muslim American Society, that this is the day of fulfillment of what has been prophesied. The good that we were told to expect that will fill the whole earth. It won't be regionalized, but it will fill the whole earth. My soul recognizes this time in which we live as the fulfillment of that prophecy.
Cardinal Francis Arinze of The Vatican, a man whom I also have been blessed to have friendship with after I met Cardinal Keeler, recently said and it was printed in a local newspaper in Chicago, that there had not been a time before when the faith communities - Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and others - are coming together to assess the common problems facing us all and are looking for more and more opportunity to have dialogue, to have conversation with each other.
So we will know each other better and to cooperate upon our common life and common interest and common good. So that we can have a better world for all - for the good and even the sinners.
This is a wonderful time, when the Catholic church meets the heads of the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in The Vatican and in Saudi Arabia. They met. The members of Rabitat - the Muslim World League based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - met with leaders of the Catholic church in different parts of the world.
And Imam W. Deen Mohammed, a man who would have been absolutely unknown had he not been the son of Elijah Muhammad - met in The Vatican with The Pope, John Paul II, the leader of hundreds of millions of Christians existing in many parts of the world -
very numerous in my town Chicago and in your town Baltimore and very numerous in South America and the subcontinent, as well as in many other places of the world.
REALITY OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC
Do you think that happened accidentally? No, it didn't happen accidentally. Many years ago, as your minister - back then we weren't called Imams; we were called ministers and that is what the Hon. Elijah Muhammad left us with. As minister, I saw a need to communicate my intentions for our community. Because if our community is to have its aspirations materialize for it, it has to materialize in this public of America.
And in this public of America, there are more Christians than Muslims -many more Christians than Muslims. And the establishment is in the control of Christians, not in the control of Muslims. So it only made rational sense in my life for me to respect that reality and to introduce myself and our interest to the Christian leaders and the Christian public of America.
They learned of my intentions, and two fine Muslims from the Muslim Congress based in Pakistan learned of my interest and they embraced me. Bro. Hamdani embraced me and the president of that organization embraced me, and they arranged for me to meet with the World Conference on Religion and Peace at one of their annual international meetings.
I participated there and they gave me the opportunity to speak. So I expressed my desire to them, and they welcomed me. The archbishops were there, and they welcomed me.
And after that, look like the ball was rolling. Soon, not only did I have invitations from faith community leaders but also from powerful capitalists. They invited me also, and they knew that the Hon. Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam had an interest in business and in improving the material life of African Americans. They invited me to see if there was any chance we may be served by their financial institutions. And it was a very good meeting.
As soon as I was announced as the leader of the following of my father, the late leader - the Hon. Elijah Muhammad - I was visited by government leaders of the countries of Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan. They came to acknowledge me as the new leader and to assure me that they were recognizing me not just as the new leader, but as a leader who would bring us closer to the real life of Islam.
This has been a wonderful experience for me and a rewarding experience for me, and also a rewarding and wonderful experience for all of our leaders -Imam Plemon Tauheed El-Amin and all of us. We have gained so much just because of the new disposition, a new interest in us as Muslims to be included in the following of Muhammed the Prophet, as followers of the Qur'an and our leader Muhammed, the Seal of the Prophets.
But also, it is to be included in the following called the "Following of the People of the Book" -Christians and Jews, included with them as people of faith believing basically in the same thing. That we are accountable to that G-d that created us and that G-d has created us for a life of purity and excellence for good works and for good rewards on this earth and even more in the Hereafter.
So I repeat: This is a day of salvation, and the end is near.
(To be continued)