Imam W. Deen Muhammad on the State of the Muslim Community
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: The following excerpts are from Imam W. Deen Muhammad's address at Malcolm Shabazz Masjid in New York City on September 16, 1984.)
Dear beloved Muslims, for the last several weeks now in Chicago on Talim day, Sunday, I have been preaching the concept of Muslim community — what the Muslim community is in concept and where our main interests should be focused. Since God has addressed us as believers, our interests should be focused on faith. God also has addressed us as a community, so our interests should be focused in community.
We are a community whose central life is faith — faith in one God, and faith in all that is established by His word. That includes Muhammad the Prophet (PBUH), who lives out the message as God revealed it to him.
IN REGARDS TO our activities, we are to think of our life as community life, and live the life of a community. That means we have to build a community.
If we don't have a community and God has charged us to be a community, then we have to build a community. But don't do it under our limited knowledge, do it under the knowledge that God has given us. Do it according to the plans God has given us.
Don't make one of us the leader for the community, we already have a leader; Muhammad the Prophet is the leader for the community. His Sunnmah is the pattern for our community life. He's gone, but he left his Sunnah with us.
We follow his Sunnah. not mine, I don't have any Sunnah. Whatever Sunnah I had disappears in the Sunnah of the Prophet, because all I'm doing is trying to follow his Sunnah.
If I have established something that is identifiable with leadership excellence, I have only done so by trying to follow, to the best of my ability, the leadership of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
IF YOU REALLY understand what I represent — what I am indeed; what I truly am — you will see that what I have done is try to live out my obligation as a follower of the Prophet. I have no Sunnah, except in the Sunnah of the Prophet. In his Sunnah, all of our Sunnahs disappear because that is what we are aiming for, the Sunnah of the Prophet. Praise be to Allah.
So, for the last several weeks in Chicago, we have been focusing on what is most essential for Muslims — number one is proper faith, number two is community.
Where do the Muslims begin with our Prophet? — Faith. What did he call the Meccans to? — Faith. He asked them to trust him. He said, you know me, I'm not a stranger — I'm your native child. The Prophet said, this is El-Amin, this is your boy.
HE DIDN'T NAME himself El-Amin; they named him El-Amin. This is the one they call trustworthy: "Look — may I say something to you at your great annual celebration?" he said.
"Yes," they said "anything. We know you El-Amin -trustworthy." Muhammad, "their boy," stands up and tells them that there is but one God.
When he broke the air, when he shocked the atmosphere, what did he ask of those people? — Faith. He knew no way to prove to them that there is one God. They had so-called logically proven that there were 369 gods.
So he said, accept what I say on the basis of my own credit, on the basis of what you have established me to be. Accept it. Accept it on the fact that I don't lie, that I am trustworthy. Accept it on faith.
Faith is something that is credible. What is that? The testimony of my own life. If I tell you this great truth, then know I am not lying, have faith in it upon what you have witnessed in my whole life.
That was powerful!
BUT THEY WERE so hardened, so crystallized in what they had believed from their forefathers — habit is strong, and the longer you are in it, the more powerful it is.
Habit is like a huge body moving with great weight. It's hard to stop. You have to start cutting off its lifeline so it will slow down. If you try to stop it too fast, it might kill you.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) risked his life, telling those people something he knew was against their momentum, against their grain, against the way they were going, but he had to do it.
FROM THAT MOMENT on, he was persecuted, rejected, scorned and lied against. The man on whom they knew no wrong, the man they knew as trustworthy and upright, the man of whom they used to sing tributes — as soon as he asked them to come out of their wrong ways, they turned. The man who was guilty of nothing, became guilty of everything.
But now, who is there and who is gone? He is there, and they are gone. Praise be to Allah.
Allah, Most High says in Quran, that no just estimate have they made of God. The foolish think they can get a plan together and defeat what God is bringing about. So Allah says, no just estimate have they made of God. They think they are dealing with something on their level. Praise be to Allah.
OUR FOCUS IS on faith, faith and community life. We are not just any community, we are a distinct community. We have a precious Muslim life to live and to guard. To do it, we need more than just faith, but the beginning is faith.
You can't get what's coming afterwards, if you don't have what's required. And that is proper faith.
Once we have proper faith, we are vessels for the knowledge that God wants us to have. That brings us to the need to grow in knowledge.
A Muslim community cannot be a good-time community. Most religions sell the common man on good-time religion: "Let's go down to service. We're going to have a good time." Nothing is said about learning anything. Nothing is said about conquering any of the problems we have in our neighborhood — just going down to the service, sister, to have a good time. Appealing to blind urges in the human nature.
It is necessary to first call the people on the basis of their feelings, until their feelings can accept or make a commitment, a bond, a pact.
COME INTO agreement on faith based on the fact that we want a good life, we want a clean life, we want a straight life, we want a secure community — secured from people robbing each other, stealing from each other, cheating on each other, sneaking into each other's homes by the back door, going with each other's wives or having their daughters without lawful contracts.
Let's come to the agreement we want first. Once you come to that agreement, then what happens?- the light of heaven shines down on you. God favors you, because you have taken the first step, you have decided to live a life of faith in God, a good life, a righteous life.
NEXT, HE WILL bless your mind to think right. Sinners can't think right. In thinking right, you will do more with a little knowledge than others do with universities and libraries full of books. (To be continued)