Historical Milwaukee Speech: Part 4
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: This is a further continuation of Imam Muhammad's 9/13/87 address in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.)
God says, in our Holy Book, family has a priority before God. What does that mean? It means if you neglect your family obligations, and perhaps you took care of the masjid, you took care of a whole mosque, by yourself, but you neglected your family obligations, you neglected your family, God is going to say, look, your obligations to take care of that business, that building there, is not before your obligations to your family; didn't you read what I said in the Revelation?
That family has obligations, has a priority before God? How are you going to be any good to the mosque, or to the society, if you neglect your responsibility in your household? You're going to become a burden on the society; in a Muslim society, you're going to become a burden on the mosque. If the Imam had some sense, he'd say, stop sweeping up and wiping up and putting rugs down here, take yourself home and take care of your family.' Excuse me, please. I still have these unpolished ways of driving the point, and I'm trying to straighten it up and clean it up.
Most of the problems that we have as minority people in this country today can be traced back to our neglected homes. Many of our minorities start their first day in high school and college at great disadvantage, and we've been told this is no discovery of ours; we've been told this by the educators here in America, by the social workers here in America. They start at a great disadvantage. Even the poor families, before the spirit of decadence came in America, the majority of those poor families, non-African-American people, they wanted the home environment to be most conducive to the good future of the members of the household. You would find a drunk every now and then, but that wasn't the way of life in America. There was a strong Christian influence here in America, in the general public.
There was a work ethic. Christians believed in a strong respect for lawful employment, activity that benefitted society, yourself, your family, and the general society; involvement in work, that benefits the whole society. Christians had a great appreciation for that; so strong they almost made it a commandment from God. In fact, I think it is almost a commandment of God for many Christians, that you must have work, you must have a job, and perform honorably on that job; have respect for the opportunity to work. Now that spirit and quality in us as African-Americans, needs a lot of attention, and a lot of cultivation, because of the damage done to our fore-fathers, during the long period of chattel slavery, physical abuse in this country, that almost destroyed the appreciation, the right spirit for work in industry, in the company of the blacks in this country.
We know despite that, many of our fathers and mothers, our aunts and uncles, our relatives, they didn't let that defeat them; they didn't let that animal abusive segregated society, America, they didn't let that defeat them and the excellence in them; they kept that in them, and even though they were performing for a white man that they disliked, a white man who was a segregationist, who was a racist, even though they were doing work for him, they would do it with an appreciation for the opportunity to work and they would do excellent work even for that man who looked down on them as 3/ 5's of a human being.
They did that and many of us are products of the loins of those people, those excellent forefathers of ours. Some of them are not far behind us; my mother was such an excellent person, my mother appreciated an opportunity to labor. She would talk admiringly about how her hands hurt from working so long, doing common, cheap labor, but she was proud, at least, to be doing something constructive, to be doing something that benefited more than Clara, that benefitted other people.
So dear people, we have to understand that our religion obligates us to appreciate work, to value the place of work in the life of man; to appreciate family ties, to regard our family ties as sacred. That's what God says. God says, be regardful of God, and also of the family ties. Now maybe some other religions say that too, but I don't know of it. I know that our Holy Book says to us, be regardful of God, and also of the family ties. So here God has asked us to reverence not only God Divine, but reverence also family ties, and He has made family obligations second only to Him. That's right; family obligations are second only to God. You can't even follow Muhammad if you don't have respect for your family.
I know somebody said, well, it's God and then the Sunnah. Well, you wait for somebody to invite you on the Supreme Council. You have to know when to see, when to recognize God and the Sunnah, and you have to know when to recognize when it's God and my family. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), before he was missioned as a Prophet, he established that he was honorable, as a family member. He established in his own life before he was missioned to be a Prophet, he was honorable, that he was excellent in his treatment of family members. And that is why it is said of him in the Holy Book, that he lived a lifetime among you, even before he was missioned to be the Prophet. And he has a shining light of human excellence, even before God missioned him to be the Prophet.
Now isn't that an appointment that we can accept, that God reached out — he didn't pick a wine head up and say I'm going to make this wine head a saint, I'm going to make this wine head a shining saint, a star in the heavens — no, he picked a man up who already had established his excellence, who on his own common, human ability, had been devoted to excellence and had established his excellence at home, with family members, in the public, everywhere. That's our Prophet, Muhammad. God looked at him and said, 'here is the best, here is the one to lead the rest." Doesn't that make sense?
I couldn't understand how God could look down and pick a wine head up and make him a saint, and send him to people that had the strength to resist those things. I know that's heavy for some of you. 'Well, why are you our leader?' Because you made me your leader, that's why, so you tell me why, explain it to me. I think you loved my father; yet you treat me bad, some of you. Since he's been gone, some of them don't even want me to come to their city. I'm not joking! But look, Prophet Muhammad was told in the Holy Book to tell them that you are a free man in this town. So God didn't establish Muhammad on the basis that 'look, I have made him My Messenger, so you have to accept him.' No, you also have criteria too.
So on the strength on your own criteria, you are born free, and he's free just like you; he's a native son, just like you, he has the same freedom that you have, and I tell you Muslims, do not let any other bully frighten you away from his turf; he has no turf. Allah says 'the earth belongs to Me,' and if he is a true Muslim, he regards the earth as Allah's Earth; he regards the whole situation as Allah's. Nobody approached me directly with anything like this, but I hear it from a distance; they won't come directly with that anymore. But when I first became your leader, a lot of that stuff came to me direct... 'well this is my turf now, tell him if he comes here, such-and-such.' I've never regarded any 'turf.' Why? Because I'm a free man in America.
I insist upon exercising the freedom to the fullest. There is accord in every citizen in America, and no town belongs to anybody. The town belongs to God first, and then it belongs to the American people, and the residents of the town have no authority to tell you don't come in this town doing your thing. They have no authority like that. Their authority doesn't go any further than their house. They can tell you don't come to my address. That's their authority, that's their Milwaukee, Detroit, Washington, D.C., their address in that town.
And we've got some right now. Right now, and they see me as a greater danger, than the dangers we are facing from the ruined society. They are not addressing dope problems, and crime, and broken families, they are not occupied by that. They are occupied day and night with the thought that, 'hey, he might come here in this town, and when he comes here, he's gonna have to come here through us.' That's what they are working on, and that's what they've been working on all the time.
And when you go and look at them, they've got nothing; about fourteen people attending their mosque. The man is begging for light bill money, for phone bill money, for rent, for something to pay his bills, just begging a few people for money all the time. And he doesn't know that all he has to do is join me in this freedom of mind, in this freedom of thinking, in this freedom of sharing, join me in my thinking (and I say my thinking, because I am among you, I am in association with you), join me in my thinking and invite me — rush to invite me to come into your town, not through your door, because your door keeps them out, but tell me, 'come to our town, but Brother Muhammad, please don't come through my door, my door is too small...be the guest of the city,' and then he will see people interested in the life that we are all supportive of, he will see them come from nooks and quarters, and closets, and etcetera, and you didn't know he was in this town, and as a result of him doing that, he will have more associates, when we leave town. And it will be easier for him to pay his light bill when we leave town. But he has not that sensitivity, he has not that innocence, so his own wrong thinking and attitude blocks out the good that would come to him from God.
So we are going to keep working. We are not going to let that stop us at all. In fact, this excites me more to work harder, and we are going to keep working hard. I have some good workers with me, who understand what we need to do, to make it possible. I didn't have to come to Milwaukee to do anything. Others came here and they told me everything had been arranged. The people are waiting for you to come to Milwaukee. So we are not destitute, we are not out of ansars ... we have a lot of good ansars, a lot of good workers.
(To be continued)