Historical Milwaukee Speech: Part 5
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: A further continuation of Imam Muhammad's Milwaukee address of
Another important point I want to mention, is that America is the most difficult situation, for keeping human life intact, in the order intended by God and through the excellence of nature itself. But on the other hand, the same, most difficult situation, also has an opportunity that is not available, anywhere else except America. What is that opportunity? The opportunity that came with Muhammad, came with the great liberators, came with Moses, came with Jesus Christ, (peace be upon the great liberators, the prophets) but had been lost from the world, and now it is only in America, where people are still upholding the right of the basic freedom, the essential freedom of man, the right to congregate, the right to assemble, the freedom of speech, the right to have your own words in print, to say what you want to say to the public by way of media, freedom of the press, and all those cherished freedoms, they are here in America for us.
Hell has its mouth wide open, it says 'come on in' — yes, we are in America, and the mouth of hell is the biggest in America. There's nowhere you go in the world where you will find a bigger mouth of hell, than in America. But at the same time in this trying situation for human life, for human nature, for the concept of man that God wants, we also have these precious freedoms defended by the people of this country, by the Constitution, that have had its tainted days, but its purity has survived.
They wrote in that Constitution that we were only 3/5's of a human being, and justified and gave freedom to the savage, the rural savage, the racists, the segregationists, the savages among them, to brutalize us, to mistreat us, to hang us in their courts with no justice; all of that evil was done, but, that same Constitution, because of its essential spirit, its consistent nature, its consistent principle, that same Constitution has survived ugly days, that tainted it with the ugly mark that blacks are not even full human beings. It has survived all of that. It's survived the time when they interpreted the Constitution to eliminate women, that women are not supposed to be given the rights of men, that women are not to be given the right of public education; not the right to vote, etc., etc.
We know they wrote their women off and they wrote the blacks off in a horrible way, but, the intent in the Founding Fathers, the purity in the Founding Fathers, went on the paper, that have survived to this day, to outlive and overcome all of the interruptions, and today we stand in this country and we declare ourselves free, free as any other man. We declare that we have the same citizenship value that any other man has. We know it. The courts are obligated to hear us the same way they hear any other man. They can't look to our face and say, 'you're black, we have to deal with you in a different way.' They can't say that. If they say that, this whole country will be destroyed. It will be destroyed because nobody will have faith in it anymore. If they go to such extremes, the American people, the whites themselves will not have faith in the country anymore, it will bring their country down all of a sudden, if they would try to do something like that.
Time Goes Forward
Many of us think, 'well, Reagan's in the White House, time is going to roll back.' No, it's going forward. It can only roll back time so far where people won't trust them anymore, and people will overthrow their government, that won't allow time to be rolled back. Don't fear Reagan in the White House, fear Reagan in your heart, a Reagan in your house, a selfish, narrow-minded conservative in your own house, that's looking only to protect what is his, and not looking to bring about things that are not. See, that's my motivation, to look at things that are, and protect them, but don't take away my intention for working for the things that I am not. I want to be bigger tomorrow, I want to be further ahead tomorrow, I want to be better tomorrow, I want to be richer tomorrow! You hear that? I want to be richer tomorrow! You say 'I didn't know you were rich.' I'm not! A lot of times I don't have enough gas to put in my little four-cylinder car, but I never think of myself as poor. I may have four dollars in my pocket, but that's not because I can't get more. I can have four thousand dollars in my pocket everyday, but I don't want to sacrifice my principles to have it, I want to wait for the time to present itself, when I can have four thousand dollars with honor, with self-respect, but don't think I want to be poor; I want to be rich one day, and I'm 65 almost, and I still want to be rich.
Should Want Wealth
And any person that doesn't want to be rich, there's something wrong with him. 'I'm a Muslim, brother, and I don't put my values there.' Allah says, work with what I have given you, for the Hereafter, for the end promise, but don't neglect your share of what's here now. That's the speaking of Allah in the Holy Book, and the Prophet said, those people are best among you, and I'm quoting now, the Book of Mahdi, Mahdi Nakosteen, I believe, is how you spell his name. This well respected scholar in Islam died recently, and he gives this quote from Prophet Muhammad in his book, called "Islam and Its Contribution to Western Education." He gives this quote that I am about to give you from the Prophet, in his book, after he already established that the great learned, the bright intellects of the early days of our enlightenment, the community of the people on this earth knew the religion, and he refers his readers to Al-Ghazzali.
Some of you, I'm sure, are well-aware of, some of the scholars, are well-aware of the history, Al-Ghazzali and his belief in the levels of knowledge, so he is quoting the levels of knowledge, which we should understand, because I see a great importance focused that Al-Ghazzali had, where he says the levels of knowledge, where some of us are hung up on one level of knowledge. He says the level of knowledge, Divine revelation is number one. In the second level of knowledge, is science, true sciences, and he said, the third level of knowledge is intuition, and some of us worry so much about what we are going to come up with on our own — 'where does that come from, brother? what do you base that upon?' Well, according to Ghazzali, I can say intuition, from my own effort. In my own intellect, from the nature that God has put in my own intellect, I have come upon this knowledge, and according to Ghazzali, you have to prove that my knowledge is not knowledge. You can't say I'm not entitled to speak that.
Yes, and not only Al-Ghazzali, but many other scholars, in fact, most of the intelligent among the intellectuals of Al-Islam, will stand upon that. We have to understand that. One level of science, but what is the first step in that progression? Common sense, the great ability to use in an intelligent way common sense, to rely upon external information, to dictate what your mind should do, and the beginning of that exercise is right at home, we learn from mama, the good lesson of common sense. She's the mother of that school of thought. Yes. Praise be to Allah.
There is much to say on these things. We would like to spend more time in these areas, and I wish I could spend more time in these areas, but we are just hitting upon concerns. So dear Muslims, in this day and time, we should understand that we should respect the intellect of man, as has been established for us in our Holy Book, and in the teachings of the Prophet. But we are around here watching each other and afraid of everything someone says.."what's your authority for that?"
This country is stagnant right now because it has to have a credential or an authority or media support or somebody's support for everything that a man is trying to do . Many good works that can change the city of Chicago are ignored because the man didn't have the credentials that they look for! Muslims shouldn't have that kind of mentality. We should have Islamic sense, the Islamic mentality to look at something for its worth, and not associate it with personality. A man can come up and he might be the slowest person in the masjid, he might be the one who hasn't impressed me at all, but he comes to me and speaks, I'm not going to see this personality, I'm going to hear his words, because out of the mouth of babes, comes perfect praise, and that's not Islamic, that's Christian.
Babes Can Offer Perfect Praise
I believe that's what they say, "out of the mouth of babes, comes perfect praise." Sometimes it's out of the mouths that you look down on comes the excellence. And there are groups that will look at another group; in fact, there are many groups looking at us right now that say, hey, what are they trying to do, they think they can come about this knowledge on their own, they think they can rise as a star of Islam by themselves-, they need us to tutor, they need us to be their shepherd, they need us to walk with them hand in hand, they need us to lead them as babes, until we make them men. That's their attitude. Many of them from Saudi Arabia, from Egypt, from Pakistan, from all over the Islamic world, are looking at us, and just because we are African-American, and just newly embracing the religion, they think that we don't have anything going for us, unless they give it to us. Allah created us, and He gave us the ability to come into the levels of knowledge: Qur'an, science and intuition. He gave us the same capacity, that He gave them, so if we have faith and if we are sincere, if we wrestle hard, if we endeavor to comprehend what God has put in the Qur'an, there's a possibility for us that we will have intellects born among us, that will rise up to their level and maybe surpass them.
And understand this, another concern we are bringing to you today is emphasis on distinction. Allah has created unity and harmony but Allah has also made things to multiply by diversity. And let me tell you, don't ever absorb yourself into another race; don't absorb yourself into another people's culture, into another people's ethnicity. Be distinct as African-American people, and rise up into excellence without losing your distinct personality as a group.
And that's more precious to me than all the money you give me from all the oil in Saudi Arabia. Because I sense a great future. My father and mother turned me on, they gave me a great hope, and many times I couldn't see, they left me in the dark. In many situations I was in the .dark, but they didn't leave me without the light of hope in that dark. They have just excited me with such great hope, that one day the African-American is going to do what Marcus Garvey said would be done — he's going to take his place in the constellation of the stars of heaven. I have a strong belief, and I know Allah, God the Almighty, Lord of us all, He is with us.
We are going to get aid. Don't turn down aid from anybody. If an immigrant will help you, alhamdulillah, thank you, we embrace our brother, he's the same as us, if he's a Muslim, he's the same as we are. We love him, we embrace him, but we are not going to be dependent upon him to the extent that we look to him to know how we are going to breathe, how we are going to eat, how we are to smile, how we are to walk, how we are to talk, we follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, not the sunnah of Egypt, or the sunnah of Saudi Arabia, or the sunnah of other nations. We don't follow their sunnah, we follow the sunnah of Muhammad. And the sunnah of Muhammad, is a type put before me, to tell me what the capacity is that God has given me, that God has brought this out, that this is your potential. Muhammad is your potential, come, grow, follow it to your own potential, so I can follow Prophet Muhammad, because he doesn't represent a race, not in his usrah, not in his model, he does not represent a race. He represents the common excellence of man. So I can follow that common excellence, but I can't follow it if you put an Egyptian label, or a Saudi Arabian label on it or if you say a Saudi personality. A Saudi personality belongs in the desert.
Now I'm not criticizing. That Saudi comes out of the desert and goes to Egypt, his personality is going to change. But some of us are so petty-minded, the Saudi comes over here and impresses us with his Islamic language, his Arabic tongue, and pretty soon, the brother that came out of Easlo, and it's five below zero on Lake Michigan in Chicago, he's walking down here in sandals, in his long, white Saudi garb, and wondering how come nobody pays attention to him when he's talking Islam, he's telling the world he's situationally insane. He might not be clinically insane, but he's environmentally insane.
Now this is not to invite us to go back to the old extremes, where we think we are some special species of God's Creation; the black man is the god; that's insanity in every circle. That's insanity everywhere, that's clinical insanity. We don't want to degrade ourselves after stepping up to the excellence of the universal human man to go back and pick up that barreled, shrunken-brained idea. No. We don't want to do that and is not going to do that. In fact, I have some brothers tell me they will go to physical blows with some of you if you ever try to impose that on the ignorant of our society.