November 27, 1992
"A Focus for the Healthy Unity of Muslims in America": Part 4
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Imam W. Deen Mohammed made this public address at the 1992 Islamic Convention in Atlanta. Georgia on Sunday, September 6, 1992. From it he has prepared this article for Muslim Journal readers.)
LET THE HEART RESPOND
Let us meet and listen to the better of our minds and register and record what is offered in both your hearts and your heads. In your heart it goes in and eventually up to your head. You may not know what to do with it in your heart, but if you keep it there it will grow like a seed. If you continue to nourish it, then it will flower and bloom into your brain.
You will see the results in time. All we have to do is desire something with our hearts and be sincere. We don't have to understand everything. But listen with a serious ear and let it be accepted in your heart. Even though you say, "I can't deal with it mentally right now. But I like what it is saving even if I can't understand it. I like what I feel. I like the sound of this." Take it into your heart, and eventually we will have it growing up into the mind.
SECRET ORDERS HURT COMMUNICATION
We also need to be aware that if we are to progress in this country, we can't be attracted to secret orders, secret planning. We will hurt ourselves. If you form different secret orders, we lose the ability to communicate with one tongue. You will be cherishing your secret order language and another will be cherishing his or her secret order language.
When I speak I don't belong to any secret order. I try to speak the language of Islam, the language of intelligence which is Islam. So this secret talk is hurting ourselves. Not only that, when you belong to a secret order and are committed or devoted to that secret order, you also hurt your unity, divide your strength and hurt the benefits that would come to the community if everybody cherished one-and-the-same language. It should be that everybody is opening their ears to one-and-the-same language.
If you belong to a secret order, then the secret order tells you how to hear language. The secret order tells you how to hear what I am speaking. The secret order makes you translate what I am saying into their language, and it hurts our ability to progress aft together. We can't have that if we want to progress.
Allah says in His Holy Book, the Qur'an, and the Last Revelation, "Meeting in secrecy is not accepted unless it is for the purpose of promoting righteousness, virtuousness, and decency." I know what you think of the Islamic world, that it is sufism and nothing but esoteric and secret orders. But I am saying to you what is in the Qur'an. It is plain to me. It is plain when it says, if we are to have secrecy it is only for the purpose of promoting decency, a virtuous life, honesty, and righteousness between man and man. It didn't say between Muslim and Muslim (only).
That tells us that Muslims are not allowed to have any Muslim secret order for the purpose of doing anything but promoting decency between different parties and different races and different nations on this earth. If we are not meeting for the good relationship of the different religious groups, the different racial groups, the different nations or different parties, then we are not allowed that secrecy. This is according to what I am reading in the Qur'an.
EXAGGERATIONS IN AMERICAN LIFE
I want to mention another concern now. There is an attitude toward Muslims who migrate here and become naturalized citizens. A citizen is a citizen and understand that, brothers and sisters. Don't look down at a man of another nationality who is in this country and becomes a citizen. Even if he migrated here yesterday, if he has his citizenship, it is just as good as yours. It may be better depending on what his [character] content is. If his content is better than yours, then his citizenship is better and it will benefit him more. Don't you stick up your nose at him. The Qur'an says do not snob at another people, for they may be better than you.
There is a tendency (that comes from the past) to be overly suspicious of this society. I would like to make you aware of that exaggeration, the problem we call the "melting pot" of America. The melting pot means that when you come to America you will lose your life that you came here with, that you then become one part of a massive life we call American life. That is not the interest that I read when I read the message or words of the builders of this democratic republic. When I read their message, they put importance on the life they brought from Europe. And that America is only an opportunity to come here and live that life they could not live as they wanted to live it in Europe.
So you can join the melting pot syndrome or phobia if you like, but I am not seeing it that way. I am seeing America as a chance for me to establish myself as I want myself established. If I want to speak Arabic as my second language or first language, and then have English as my first or second language, I have a right to do that in America. If I want to have Islamic food and have a business to serve my desire for Islamic food, I have that right in America. If I want to change this dress and think I want another dress, I have the right in America to get together with some seamstresses and some pattern makers in America and redesign or change my dress.
UNDERSTAND WHAT IS AMERICA'S BEAUTY
America is not a place that promises to give you religion or to give you culture. No. You are supposed to have cultural influences of your religion or from your past traditions. You are supposed to have your own taste for food, your own taste for clothing, your own taste for entertainment, your own taste for your intellect. You are supposed to make your own life in this land of opportunity and freedom. If you don't do it, then Satan and his hosts have everything ready and prepared for you. They (the corruptors) will dress you, will give you entertainment, will give you taste, smell, hearing, and vision.
So let us not exaggerate that melting pot thing. America is a melting pot only for those who leave the responsibility for self to the world. But if you take up responsibility into your own hands for your own life, America is no melting pot. The beauty and precious thing for American society is its pluralistic life we call plurality. That is America's beauty. The melting pot is not its beauty. Have you ever seen a painter pour all of the paint into one bucket? That is the ugliest stuff you ever wanted to look at — especially once he integrates it all thoroughly.
Our beauty is in uniting upon what is inherent in our life and nature, while keeping our distinctions that have evolved upon what is inherent. We are to keep the distinctions. Excellence and progress for Muslims is what we want for our religious life in America. We want progress in the world. Allah invites us to attend to the needs for progress in the world. We know the Destiny is bigger and more important than the world, but Allah tells us to also progress ourselves in the world.
We are to have income from legal sources, halal sources. We are to have Islamicly approved work and investment and opportunity. We are to invest our income for financial growth and economic growth. We are to be competitive in all that God has approved. If God has approved for us to establish ourselves in the world, that is what we should do. There is a prayer of the Prophet (the prayers and the peace be on him) where he prays to God for worldly progress. He prays for it in connection with the prayer for the Hereafter. He does not separate the two. He made one prayer but prayed for the Hereafter and for worldly progress.
Prophet Muhammed described his life as being a religious life and also being a worldly life. This is the balance in Islam that most religions ignore. Don't think that you have a right in Islam to progress in the world; no, you have an obligation. It is not only a right; it is an obligation. You | we) are obligated to follow the sunnah of the Prophet. You [we] are obligated to obey the Qur'an, to follow its dictates and also the influence and advice of Qur'an. Some things are law and some things are advice. You are obligated to follow the sunnah of the Prophet and his advice and Qur'an, the Sunnah of God and His (God's) advice.
(To be continued)