November 6, 1992
"A Focus for the Unity of Muslims in America": Part 1
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Imam W. Deen Mohammed made this public address at the 1992 Annual Islamic Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday, September 6, 1992. From it he has prepared this article for Muslim Journal's readers.)
It is indeed a great blessing to be here in Atlanta for the Muslim National Convention ot 1992. I would like to acknowledge the great and good leadership and assistance that we have here in Atlanta that is hosting this national convention.
We appreciate the leadership of Imam Plemnn EI-Amin, and we appreciate his co-workers in the masjid and in the schools here in Atlanta. And when I say masjid, I am referring not only to the masjid he, himself, serves but I am including masajid in the city that I know of that he has good relationship with. You know them better than I do. One of them is headed by Brother Jamil Al-Amin and the other is under Brother William Abdur Rahim.
We appreciate very much being hosted here in the beautiful city of Atlanta. Personally, I consider it a great blessing for me to be invited to address you for this occasion. It so happens that for the first time I have been your speaker here for two days. That was last night at the beautiful and very successful banquet and today for this address. But I will be addressing more (attention to] the Muslims today with the hope that non-Muslims who are honored guests here will also benefit from having a close look at us and hearing what we are saying to each other in a very genuine and serious way. I think the experience for them [Christians] will also be helpful [worth their time].
I always pray to Allah that Allah will open up the hearts of Muslims and non-Muslims to receive the final revelation of the Qur'an and accept Muhammed, Allah's Messenger, the Last of the Prophets. That is always my hope and my prayer.
We will be addressing the basis for Muslim unity. We want to be aware of the significance of unity for Muslims. But it is not only the unity of the Muslims but also a united position towards respecting our vision (here in the U.S.] and our desire to be in this country of America living our religion and having good relations with the good people of this country. It lour vision] is also to have opportunity to progress as Muslims in the United States of America. It is not just the unity of Muslims, but it is also the unity of Muslims for that interest. We want that Muslims be united on how we should live in America and how we should work for our future here in America.
We give praise to Almighty God Who created us. We offer worship to none but Him. We accept to worship none with Him. We say, "Ashshadu an/a ilaha Hlallah wahdahu...." We witness that there is One God, Allah, Alone. "La shar-ikalah." He has no partners in the rule or in the run of His Office; He has no partners sharing the rule of the heavens and the earth with Him. He is Absolute, God, Owner, and Authority. None need to be called on besides Him. We associate none with Him in the rule of the heavens and the earth. We accept what God has revealed in the Qur'an, that none come to Him except as servants.
All the Prophets were nothing but servants to God. None of them were god; none of them were equal to God. They were all His creation and all His model servants who were leaders to the people of their times. And now with the universal prophet, Muhammed, we have the Last Prophet as the model servant for all of us [for all people]. He is to guide us in the way so that we will become also model servants for others in the society of man. [The Qur'an]
I would like to speak to you now for a little while on what I believe to be very important to us. When I talk about this concern, sometimes I am misunderstood. Certain intellectuals or scholars or learned people in the circles of Muslims tend to think I am influenced by a Western ideology or by some Western idea. No. If I am appreciating any Western ideology or ideas, it is because I have been guided to such appreciation by the Qur'an and Muhammed, the Last of the Prophets. That is, I could not have had such an appreciation for any ideology other than Islam or for any beliefs or principles or concepts that are not found in the Qur'an and in the teachings of Muhammed the Prophet.
I don't go to other sources for help [for guidance]. I go to the Qur'an and to the Prophet for help. And when I go to the other sources, it is because the help I received from Islamic sources influenced me to go to those other sources. It is not for help but to recognize what is in the other sources. When I digest what I find, it is my desire that it all be digested by a Muslim stomach and that it all goes to benefit a Muslim body and that it all comes out as [in] a Muslim person. That is my desire.
I am going to be speaking to you for a little while on something that I know other religions, Christianity being one of them, can appreciate and should appreciate based upon what I know of this idea from the pages of their Holy Book. This idea is the idea of man as a functional being, creature, and what is his essential or most important life.
We give ourselves to different interests and become identified with certain areas of life. I may be able to pick up a profession and may be seen as a person whose life is political. Another one will be seen in his life to be about business, and another will be identified in his life as an intellectual. So it depends upon what attracts us and what we give our time to, that will determine how we are described.
What we are put here for essentially or what we are made for that represents the foundation for us in our life is what I want to address. It is not only the foundation but it is also the pattern for us in our life. What possibilities do we have in life? What accounts for those possibilities? I am of the belief that I am reading the knowledge correctly, and what accounts for all possibilities in our life is the social nature. We cannot even become educated or learn how to speak human language until we . have a social community.
The first social community is called family. If we don't have the opportunity to live with parents — a mother or father or some adult — to teach us things and to have the occasion to be in a family setting with others, we don't develop into real human beings. This has been documented. This is not any guess work. It is documented that you [we] need to have association with other human beings in order to develop as a human being. A bird can be taken away from its family and put in a cage from birth. But it will turn out to be a bird and will go and build its nest and will do everything else that birds do. When it meets birds, it will start talking just like birds do and like it was never separated and as if it always had conversation with birds. That goes for all the animals, but man is different.
Man is the thinker and has a mind that is created by God for him to receive communication and give communication. He receives communication through his mind and gives communication with his mind out to others. That is how we are created; man is created only because he has that kind of mind. If he did not have that kind of mind, there would be no creation of man.
Our physical body is not really our creation. Our physical body made it possible for our creation. We may think of the physical body as the first creation, but it is not that by itself. Our physical body makes possible our creation and that is all.
It all depends upon the mind. If nothing is communicated in the mind, then there is no creation for you (for mankind] — not human creation. Find some creature that has been hurt, handicapped, can't communicate, can never speak the language, and there is nothing coming into the mind. You don't have to speak with the tongue or hear with the ears to communicate. As long as it is communicated to the mind in any way then that is communication. You can learn to read Braille or sign language, and that is still language being communicated to your mind.
But when you are separated from association with human beings and never have an opportunity for that kind of association, you are going to imitate the life that you are surrounded by or that you have before you. If that is animal life, you are going to speak to the animals that you associate with. Even though they reject you, you will be running behind them. It is because you have not had the opportunity to be in a real human environment or human setting. This is a true fact for the human being.
(To be continued)