Excerpts from "Al-lslam: Unity and Leadership"
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
The Muslim among the African Americans
Let us understand what we are facing in America when we want to make progress with our life and establish it as Muslims. We art- by our racial make-up African Americans. We have a few people among us who are not African Americans, but for the most part our gatherings are African American. Therefore, we have to depend upon an African American association of people for our activities and steps toward progress.
We are not the typical African American in the society of America. We have Al-lslam in our lives, and it makes us different. Some of you are not a ware of that. To not be a ware of that is to put yourself in a bad situation. Al-lslam should be seen as your distinction. If you are not different, then something is terribly wrong. An African American Muslim is not to be just typical of African Americans. An African American Muslim should be distinguished among the African American crowds.
To try to distinguish yourself by wearing a fez or the Nehru suit or Pakistani dress or the cloaks of the Saudis is not enough. That will not help you reach the goal line of the "black" race. For anyone can go to Hollywood or to the TV sets and see actors wearing such dress. I wear American dress. However, I also see my brothers who are African Americans and are wearing eastern clothes, and I do not disrespect them. I see them and hope that they do have the distinct Islamic life and are just covered in those clothes. I am hoping that they do have the substance of the Islamic life. But when 1 see. one that is just under covers without that religious substance, it hurts.
Also, we do not want to go to extremes and dress ourselves extremely and internally to be seen with the look of American people. For we should want to set an example for our American people. We want to be an influence with our Muslim life and with our behavior to influence American lifestyles. We would like to be a factor for supporting commendable change in America's behavior identity. We hope that one day there will be more strong Americans who would have grown stronger through their contacts with Muslim life and Muslim contribution to the genuineness and colorfulness of life. Groups gain by being exposed to the excellence of one another.
We are not looking to take on any group's weaknesses. We want to keep our excellence. And if their excellence is compatible with ours, then we appreciate that and love those outside our group even more as citizens of this country and will identify with them even more because of that compatibility. But we will never change ours (our life) for theirs. To do so would make ourselves fools. If you know your religion and are true, you will appreciate what lam saying.
Americans are supposed to be the most liberal people in the international world, and in a sense we are. We are supposed to be the most human people in the international world, and in a sense we are. We are supposed to be freer than any other people in the international world, and in a sense we are. But we have real serious behavioral problems, and "we Americans" know that.
— Imam W. Deen Mohammed, from his book "Al-lslam: Unity and leadership", pages 88-89