In Appreciation: People Of African Descent, On Race And Traditional Pride
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
Booker T. Washington and certain others of our leaders in the history of African-American people in this hemisphere and among them some females — these persons were not just reacting to what went on in our life or to what was bothering us as a people in this country.
They were people of foresight as well as observers of what was happening. They kept themselves aware of what was happening to our people and to our race. They were also people looking to the future to see how should our race be directed in order to come into the best life that they could envision for the race.
I have come to understand W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington as two figures who are put in opposition in history and some even refer to them as being enemies. I can't see how they could have been enemies. I see them as two different people representing two different areas of our life and emphasizing what they were individually attending. And without those two areas of our life, we don't have much of a life. One's language, W.E.B. DuBois, was intellectual, and the other, Booker T. Washington, was more the language of the business world and the common people.
At the same time we should never underestimate Booker T. Washington as an intellect. He was a great intellect as was W.E.B. DuBois, and he also was a man with philosophical insight as was WE.B. DuBois. Both of them in my opinion were great African American philosophers, along with the others who were called extremists and radicals.
Among those men was the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, who built upon what he saw as a good foundation left by Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Drew Ali, and others. We know the Hon. Elijah Muhammad didn't discover by himself a way to continue and build upon the good foundations that those leaders left for us.
We know that the Hon. Elijah Muhammad was a poor man from Georgia who didn't have education and was not equipped like DuBois and Booker T. He was not formally educated; he had a little elementary school education from Georgia, and being African American that little education even high school didn't count for much.
But the Hon. Elijah Muhammad was a sharp man mentally and very intelligent, so he educated himself even before he met his teacher WD. Fard or W.F. Fard Muhammad. He had taught himself to read and to write; he didn't learn that at school. He studied it on his own. So once the Hon. Elijah Muhammad met a man who was worldly informed and obviously a read man, WD. Fard, and when he heard what Fard had to say, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad became a changed man in his thinking and in his life.
Then he began to pursue what he had an interest in already. And I heard this from his mouth that he was interested in things he later came to have in common with Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, and a few others including Noble Drew Ali, the founder of the Moorish American Science Temple.
Again, this I got from the Hon. Elijah Muhammad's mouth.
As Muslims we have to learn to address topics of concern and try hard not to come across as someone who is trying to change someone else's religion. We are not saying something out of line with the great teachers and preachers of Islam, especially during the times of Prophet Muhammed. He and his companions were able to address the concerns of people, to address a non-Muslim audience and a Muslim audience without giving a sermon to convert them from their religion.
We have men who have made great contributions to civilization as doctors, lawyers, judges, educators, mathematicians, etc. They addressed their subject matter, and anyone can read their words without feeling that they were attempting to convert the audience to a religion. Their great works were appreciated by many non-Muslim nations, not by just one but by many.
Perhaps you are aware that because of their selfless work the West came into an awakening again in the sciences, a time known as the Renaissance. I would think that even the great religious leader and thinker for the West, for Christianity, Martin Luther, was influenced too by the contributions of the Muslims to universal logic. He then came to better understand his own religion and to give it better appreciation because of the Muslims' influence on the thinking of the people at that time. That is a religious leader, not to mention those in the field of objective sciences.