Know Your Religion
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: The following is excerpted from an address Imam Muhammad delivered November 2. 1985 at Masjid Felix Bilal in Los Angeles)
"We must understand that what we have heard of this religion in the West, for the most part has been presented incorrectly. The true report of this religion, how it was revealed to Muhammad, the Last Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him, what it did for the Dark Ages. What it did for the Arabs who were warring tribes in pitiful ignorance, steeped in corruption, persecutors of their women, enslavers of their young men, gangs warring against each other, making each other pay tolls or pay dues to cross over into each other's territory. Divorcing their women by merely saying, "woman, be as the back end of my mother to me," and she was put aside and nothing was said about it.
We must understand how this religion came to people in that state during the Dark Ages, and brought them to the peak of civilization when they became themselves the beacon light of intellectual liberty, of liberty for intellect of the human being. How they renewed the sciences and, made possible the regeneration of scientific interest, scientific progress for the whole world. This is a fact of history. All you have to do is just go back and study the Medieval Age, study the influences of Al-Islam upon the Dark Ages, and you will have all of what I have said verified for you.
In addition to that, Muslims have the clear record of what occurred in that time, and how Al-Islam liberated the intellect and freed the dark age man from corruption and ignorance and self abuse; abuse of Iris woman, abuse of his children.
THE TRUE REPORT has not been known in the West, and Muslims, you must understand that. You must understand that the only way you can get the truth of your religion without any doubt is to go to the sources, the authorized sources. Go to your own Holy Book. And don't think that when you read the English translation of your Holy Book that you have it all. Any translation from the original text is not the equivalent of the original text. So it is best for you to find a teacher who understands Arabic to teach you the Qur'an, to give you the knowledge of Qur'an, and while you are doing that, you should also be busy yourself, no matter what your age is. no matter what your situation is. You may not even be literate in English. Don't fear to try to study the language of the Qur'an.
When the Prophet came, most of the people were illiterate. What he did was make a public program for educating all of the people, because most of them couldn't read. He taught them to read the Qur'an. He held each one responsible to teach another person that verse. We should have that same kind of enthusiasm. We should have that same kind of hunger for knowledge of Qur'an among us, because we are in that situation.
Though the majority of us are literate in English, we are illiterate when it comes to knowing Arabic. So in order for us to get the great benefit of our Holy Book that has been revealed for the benefit of all people, but especially for Muslims who believe in it, we must study the language of Arabic. Study the Arabic language, and don't think you are ever too old.
Prophet Muhammad. Peace Be Upon Him, said that to gain knowledge, to study, to learn, to become educated is an obligation on every male and female born in the Muslim society.
AND HE ALSO said that the obligation to acquire knowledge is on you from the cradle to the grave.
So no matter how old you are, if you accept what the Prophet has given us, you feel an obligation on you to increase your knowledge. Go back to school! Live in school! Die a student! This is my commitment, and it should be the commitment of every Muslim.
Dear Muslims, we are addressing now the need for us to be strong in Islamic knowledge, and the only way we can be strong in Islamic knowledge is to turn to the pure sources, the Qur'an, the Hadith, the Sunnah of the Prophet, the Seerah, the history of the Prophet. Return to the wisdom of those learned companions, the wisdom of those learned Imams who have survived the early days of the Muslims to pass on the knowledge to us. Study that, learn it so that you will become strong in knowledge."