Imam W. D. Muhammad
With the Name Allah (in the Name of God), the Gracious, the Compassionate.
The first knowledge is the knowledge of self. Once you know yourself, you will give yourself to Allah (God). Human beings that know human nature know the need for higher authority and a collective responsibility. It is the nature of human beings to find something greater, more powerful and more permanent to rule over their life. If not given revealed religion, people will invent a religion or a philosophy, or an ideology to control and direct their community life. It is human nature to have something that has more power and authority than the individual governing in our conscience. This is nature, and this nature moves in us and forces us to find our proper relationship to Creator and to the vast creation of which the human being is formed.
When man finds a god, he studies and serves that god until he finds that god to be smaller than himself. Once he learns his god is smaller than himself, in time he puts down that god. He puts that god-concept down for a concept of God capable of inspiring human conscience to greater excellence. He will continue erecting gods until he finds a god that he knows can stand the test. This requires a god bigger than himself. This is the nature that God has put in us, and this nature with its power has driven us to acknowledge the Creator, the One God who is free from any need of the creation.
This natural need for worship brings us to a pure belief in a Creator who is not creation, but is the Maker of all. See how wonderful Allah (God), the Creator is. He has put in us a driving force that we do not completely control, yet it drives us on and on until we come to the right concept, the right image or idea of who is supreme boss. Once we come to that right idea, it begins to shine the light inside the darkness of our own domain and make us truly know ourselves. So, God is discovered first before man knows himself.
Once man discovers God, then God says to Man, "Know yourself," because if you know yourself, you will not try to be God. To make your relationship with God a solid one, you must know yourself. God says that He has created the human being in the most excellent design. God also says that He has created the human being to face hardship and that hardship will make him struggle. God knows that hardship and struggle is good for our nature. The Holy Quran teaches us that God brings man into struggle and that who strives, his striving will soon be seen. In what way will his striving be seen? It will be seen in terms of progress, of advancement and of self-development and self-improvement. To throw a human being somewhere where there is no challenge—where he does not have to get up to walk or to do anything is to leave him or her to vegetate and become as a vegetable.
If we can understand what God is saying to us in the Holy Quran, then we would know that this whole life is nothing but a trip or a journey. If God tells me that this life is a journey, it means that I have to keep meeting the challenge of this life so as not to stagnate or fall to a vegetable existence or to worse. "Idleness is the devil's workshop." The saying is Eastern in origin as is most of the religious witticisms and proverbs. In Arabic we say, "Laziness is the workshop of Satan." By this saying we see that we have to keep meeting the challenge of life. God describes life and our nature for us in order that we may achieve success. God says that he has created us in the best of forms.
The Earth with its plant and animal forms of life is not created for more excellence. There is not a capacity in Earth or skies for more excellence than there is in you. God did not say that He created the Sun, Moon or Stars for more excellence. But in the Holy Quran God says that He created the man in the most excellent design. This does not mean that man is greater than the Earth, the Sun, Moon or Stars. God also says, "Do not think that your creation is a bigger thing for Me than the creation of the heavens and the Earth.
God is saying that you have the capacity for self development and more room for excellence than there is in anything else that He has created. You can make use of it—you can appreciate it or you can leave it. God also says, "Certainly he who wisely uses it makes progress. And certainly he gives himself to ruin who neglects the soil or lets human development down." This is God speaking to us. But there you are down somewhere in your room without a job and cannot think out of this life's confusion. There, some of you are drawing unemployment, and when it runs out, what is next? Welfare for some. But welfare is not enough for some. Then, what is next? Stealing and cheating, suicide, uppers, downers, cross-ways, backwards, unders, heroin, cocaine, whatever? Do not follow the anti-human developments. Follow the complete and perfect Guidance of Allah.
Yours in service to please Allah, Wallace D. Muhammad