A Sense Of Self Makes Living Better: Part I
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editorial Note: The following public address by Imam W. Deen Mohammed from December 11, 1988 — Atlanta, GA again brings to us Allah's purpose for man's existence and how he functions in Allah's creation.)
As-Salaam-Alaikum. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I bear witness that there is but One Lord; there is no other divinity. I bear witness that there is no divinity except Allah and that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger.
In the Book of Allah the chapter titled "The Gathering/' also referred to as "The Banishment," I will read only the English translation for the verses we have already heard recited in a very beautiful and excellent Qur'anic Arabic by Imam Yahya Abdullah of Dallas, Texas.
"O Ye who are the believers be regardful of Allah, and let every soul look to what it proposes for tomorrow. And duly regard Allah. Emphatically, Allah is a ware of what you are doing. And be not like those who forgot Allah, wherefore He caused them to forget their souls. Such is characteristic of the wrongdoers, the corruptors.
"The associates of the fire do not compare with the associates of the Garden of Paradise. The associates of the Garden are the victorious. Had we sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, certainly thou would have seen it humble itself and split open out of fear of Allah. We drive home such illustrations in order that they, the people, may reflect.
"He is Allah, other than Whom there is no divinity. He is Knower of the Unattested and the Attested. He is the Merciful Benefactor, the Merciful Redeemer. He is Allah, other than Whom there is no divinity, The Sovereign, The Holy, The Source of Peace, The Trustful, The Controller, the Exalted, The Overpowering, The Infinitely Great, having glory above the partners they attribute to Him. He is Allah, The Creator, The Evolver, The Designer of forms in creation. To Him belongs the Most Beautiful Names. Whatever is in the heavens and the earth bespeaks His Glory, and He is The Exalted, The Wise," Qur'an.
Those are the Words of Allah revealed to Muhammad, The Prophet, and we have it in the entire revelation that came to the Holy Prophet more than 1400 years ago. The Qur'an, is the Holy Book for Muslims all over this earth. The prayer and the peace be upon Muhammad, the Prophet and the Messenger, whom Allah designated to be the last and universal one for all people and a mercy to all nations. On him be the peace and on his family and on his Companions all. And the peace be on us, this gathering and all of us here today.
Believers and dear people, our Prophet said, "Whoever has seen himself has seen his Lord." Or as it has also been quoted, "Whoever has known himself has known his Lord." In view of the overwhelming evidence in the most authentic and correct sources of our religion, we must readily reject a belief that man is Allah.' Such is of confusion, and such is of mad men. Hence, this saying of Muhammad, Allah's Messenger, calls for the reader's intelligent attention.
To know what we are is to know in the same instance what we are not. A sense of self makes living better!
Religion promotes in us a sense of self. The world also promotes in us a sense of self. And these two senses of self are in conflict. The sense of self promoted in us by true religion leads to proper understanding of self, the proper regard for self, and the proper attitude towards self, as well as the right disposition towards The Creator of self.
As told in the Qur'an the Prophet Abraham was in a situation where he had to differ with his own father and his own people. His father was very highly respected and an influential man among the people of Abraham. So to differ with him was no easy thing, but Prophet Abraham's (Ibrahim's) faith was of such strength that nothing could stand in the way of his faith.
As Allah reveals in The Holy Book, Prophet Abraham says to his father and people, "Certainly I am clear and free from being charged with being associated with the things you worship other than the One Who originated me. For surely He shall guide me." Prophet Abraham told them, surely the One Who originated him would also guide him,
Prophet Abraham for those who do not know, and for you who know we want to remind you, peace be upon the Prophet: Prophet Abraham is called by all the Muslims "Father Abraham" — as is the case for Christians and Jews. Two major prophetic figures are given the title "father." The first is Adam. The second is Abraham. Peace be upon them.
It is also believed there was no man created or existing before Adam. Adam represents to us something in our creation.
It is stated in recorded tradition that the Prophet said of Adam, "No one dies or is raised up from death, except it be upon the design of Adam." This is to say that we do not only die in Adam, we also live in Adam. Some of you have heard, I am sure, the church expression — "All died in Adam." Well, the Prophet wants us to know that not only do we die in Adam, we also come alive in Adam.
If man dies, he dies the death of Adam. If man lives, he lives the life of Adam. In our religion Adam is not a figure representing original sin. In our religion Adam is the most noble respected human-nature figure. And whatever he did that caused problems and harm to himself and to the generations was not an intentional act on his part. It was a sin by omission rather than commission. It was under circumstances too great at that time for Adam to deal with. Our religion says in the Holy Book, The Qur'an, that when he remembered his Lord and turned to his Lord and repented, Allah forgave him. The language is, "And he met with a Word from his Lord, and repentance was granted." It means that Adam's innocence earned for him Allah's forgiveness and help.
What is that saying to us? That when Allah created Adam, He did not create an angel. He did not create a god. He did not create a perfect being in the sense of an angel or in the sense of a god. He created a perfect being in the sense of the purpose and aim in nature of this creature. His nature is perfect. His nature is always to obey his Creator and to do right. And we all live by that nature and die by that nature.
Allah says of the community of Muhammad, the Prophet, (PBUH) "You are the best of communities (evolved) brought out for the good of all people. What is this community brought out of? It is brought out of the confusion of the misguided world. You are the best of the communities brought out of the confused world. You should be separate from the people of worldly behavior. You should be distinguished from them. You should not follow their ways and their habits. You should not take examples from them. This is what is implied and much more.
However that is not the whole of it. "You are the best community brought out for" — here begins the second emphasis of importance in what Allah is saying. You are the community brought out from the world with a distinction that makes you above the rest of them. What purpose is it for Allah bringing you out and giving you this distinction above the rest: That you may serve the good "of all people."
How in this period are we going to realize that best community? How are we going to realize it convincingly to our satisfaction and convincingly before the eyes of the world? If we have Qur'an and if we have Muhammad the Prophet in our hearts, the Qur'an and the Prophet's guidance, then I say we are already the best community even though we fall very short in many serious areas. Our performance is terrible in the international body of Muslims. Our performance in this nation is regrettable. But in spite of that I still say we are the best community. And you should know it also. Allah says it.
I know you will find some rare instances where Christians and others look better than Muslims in your eyes. But again, that is rare. Take all of the Christians together and look at how they behave. Take all of the Jews together and look how they behave. Take all the Muslims together and look how they behave. We apologize to Allah for our behavior. For on the whole their behavior is so bad. that we need not apologize to them.
How are we going to realize that excellence as an American minority and as an international body? I believe we are going to realize it as we establish our excellence here in America as African-Americans from a very bad past of abusive treatment from America's ruling bodies, and as we and nationalized Muslim Americans identify and compete in the system.
Even though we are Muslims, we still have a lot to overcome. And we are going to achieve, not by looking to the community of African-American Muslims or black Muslims or overseas Muslims to liberate us, but by coming into the personal excellence that Allah has created us for. The more of us who come into that human functional excellence that Allah has created for us, the more the whole of us will grow into that excellence that Allah has written for us. 'You are the best of communities brought out (evolved) for the good of all people." (To be continued)