Challenges Facing Muslims In The United States
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
Editor's note: The following is from an address delivered at a Seerah Conference held recently in Anaheim, California)
Putting the challenges facing American Muslims into focus may be too much for this presentation; therefore, our aim is to address the most pressing challenges, and the urgent need for a productive and positive attitude on the part of Muslims regarding the practice of our religion in this country.
Even though Allah, Most High, reveals that rewards of the destiny are far more beneficial than the present life or the worldly life, both in quantity and in value, Allah, our Lord, Most High, Lord of the Universe, cautions Muslims regarding worldly concerns, and worldly neglect. The Qur'an says: "And seek with the means Allah avails you, the destiny; however, do not neglect your share of the world."
Assert Islamic Life
Islam requires strong efforts, and assertiveness in its following; as Allah's Messenger's life demonstrates.
And because the Messenger's life is our guide, superseded only by Qur'an, we are to live accordingly. We have to assert and press forward with our Islamic life.
To do that is to insist upon answering Islamic imperatives; the purity of spirit in Islam; Islam's basic values, and Islam's vision, as regards to an inherent demand for progress in the nature of man and society.
Research The Qu'ran
In situations favoring Islamic life, or in situations threatening our lives, we are to assert and respond with Islamic concerns, and Islam's vision for progress.
Why do they fail to research the Qur'an? I read these words in Qur'an and they brought tears to my eyes.
A study of Qur'an evidence is Islam's formula for activating, and stimulating production in Muslim life and society.
When I was somewhat confused about what ideas valued in the life of man, searching for understanding in the dark, I — like many others who followed the late Elijah Muhammad; who did a lot of great and positive things given the situation that he was in having had only three years of elementary school
education, and being worldly naive; given his situation, we have to honor him and respect him and excuse him for many of his faults, and recognize his positive contributions. I had to interject that too, was doing something un-Islamic and going to non-Islamic sources for help.
I Studied Communist Ideology
I studied communist ideology and saw some likeness in some of their principles to Islamic teaching. I didn't feel afraid to continue to search in those ideologies, but at the same time I was continuously reading and searching Qur'an and the life of Prophet Muhammad, for support and strength in my life.
I came to the conclusion that the communist ideology insults man's worth and intelligence. And that it's only the great principles, ideas, vision, and light that the Qur'an shines on the human being's nature, worth, and potential, that really satisfies his aspirations, and belief, that man was put her e for a great purpose. Everything else that I've read, have cheated me and insulted me.
In situations favoring Islamic life — and here in America we have situations favoring our Islamic life; we have to be aware of that, and I'm sure many of us are — and in situations threatening our lives, we have to assert our Islamic concerns, and respond with Islamic imperatives, uphold Islamic values, and work to understand Islam's vision for progress.
Allah Provides Man Services
Allah Most High says in the Holy book that He has many services for you that is man in general, but especially for the believer, the Muslim. We know that whatever Allah has promised man, he is going to need, and Allah has made whatever is in the skies and in the earth yield their service to man.
Again, Allah Most High says, "Rush to forgiveness from your Lord, and a garden whose expanse is as the skies and the earth."
These invitations to the human by Allah Most High, to me, is enough to stimulate and activate the positive resources of the human being and the human society. And I believe that really, Muslims are challenged to look more closely at the religion of Al-Islam, the Qur'an, and the life of Muhammad, to see what subtle messages are there. Because it is not the surface things alone that will establish the Muslims as a great people, but those things that are very subtly placed in the teachings of Qur'an, and in the life of the Prophet.
The U.S. Constitution
A challenge we should recognized in America is its surprising accommodation for compatible human and community values. In my study of the Constitution of the United States, especially the Declaration of Independence, the preamble of the Constitution of the United States, I find a surprising compatibility.
American people are not today what they set out to be; in fact, Americans as a people, have never become the America or the people that the Founding Fathers envisioned. We have fallen short; we have not achieved in terms of human excellence, true justice, or true freedom, what was envisioned by those Founding Fathers.
The Mission Of Liberation
In this mission of liberation placed upon society, I find accommodations for us as Muslims. Those people who designed the Constitution and envisioned the future of this country, must have been influenced by Qur'an. And being great men that they were, I'm sure that men like Thomas Jefferson and others, with their human makeup and innocence, consulted the Qur'an. It's a pity that they didn't have good Muslim advisors; perhaps this nation would have been founded upon Islamic ideas and Islamic principles.
The people who came here who were persecuted, and they were seeking freedom from being persecuted, but they were not the only people that came here. So there has always been a terrible conflict a king of ambiguity with America's life. The wrong people and the right people.
Assist The Country's Good Efforts
We Muslims who now live in this country, and plan to stay here, should study what those men were about and what they envisioned for this country, then we should seek to discover the compatibility with our religion and assist the good effort in this country for excellence.
Allah says in our Holy Book that we should go as in race after all that is good and excellent. And I look at that in its context, and its close proximity to other verses before it, and after it. I am convinced that it is not only a call for Muslims to race or compete with each other, for the things that are good, but it is a call for Muslims to also compete with Christians and other groups. And to compete with them in that spirit means not to compete with them from a situation of hate, hostility, animosity, or jealousy, but to compete with them with a mutual desire and need for goodness and humanity. Thank you very much.