Beware Of Psychological Warfare: Part 2
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Imam W. Deen Mohammed made this presentation at the Annual Conference of the Islamic Committee for Palestine using as example the African-American plight. He compared it to the possible outcomes the Palestinian people face. This conference was held at the McCormick Inn of Chicago on December 23, 1989.)
The Civil Rights Movement began to progress and its counterpart, the Nationalist Movement, began to make progress. Our people were divided as integrationists and separatists. There were those who wanted to mix in and be dwellers with the American white man and share the country. On the other side were those nationalists who wanted their own nation and wanted to be separated from the white man and left to themselves. These were the two movements.
You can see a reflection of that in two African-American leaders who were both looked upon as good American citizens. They were W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey. W.E.B. DuBois represented the movement to get "in" and share. Marcus Garvey represented "back to Africa," and separation here in America.
Also there was Booker T. Washington who felt that the races could fare well separately. You did not have to have social (cultural) mixing or socializing. Booker T. Washington put his emphasis on economics, beginning with the businesses that the African-Americans were able to do at that time. We were called upon to press and style hair, cook food, and do other service jobs. While although Booker T. Washington put emphasis on those jobs, he also established an institution for training African-Americans to be skilled laborers, builders, brick masons, etc.
Now comes Elijah Mohammed and his message that we were descendents of Muslims. That we were the original black people, and that the white people were not original. He reversed the racial language and psychology and threw it at the white man. He said, "Yes, the white man is genetically inferior. He is not an original man; he is a grafted man. The black people are the pure and original people." He reversed the language of white supremacy. He said, "The white man and his father are the devil, and we, the black people, are the gods and are the children of God."
Although the Honorable Elijah Mohammed had big problems, I do believe that he was very sincere. He had this big problem of race and was the victim of racist language and racist psychology. His main resource material was not the Quran, but the Bible. Since he had knowledge of English and not of Arabic, he was forced to lean more on the Bible for his argument. The result was that he confused the identity of Muslims for us and the nation.
The Honorable Elijah Mohammed was building identity, but we are left with an identity problem. The Honorable Elijah Mohammed told us that we were "the Asiatic black man". One sister called me up while I was on a radio program recently. She was still seemingly back there in what the Honorable Elijah Mohammed taught and later changed somewhat. She said on the phone to this talk show, "We are not African-Americans. We are Asiatic black people.''
I said to her, "Fes. Sister, I know we were taught that. But the Honorable Elijah Mohammed stopped teaching that about twenty or more years before he passed. I wish we would follow the Honorable Elijah Mohammed and bury what he buried." If we love the Honorable Elijah Mohammed and follow him. why don't we leave those things buried? Don't dig up what he buried. Don't ignore Honorable Elijah Mohammed's updated and progressive emphasis on our needs.
I went on to tell her that the reason I didn't like that expression of "Asiatic black" was that it tends to separate us from Africa. It appears to say we are ashamed of Africa. It appears to say we would rather be a black in Asia than a black in Africa. All of this is really nothing but a lot of confusion. It is an endless circle of confusion. You just keep going around and around with more burden. I went around for years and I stopped and got off the treadmill and got on the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammed and the straight path of the Qur'an. Now I am so happy, until I do not know the words to express it. Really it is the greatest relief that I can see.
Some parts of that old teaching really had us messed up. We could never solve those questions. We would get to a dead end every time as we tried to solve the identity problem. I like what Allah says in the Qur'an, "That all of you have one father, Adam. The father of all of you is Adam, and Allah made Adam from dust. "That is simple, and I can live and work with that.
The Honorable Elijah Mohammed said that we were Muslims and should be proud of our color. Naturally, that message attracted many of the down-hearted and rejected African-American people. This was especially for those who were not educated in the "white man's school" of higher education. Rarely was anyone attracted to that "black theology" from the African-American educated people. In the whole community we could find about two people with doctorate degrees. That was the case until the sixties (60's). By the early seventies (70's), a change was occurring. College and degreed persons were noticed among members of "the Nation of Islam."
What I am getting at here is I want you to see the main burden that was on us. The main burden that was on the African-American people was not the discriminating laws and courts and K.K.K. terror against us. The terror of the Klu Klux Klan and the savage beatings for nothing oftimes, the murders for nothing oftimes, the lynchings and burnings were demonic, horrible. Still that was not the worse burden we carried.
The worse burden was cruel misinformation, absence of knowledge of our past and of our identity. Who are we? Where did we come from? Where should we be? This ugly void was the greatest burden on us, and I believe that it is still the greatest burden on us.
Circumstances have changed and we do not have the legal problems as before. The courts will listen to us and the law is supposed to be fairly and justly administered for us just as for anyone else. Jobs and opportunities are open to all. We can travel south without regional problems. We can ride on transportation now without the old pattern of discrimination.
In fact, some protesting and racial charges are exaggerations today. Over reacting by us and the prolonged case of preferential treatment have caused some effected whites to charge discrimination against "whites". Complaints being too one sided and favorable legislation by the carloads and the burden remains a burden of image for us.
I want to present myself to you. I was never comfortable with the concept of God that I received from my father. This was a discomfort on me that brought me to study Qur'an, to love it, and not favor the Bible. My father wanted all of his ministers to use the Bible. He reasoned that the Bible was a must to bring the African-Americans to him (to be Muslims). He felt that he bad to use Biblical arguments to defend his claims and position. He saw that I did not have that interest in the Bible and told me, "Son, I have been wanting you to study the Bible. How come you don't study the Bible? I see you don't have that interest in it." I said to him, "No, I don't daddy." He said, "Well I guess it is not meant for you. You will teach the Qur'an." I was happy with that.
I studied the Qur'an more and more until I came to the point where I thought that we were really overlooking the best material (help) for us. We were trying to do it alone (racially) and were trying to build race pride. We were trying to dignify ourselves with our own limited knowledge and limited race logic. The best answers were already provided for us by the Mercy of Allah, the Mercy to all people of the world, the Qur'an and the Last Prophet. I began to see that and began to study the Qur'an more and more.
I did not turn to my father with this. However, I would see hints for economic strength in Qur'an. The Qur'an has hints for economic logic and establishments and great strength. I would read those hints and would say. "If only my father could see that this is more important for his building plans than what he has." But I was already causing enough suspicion and shaking the old "black" theology. I wanted to be as easy on those matters as possible.
Finally, I got an interest in the Bible and said to myself that I would read the Bible. I studied it and read it from Genesis to Revelations. I. studied it from page to page and I know the Bible much better than the average Christian.
In studying the Bible I could see a connection for a lot of problems that our people have and also that the European (western) man has. The Bible is a great religious book, but it is also a very dangerous book, especially in the hands of the wrong person. I saw that and learned from that.
I progressed to appreciate the Qur'an much more. I saw many comparisons for the Bible and the Qur'an. It only strengthened my faith in the Qur'an. It made me stronger for the Qur'an and stronger for Prophet Muhammed, the prayers and blessings be on the Prophet.
(To be continued)