Imam W. Deen Muhammad's Oakland Address: Part 4
(Editor's Note: This is Part IV of Imam W. Deen Muhammad's Taa'leem address in Oakland. Calif.)
So He sends a liberator to bring us out of the darkness into the light. You say, "Oh, the white man is an oppressor." Well, maybe he is, but he is not the biggest oppressor. The biggest oppressor is ignorance, and it has been known for ages. How can the white man enslave a free man? You can only enslave a man who is already a captive. "But he can put him in chains!" And a lot of men have been put in chains, and they wrote notes and left something to carry this civilization a thousand years further, while they were in chains. They were physically in bondage, but as a human being, as a thinking creature, they were not in bondage. We were free.
There is nothing they can do to you short of killing you, that can tie up your resources if you are free. You will find a way. I know I can. They can lock me up or put me in a hole no bigger than for me to turn around in, and I will meditate my way out into the society. I will cause a powerful thought to be felt somewhere out there. For that intuitive firing is not like the rational or the conscience, because you don't know where it will hit. But you do know it is going out there somewhere. It will go out and hit or land somewhere, and someone will pick it up. And pretty soon I am on the outside, as well as on the inside.
Not that I am in control of it, but if I have that strong will and desire and I think free, if I think out of this place, it is, going to register on some soul already out there in time.. And the same thing that will be motivating me will be motivating him on the outside. And before they know anything the same hell that they are trying to save themselves from by locking me up will be right outside the door. Now we don't expect those kind of circumstances to come. But even if circumstances came that were that terrible, it does not mean that it is hopeless.
So the creation, itself, is first an oppressive burden on us. The angels saw it perfect, with everything beautiful. It was beautiful and perfect for the angels, because the angels had been made as creatures to serve the order and Ruler of the heavens and the earth. They were made to perform without thought and without that kind of problem or anything, and they are already in touch with the workings of the universe. God has created them for that. They see it as perfect, but we have to learn the perfection of the universe. We will not see it that way.
When we see it, we see oppressive things. The thunder and lightening frightens us. When the sun rises up, we fear it for the first time. We have stories on the first time that man saw the sun, where he runs and hides behind a rock or goes back into the cave. They are imagining what will happen if he were to suddenly see the sun for the first time. And that is true. These things come to us gradually, and we gradually learn to live with them and to accept them and to appreciate them. But at first they are a great burden on the mind. They are a great burden on the intellect of the person, until we understand it.
And we make mistakes and make these things our gods. They are no gods but are things that are put into our service. So out of that ignorance of the creation, we come into a knowledge of the creation as the plan of the Creator made, not to hurt me, but to benefit me. Since God made this to benefit me, I am challenged now to make the best use of it. Then the person strives to make the best use of the things in his environment, whether it is his home or the neighborhood or the city or the whole nation or the whole earth. That is the person that renders the biggest and the best service.
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, "The best of you is the one who is most useful to the people." The one who renders the best service for humanity is the best of you. We know that he had many statements about the best one, but that is one of them. "The best of you is the one who benefits the human family the most." We also know that the best is the one who is "taqwa." That is not the saying of Prophet Muhammad, that is the saying of God, and Prophet Muhammad only repeats it. God says He looks not to our faces but to our hearts. And He says the best is the one who is best in taqwa.
God has made you tribes and families, and no one has the superiority over the other. The best is the one who is best in taqwa. That is the one who is best in his behavior before God. We know that it first begins with us being God-conscience and doing something out of sincerity and with sincere intent, doing something as a servant of God and not as a master. A lot of people will help their fellow man, but they want to be seen by their fellow man as the benefactor.
There is an arrogant race on this earth right now, that won't stop reminding mankind of their gifts to mankind. I am not going to name them. And many of us still have problems being at ease with the white man. I am not talking about "white men," I'm talking about "the white man." It is simply because we see them as an arrogant people, a boastful people, a people that wants all people to see them as their benefactor. And some of them are like that, but many of them are not. Many of the American whites and European whites are not like that. They don't want to brag about their achievements or accomplishments. They don't want you to thank them and give them credit for those things. They are not about tooting their own horns and patting themselves on the back. But there is a race that does it all the time!
If we can understand that God has created us for great accomplishments, for accomplishments far beyond our imagination most likely. We have gone a long way, but don't think that is the end. We can go much further. I am talking about the "progressive man," he can go much further. In fact, Allah says there is no end to the progress that comes to His servant that obeys Him. He says, He has created things that you know and that you don't know. And you cannot exhaust the resources; there is no way you can use up the resources - that is what Allah says to us. We know there are great possibilities for us, but also that we are not going to appreciate these great possibilities for ourselves with* out some understanding and some teaching.
We have to be taught. Education, learning, teaching is a priority in our religion, and it is a priority for any liberated people. You have to work on educating. And education wasn't left in the hands of an elite group of society. Education was immediately introduced into the general public by our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. He said to those who came and received knowledge from him, that "you are obligated now to pass it on to others." He said to them, "Whoever knows one or three lines, if you will just teach that to another, there will be great rewards for you." So he brought about a vigorous movement for bringing up the knowledge, the literacy of the general public in his day and time.
We cannot have all these fine institutions working on building a master race, working on building a master society, leaving the knowledge that God intended for all of us in the hands of academia or in the hands of a few intellectuals. No, that cannot be our way; we can't do it that way! It is not for that, and God says He reveals it so that it should be given openly and freely. A secret society in our religion is not only forbidden, it is criminal. It is criminal for us to have some secret society holding knowledge that will benefit other people, if they have it. So education is a must.
God created us with the nature, with the character, and with the behavior HE wants. And that will remain good as long as the environment is good, suitable, or conducive to that life and development. But it will require knowledge, revelation, education, if the environment becomes, itself, a factor for oppressing the intellect of man. So dear beloved Believers, we have to appreciate knowledge and appreciate education and try our best to translate the complicated ideas and theories into the language of the common person, so that they can get the benefit.
Don't you know that a capitalistic society makes capital of everything? And that is how the weak are oppressed. They are oppressed by greed. But we can't always see the connection. How come this institution is giving all of this special attention to these special people here and then limiting the knowledge to this special group? We know that many of the entry exams were rigged in the favor of the established people and against the un-established people. The Civil Rights movement brought that out. that these examinations are unfair. In time, they tried to do something about it. But they still aren't fair yet!
So there is no need to go into those institutions and try making them suitable. The best thing to do is to start your own movement. And you who have the knowledge should translate it, so that the common folks will understand it. Then it will not be us that are denying the people. At least the guilt will be off of us. We can say, "We have done our best, God, to simplify it for the common man. And those who don't get it because of their neglect or because of something that we had no control over, then at least we are free."
Now the real freedom we should be seeking, the highest freedom, is 'freedom of the mind, freedom of the intellect.' As a people once enslaved, we have come from slavery and are in freedom now, we say. We are no more physically in bondage; we are no more political captives of this country or of the South or of any part of it. The courts and laws recognize our freedom, and so we are free. But can we really benefit from freedom?
Physical freedom is a condition for coming into mental freedom. A baby is a captive before it is delivered into the world. It is in the prison of its mother. And when it comes out here, what is the freedom that it wants first? Many times when it comes out here, it is not hungry; the mother cannot even feed it. if she tries. But it is mentally hungry. Before it even takes the first drink of milk, it is mentally hungry. It will have the look of curiosity; with its eyes open, those eyes will tell you that the child is curious. The newborn baby is curious.
We also think that every baby is supposed to come here playful. So the first thing we want to do is play with it with baby talk. The baby will look at you as if to say, "What in the hell is this?" God created that baby with a mental appetite before a physical appetite and before all of this play thing.
As a people now we have to be re-educated to see that freedom cannot stop with the kinds of freedom that we have been pursuing — the freedom to leave the South or wherever we were; the freedom to work on jobs and consume clothing and decent living quarters; the freedom to participate in the political process; the freedom to be a citizen of the United States.
(To be continued)