A Sense Of Self Makes Living Better: Part 5
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editorial Note: The following lecture by Imam W. Deen Mohammed was delivered in Atlanta, Ga. on December 11, 1988. It has been edited by Imam Mohammed.)
We must work to preserve the true "self-interest." We can look at the self from different angles and see the different aspects of self through our self-interest. Thereby, we come to appreciate self and come to have a rational sense of self-interest. We should work for this true self-interest and realize that peace is a natural requirement in our nature.
We are called Muslim, which means resigned to peace or accepting the state of peace. Our greeting is As-Salaam — the peace, and Alaikum — be on you. So our greeting is not to say good day as much as it is to say peace be on you. But some people will say "good day," "good night," and "good-bye." And many times they will mean something else. They will not mean Godspeed in the way that the English people understand it. In effect they will be saying, "Good-bye, be gone, God speed you away from here."
You at times will have to have an exchange with persons you know nothing about at all. You will out of necessity have some type of relationship with them requiring that you ask them to move their car or whose car is that or to say "give me five apples." They may not be aware of their attitude towards persons they have never seen before.
A teller in the bank gave me a "Good-bye." The intimation and intonation she gave with the "good-bye" carried that certain attitude and rudeness. The money deposited helps the bank and the teller. So I said, "Godspeed." And this Caucasian woman teller said back to me, "We are all going to the same place." With those words it was clear she was devilish and caught my intimation. I said, "I don't see how you come to that conclusion. We are not going to the same places now." Do not pay for insults. Do not give your dollars to people who treat you ugly and insult your intelligence. Also correct them right on the spot.
Some African-Americans and European Americans got the same airport terminal elevator. One European American said to another European American, "It's getting dark in here." I say to their innuendoes: When winter comes the earth is white and is dead, wherefore you cannot have crops and good times. Then the white flesh body dies and it turns black. Allah brings death in black and in white.
Let us now turn to the great figure types in the Prophets Adam and Abraham. It appears that the focus on Adam is on him mainly as a creature created in the nature that Allah wants for all of us. And in that nature the person is a creature that wants to make sense. He does not want to make foolishness; he wants to make sense. From scripture it appears that members of Adam's genetic mold and spirit progress intelligently and humanly. Learning and industry and everything else followed the creation of Adam. Man realized great industrial nations and powers, great sciences, general and broad development.
Then came Prophet Abraham whom we believe from the study of history and also from what is indicated in the revelation, that he was born in an advanced society. He was not a product of any backwards society in terms of science and material advancement. He was born into an advanced society. But that society was retarded humanly. It had lost its human excellence, just as this society that we are living in right now. It is advanced scientifically and industrially, but on the whole it is retarded humanly.
Abraham comes in as a second father to lead man to rational insight and to a perception of nature, purpose, and destiny. The process that followed the creation of Adam was one supported by the God-given nature. But in time the God-given nature and its ability to handle the affairs and problems of the world runs its course and reaches its limitations.
Then the dawning of intelligence and of enlightenment must come and meet the challenge of prevailing artificiality. The rational faculties must come alive to examine what man is doing, to study what has happened to him in the past that brought him from heaven to hell, that brought him from Adam's excellence to the sins of the world. This new vision brings man to face his own nature to study it, to take it and examine it very rationally in order to come up with answers to cases of poor logic and illogical behavior.
Just as nature was given to him by Allah that sustained him so long over the many generations and brought him into great excellence, likewise the help is here to study what has happened in the past. This help to study what happened in the past and to come up with answers and solutions must also come from Allah. We believed that Allah created man on the sixth day, just as others do, and man cannot reach these solutions without "the intuitive edge." In addition, the intuitive edge must come to him as a gift from Allah just as did his nature.
When we focus upon Abraham, we see him as a creature established for his faith and reasoning reconciled in him as a functional need. We find faith, reasoning, and purposeful functional accord in that great figure, Father Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim), Praise be to Allah. The power, the resourcefulness, the utility (or however it is said) of faith and reasoning one day must come into some kind of accord. The two must work together. You who are aware of what we are speaking on could talk on this for hours. It is not something that we can conclude in a few moments; we are just bringing these points out to view, so that hopefully some of you will enlarge upon it, or take this to more avenues of practical interest.
In our religion the order established by Prophet Muhammad is after the order of Prophet Abraham, peace be upon the prophets. And the respect for man as an intellect is promoted more in our religion than in any other religion -openly promoted.
Prophet Muhammad's first activity as a prophet responsible for the great gift of the final revelation was seen as a teacher having patience even with the most neglected person in terms of needing help for his mind and intellect. He had patience with them. He worked with them. He encouraged them, once they were able to learn one line of reading, one line of revelation, one verse of knowledge, those persons were then obligated to teach others.
Prophet Muhammad was a teacher not confined to the walls of institutions. He was not confined to the limitations of institutions. He was a teacher chat made education not only a right of the public but also a responsibility of each member in the public of the Muslims. Every Muslim is responsible to pass on knowledge as you get it. He made all of them teachers with that responsibility. He encouraged them and sent all of them off as teachers. I hope you can appreciate what is seen here.
Suppose we had that kind of devotion and dedication, that kind of commitment to the commands of Allah. Look how quick we could rise up as a great force for literacy and education in this country. We would have a situation where alt of us would accept the responsibility to be helpers of one another. If we had that kind of spirit and commitment, we would not pass through streets and blocks and neighborhoods seeing our people crazy-minded, idle, ignorant, and abusing themselves. We would not see them neglecting the human destiny and not, ourselves, take the time to go in there and make a sincere effort to help them out of wastefulness, idleness, and destruction.
You should approach them and say, "Brother, Sister, Neighbor, I do not think you are aware of the great help in the world for you and for me and for all people. If you were aware of it, you would have a different spirit, a different mind and would be getting into better situations for yourself to progress in this world." Then leave them a leaflet or a pamphlet, even if you have to write it yourself from a piece of the information that has influenced your life for the better.
I admire the Jehovah Witnesses, although I do not believe in their religion, for their dedication and sacrifices that they make. They will have well dressed men and women and will sometimes carry their children with them from door to door, not knowing what kind of response they are going to get from a resident. They will ring your bell and risk having their feelings hurt to tell you something or to bring you something that they have respect for and value. Now, in these days, more Muslims need to become like that.
Our prophet is the best example for everybody. Those who knew him and responded to him became like him. They devoted their life to help bring more people to appreciate the excellence that Allah intended for the human being. In the Qur'an Allah gives us verses calling our attention to the great human soul and the need for man to respect that great creation, to become conscious of it and to work for its excellence. Allah's word of revelation says to "spend on it."
We will spend on fun and image. We will neglect the future of our children just to spend on fun and image. That is foolish spending. And we will spend impulsively. There was no inventory taken today and there is no knowledge of what is in the refrigerator, but you will go to the store in excitement. Such persons will buy ears of corn and go home and find ears of corn still in the refrigerator from last week. They will buy flour and then find that there is flour already at home. This is not just sisters, there are brothers who are also foolish spenders. They will buy meat and go home to find meat there already. You should respect your good sense to take inventory before you go to spend more money.
Allah wants us to spend on our own souls. "Successful is be who spends on his own soul." What in particular is he investing in when he is spending on his own soul?
Allah says, "...the soul and its need For enlightenment and regardfulness." A person can grow in enlightenment or intellectual ability or perception and still he a failure when it comes to achieving in the world. This happens when we ignore the other major need in our soul. That is the ability to be regardful of things that should receive due regard.
One may not regard his employer or the rules of the establishment that he is employed by. And with all of his intellectual ability, he may soon be seen on skid row as a drunkard and failure.
This is a fact of life supported by so many cases. Therefore we do not have to go to science to find out why that man with a Ph.D. is in the gutter. Or why he is sticking up little old ladies.
Or why he is shooting dope into himself. Allah says the soul's requirement or the need in the soul is for enlightenment or intellectual growth. The other need in the soul is for the growth of regardfulness, proper respect for those things due that regard and respect.
Everything that Allah has made is deserving of a certain regard and a certain respect. So we must spend on the soul. And look how beautiful it is, for when the soul responds as it has been created by Allah to respond, it finally comes into its destiny of excellence. Allah says, "Oh soul, return to your Lord, the One Who evolved you, the One Who gave you that orientation in your nature to bring you from lesser to greater, from inferior to excellence, from poor taste and small mindedness to rich taste and great mindedness: Return to your Lord, the One Who is responsible for that." It continues, "...pleased and pleasing."
And too, there is another big epidemic in our society which is the drunken impulse in the foolish to be pleased, but they do not have a spirit to be pleasing. The two must be together. Just as you have a spirit and a need to be pleased, you should also have a spirit and a need to be pleasing. So why should I keep pleasing you, when you don't give a damn about pleasing me? That is not right.
We should note that certain behavioral trends make society very rude, discourteous, and unfair. There are individuals with ugly sensitivities and are addicted to false pleasures. They have an appetite for explosive, but small, cheap pleasures. Human creation is expensive, not cheap.
(To be continued)