The Muslim Strives For Excellence
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: The following is excerpted from a lecture Imam Muhammad delivered recently at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich.)
God says in our Holy Book, 'count not your religion as a favor to God, it is a favor to yourself and that He has not created man for any purpose other than to serve Him. What is that saying to us? The greatest opportunity for you is in serving God. Those nations and those powers who have made the greatest advances on earth have been those who believe in God. We know Russia has done a lot but only upon the heels of those who said they believed in God. There are many people in Russia who believe in God, in spite of the position that they take in the political process.
If we understand that our greatest hope in life is in respecting God; in giving service to God, then our status goes up. Our freedom, our power, everything in our life rises as we choose a bigger purpose to work for. What can be bigger to work for than God? If I work for God there's no limit on how far I can go or how much I can do. Eventually. I'll begin looking at the things that are bothering me outside of my reach and I'm going to say, "God, I'm serving You and I believe in You and this is Yours. You're better able to deal with it. I don't have the courage to reach out beyond the ability that I am aware of right now." Man's ability expands more and more as he reaches for greater things to work for.
God has not left us in the dark, He says He has prepared for us a field of work as a garden, its measurements is as the measurements of the heavens and the earth. Again God says that He has made for your utility whatever is in the skies and whatever is in the earth. He has said that the sun and moon render services, they submit. The people who have reached up for higher things to work for, greater causes to work for they have gotten to where the Muslims should have been; they have gotten energy from the Sun, they have gotten vehicles to go to the Moon. That is what Muslims should have done. The Muslims should have been in outer space before the non-Muslims because the greatest encouragement to pursue the unknown, to go and search and explore the various regions of this universe is given in the Qur'an more so than any other book. This is a fact.
The revelation came in the age of darkness, about 1400 years or so ago and it awakened the intellectual sensitivities and appetites of the Arabs and others that embraced the faith. It caused them to be the factor for bringing about the reawakening, the renaissance of scientists. These are facts of history.
The same book can do the same for us now if we would only read it for more than faith. Other religions that focus upon faith and stress faith have been preached so much and so loud during the rule of Europe and now America, that it has synthesized even the Muslims into thinking that the substance of religion is faith. The condition for you is faith but the substance is knowledge. It has been that way all the time. The condition is faith, the substance is knowledge. When Muslims start to read the Qur'an not only for spiritual and moral guidance but guidance for their whole life for their future as people on this earth, then we will see the great advancement, we will see the great opportunities, we will see the great productivity that God has made possible for us as Muslims, but it won't come until we have that kind of approach to the Qur'an, and that kind of idea in our religion.
Look how our Holy Book speaks of those who have only faith. It says, 'they are ignorant, they know not the Scripture, except by faith. It tells us that if we only know the Qur'an only by faith are ignorant but we should make an effort to know it more than by faith. We should know the Qur'an for the great wisdom and knowledge that God has put in it.
Prophet Muhammad didn't talk of things that were beyond man's mental grasp without connecting it with some aspect of reality. Once he spoke of a dream and he said he saw milk coming out from the bones, but he didn't leave it like that, he said that's science. As a young man, I learned in science that the substance of the bones is milk; not the liquid milk but the calcium. It took me that long to learn science.
Prophet Muhammad said that the believers are one and that when we do something we always strive for excellence. That's needed in all of our lives. In the effort we make at home it is important. The effort we make to educate our children is important so we should strive for excellence. The effort we make to create a nice environment in our home, requires that we strive for excellence. Start while you are at home and then be that way on the job.
If we be the best that God has revealed to us in the Qur'an, and in the life of Prophet Muhammad we will be the best people. God says if you are truly believers then you must succeed. You must outstretch everybody else. You must excel, you must go above and beyond others, if you are indeed believers. Why, because if you are indeed believers you have in your possession the Qur'an the most productive force on this earth, in terms of guidance and ideas for progress. If anybody else outstrips you it is because you have been taken off track.
(Editors note: In the March 26th 1986 issue of Muslim Journal in the column of Imam W. Deen Muhammad an error was made due to a proofreading oversight. In the last line of the third paragraph a quote attributed to the Angel Jibreel should have read. "My Lord, how can anyone go straight in such a creation ?''
We apologize to Imam Muhammad for this oversight. We also apologize to our readers and hope that by it we didn't cause any to be mislead.)