Exclusive Interview With Imam Muhammad
On Saturday, December 17, 1983, Imam W, Deen Muhammad visited Washington, D.C., and delivered a major address before several thousand persons attending AMMCOP's Artistic Clothing Show and Seminar at the local Dun bar High School. Prior to his address. Imam Muhammad granted IQRAA* the following exclusive interview outlining his mission and objectives in the propagation of Al-Islam, as well as his observations on the complex problems of national and international significance:
QUESTION: Brother Imam, we understand that you have established the Muslim American Community Fund to assist you in your work and in your mission throughout America in the propagation of Al-Islam. Can you give us a little more insight as to the need for this assistance, and your mission?
ANSWER: Brother Kashif, first I think that I should explain the developments that I think made the move that 1 made necessary.
When I became the Chief Minister — that is the title that I had at that time — of the Nation of Islam. I found that those policies, the way of doing things, didn't agree with the future of the community.
The policies of past served the need to promote. I would say. just the total forces of the Nation of Islam behind an effort to make a showing of material progress of the black man. And many of the methods, because of that need to promote that Idea, were not the methods that were compatible with my nature.
SO IMMEDIATELY I changed the policy and that meant that we changed the method of raising money and everything. Great sums of money were coming in and when 1 say great sums, 1 am comparing what has been coming in under my leadership with what was coming in before.
I said, I would like to see money used to develop the local areas, so let us stop this bringing money into Chicago from Los Angeles, etc. and all of it staying in Chicago. I said that is no good. Let's leave so much for the national fund, and you take the rest of it back to develop the local place.
But what happened was that as soon as the people found out that the money was not coming to Chicago, they stopped giving it. So that told me that the people were not supporting their local places. They were supporting the national effort, and that was the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and what he wanted - - that is what they were supporting; they weren't supporting their local Leaders.
FOR EIGHT YEARS now, I have tried to work with Imams to get the people to support them but the majority of them have not conformed to the idea. So, I decided that it is time for me to accept the responsibility for directing the community and using the resources in a way that would benefit the community and I knew that if I would set up a fund, that contributions would come to that fund that weren't coming to the community because the people still feel the same — they feel that they can support the national effort but they are not all ready to support the local effort. So that is why it was done.
And now I want to tell you this: since we have done this, we have gotten great results. I won't tell you the figures; I don't think that it is wise for us to say how much we are getting in figures. But the response has been better than I expected.
We have an attorney looking at the account, and he is going to draw up the language to protect this account. Right now there are three other persons signing on with me and we don't intend to put this money where it can be claimed for an individual. It will be the community's money always, always.
1 INTENT to use the money to support my national mission of propagation. If there is a big city and the people have not been able to keep the broadcast on because it costs three or four hundred dollars per week, then we are going to go right directly to some station that will carry the broadcast and pay for it ourselves. I hope, as soon as the weather breaks a little, to rent some facility in the cities and make a major appeal to the Muslims of those cities — that is, a public address to the Muslims of those cities.
But don't forget we have property, and now we are better situated to protect our investment in Sedalia, and also in Atlanta, Georgia which has been finally paid off — it is paid off and, we don't owe anything on it — but we do have to keep it up and it takes money to maintain it- We have to pay taxes on it because it is not tax deductible.
So the account is an account that takes care of the investments of the American Muslims under my leadership and it is to help us reach those goals that we want to reach that required money. Yes, it will work this way.
QUESTION: With respect to your mission, the propagation of Al-Islam, can you put it in philosophical terms?
ANSWER: Yes. I believe that my experience and the experience of many Muslims with me, in what we called the black movement, and now the change from race consciousness to Islamic ideas — purely Islamic ideas from the Quran and the Sun-nah of the Prophet (PBUH) — I believe we are better situated than most people of the United States, whether they are converted Muslims or native Muslims of other lands that have migrated here, to offer the best of this religion to people who need it most.
I believe we are better situated to see the medicine in this religion that is needed for the ills of today, and I intend to carry the message of Al-Islam wherever I can, to the people who need it most and hope that right-minded people will support this; and we hope that we will get a select group of people that will be able to establish model communities, and be an encouragement to people who have the same situation that we have or have found that their lives are in the same situation that our lives are in.
If some of us can survive and establish ourselves — I mean establish ourselves not only as a people who have reformed their moral habits, or people who now have some real meaningful cultural life — I mean more than that, i.e. people who have made a success with their little investments: their money, their earnings. I am talking about an all-around community success and that is what we want.
This religion represents a total community. And we want to bring about all-around community success and I believe that we can do it with a select group of people. So we are not interested in bringing together all the people of the masjid and all the people of the poor sectors of the country.
We are not interested in bringing all of them together. That is impossible, and that has worn me out. We are interested in just bringing a select group of people together to form a model community.
QUESTION: There are two questions generally asked by the public and the Muslims in general: What is your solution to the general problems of America, and what is your solution to situations like those in the Middle East?
ANSWER: I could talk about it for about six hours but we don't have time. The Middle East: the people have left the thing that was holding their lives together, and that is the purity of the Qur'an.
They have left the Quranic teachings, the clear teachings of the Qur'an; and the majority of them have also left the Sunnah of the Prophet in the Middle East. So they are fighting for their rights because they have been put out of their land; many of the Palestinians have been put out; they have had their land occupied. most of them; even Egypt, by foreigners, and that has created emotional scars in their people.
They are responding to the hurt and the bitterness. But they don't have the sound Islamic foundation that they need. If they were to return to the purity of their religion - which is Qur'an — and to the human example in Prophet Muhammad, the Universal man, they can solve the problems over there. They could reunite themselves and they can win respect from their adversaries.
Now, the situation in this country: what can we do to help here, wasn't that the question? Yes well, what we can do to help here is to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and forget about the rest of the people (who are not right-minded people and who reject right guidance).