from the Muslim Journal 6-8-01)
Its Influence on Culture (Part 4)
W. Deen Mohammed
address by Imam W. Deen Mohammed was given in Norfolk, Va., at Booker
T. Washington High School, on June 23, 2000.
G-d says that
He wants to fulfill all of our wholesome appetites. He wants you
to have a life that is rich, a life of abundance. We can only have
this, if we respect each other as shareholders in the life that
our Creator gave for all of us to have, knowing that really the
True Owner of everything is The G-d that made it in the beginning.
G-d made it
to yield, to give its fruits, its products and its services to us.
G-d did that, and we should never as a race or as a religious group
claim all of this for ourselves. We must claim it for the whole
Then G-d will
love us and help our efforts and will send His Angels to work with
us. We will have great help, supernatural help for human efforts
on this earth, if we will accept that all of us belong to G-d and
the whole world belongs to G-d.
WORTH OF RELIGION AND OF MAN
We are only temporary shareholders. We are going to die and leave
it and others will have it. This is the message of Al-Islam, of
the religion. This is the message for mankind. Religion is not something
that comes just to make us feel good in our souls. Religion is not
a narcotic, like the Communists charged. The Marxists charged that
religion was the opium of the people.
more than that. It is not something just to make me feel good. Religion
wants me to look good in my family, in my home life, in my neighborhood
life, in my city life, in the human family life. And that desire
is burning inside the soul of every individual — to look good
in the picture of mankind. Not to just look good in my own picture
as a Black man or as a White man or as a Yellow man, but to look
good in the picture of mankind.
That is a need
in the soul, and in my own experience as a seeker of G-d, to know
what is my life and how I should live my life — seeking G-d
to know what is my worth in this great plan, in this great scheme
of matter, in this universe, this earth and sky. Why am I here?
What is my place here? What am I to do? What is my value in this
big picture? I sought G-d to find that out.
experience was to know my worth, my place and my value in the picture
of mankind, not in the picture of one race. The world now has become
one. We can't escape that. The powerful television as a media brings
us together all around the world as one human family, having essentially
the same needs, the same aspirations.
DESIRE FOR GOOD FAMILIES, GOOD FUTURES
All of us want good families and for our families to be protected.
All of us want opportunities for our children to have a good future,
a good education. We want them to have the opportunity, if they
can qualify, to have a good income and to one day be the owner of
the bank, the mayor, the governor or the president of our Nation.
We don't want them to be cut off.
We don't want
anyone telling us: "No. You can go far but not that far."
We want to know that we have the right to go as far as any other
citizen can go. We all want that, and this is what G-d wants for
us. If we understand our religion, this is exactly what G-d wants
G-d wants us
to recognize each other and to respect each other and to promote
each other's good interest here on this earth, with G-d and His
Angels — the Super Powers — working with us for that
good life. This is what my message is to you today.
G-d has created
us as a plant. Even if you are not a gardener or farmer, you don't
want to bring your wife a bouquet of weeds. Dandelions are pretty,
but you don't want to bring her a bouquet of dandelions. You want
to bring her richer flowers that don't say: "This carries the
message of torment, too."
torment someone who wants a nice lawn. A bouquet of dandelions brings
up bad thoughts. So you want to bring her a bouquet of roses or
other beautiful flowers. And life should be the same. We should
want our cultural environment to be beautiful and not bring up bad
thoughts, but good thoughts.
GOOD EFFORT IN NORFOLK
We have an effort here in this beautiful city to join others working
on the business district to renovate buildings that will bring fresh
business and commercial life there again. We must understand that
cultural beauty cannot be had in the measure that enlightened and
advanced societies like ours wanted without a respect and appreciation
for higher education and the right of every citizen to education.
very important, if we want to have that choice environment, that
cultural environment of richness in terms of a desire for a virtuous
life and richness in terms of a desire for an enlightened life and
productivity — wealth.
So when I see
an effort like this in Norfolk, Va., to bring business life back
to the strip, I can't help but also see developing along with that
effort a desire to provide that strip with wholesome entertainment.
Culture and work should go together. Culture and community development
have to go together.
We work better
when we have a perception of beauty, an appreciation for the beautiful
things of life. You have a better spirit with which to work. The
so-called primitive people of undeveloped societies, of no industry
or science, etc., many of them we see in history going to work with
a song. They wake up in the morning and go out to work singing,
continuing the song as they worked.
One of our entertainers
was known for writing and making popular a work song. Many of you
are aware of how working people would sing to make the burden of
work lighter. My mother would cook in the kitchen and clean the
house, when she got up in the morning. She would be singing beautiful
spiritual songs. She came from a Christian family.
for the beauty of language and the beauty of sound all make up the
culture and it manifests a beautiful environment of art and cultural
richness. But this culture should not just say "beauty"
to us; it also should say there is help for our life.
THE DEAD ENVIRONMENT ALIVE, BEAUTIFUL
In my conclusion, I want to say to you that I know the Muslim community
here in Norfolk under the leadership of Imam Vernon Fareed can take
charge of that building and do for that building what Christians
and others have already done for other buildings on that strip —
to bring it to life again.
G-d wants that
for us. The greatest resurrection or the greatest gift of life is
the human soul, the human spirit. But G-d also wants us to look
at our material environment. In our Holy Book, G-d says observe
a town abandoned, neglected, how its roofs are caving in. And then
how it is developed again, and it has a new life. These Muslims
want to give the 35th Street Strip another life, another chance.
We have support
in our scripture for that. We are to look in our environment and
come up with a plan to make the dead environment live again and
to make the ugly environment beautiful again. And we are to even
increase that beauty and richness and growth.
We have a time
on this earth that men and women and families and life have never
seen before in the history of man on this earth. We have a time
now to really live almost in a virtual paradise on this earth, on
this planet. We have that chance now.
TOGETHER, WE MUST KNOW EACH OTHER
For the first time in the history of religion, leaders of Islam
are meeting with leaders of Christianity in the holy city around
Mecca, in Jeddah, to discuss how we can get to know each other and
to work better with each other to support a world that each of us
want and the best of the life that we want.
They are getting
together for the first time with Jews, Buddhists and others coming
together to see how we can have dialogue in a friendly atmosphere,
so that we can get to know each other better with the purpose of
You can't work
together, if you don't know each other. I'll be running into you
and your purposes and your aims. But when I know your life and your
aspirations, I then can work with you better. Then I can steer my
life on the highway with your life in a way that won't cause accidents
for our lives. This is what Islam wants for us, and this is the
time for it.