Issues And Concerns Facing Muslims — Our Position And Direction: Part 2
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editor's note: This is the second in a series of articles that will carry the historical address Imam W. Deen Muhammad presented to an overflowing audience in Detroit's Cobo Hall.)
I told him that I wanted to join him on Saviour's Day. I said, "My purpose for wanting to join you is to help keep the community, the Nation" — as we called it back then — "looking at the right thing. And that is that we have a great mission. And no matter who is killed or what kind of confusion comes up, we can't allow the clouds of that confusion to block our view to what we are all about." So I felt that my presence would be a great contribution to an equalizing of what was going on or to bringing a great lessening of tension, excitement, nervousness, in the body of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. That was my interest in coming back.
I know some of you are now saying, "That was your interest? You only came back for that?" No, that was not the only thing I came back for. But I did come back for that! That was my main reason and that is what moved me to come back. If that had not happened, I would not have come back at that time. Maybe something else would have occurred eventually to bring me back, but as it was I would not have come back at that time. So the Honorable Elijah Muhammad accepted me and again did not question me about what I believed or anything. He just accepted me back. Before he passed, at the table where we would be on Sundays after the meeting, he asked to hear a tape that someone had brought him on me, again attempting to get me out. Now I had made this tape or had given these words while I was on a radio show and back in the community.
My father listened to it, and at one point he just could not contain himself. He clapped and his face flushed, for he was bright-skinned. His face Hushed to a reddish pink. He said, "Clara, isn't this what we have been waiting for?" He was talking to his wife; that is my mother. Again, he said, "Clara, isn't this what we have been waiting for?" She was smiling with her bright smile. She was black and her teeth were big and white. So when she smiled that face just lit up. She was smiling with that big, bight smile of hers and said, "Yes, honey." Boy, did I feel good! I don't think I have ever felt better in the presence of my mother and father, when they were both there at the same time looking at me. I don't think I have ever felt better.
I guess you will say, "He must have been talking on the Messenger and Saviour and the Nation of Islam." No, I was not talking on anything that we knew in that organization or in that Nation of Islam. I was talking about the burden of mythological gods on man. And my father told my mother, "Isn't this what we have been waiting for?" So there must have been something that they kept secret, and I am sure that I knew what it was.
What they kept secret was this. The fact that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in his order was not in the African-American life to stay. It was here for a time, given certain conditions and circumstances. And they didn't know what the next order would be, but they had some idea of it that was given to them by the mystic that gave the teachings to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. They had some idea that it would be a completely different order. If I had said things that were based in the Nation of Islam teaching, my father would not have been satisfied. I had based my new idea and belief, my new conception of reality in something else, so my father was satisfied. He was satisfied that the end of the Nation of Islam would not be the end, but that something new was coming. Now that is the fact. You have been listening to others who think they know what is happening, but that is the fact.
It should be good news, especially for you who have lived for thirty, forty, fifty years in this or for my whole life. For I am close to fifty-five years old. I was born in this city, Hamtramck, Michigan, which is part of Detroit. I was a baby when they took me away from here of only eleven months old, and I do not know much about it. I was born in this city on Yemen Street. My mother gave me my birth certificate showing that my father insisted that his name Elijah Muhammad be put on it as my father and not the name Elijah Poole. Back in those days you know that must have been hard. For even as a young man I have had problems getting them to accept my name and it is on my birth certificate. Muhammad is on there, and nothing else ever was on there. It shows where I was born as being Hamtramck, Michigan and in the year of 1933, the month of October and the date of the 30th.
It was not the 31st; I was not born on All Saints Day. Some of you have gotten confused and tell me, "Yes, Brother Imam. I know your birth date. You were born on Halloween, weren't you?" No, I was born just before the masking up. Praise be to Allah. And since we are joking like this, just before we came out I had a nice tie on. And you can't play it down. A tie will really make you look nice. But I took it off and explained it to our honorable Congressman John Conyers. That I was taking this off, because in the Islamic world the Imam does not wear ties. They wear collars but no ties.
And I am glad to say that I am collared by God, and I won't accept any ties. Not in that interest. When it comes to that interest, there are no ties. Ties will mean to put your religion in jeopardy, and to compromise your faith. How are we going to have a tie with politics or with the secular world, when it comes to our interest in serving and worshipping God? We can't. We may have an association, but there can be no ties. To have ties means that whoever I'm tied with is going to affect what I am about. And that is what the tie means. That whoever I am tied with is going to have a part in this. There is going to be a sharing in this concern and I am going to have to yield when the partnership demands it. And the other party will have to yield when the partnership demands it. But we don't accept that kind of thing when it comes to our worship of Allah and the demands on us as Muslims. We don't accept that.
It doesn't mean that we are any less anxious or less eager to cooperate for the good motives and the good objectives of the political society of America or of the world, for that matter. We are just as eager and just as ready to join the good forces for the good advance of man's life. But there can be no tie. And to tell the truth I did not always like a collar. But after I got to know my Lord better and saw what it was all about, I said momma was right. "I shouldn't go out before the people, without buttoning up my collar. She said, "Son, button up that shirt, and don't go out like that with your collar open." And now I appreciate it more.
This chapter in the Holy Qur'an goes on explaining the destiny and inevitable end for the ones who champion lies and falsehood. It concludes again by addressing the one who takes the position to be truthful, honorable, upright, and regardful. "Whoever gives of his wealth in charity." and the word here for charity excludes any possibility that something tainted or something unlawful or gained by unlawful means or having an unlawful purpose be accepted in this charity. This is a pure charity protected by God. It goes on to say, "And who gives of his wealth in charity, that person can be assured by God that his giving of charity is going to be rewarded. But it is only if he gives seeking the face of his Lord the Most High."
What does that mean? You know it is metaphorical or symbolic expression. The expression He gives for "seeking the face of his Lord. Most High" means that he gives for the sake of having his effort or his gift accepted by the Most High God, the Lord of all the worlds. So he is not working just to release the pressure or the demands on himself, except that that demand is the demands with his Lord Most High. He is not doing it to please his children, his wife, his friends but except that that concern includes the concern to please the Lord Most High.
Now for that person, the Lord Most High says. "Wala-saufa yauhl-dhar. "And inevitably, ultimately, he must come to his own satisfaction." It is a state of satisfaction, his pleasure, his relief, his happiness, his paradise. It is inevitable. And in concluding my comments on this chapter, I want to tie in that inevitability or inevitableness with what God says about the order of the creation or the order of the material world, the universe that extends out beyond the ability of material man, secular man, godless man, and goes beyond their ability to see.
No man, no matter how much he tells us about this world and that there is no God over it, can tell us what is out there in the end of it. They are still looking. The biggest and best telescopes are still seeing more. For the Lord that did all of this, according to the people of faith — the Muslims, Christians, Jews, and many others say "that in doing all of this He also created an inevitability." There is something that can't be escaped. And that is justice. Dear Congressman, we know that, don't we? That is why he works so tirelessly and so hard. It is for justice. He knows that it is an inevitability that the world cannot escape. It is coming, and all of us must do whatever we can in the time allotted us to serve that end, and knowing that our efforts are not in vain, for it is coming.
Now, let me address the context of this message today. This is what I consider to be my mission. And I don't know if you are aware, but I think I should take the occasion to inform this special audience. And I say this audience is special, because of the dignitaries here but more importantly because of the striving poor who really believe in the Lord and who have been here under one experience. And they didn't sit down before the next experience, but stayed with it. It is because they know also in their souls that the Lord's justice still comes. And no matter what happens, it should not darken the vision. You have to keep going day or night and in good weather or bad.