The Practical Application of Al-Islam: Part 3
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(On October 14,1990, Imam W. Deen Mohammed made this public address in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Imam Mohammed has now prepared from it this article for Muslim Journal readers.)
Behavior Decided by Habits & Fixed Attitudes
For many, behavior is decided by habits. Too many are going to do only what we are in the habit of doing, and what we are in the habit of doing is going to dictate how we respond to something else. That is a pitiful state of life. That means the life for that person is worse than the life for an ordinary animal.
For many behavior is decided by fixed attitudes. Attitudes may decide how we are going to treat what is being presented to us and how we are going to treat our obligations. That again is a very bad state of affairs. Set opinions will decide how we are going to behave.
Some will avoid the burden of following good sense through and shield themselves by saying, "I'm entitled to my own opinion." That is right, for we are free. But if we respect and value ourselves, if we go out to buy food and find rotten tomatoes and fresh tomatoes, will we pick the rotten tomatoes for dinner or the fresh ones? Well, opinions may form in the same way. There are rotten opinions and healthy opinions. So to say "He has his own opinion" does not often mean that much and is not often a compliment. To say, "He is a man of informed opinion" is a compliment.
Stand Behind True-to-fact Opinions
We shouldn't stand behind just any opinion. We should stand behind an opinion supported by true-to-fact knowledge. It should be an opinion that is supported by knowledge that is respected, established, and will stand up not only where we are standing but will stand up everywhere as good sense opinion. If you go across the country or even out of the country, your knowledge should stand up and not fall under the fire (the test) of good sense. An informed opinion is what I believe Americans take pride in. The best of our politicians and the best of our leaders have worked to alert us to the value of informed opinion. That is what really counts. Correct knowledge as the strength of our opinion is a must in a democracy.
If we can help our brothers and sisters who are just moving on habits and attitudes and rotten opinions, we will be doing a good and manly service. My religion has educated me regarding the value of every human creature. I don't care what the human creature has done with himself or herself, or what the world has done to that human creature, I still respect what Allah created.
Look with Hope on Individuals
This is the key for getting better results from the people who need our help. Respect what Allah has created, although you don't see something to respect. Know Allah created it, so the potential is there.
I don't like to get into Christian circles of authority, for I am not a preacher for Christianity. However, the story of Jesus (A.S.) and a certain victim in society of that time and place is of interest here. Who would ask somebody to come and help a person known to be physically dead to the point of rot? We are through asking for help of that kind and start praying for the soul.
Here, there was one who had faith that Jesus could bring that dead back to life. When Jesus (A.S.) came, he said, "He is not dead. He sleeps." This asks us to look with hope on individuals that most of us would give up on. Say, 'No, he is not gone. He is just not present. " Then begin doing our best to have him to show up and be himself present in his flesh again.
Know "Islam" in Context of Qur'an
I believe that Muslims should be established upon true-to-the-nature definitions. Many of us will say we are Muslim, but do we know the true-to-the-nature meaning of the term? Are we established in the definition? It is not enough to say, "Yes, I know the meaning of 'Islam'. 'Islam' is the religion of peace and the peaceful resignation to the Will of God." That is not enough. We have to know the meaning of 'Islam' in the context of the book (the Qur'an) where that meaning was first given. We have to read the Qur'an and see how the term 'Islam' or 'Al-Islam' appears in the text of the Qur'an. When we see how it appears in the text of the Qur'an and understand how it is given in that text, how Allah is giving the term, then we see the meaning.
How is a Muslim going to know the meaning of 'Islam', if he is not reading the Qur'an and is not familiar with the Qur'an? Many Christians can tell you that 'Islam means peace'. But do they know the meaning of 'Islam'? Our life should be established upon true-to-origin definitions. For us, Allah is Lord. But for many other people, God is God and another is Lord. So we have to understand the meaning of Lord for us Muslims. Too often we grab terms and don't give serious thought to the meaning.
Allah says to Prophet Muhammed in those first five verses that came to him as revelation, "Read in the Name of your Lord Who created...." For us Lord and Creator are one and the same. We don't have Creator and Lord separate as separate identities. The Creator and the Lord are Attributive Names for One and One Alone. The Lord for us is the Creator. "Read in the Name of your Lord Who created."
Muslims Accept to be Brother's Helper
We have the story of the wild boy that is documented by a person in the field of anthropology. It is the story of a boy who was somehow left among animals and survived in an environment with animals. When they discovered this boy, he was behaving in every respect like an animal. He moved about like an animal and made noises with his mouth like an animal. They saved the boy from that environment, brought him into a human environment, and he gradually began to learn how to speak and eventually became a human being again. What Allah tells us in the Qur'an the world of scientific reporting documents.
That goes at least for those who want to help others. I believe that Muslims do accept that we are our brother's "helper" and not "our brother's keeper." Prophet Muhammed (the prayers and the peace be upon him) said, "Help your brother, even if he is the one doing the wrong." So we don't give up on him, even if he is the one at fault. The question was asked to the Prophet (the prayers and the peace be upon him), "We understand that we are to help our brother. But how do we help him when he is at fault?" And the Prophet responded, "Help him by holding him back from wrong doings." That is a moral obligation.
(To be continued)