June 11, 1993
"From the Sense Maker"
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(The following question and answer session took place at Wayne County College in Detroit, Michigan, on April 14, 1993.)
Q: I used to be a minister under your father, the late Honorable Elijah Muhammad. You gave me the name of Khalid Muhammad; I used to be Minister Michael Ozier, and you gave me the name of Khalid in Chicago. I have a problem with some of the people who still follow the Nation of Islam. The thing that disturbs me is that we had a representative of the Nation of Islam at my high school not too long ago, and he opened with "In the Name of Allah, Who came in the person of Master Fard Muhammad."
My question is, what is the difference for someone whom I think should know better, when that person still opens up a lecture in that manner? Is that any different than the people in the Christian world who says "In the Name of God, Who came in the person of Jesus Christ"?
IWDM: In my opinion it is worse, simply because in the Christian religion that is acceptable. In our religion, it is not.
Q: What can you do to be enlightened?
IWDM: I would read the Qur'an. Any time you are listening to yourself, and that starts to bother you. Stop listening to yourself and read the Qur'an and start listening to the Qur'an.
Q: Concerning social activities in the Muslim community, we have a group of Muslim brothers giving a social affair this weekend. And we have a controversy among the Imams as to whether Muslims are allowed to dance?
IWDM: Let me say this. If we would stop dancing for about five years, I think we could establish ourselves as a race in this country equal to some of the best and some of the strongest, financially and in every other way. What hurts us more in this country is a life of play and dance. So I don't want to say anything to favor dancing or singing. It is too much of a problem for us right now. Just be decent.
Q: I heard in your lecture today comments about symbols and the effect the media has on our community. Just last year, a media extravaganza about the life of El-Hajj Malik Shabazz was produced and presented to the public. I know that you are a contemporary of Malik Shabazz, so how would you comment on Malik Shabazz's effect on the Muslim community and on our national life today?
IWDM: I think on the whole El-Hajj Malik Shabazz or Malcolm X was very good for the life and even the image of African American Muslims. But when he separated from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, as he was forced to do — he didn't want to do that, he then became a desperate man to keep his image and his credits in the eyes of the Nation of Islam members and in the eyes of the public. He became a man desperate to save his life, because his physical life was threatened. He became a very desperate man, and many times desperation takes away our good judgment.
I believe that his good judgment was hurt by the desperate situation that was created in his life: threats on his life, the fear of losing his children, his wife, and perhaps more important for him was the fear of losing the image and the respect that he had gained for himself as an able spokesman for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam.
When he was photographed with the carbine rifle at the window posing, to me that was not Malcolm. The expression on his face was not Malcolm. When I heard him speaking after the break with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I could feel and hear the strain on his life because of the desperate situation he was in. The best of Malcolm was the Malcolm that preached for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the black man as the minister of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, in my opinion.
I don't think he changed after going to Hajj. He changed before he went to Hajj. That is why he went to Hajj, because he had changed. And believe me, a lot of the change was encouraged by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught all of us not to just take what we read on the surface but to look beneath the surface. He taught us to be curious and to question even his own lessons (from W.D. Fard).
Now he didn't teach us to question his authority. You would get into trouble if you questioned his authority. You would get into trouble if you were seeking something to use against him or to use against the Nation of Islam. But if you were just searching to get a better understanding and you were sincere, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad encouraged that. If he didn't, I wouldn't be the man I am now. I wouldn't have been encouraged to come as far as I have come as a person who admired him and believed in his sincerity. And I still do.
So I think Malcolm was forced because of the real and serious threats on his life and on his family's life to become a desperate man. And as a desperate man I don't think he was voicing the purity of the real soul of Malcolm. I don't think he was voicing even the real intellect of Malcolm; it was hurt.
We appreciate him for saying that Islam does not allow any division on the basis of race distinction. We appreciate Malcolm for saying that all Muslims are one and that we are all brothers' and that there is no racism in Islam. We appreciate that very much. But Malcolm was still having problems because he wanted to have two institutions or organizations. One was called Mosque, Inc. and the other was a political arm. It was like the separation of church and state.
I don't know why he did that. Did he think his political ideas would hurt the mosque? Did he think they had to be separated? Maybe he thought that he was not qualified enough in the religion, in Arabic and et cetera, to really head the religious arm. Maybe he wanted to separate it so some better qualified person could head the mosque and he represent the political voice. If that was the case, I can accept that. But he is not here to answer any questions, and we don't know that.
All I know is that Malcolm was not the same man. I met him in person and talked to him. He was not the same man any more. He was a frightened and desperate man.
(To be continued)