The Need For A Core Of Strong Believers
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's Note: The following is excerpted from Imam W. Deen Muhammad's April 13, 1986 address at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York.)
Muslims and Slavery
I think it is very strange, it is peculiar, that coming from Africa, coming from an Islamic past, say, -"Yea, but the Muslims sold us into slavery." If that were true, which it is not. Muslims didn't sell us into slavery. Many of us were captured by marauders who raided the coastlines and the small villages, and took us from our land by force. And they were not natives of Africa. They were marauders from Europe. This is a fact. Not only that. Many of us were sold into slavery by non-Muslims who wanted to get rid of their unruly population. so they sold their unruly population to slave traders. I could go on naming the con¬ditions and incidents that contributed to so many numbers, millions of us being brought to this land and put in slavery.
No matter what happened on that side, look at our judgment. If I don't want to be a Muslim because I don't want to be associated with Arabs, I don't want to be close to Arabs because they had a hand, or they sold me into slavery, then let's use the same rule. Let's use the same measuring stick. How can you tolerate integration and love and intermarriage with people that after getting you into their hand did a much worse job on you than those you claim sent you over here?
Be level-headed. If you don't want to associate with our religion because Arabs are in it, then you shouldn't want to associate with Christianity because white people are in it. Does that make sense? Perfect sense! Will that heal the mind of the African-American as a race? That is what we need. And those who fear to say these things, they don't have God's backing.
Those who fear to say these things, those who fear to address the whole life of the African-America person, and deal with his problems, his deficiencies, his weaknesses in every aspect of his life, even his spirit, even his sense of worth, if they are not willing to go into the deepest quarters and recesses of the black man's life and experience to prepare him for success and progress in this world, they are not ready. They are not qualified. They ought to just sit back and wait until we do the job. They are cowards. They are still foster-home children. They talk tough and call me passive and sheepish, but my moral courage makes them look like cowards.
More Than Ordinary Remedies
What am I leading up to? And I don't say that to woo you. I say that because it is in my spirit, in my soul to say it. I love my people. It says to us that this peculiar experience behind us we call the plantation life or slavery in the West or the New World, that peculiar experience set us back, so far back that none of the ordinary remedies will work for us. It set us so far back. I repeat, that none of the ordinary remedies will work for us.
The socialist theories of Marx won't work for us. The populist theories of the West, or the democratic theories of the West won't work for us. We look at it, and we can't get the benefit from it. The white man looked at it and it sent him jutting forward into the future. It made him a great industrial nation, a powerful leader among the nations of the world. His fathers wrote that for him. It is beautiful. It is profound. It. can help us a lot, but it falls short of getting us home.
I repeat, the circumstances behind us that are peculiar in the history of man, have set us so far back, that we need something more than the ordinary remedies. You may say. "Well, what is that?'' If you would believe, the Qur'an is enough. We can just take the Qur'an and do the job if you would believe. But you can never get the general community to believe in a Holy Book. You think it ever happened. It never happened.
Need Core Of Believers
In the days of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, he had a core of excellent believers. And they were the ones that established the life, brought in the system, brought in the environment, and imposed that environment on the dumb ones who couldn't see beyond the tip of their nose. That is a fact. Not only a fact for Muhammad the Prophet, the peace and the blessings be on the prophets. Not only a fact for him but a fact for every liberator. He has to have a core of people who had the sensitivities first. You can be all so smart, but if you are sensitized in a way to be adverse, you are going to be adverse.
A leader has to have a core of people with the sensitivities to respond first to the importance of the issues, and have the courage to join him and be his staunch supporters. Then he can make progress. Then in time, the strength of the people will be realized because of that core whose sensitivities gave them the courage to represent the strength of their people. They will be able to foster in, or bring forward that concept, that life, that theory, that ideology, and those structures that will house the life of the people. They will be able to accomplish that, and in time change the whole life of the whole masses. But it takes time. It takes courage. It takes love, love for what is right.
Our Islamic Past
It is peculiar that coming from an Islamic experience. they would play up primitive experiences in our African past. I'm talking about the so-called educators. They make a point of trying to play up the primitive experience in the African man's past. What would the Germans do if we would search out their past. They were some of the most superstitious and savage people on the earth, but they found the torch of enlightenment and they grew out of their superstition and they began the history of civilization for the German man.
Suppose somebody had the power to impose an idea on the Germans and make them think that the best that they have done in the past was done during the time of their wild-man, backwoods, dark region of superstition. That would be awfully cruel.
African-American students on the college university or high school campuses have been duped. You are being fooled. You are being told that your past in Africa is primitive religion. Ancestoral spirit worship, anamism. etcetera. They don't want to tell you that you have had centuries of a history as scientist, even before Prophet Muhammad. But it didn't last too long. It was only a small quarter of the African continent. And then Prophet Muhammad came with the religion and brought about a renaissance, a revival, a renewal of the interest in science. He didn't only awaken and quicken the intellect of the West, Europe, but he also touched the black man's mind in Africa, and brought him back to his scientific pursuits. And the results was Mali, Timbuctoo, Ghana, etcetera, thus the glorious past of us here, Islam, Africa. Who can challenge that? Ain't nobody on earth that can challenge that. And you know it. I am talking to the learned ones here today. So join me and stop fooling our people.