Wayne County College Address
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(The following question and answer session took place at Wayne County College in Detroit, Michigan, on April 14, 1993.)
Q: You spoke of some black people in America who still carry some of the effects of slavery, and they are still in that mentality. Why do you feel that way?
IWDM: It is because the majority of us still have a problem finding dignity in the eight hours of the day or within the 40-hour work week. We don't feel good about that any more. We think it is a burden on us to go to work. A lot of us don't gut enough pleasure out of work to be satisfied with an income to just feed us and clothe us and house us and our children. We have to have enough income to pass ourselves off as rich people.
To me, that says that we carry some of the effects of slavery. Not only that, also we are not loyal to our social life. We are not loyal to our wives, most of us, and the wives are not loyal to us, We (many) are not loyal to our children. We don't have strong families. A lot of that I would have to connect with slavery.
Also, most of us will accept welfare before we will accept a job. It is because a job means we are working for the master again, and welfare means the master is giving us something for nothing. We think he owes us that.
Q: It sounded like you were saying black people back in the time of the Nation of Islam are dumb, but they walked around carrying books.
IWDM: I was referring to those today who are still walking around carrying books. I was not referring to back then. What I was saying is that slavery for most of us is a beginning for us without wealth, without money, without property, without knowledge, without education. And to make up for that and to get a new image we will wear the pretense of knowledge.
Q: In my personal experience with the Muslims, we often get into conversation about history and religion. I have heard them say that Dr. Ben was an enemy of your religion. I would like to know why.
IWDM: I am not sure myself whether he is an enemy or not, but I think he and others who identify with the Afro-centric idea have been influenced by enemies of Islam. Perhaps they are not aware of it, but how can you talk about focusing on Africa and play down the importance of Islam on that continent? When all of the great "empires" that we hear about were Islamic and created by Muslims? I don't think we can speak of the fall of Africa and blame it on Islam any more than we can speak of the fall of Rome and blame it on Christianity or the fall of any people and blame it on their religion.
Changes come in the world, and some nations go down while some go up. Some of them say that because of Islam we were made slaves, and that is ridiculous. They say the Muslims sold us into slavery and that is ridiculous too. Were the Muslims such good salesmen that they could sell human beings to white folk? The white folk went over there looking for slaves. There are always some undesirable characters everywhere, and we know that some undesirable characters (among Africans) made money and profits off of slavery.
We know why we were made the slaves. There was a need for us here in the new West, America. They tried to enslave the Indians but that did not work. The Indians died under the burden. So they thought the Africans would be better slaves. The Indians were called servants. They even imported Far East Indians and Asians here for work as indentured servants. They too could not stand up under the burden like the blacks.
They imported us here and we could take the mosquitoes like we took it in the humid areas of Africa. We could take the humidity here in the hot climates in the West. We were used to working in the heat and being active in the heat. So we were desired for slave labor, and that is why they went over there and got us.
But some of these people who call themselves Afro-centric advocates are trying to say that Islam is the cause of us being made slaves. To me, if this is intentional, then they are the enemies of Islam and they are bad people. But if it is ignorance and they don't know, then we can excuse them.
A religion that lifted the black man up to where Africa was lifted under Islam, how can it be blamed for tearing him down? I can't understand that. Askia The Great was not only a great political man, but he was also a great social leader, a great civilizer. He was a Muslim and credited Islam for his greatness.
Malcolm X was a man who pointed to Africa and was Afro-centric, I think, but not like this new group that calls themselves Afro-centric. Malcolm would never point to Africa without mentioning the Muslim African greatness there. He was proud to recall Mansa Musa's hajj to Mecca. He was proud to recall the history and life of Askia The Great and others. So that is the kind of black man I want to see identified with Africa. That is the kind of black man I am. If you are an enemy of Islam, then you are an enemy of Islam. And that is your business.
Q: You refer to Malcolm X and others as relating to Africa differently, Dr. Ben and his teachings and lectures and books do not get into religion as it relates to Africa, per se. He is an historian on Africa and African history. Therefore, I don't understand why you disagree with the man as how he relates to Africa. He relates to Africa from a point of history as to where he came from and what happened. He does not blame the fall of Egypt and of Africa on Islam. If you would listen to Dr. Ben, he will tell you that Africa was conquered by Europeans and how they planned to cut up Africa. Therefore, your statement that Or. Ben takes Islam and uses it in the context as the blame for the fall of Africa was totally invalid.
IWDM: Let me correct you now. There is the tape of my talk. If you can find any where on that tape where I said Dr. Ben was that kind of person, I'll eat the tape right now. I said Afro-centrics and the people who advocate Afro-centricism — my exact expression was "Afro-centric advocates". But tell me this, how many books does Dr. Ben have? And you say it is over 15 books. With the average number of pages in each book about 100 pages each is agreed upon. And how much has he written about the glory of Islam on that continent of Africa? And if he hasn't, then how can he ignore it? That is not a historian.
Arnold Toynbee, one of the greatest historians we know in this country's history, did not ignore the great pages of Islam. And I am through with the question.
Q: I was asked by my father Sultan Karim to give you the greeting, and he hopes he will be in your presence soon. He asked if you would remember him in your prayers.
IWDM: Thank you very much and ask him to remember me in his prayers also. As-Salaam-Alaikum.
The Effects of Slavery
"...The majority of us still have a problem finding dignity in the eight hours of the day or within the 40-hour work week. We don't feel good about that any more. We think it is a burden on us to go to work. A lot of us don't get enough pleasure out of work to be satisfied with an income to just feed us and clothe us and house us and our children. We have to have enough income to pass ourselves off as rich people."