Prepared To Make It In The Land of Plenty
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Excerpts From Islam's Climate For Business Success)
The world is loaded with goods and delights. There is a saying of the Prophet, the peace and the blessings be upon him, about Allah's creation and the change that took place in that creation. The saying goes that Allah invited the Great Angel Jibril to witness His creation. And when Jibril beheld the creation of Allah, he said: "How can anyone go wrong in this creation?" Allah then showed the Great Angel Jibril His creation after Satan had altered it. Then Jibril said: "Oh my Lord, how can anyone go straight in this creation?"
So we live in a world created by Allah but altered by the enemy. We live in a world of natural creation and artificial creation or artificiality. We live in Allah's creation and also in man's creation. Man's creation is not always good for us, as we know. There are issues now about the environment and so many other issues that are very important because of man making mistakes in his works. Sometimes he has been careless in his works and in not considering the good environmental future of humanity.
The world is sensible and foolish. The world is both decent and indecent. The world is kind and cruel. The world is peacemaker and peace-breaker. Though the world must accommodate honesty, the world is both honest and deceitful. The world is not incapable of converting its every utility, charity and blessings into instruments of war: War for control.
America stands out among the nations in the most peculiar character of all nations. As I see it, it is the most dangerous land. Nevertheless, if you are strong and decent, the mighty arm of the world will not break you. But understand that you have to be prepared to make it in the land of plenty. There is a need to keep an eye on what you want from yourself and an eye on what you want from America. Many of us do not give any serious thought to what we want from ourselves. And that is the big mistake.
Muslims or religious people are influenced by the religion to keep an eye on self, and to present "self at all times in a way that would please our Lord and Maker, Allah. We are believing that we have to always present ourselves in a way that permits us to be in a good situation for progress in the land of plenty.
Since our disposition and attitude have a way of telling what we are prepared for, it makes good sense then to be prepared within, internally. I remember my father, the late leader, once saying to the great gathering of his people: "I see how beautiful you are dressed without. But how are you dressed within?" It is in spiritual expression where we can observe the force of sensitivities maximized, concentrated and directed. Religion wants us to come into the proper spirit, into that spirit which Allah intended for His human creation.
Question a person's morals, passions, or intelligence, and a spirit may take control of that person. As situations grow around us and in us, as in the affluent society we call America, those situations become more serious, more complex, less simple for us to manage. The more complex and serious the situation becomes around us and within us, the more we have to sharpen our senses and sensitivities. By the expression "sharpened sensitivities" is meant we must have more "experienced sensitivities." Many people live long lives but never have matured sensitivities.
Those sensitivities do not seem to improve much over the period of their experiences. That is because they are people who are absentminded or people who have no real cares. As Allah says to us, He has given us signs in the heavens and in the earth as well as in ourselves, but most go on heedless and unaware. By sharpened sensitivities is meant disciplined sensitivities. Experience permits us to come into disciplines.
I was watching a program on television where an instructor in music was praising her young student who showed exceptional ability at an awards program. This teacher said of that great ability that was demonstrated by this youngster: "All I did was channel the natural instincts that were created by God." What we want to understand is that Allah put our treasures into our nature to meet the demands from without. No matter what our present situation is, we are all created with the same excellence. However, that excellence has to have a condition and circumstances for its coming forth.
Just as the plant has to have the condition and circumstances for its coming forth from the earth from a dead seed, the human being has to have the climate for success. It is called a "dead seed," but is the seed really dead? The seed is not dead as a stone is dead. You can put a stone in the earth, and the rains will come and the warmth will come and the circumstances will come, but nothing will happen. But if you put a seed in the earth which appears to be as dead as a stone - and many seeds are called stones -something happens when the circumstances come. The seed swells and grows into a beautiful plant and a useful thing. Likewise, it is for us. A parable of the human life in all its descriptions is plant life with all of its descriptions (Qur'an).
VALUE OUR HUMAN CREATION FOR SUCCESS
We have to value our own creation to make it in the land of plenty. Many of the failing people in the land of plenty have no real appreciation for what they are naturally in their creation. They are fascinated and distracted so much so that they just follow "shadows that are cast by things that they cannot even identify."
They will just follow influences in the confused atmosphere of degenerated cultural life. They follow those influences and will take their minds and personalities and behavior from those influences of the confused culture around them. So how can they make it in the land of plenty? It is impossible to make it in the land of plenty with that weakness in them.
We are especially happy and excited about the fact that we have come into Al-Islam and that we are Muslims. That is, we believe we have a situation for our life that is good. I made a trip to mainland China with a group of Americans as Friends of China and America, as friends of both people. When we arrived there we were met by a Chinese host and finally were taken to the one who was to address us. He began his introduction saying: "The situation is good in the heavens."
Well, I feel as a Muslim that the situations are good now on earth. I don't know if I understood what he meant by saying the situation was good in the heavens, because I used to believe that the situation was always good in the heavens. The heavens were set by Allah. My heart was always content in heaven, but now I also feel the situation is good on earth.
Not only do I realize that I have a good religion - not only do I realize that I have a religion that can please humanity - I have a religion that can answer all of the needs of men of my color or any other color. I have a religion that can accommodate my greatest desires and my greatest aspirations. I have a religion that can open doors for me that I see and doors I have not yet seen. That is why I feel so wonderful. Having faith in religion and faith in my creation, I will say with all of my heart and spirit, "the situation is good on earth."
Returning to the need for disciplined sensitivities, through experience they become more fit and better prepared to survive moral, social, financial, and political confusion in the land of plenty. We are going to have plenty moral confusion, social confusion, financial confusion and political confusion in the land of plenty.
If we were in a small country and were to go to some of the beautiful resort places for tourists in the Caribbean areas or to Morocco, there we do not have the same situation. In less industrialized areas we are not threatened so much by moral confusion, social confusion, financial confusion and by typical big city problems.
Overly played up moral concerns have reduced the likelihood of us making it in the land of plenty. "We can't be too moral!" In our religion the rule is to guard against the extremes, because the extremes are bad. The extremes spoil a thing. The extremes will take a good thing out of its true nature. When you go to moral extremes, to a certain point or degree where you are over playing moral life, then you have taken the moral life out of its true nature. Therefore, we have to be careful not to go after moral extremes to the extent that we over play the importance of morality.
We have known perhaps some self righteous prudes down here on earth. They are not in heaven, but want us to think they are. Some want to be called holy. They will go to sleep on their feet while soaking up this praise. Some will hold their heads high because they think they have a moral spirit above what is human excellence. What they have is moral arrogance. We must be aware of moral exaggerations. Moral excellence cannot be established without a situation for a functional life of morals and intelligence. We have to have those two working together.
Allah says that if the earth had been populated by angels, then He "would have sent an angel as a messenger." This is not to criticize or reject angels, for we know that angels are high in the creation of Allah. But Allah has de-emphasized the exaggerated attention that religious societies gave angelic behavior prior to the advent of our Prophet Muhammed. In some respects, some religious representatives are saying to become angels without our human nature is our highest goal.
What I am saying is the goal for us is to become human and obedient like the angels, but don't become like the angels and turn away from the wife and husband. Don't say: "Well we can be friends but no more intimate relations, for I'm too holy for that!" Don't become angels and operate in the dark; man is made with eyes to see by the light and to progress upon a study of the light.
We want to pursue our human destiny, and the human destiny is to be functional in this world. It is to be functional for the good of humanity, itself. Allah says of the Muslim community that you are the best community evolved for what? Allah says it:".. .evolved for the benefit of all people." And the Prophet, the peace and the blessings be upon him, said: "And the best of you is the one who benefits the people."
BENEFITS FOR HUMANITY
We know that in the history of civilization and in the history of civilizers, we can find no one who has come with the benefits for humanity equal to that which our Prophet brought, peace and the blessings be upon Muhammed. We are not the only ones with this excitement and appreciation for his great successes. Western writers also say there is no one else in history who came and did so much in such a short span of time and had so little to work with. The Prophet came to a backward people, a people during the Dark Ages who were as backward or even more backward than any other people at that time. They were the people called "jahiliyyah of Arabia."