The Islamic Role Of Business: Part 2
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Imam W. Deen Mohammed gave this address at the Grand Opening ceremonies of the new Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam on December 30, 1990. From this address Imam Mohammed has now prepared this article for Muslim Journal's readers.)
Imams In Business
I am asking this of the Imams: Imams, do not be satisfied receiving no income except from charity. If you want more education and think that you need to go back to school, you should do that. We have helped some Imams and they have done well. We have helped some brothers and sisters who are not Imams to go back to school and get more education. We are all helped when some of us achieve more. Some of you Imams are doing well in education, business and other professions.
We have to make sure that what we have is spent in a way to get the best results for our overall interests as Muslims. So we spend on people who show by their example and by their reputation that they are really honest and hard working and are really going to make a contribution bigger if they can get the needed assistance.
We get requests saying, "I need to go in this business, for I have a big family and need this." I feel bad having to give our regrets. They will think I'm just like a "white man" at the bank. You business people should help us inform our brothers and sisters so that they will know the situation and how to determine their eligibility to qualify for financial assistance.
We are not in the business of taking people who have nothing materially and putting them into some materially good situation. We can't do that, and that never will be the masjid's role. The masjid's role is only to address the needs in our spirit and the needs in our thinking. We have needs in our spirit and in our thinking. We need to form a disposition within ourselves that will mean success for us in this life and in the Hereafter.
The obligation of the Imam is to address the spirit and the thinking in connection with deeds of the tongue, hands, eyes, feet, etc. "You will not believe until your inclinations follow what I have come with." -Muhammed, the Last Prophet (A.S.) It is hoped this will bring us to favor positive dispositions. When there is a spirit for obedience we are situated to accept responsibility in some measure. We hope that will grow more and more to the Muslim disposition in us.
Let me state it in another way and perhaps more clearly. We are to call people to responsibility. All of us are going to be accountable to Allah. If we never accept responsibility, we are going to hell. Those with something in their right hand will be rewarded. Those with nothing in their right hand will get no reward. We can come up with the left hand full, and we are going to hell with a full left hand. We can have the "left hand" loaded down and as full as possible, but we are going to hell if there is nothing in "the right hand" — conscious deed.
The right hand is to act with responsible thoughts. (If the left hand does this, the deeds are right hand deeds.) The left hand is as a slave with no establishment. "Oh, I helped you wash the right hand. You know you wanted to scratch and I scratched for you. Remember you were carrying that load, and the right hand was not enough? Remember that I helped you." You sure did! But what do blind followers do on their own initiative? It ("the Johnny comes late") only comes when it has to. It never takes the lead. It never volunteers anything. It only comes on demand. Its participation is forced or demanded.
I believe if we are to escape hell fire, we must prove ourselves to be responsible. The person who does not want responsibility and is just asking for help and waiting to be led and lying dead until someone forces activity is a bomb. I believe that this is telling us that bombs will have no place in heaven. What can there be for a bomb in heaven but a lock up? He'll be told there are no jails on this level, so go down for the lock up.
In Al-Islam, the right has the right-of-way. If the two of you are walking, who is supposed to go first if you have to enter a door? It is the one on the right. "But when we pray and there are only two of us, who leads the prayer? It is the one on the left who leads the prayer." That is right, but that has reference to sides, not to hands. We respect that the one who is best qualified of the two should lead and bring his strength to the weak side. "Hold up my left side, brother. Lead me in prayer." There is more to such matters than meets the eye.
In America, as elsewhere, we see the "right hand" as the truthful hand. The judge says, "Will you swear by that, then raise your right hand." I don't say the left hand is a hand of lies, but the right hand is one of established reputation. I can look at this masjid and its completion. We can come in a town and see the accomplishments of "the right hand."
"A White Man's World"
So don't be yelling, 'This is a white man's world." Now say, 'This is a right handed world," a responsible world. The only thing we have to do now is start using that "right hand" more.
The whole Muslim life is supposed to be a life of conscious acceptance of responsibility. We have to make wudu before prayer, to clean before prayer. If we can't find suitable water, we have to make it with clean (dry) earth. We cannot splash water on. We have some disciplines we have to follow. We begin with the right hand and wash it three times, and we are doing it with the left hand. Then we take our right hand and wash the left hand three times. We have to follow methodically every step. We can't mix them up and cannot deviate. We cannot do what our self-made spirit wants to do. We have to do what the Islamic rules say do, and we have to do it consciously.
Civilized people eat with a consciousness of what they are doing. Muslims say "bismillah" and then eat. The food has been selected consciously, quality food (tayiban), no pork, no liquors, nothing that is not halal. We Muslims do not eat with "the left hand". Eating with the right hand means a conscious awareness. This consciousness is an awareness of responsibility. Mother says, "Boy, put your mind on what you are doing."
She is saying be conscious, be aware of the responsibility you have in this particular duty or situation.
Really, we cannot separate responsibility from consciousness. A person can be awake, not sleep, but if they are not behaving responsibly, we don't say they are conscious. We should understand that for behavior consciousness and responsibilities are the same. We should be trying to behave in a conscious way and to be conscious of what we are doing so as to please Allah.
(To be continued)