How Your Religion Views Extremism: The Lesson For Daily Life: Part 4
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editorial Note: The following is a continuation of Imam W. Deen Mohammed's public address in Bridgeport, CT on Sunday, June 11. 1989.)
It is said, "Can't they see that the heavens and the earth were once joined together before they were separated?" Qur'an. What is that saying? Didn't many astrologists study the heavens and came to stupid conclusions? They thought the heavens out there were just ceiling and decoration for the living room, earth. Everything out in the heavens revolved around the earth as the center of the universe.
Later they found that they were wrong, and that the earth and other bodies — mars, mercury, et cetera were going around the sun. That the sun is really the center of the solar system, and that we all are going around the sun. Scientists (rational thinkers) came to that conclusion later.
Casual busybodies thought the earth was apart and separate from the heavens. Allah asked, "Can't they see that once this was one continuous unit before it was separated?" Then again Allah says to us, "And seek with the means that Allah has availed you the Home of the Destiny. However do not forget (neglect) your share of this world."
As we mentioned last night in our address to the Muslim business persons, that most of the scholars and the learned people in this religion — in fact, all of them I have heard — prefer this verse from Qur'an when they want to address the problem in man and in society of separating the total unit, reality. That is when spiritual life is made something separate and foreign.
Spirit and material are not two foreign realities that are in conflict with each other. They are a part of one creation, the same reality. Whereas they a re separate and have distinct form and distinct worlds, so to speak, they are also united in a continuous whole or unit. They are one and are reflective of each other. The people (the witnesses) saw among them a man. The Prophet (P. B. LL H.) identified the Angel in what appeared to be a man in immaculate dress of black and white. Bukhari and Muslim reported hadith.
The material is reflective of the spiritual; the spiritual is reflective of the material. What we see in the material is a sign of what is in the spiritual. We are to see the unity.
The unity for Muslims is more important than the division or the diversity. We are not to believe on the principle of diversity. We are to believe on the principle of 'Tauhid." This tells Us that the unity is more important than the division or the diversity, because the unity overrides all divisions and all diversities. That is a fact for the intelligent ones who have studied. And it should be a conviction for the others that are sincere.
Upon this unity, we are to dismiss all notions that we are to have a cut-and-dry separation of religion and state, or a separation of business life and religious life. There is no separation of business life and religious life for us. Business life is religious life for us. The life is one, although it has its distinctive separations. The life is unitary and is to be valued importantly in its unity, in its continuity, in its wholeness — more so than in its divisions and diversities.
This is of the principle tauhid, and this affects us in ways to keep us from going to extremes. The world that believes that the devil and demons are all in the material and all of the material world is the caster of shadows and the giver of darkness, that world is the world of extremes. I have never seen any light without material, unless it was what I perceived of myself in the abstract. But out here in the material world, if you see light, you can expect for it to be coming from something material. If I see a shadow, I also expect it to be coming from something material.
We have to dismiss all notions of there being some material world of blackness and darkness and demons. That is religious ignorance. That ignorance has with it a belief that we "black people" are children of the blackened angel. There are some people in religion who believe that, and I am not talking about just in the West or in Christianity. They say that you are marked as the children of the black fallen demons and they have to be suspicious of you and that you can't be trusted. They say that you have human in you also, but still you are the children of the black demons.
There is one organization that just recently informed the public that it forgave our blackness. A representative of theirs said, "Well, they have suffered enough." They then opened up their denomination to us, so that we could become members now, after being barred from membership since it was formed. I will not even name the group; they were so nice. But I wish I could be standing at the door whenever an African American seeks to be admitted. I would just like to say one thing to him or her: "damn fool!" I would say no more.
That is one thing that gets us so much disrespect in America and in the international world. That is, our foolish, stupid hearts. We are more in a hurry, running to hug the person that has been telling us, "I don't like you. I don't want to hug you, Stay away from me, for you stink, you are black, dirty, inferior." Now as soon as they say, "You are just like us." there we go, wet cheeks and all, "Oh you sweet creatures of God. Let me hug and kiss you!" Yuck!
What you should be saying is, "What do you have to say for your past stupidity and cruelties, now that you are thinking sensibly?" Don't run to them. What you should say is, "I would like to hear how in the hell you got into that kind of racist mind in the first place."
We should not distrust our business people, no. We should not distrust them, but we have to be aware that many in business have the wrong motive. Many are deceivers. And a religious community that believes in Allah and righteousness is an attraction for slick people. They think of you as stupid, so they will come among you just to get over. Therefore, you, have to be aware. We want not to be foolish or naive.
Certainly you should not be suspecting anyone without them giving you a reason to suspect them. But neither should you be so stupid or foolish hearted that you just grab into your confidence everyone you meet from outside your race or from your race.
Check a bank out. Don't just put your money in any bank. You should go there and look the place over. See how they are treating their customers. Stand in line and observe them for a little while. Maybe that is not the bank you want to put your money in.
Allah says, "Research the Qur'an." He did not just say to accept it on face value. He says, research the Qur'an. Non-Muslims, intellectuals have done this and some were through inquiry converted. They were not converted by an Imam, hut they were converted by their study of Qur'an. One intellectual said that he was studying it to disprove it and became a convert.
However, you will not get help or support for your conversion from the Qur'an if your attitude is wrong. This doesn't mean that you have to believe in it. but you have to be decent. If you just want to go into the Qur'an void of moral feelings to criticize it, your attitude is wrong. Hut if you really think that it may not be valid and you have a sober attitude, then Allah will bless you to see — that is, if you have good intentions.
We have many problems with extremism, and I have approached the bigger ones first. That is the extremism that comes from misconceiving the unitary order of this universe. That is also the extremism in the mistake of thinking that we have two original and conflicting lives and two conflicting natures and two conflicting life forms (orders) within ourselves. This is the biggest problem that gives rise to spiritual extremists, religious extremists on both ends.
These extremists are responsible for most of the evil in the world- They go to the material extreme and deny everything spiritual and deny the existence of a spiritual nature. They deny the revelation that has come to people for them to accept the spiritual nature and to accept faith. The people who go to that extreme present the worse cruelties to us.
On the other extreme end you have the spiritualists. They go to the extreme and want to persecute science and want to persecute the scientist. They want to persecute everyone that challenges what they say is the reality and the truth. They go to horrible extremes in being cruel and abusive and destructive. It is these foreign extremes that destroy us.
We have to understand that Allah has identified the problem of extremism with Satan. It is the devil that wants to influence you to accept a life of extremes. This is Allah's teaching in the Quran, that this work of influencing life and people to go to extremes is the work of the devil. Satan's method is to get you to accept extremes. Don't you know that extremism in materialism is the devil's work? And also extremism in spiritualism is the devil's work? Both extremes are the works of the devil.
We had extremism in identifying with a cause. Some of us think that to identify with a religious cause is to accept extremism. Such a person cannot even prepare a meal without going to extremes. The prayer of the believer, the Godly people, in Qur'an is this: "Our Lord, grant us from our wives and from our offspring, those who will be the joy and pleasure of our eyes. And make us for the Godly (the God fearing) an Imam (a leader)."
If we accept that and apply that, we are not going to be extremists. And we are not going to open ourselves up to be led by extremists. Allah is saying that we are to be examples and leaders. "Imam" is not only a leader, but a leader who leads by example. The Imam stands before us in prayer and leads us in prayer. We do exactly what he does, He is leading us by example. He is not saying, "Bless you, children, bless you. Now, pray," And then everyone goes and prays by themselves with him watching us while we pray. When we finish praying, the Imam then may say a prayer. This is not the case.
The Imam also has to do everything that we are obligated to do. If he can do just as we are obligated to do, then we will accept him as the Imam to lead us in the prayer. That is the qualification, that he be able to do exactly what Allah has obligated us to do in the way of performing our prayers and imparting the teachings and presenting the religion. He is under an obligation, the same obligation that we are under. (To be continued)