September 13, 1991
Interview By The Saudi News Agency (SNA)
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editorial Note: This interview by the Saudi News Agency on August 4, 1991 with Imam W. Deen Mohammed was conducted by Brother Mohamed El Muhma, who spoke only Arabic. Questions were translated by Brother Manoun El Hassan. Transcript has been submitted for print by Amatullah Sharif Okakpu.)
SNA: What is the role of the National Council of Imams during the Conference and does this kind of cooperation with the Council of Masnjid (Rabita) (aid the Muslims of America)? IWDM: Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim Wa aalatu Wa Salaamu Rasulula Karriem. Sala alahu walayhi wa salam a' mabad...As salaamu Alaikum. First of all let me say that this is the first time that I have attended any Convention in the United Stales and felt this good about.
I see that we have gotten over some of our serious problems and I think that the most serious problem was deciding that we are really going to establish ourselves in the United States of America. I feel that the faith in us being able to establish ourselves as Muslims in the United States of America is being witnessed now among us in all the groups by all the leaders. That makes it a very good situation.
The role of the national organization of Muslims that I am affiliated with or associated with in the Conference is to lend assistance and to cooperate and be involved. When I say lend assistance, I mean to bring our experience and our perception as Muslims in America to the Conference. We want to join our Brothers who have migrated from Muslim lands and just be ready to serve Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'Ala) and the Dawah in cooperation with all Muslims that attend the Conference, all leaders, all scholars in the spirit of the Muslim Ummah.
That is what 1 think our role is. To do this is in the spirit of the Muslim Ummah. We are one international body. Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'Ala) says, "Your community is one united community and 1 am your Lord. Therefore serve Me only." So this is our role, to come and bring our experiences and our perceptions to the Conference, so that we make our best contribution for the benefit of all Muslims in America.
SNA: You mention last night and Bro. Jaffar also said today, the Imams here in America should concentrate on salat and guiding? But what is the other teaching or other indication that you give to the Imams in the Council?
IWDM: Arc you speaking about the comments Dr. Jaffar made?
SNA: You made comments last night that the Imams should he concentrating on Salat. You also see other issues that Imams should take up.
IWDM: Yes. I see Imams in different roles. The primary role of the Imam, the first and important role for the Imam is the role of leader in prayer, to lead the salat and to give the khutbah and the best advice based upon Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sala alahu alayhi wassalam). This is the primary role for the Imam.
Some of our Imams have experience and professional training. A few of them have degrees in education. A few of them are involved in politics. So these are different roles. We don't see those roles as the role of Imam, but by the mercy of God, that Imam has various qualifications. He is a man of more than one profession, and we will see him in politics as one having something to offer politics.
SNA: We need to know your impression, although you mention the general concept or the idea of the Conference today. What do you think they have ended with in their proposal, the results of the Conference itself?
IWDM: Alhamdullilah. The results of the Conference is excellent. I think it shows more positive results than we've realized before. I repeat that this Conference, in my opinion, has been more successful than other previous ones. And I am not speaking of just organized or sponsored by Rabita, but I mean by anyone, anyone of the Conferences we've had. This is the most successful of them. I think it is because we are feeling comfortable with our situation in America as Muslims, that we can make progress here for our Deen, for our religion and for our Community and for our people.
The points that were emphasized in those Resolutions are excellent. I don't think there are any other concerns that are more important than those three points that were mentioned in the summarization by Dr. Gutbi Ahmed. That is, that we want this to continue.
We want this to be a permanent effort and certain people have to be responsible for continuing this effort. And we want this to be an effort by the learned people, those with the best knowledge, the intellectuals.
And secondly, we have a role in American society to lead. We have a responsibility to contribute leadership to the society of America just as all other organizations and religions that are interested in the welfare of the American people. We have a role and a responsibility.
And thirdly, we want to do this in cooperation with other groups who have similar principles, similar virtues, similar interest, whether they are Muslims or not. That is excellent.
SNA: There is a very important question that has been asked all the time. We will ask you the question, because we need to know as you are one of the leaders of the Islamic movement in America. How do you access the movement now, we can say the Dawah in America here, particularly with your own group in general and in particular? How is the Dawah accessed from now up to the future?
IWDM: Yes, we began Dawah in this country as separate groups. Now we are unifying the effort. We are doing it altogether. So the prospects, the future outlook is much brighter for us now, much better.
And I think we are now growing up to put the interest of the religion and the life of Muslims before everything else. Whereas before we were a little too narrow in our minds, in our thinking. And we were concentrating on our own little group. We were concentrating on our own race maybe, and sometimes we were just tied up in our small interest. It was our school, our Mosque or our Dawah needs. But now we are looking at the needs of all of us. And that to me is a maturing on our part. We are growing up to be men, Insha'Allah.
SNA: An issue yesterday has been mentioned by Bro. Khalil Al Khalil and we hear more about it today. Saudi Arabia's Embassy was one of the embassies in Washington, D.C. doing a lot of Dawah in cooperation with you and the other groups. To what extent do you think you find this kind of help from the Saudi Embassy or from the Saudis?
IWDM: Yes. there are several very important benefits that we have realized with our relationship ties to the Saudi Embassy of the Royal Kingdom here in Washington. !).(' with Brother Khalil and Prince Mohammed Al Faisal and the Ambassador Prince Bandar. All of them have embraced us and have given us their well wishes and have extended the brotherly hand of assistance as Muslims to us. And that has brought to us very special benefits.
Now, I am going to put them in order of importance beginning with the first most important for me. The first most important for me is that our situation has greatly improved. Our dignity is greatly enhanced in the eyes of the American people by us having been fortunate, blessed by Allah, to have these direct ties, direct communications ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Second in importance is that we have now the opportunity to benefit from your very strong and excellent institutions of learning. Dr. Abdullah Turki and those working with him for the system of education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we have now an opportunity to benefit from their advice and from their system.
And lastly, and I know some will say you put the last one, is the financial benefit. We thank Allah for all of it, and we are most indebted to God and to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We intend to be brothers and also friends and allies until death, whether any money comes or not.
SNA: Bro. Mohammed has taken a step forward in the relationship between Muslims here and Muslims in Saudi, and he said Saudi Arabia is going to celebrate maybe within three or four weeks the National Day which is commemorating the 50th Anniversary of being a Kingdom. To what extent do you see the Saudis have been honest in Islamic law, in the Islamic Sharia law?
IWDM: The excellent example of Saudi Arabia as government. putting the law of God over the land can be appreciated and will be an influence on many other Islamic independent nations to repent and trust the law of god over their own thinking.
But I am aware of a kind of, I would say. crippling situation for us as nations That I believe is owing to the colonial domination of Muslim lands for so long. The bitterness that is left in the Muslim.-, the resentment toward the West and all of this. I believe all of these scars on the Muslim soul, on the thinking of the Muslims prevent- the Muslims from even doing justice by each other.
And 1 know that there are many, many, many nations. I am sure, among our independent nation of Muslims, that are too confused, too bitter and too scarred by past bad circumstances to look with clear eyes and see the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for what it is. And it is. in my opinion, one of the few and perhaps the only nation-government that we have that has no problem and does not hesitate and does not apologize to anybody for raising the law of God over the land.
SNA: This issue came to us and we tried to find out from you, the American society, as you know is full of illnesses of diseases. One of these diseases is drugs in our communities, Muslim communities where we live either here or in Chicago, whatever. To what extent have your efforts come to help the Muslim community to be free from drugs and other crimes?
IWDM: The best help comes, from Qur'an and the Life example of our Prophet (the prayers and peace be on him), that's where the best help comes from. As we know as Muslims, the best solution is to be Muslims, follow Qur'an and follow our Prophet's way of life.
You are speaking of involvement now with the efforts of American society? Yes, we have an Imam in Dallas, Texas, Imam Yahya Abdulla, we have Imam Siraj Wahaj, who used to be directly tied to our association but he is now in a separate organization, and we have an Imam who was assisting our Imam here in Washington, D.C. These Imams are just three I am giving you as an example but were acknowledged on national T.V., prime-time television for their courage in meeting the evils of the drug dealer and driving them out of their neighborhoods.
So we are on record for being in the front-line of the battle of the war against drugs and vices that tear down our lives, our families and our neighborhoods.
SNA: We have the tapes here, and you also have the tape of the meeting of Congress that started with Qur'an led by Imam Siraj Wahaj. To what extent do you think this has a reaction in the American community?
IWDM: The American public is aware of the Muslims' leadership in the war against drugs and vices, but I think we need more of us to put together the information packages like Siraj Wahaj has and make it available to more people.
SNA: When are you coming back to Saudi Arabia?
IWDM: I hope for the National Celebration.