Progress & the Burden of Misconceptions: Part III
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(On July 22, 1990, Imam W. Deen Mohammed made this public address in Newark, NJ and has now prepared from it this article for Muslim Journal.)
The Muslim Role in Promoting Progress; the need for Nature-Supported Attitudes toward Concerns as Religion, Race, and Business.
The Created Purpose And Nature For Everything
We know for Muslims time-scheduled prayer is very serious. As Muslims in America we have circumstances that we have to live with which may take our attention from prayer. Sometimes work-hours make it almost impossible for us to keep the prayer schedule. Muslims follow the five daily prayers according to what is prescribed in the Qur'an and in the life of our Prophet, the prayers and the peace be on him.
Don't think that I am saying this to take any importance away from prayer in our life. Prayer is our main pillar of life. Regarding the importance of prayer, the Prophet taught us that no civilization fell until it first went from its attention to prayer. Therefore, we know how important it is. But also we have to understand that Allah intended a full life for us, a natural life respecting the excellence in the nature of man and society.
Therefore, if we give exaggerated attention to our relationship with Allah we can become a narrow minded and a stingy and a selfish people who give everything selfishly to Allah and nothing to our fellow man. In seeing the Concept of Religion, we have to see the sacred respect for the created purpose and nature of everything. We believe that Allah has given purpose and nature to everything. Allah gave us our original self and its purpose and balanced regulation.
Adam: In The Original Gift From Allah We Find Equality
We must understand that it is in that original gift from Allah that we find our equality. We are equal. Whatever Allah gave the first human being, He gave all. We are the children of that one original parent, Father Adam — peace be upon him. Being that Allah has corrected the error of cheapening Adam, in our eyes Adam is excellent and noble and the highly respected father. We are not ashamed of him.
We are "honored" to be his children. Allah Most Beneficent taught Adam "the names" and ordered that Adam be the bearer of responsibility on earth.
Some of you will say, "Oh, he committed sin." And we did too. That is why we are told he committed sin. It is to let us know that we are human, not divine. We are not gods or angels. We are human beings subject to err. Our Holy Book does not present Adam as a man of sin because he erred. We have no concept in our religion as "the man of sin", unless you are talking about Satan. And Satan is not called man, he is called "jinn".
No Father Transmitted Sin To The Generations
The man of sin would have to be all of us who are sinning. There is no father who transmitted "sin" to the generations. Our Father Adam was the man of obedience to Allah. However, because he was the excellence of common man, he could be tempted and led astray. Adam was tempted by the "Arch Deceiver", Satan himself. It was no ordinary smooth talker. It was the chief deceiver over the "angels".
How did Satan deceive Adam? It was a deceit put into Adam's sentiments and sentiment-charged thinking. Satan did not address Adam directly. He addressed Adam by way of deceit, which tells us that Satan recognized that if he went straight to Adam, Adam would reject him. Satan is the chief con "man". Adam did not see that he was being offered something wrong until much later. Our Holy Book says that Adam learned later that he had erred and he repented to Allah for his wrong. And Allah forgave him.
Father Adam Represents Great Potential For Excellence...
We have a father that Allah made with great potential for excellence but with limitations. Allah did not make a god when He made our father. Allah is the Only God. He did not make an angel when He made our father. He made one with the freedom to make choices to rise up from erring and return to the pursuit of excellence. One day man will wake up and realize that he went wrong and will turn again to the best of himself and to the Greater, Allah. Adam did this, and Allah forgave him.
Isn't that a wonderful story to be told to the generations. Isn't that a wonderful story to tell our young boys and girls who are growing up. We are not ashamed of our Father Adam. We feel very dignified as the children of Adam. Allah says He made Adam to be the responsibility-bearer in the whole earth.
The Angels Disagreed; Allah Said: "Wait..."
Those of the angels said, "We disagree with this." — I am giving it to you short for the sake of saving time. And what did Allah say to them? "Wait until I have breathed of my breath into him." Adam's nature is developmental and progressional. His full potential was yet to be seen. Adam was given a capacity to do more than angels. We know that whatever "breath" Allah gave Adam, He gave of it to us as well.
Allah says in our Holy Book that He has given every (human being) something of His Spirit. You may say, "I don't have that.1' And I guess Adam said the same when he found himself in the clutches of Satan. Adam had been taken off course, as perhaps some of you are. You can repent as your father did.
Perfect Human Nature With Limitations (We Do Not "Image” Allah)
We know that Allah made the natural man with perfect human nature and with limitations. Allah made man to be responsible on this earth. Now the gift of creation will not take man all the way along the pursuit of his excellence without the assistance given in the revealed word, the Qur'an, Life will require that man turns again to his Creator Who created him and gave him excellence. He will turn to Allah for that additional help. Turn to Allah for additional help to meet the challenges that will come as we live on this earth and make trouble for ourselves.
That is the way we see man by his nature and potential in this religion. Allah (God) is the Creator of everything. He is not a God that has human form or weaknesses. Allah is not in the image of a human being. You may say, "We are in His Image," but that is not the language of Muslims. In the first place we do not try to "image" Allah, We know Allah by and through what He has revealed (the Qur'an) of Himself. Allah is not in physical form. Allah is not contained in matter or in the earth or in any vessel or in any idol or in any creature. We Muslims have to accept that. We cannot picture or visualize Allah in any human person or in any object of the creation.
Allah Is Creator Without Mistakes
Allah is the Creator and everything else is creation. He has not made any mistakes. We do not believe that Allah made a mistake and had to (repent) do it all over again. That is not Allah; that is man. That is us. We make mistakes and have to do things all over again. If there are problems, the problems are ours. This is the Muslim belief.
"Is there a religion that says God made a mistake?: Well, just keep your ears and eyes open. There is justification for me saying what I am saying. We do not believe in that idea of Allah making mistakes. We do not think of God as a Being or Force that comes to our aid when we are in trouble as something equal in importance to God the Creator. All good and benefits are from Allah the Creator. I hope you are understanding what we are saying, and when I say "we" I am recognizing others.
This brings us to the natural conclusion that respects the excellence of what is natural for man. When we say nature, we are not talking about the nature we fall down to. We are talking about the nature we are created in to be established.
(To be continued)