"Productive Ideas For Us In Religion": Part 2
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editorial note: On Sunday, September 4. 1988 in Chicago, Illinois, Imam W. Deen Muhammad teaches about Productive ideas for us in religion, giving a studious and serious talk. We continue this week with Part II.)
It is the education of your own self that will make you educated for the society. It is not going to be easy, and we don't expect to get to anything great by the road of ease. "Inna ma-il uusri, yusra." "Surely with hardship comes the ease.”
We want the ease. And Allah Most High says to us that He does not desire difficulty for us, but He desires that we be purified.
It is not only that we wash the hands, for that is just one form of purification that we wash our hands and that we take the bath of ghusl or wudu Still, that is one form of purification. But to cleanse your mind of ignorance is another form of purification. Don't you know that ignorance is an impurity.
And it is not our fault that we are ignorant regarding our own human condition and how it should be cared for. It is the fault of our leaders. It is the fault of the establishment and of the established order of the society and of the world.
The institutions of America and everyone in a position to command the respect of the common person is in fault for this. They are in a better position to demand the attention and respect of the common person than I am and than you are. It is because they have credibility. They represent the super-culture and the super-awareness of a super-conscience. They have much more influence over the common people, than there is with my appeal.
It is that 1 don't bring credentials and I don't represent million dollar establishments, so they don't listen to me as fast as they will listen to them. So if the society is going to rot, then they should not look at us. They should look at the establishment. We have an obligation, if we are right-minded people.
It is especially delightful to understand in some measure how revealed scripture cares for the human sanctuary of self interest. That is our sanctuary -self interest. "If a man should
gain the world and lose his own soul" is a Christian thought. "Indeed is success for whomever spends charitably on it, and assured failure is for whomever betrays it." "It" refers to the soul; the word is "haa" as used in the Qur'anic text.
But "soul" is such a vague term.-There are "soul folks," and what does that tell us? It tells us that you are emotional, that you are still in the water and have not stepped on land yet. It tells us that you vacillate between water and air and have not learned how to step on land yet. That you like spirituals and are sentimental. That is all it is telling us. That is soul folks.
Then there is "soul train" that goes somewhere just tooting and blowing off steam. I have never seen a modern train on Soul Train; it is always the one that toots and blows off steam.
Without saying this pointedly, however, the major religions do say that the continued safety and prosperity of societies depend to a large extent upon society's enjoying uninterrupted growth in the bonds of trust supported by intelligent self interest.
"The bonds of trust!" There should be trust between all of the units of society. That is when the ideal situation comes. When there is maximum respect and trust between all of the units of the society. Between you and me, between my wife and me, between my children and me, between the children and us, between the neighbor and us, between other ethnic groups and us. Praise be to Allah.
These are the kind of thoughts we need to bring to our people, and our people means all people. We need to bring these thoughts to our people so that we will be sensitized to the responsibilities of life. If you don't have the sensitivities for the responsibilities of life, then how can you have the mind for it?
Scriptural backing for the building of trust coupled with a faith in God for the human sanctuary of self interest and our attitudinal make-up most certainly constitute a productive idea. But for most of us we just can't look at a complex idea and appreciate it. We have to have it identified in all of its small pieces and related to our small position of mind, and then brought back together all into one piece. Then, maybe we will see it.
Why did I put it like that, our small position of mind? It is because your natural mind is never in a small position. Allah never created a human being with a mind in a small position. But it is the influences in the world that are responsible for you putting your mind on a small platform.
If your mind had been influenced by the world to be on a higher platform, if you had been taught by the world that your home is not only Detroit, Miami, some place in Michigan, or in the south - perhaps Jacksonville; that is not only your home. Your home is not only in the United States. Your home is in the earth and in the international world. If you had been taught that, then your mind would be on a higher platform.
But the average one of us was not even taught in a sincere way that our home is the United States of America. So we feel that our home is wherever we can find a friend, and often we can't find a friend except in a toilet. If you get decent, then they don't want you for a friend anymore.
It might be thought that a religious personality will not come over very well with an audience, if it gets into concerns of this nature and giving such concerns to the language of this nature. Well, I have wrestled with the problem for many years. And I have been rebelling against those who have been trying to tell me from their intellectual positions and their other positions, that you can't do it that way. That you have to come up with just the simple religious approach. I say, "No!"
The communist people have a very complex ideology. But they had the courage to put it into the language of every worker. So if Allah has blessed us with a heavy word, how come we can't find a way to put it into the language of every worker? And by every worker I mean every functioning person in society.
In an advanced democratic public, speakers will be identified with many and varied ideological backgrounds. There is nothing wrong with a psychologist speaking to us on the problems of our schools or speaking to us on the problems of our homes or speaking to us on the problems of our government, or speaking to us on the problems of our spending money. There is nothing wrong with a psychologist addressing those concerns. There is nothing wrong with a politician addressing those concerns. There is nothing wrong with a member of academia addressing those concerns. And there is nothing wrong with a "preacher" addressing those concerns.
The speaker may be communicating from political influence. The other from an ancient influence and on and on and on. But this speaker is identified with religion. Al-Islam is comprehensive - meaning that it leaves out nothing. Such religions give great latitude to speakers. And that means that I am free to talk about whatever I want to talk about.
My Lord is not the Lord of a quarter or of a room or of a nook. He is the Lord of the whole. So He should prepare His creature to live in the whole and to deal with the whole and to relate to the whole. And that is what He has done down through the ages and completed that great gift, on Muhammad, peace be upon him, and upon us, in giving to us the religion of Al-lslam. That was His favor on us.
The ideas that are best suited to human life and society are to be found in Qur'an, and it may be said also in other great revealed scriptures. Furthermore, in the great scriptures, the ideas given sacred attention are ideas seen as fundamental in man's ordering of civilization. Those ideas made sacred for the ordering of human conditions and life in society are plainly the ideas we all cherish for their emotional, social, moral, and political values. These concerns are of basic departments in the "sacred self-interest of the soul."
Get this on the recording. Get this in the paper and look at it and consider it seriously, because many ideas or points in this particular presentation require a going over more than once, in order for you to appreciate it.
As supported by good dictionaries and I am quoting from the dictionary on "self-interest," it is given two meanings. The first being a concern for one's self and for one's own interest. The second being a "selfish" concern for one's self and for one's own self-interest.
The classic example of this wrong turn in one's sanctuary of self-interest stands posed in front of us or I would say in front of the camera of man's venturing mind. We see depicted in granite stone left by ancient Egypt the pharaoh’s selfish attachment to his servants and to transitory things in his possessions. His women, his men, his slaves, his personal artifacts, his favorite foods, his mummified body, with its pickled organs.
Such display of the pharaoh's selfish self-interest suggests that the pharaoh lifts up an idea that gave importance to the transitory things and caused the spirit of destiny in people and in society to be wickedly oppressed.
This is easy for many audiences, but for some of you maybe it is difficult. I have alluded to it, if I didn't say it, that the greatest sin of the world, of the establishment, is that they have neglected to keep the common man up with the progress. The common man is way behind the progress and then the establishment blames us for not being able to cope with the burdens of modern society. It is their problem that we can't cope with it; they have not brought us up with the progress.
God didn't intend it that way. He intended that we be informed and educated. To understand the selfishness of the pharaoh, know that the "belief in the After Life" is the human nature. But the "belief in the After Life" as a concept and idea should be valued for what it does in this life. A belief in an After Life gives us a healthy respect and a very serious respect for our future. It orients us. Our minds, our aspirations, our feelings, our hopes are all organized and oriented for the good aim down the road. So the good of a belief in the After Life has its value, really, to us in this life.
Dear Muslims and dear people, it is said in both religions and I would think in all of the major religions, that if you fail to get it on this side, there is no hope on the other side. Whoever didn't come into it on this side will not have it on the other side. That tells me that if there is an After Life, that I am supposed to get into it in this life. And if I don't get into it in this life, then I will not have it in the After Life.
Those who are blind in this world, will be blind in the next. Those who are dead in this life will be dead in the next. That is their teaching, Muslims believe that both heaven and hell are states for us in this life and in the next. For Allah says certain things will come to us in this life, but the "intended" to be fulfilled or to be "exclusively" for us in the next. Certain things will come to us in certain measures in this life, but they will be in full measure in the Hereafter - punishment and blessings.
Why have I mentioned hell as being a selfish belief? It is because most people who are preoccupied with hell are not really good servants of Allah. And when I say Allah, I mean everybody's Allah - the Christians' Allah, the Jews' Allah, and everybody's Allah. Again, these persons are not really good people for Allah. Why? It is because they have a "selfish self-interest." Their concern with hell is a selfish self-interest.
When your concern with hell is just of self-interest but not of a selfish self-interest, then you have the right concern with hell. (To be continued)