How Your Religion Views Extremism: The Lesson For Daily Life: Part 5
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.)
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 the1 qualification, that he be able to do exactly what Allah has obligated us to do in the way of performing our prayers, imparting the teachings, and presenting the religion. He is under an obligation, the same obligation that we are under. If the leader cannot see his own mistake, then the one who knows is obligated to make the correction.
You have to understand this religion. This is not a religion of extremism.
"And make us for the regardful (the God-fearing) a leader who leads by example, "Qur'an. The Arabic language used here is not applying to the person or the leader in the singular. It is applying to "leadership." It is applying to a people, who by their life, by their example are to be respected as "a leader" to other people.
"Make us ..." It does net say "Make one 'from' us...." It says, "Make us a leader." Doesn't Allah say, "Let there arise out of you a community calling to all that is good, protesting all that is bad," and setting the best example? They are not fearing those who want to blaspheme and label them and criticize them for their righteousness. They are not fearing the criticism of the criticizers. Isn't that the group Allah is calling for in the Qur'an?
Then, when that group rises up, that group will be an "Imam" — they will be a leader, an example in their collective body for other people who love, respect and fear God. We cannot be a leader for those people who are without morals and are materialistic, We shouldn't be trying to build up our leadership so that we can be a leader for fanatics, for racists, for criminals, for the immoral, for the degenerate that just give themselves to vulgarity and wasteful life styles. We do not want to be a leader for them. They are not in a condition to want the kind of leader that Allah wants for all of us.
We should be building up ourselves to be a leader for decent people, God-fearing people who respect sacred things, things of high value. We should be trying to raise ourselves in status to be a leader and example for people of conscience.
If we stoop to make ourselves attract the silly minded and vulgar people of society, then we are cutting off our chances to ever be dignified, to ever have anything of value that the society in general can appreciate. We do not aim so low. We are aiming high to establish leadership! We want to have the admiration of the most decent people in the society. We want to have standing among the people who have respect for the Creator and for the sacred things that man has cherished traditionally for thousands and thousands of years. We want to be able to impress the decent people.
However, we hope those down in the sewers will be impressed by us and will look up to what we have done, come to appreciate it, have a spirit for decency and grow to reform themselves. We hope for that. We will plead to them to come out of their foolishness and vulgarity. We will plead to them, but we are not going to pretend we love low minded people just as they are. "I love you just as you are”? No.
''Extremism and the quest for power"; I was watching a television program once and there was a statement made. "Power is the ability to influence behavior or attitudes of other persons and groups." Agreed, that is power. The people who were having this discussion were quoting statements from their intellectuals which, I am sure, had been given as the findings and conclusions of those intellectuals. This is not a-statement that was just gotten off the top of someone's hat. This is a statement that was arrived at by intellectuals who had made observations and studies and came to scientific conclusions.
For different ones there will be different ideas of power. We know also that the most important power is the power that is "institution based." The power of government is much more influential and affects our attitudes and behavior more so than the power of any single individual. By government we also mean institutions, schools, colleges, universities, the elementary schools, and even included are pre-schools. When you put your baby in a preschool, know there is a power there to influence attitudes and behavior. We should care that the overall affect will be good for our children.
To be included are business, places of worship, television, newspapers, videos, and records. These are represented by institutions. We have to understand this as power. We hear the expression, "We want power." "Power for the people!" "Power for the black man!" "Power!
First, you had better know the nature of power. It is working on you all of the time from so many different centers of influence. One of those influences may have just produced you and made you what you are today. You may not be in control of your own coming into a particular mind. We know some of our people once raised their fist for "black power." We know what they meant and respect their good intent. But it went wild and became sick. I also recall a changing from "black power" to "green power." And now there is a call for "economic power.''
That is good, for we want power. But we have to understand that we are already ourselves being influenced by established power. We aren't always conscious of how these established powers are influencing us, most importantly those that are institution based, but also personalities. There are those persons who have the power to influence our attitudes and behavior. We have to be aware of their atmosphere and environment, whether they are individuals or institutions.
We also know that you have heard the expression "power comes out of the barrel of a gun." That is a quote. Now who can say for sure and be comfortable saying it, that that idea and saying has not been significantly responsible for a lot of the violence we have in our streets? There are people shooting up each other. Look especially at the males. The males want to identify with power. The males want to be a reflection of power, a focus of power.
Look at the male youngsters. They can be only two years old and you will see them running in a show off manner exercising muscles. That male child will run different from the girl child. He will run displaying power. Tell that youngster that "power comes out of the barrel of a gun," and he will want a gun. Violent crime is our number one problem. I just read that recently in the media. We also heard what the State Senator said last night in this small city, that there were fourteen killings in one year.
If we get the right understanding of our religion, our religion has in it the protection for us. It will protect us from going to these extremes. We want power, but we do not want to give ourselves to blindness.
We also know that there is often extremism in the pursuit of goals. How are we going to get what we want. Some people want to follow the rule- of extremism. We believers cannot follow that rule. Certainly we want to have "funds" as a religious community to take care of our financial needs. But we cannot go about it in any kind of way. We cannot establish a pyramid scheme to get money to pay our bills.
We have moral obligations on us. Allah says, "Do not mix that that is unlawful, that that is corrupt into your spending — into your charities.'1 That is it, and l have to accept and obey that. The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Indeed Allah is all good and He does not accept anything but good." Therefore, I cannot give money from things illegal. I cannot serve this religion while having a life of crime. That type of person may say, "I know I am a criminal, but I am doing something for Al-Islam." That does not work and is not accepted.
I cannot take on the behavior and attitudes of the race haters, stating, "Just because they did it to me, I will do it to them." You cannot say you are going to be a "black racist," since they are "white racists." Also I cannot join anyone upon any basis. I have to join with you upon bases that are accepted in this religion. It will be said, "All Muslims must join with such-and-such Muslims, because their base is economics. And what we need now is jobs, income, and businesses. The greatest need of the African-American man now is business, economics. So we all should be rallying behind the one who is calling us to a base of economics." That may not be correct.
The only justifiable grounds or basis for us to unite as Muslims is "La illaha illallah. Muhammadan rasul-lull ah." That is belief in One God and belie fin Muhammad the Messenger and that we follow the Qur'an and obey Allah and obey His Messenger. That is the only basis for our unity. Allah says that the mosque that was established from the very first day on "taqwa," on regardfulness and God-fearing, that mosque is the only mosque suitable for you to stand in and pray. That is what Allah says. That is in the Qur'an.
If I say, "Let us get together and establish a mosque so that we can have economics," if I am opening up a mosque for economics, for business for advocating from that particular facility business growth and money as my purpose, and that when you come there you expect to see me with money on my mind, that is wrong.
It is right to support business and economics from the mosque or at the mosque, but that is not the condition for coming to the mosque. That is not the condition for having a mosque, The condition for having a mosque is to have a place where Muslims can pray to Allah and respect Allah and carry out the obligation of group prayer and teachings and education and address all concerns. But the central attraction there is not economics, it is obedience to Allah.
(To be continued)