1986-August / September
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
Advice To Members Of The Muslim Community
"Namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of
another: that man can have nothing but what he strives
fur; that (the fruit of] his striving will soon come in
sight. Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete."
Man can have nothing except but what he strives for. If you don't go after anything, you don't get anything. You have to go after what you want. The motivation required to get a person into action to go after something may be situated in many different areas. It may be education, money, social status, whatever. But (here are many things that can motivate a person.
Many times it is the social status that makes a man go out and try to find himself a nice woman. He feels that in having a nice woman will improve his social status and how he looks to others. It may even cause him to buy a nice car, a nice home and nice clothes to fulfill his desire to be approved in the eyes of his peers in society.
God has made it so that there are many things to motivate us. He says that there are "many paths," but there is one path that brings you to salvation, and that path is “Path of God." There are many paths that we may get on, and God has provided us with all of them. We may gel on them, and they will help us to get a little farther, but we will not find the satisfaction that our souls require until we come upon the Path of God, There is no situation better than the Path of God for bringing man into the limits of his opportunities that God has created for him.
I often say, "No one has made the world bigger than the man of God." We have all kinds of philosophers, dreamers and idealist. Believe me, I have studied. I have been reading for many years because 1 believe as a Muslim, I am supposed to follow my curiosity. I have kept the fear and love of God, yet I have not been afraid to venture out or to look at what somebody outside of my circle has said.
I have read many things, and I have not come upon anything of man's ideas and dreams that gives me a bigger field for my activities, for my aspirations or for my life than that which is given by the men of Revelation, the men who say they got their knowledge from God. And most of all, nothing has given me a greater field than that which I have gotten from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and what he has received from God, the Holy Book of all Muslims, the Qur'an
MAN JUDGED BY INTENTIONS
"God wilt not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts; and He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing." Qur'an 2:225.
"But there is no blame on you if you make a mistake therein. (What counts is) the intention of your hearts: and God is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful."
As I previously stated, man can have nothing without striving for it. We must also understand that matters are judged by the intent. If the intent is good, then God will reward you with good. You can also do something that is good with a bad intent, and God will give you the benefit of your intentions.
Prophet Muhammad said, "Actions are judged by intention, and every man shall have but that which he intended. Thus, he whose migration was for Allah and His Messenger, his migration was for Allah and His Messenger. And he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his migration was for that for which he migrated. "
Before there can be any intent, initiative, endeavor on the part of our soul, there must first be concern. If you have no concern, you are without life. Life begins with concern. You can tell the extent of death in a people by looking at the amount of concern they have. Prophet Muhammad also said, "You cannot be a believer until your concerns agree with what / have brought."
If you want to be a believer, your concerns should be in accord with what God gave Prophet Muhammad, which is the Qur'an. The concerns of Muslims must first be Qur'anic or Islamic concerns. That is what makes us Muslims. Many who profess this religion in America wonder, "Why is it that I don't feel that I am being a Muslim?" You feel this way because you don't know Qur'anic concerns. You mean well and want to be a Muslim, but without knowledge of Qur'anic concerns, you will continue to feel this way.
The way you come to know Qur'anic concerns is to come out and hear the Imam teach Qur'anic concerns. And you should do it regularly, and nol just when you feel like it. You should also study Qur'an on your own when you are at home, when in travel, etcetera.
PROPHET MUHAMMAD: THE DEMONSTRATOR
The Qur'an is knowledge that has come for the proper operation of human society. If knowledge comes for the operation of something, you need more than just the knowledge, you also need a demonstration. If you purchase a new machine, you want more than just a manual of how it operates. You also want a demonstration.
Depending on how technical or how evolved a thing is, people can only do so much on their own. Some things can be so complex that a demonstration is required before you can be given a manual. In the case of the Revelation of God, we saw a demonstrator before we saw the Revelation.
God tells us in the Qur'an of Prophet Muhammad's character, "And you (stand) on an exalted standard of character." We saw in Prophet Muhammad the excellent life that God wanted for man. When God revealed the Qur'an, it wasn't revealed to the people, it came first into the demonstrator, and when he recited it, he was also demonstrating it.
The demonstrator was there with the Word. The life of Prophet Muhammad cannot be separated from the Qur'an. In order to benefit from the Qur'an as God intended, you must see the demonstration, the practices and example (sunnah) of the Prophet.
We should understand that when we take the Kalimah (Declaration of the unity of Allah and the fact that Prophet Muhammad is His Messenger), we cannot say, "I bear witness there is no God but Allah (La ilaha iliallah)" and think. "Okay, I'm a Muslim."
That is only pan of the Kalimah. To complete it, you must say, "I hear witness there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (La ilaha illallahu, MuhammadRasulullah)." Nowthalisa shahada. Shahada means to witness. How do I witness that there is but One God? How do I witness mat there is two or three hundred people in a place? I witness it upon seeing them, it registers in my own senses.
Many people hear the message of Al-Islam, the Call to the Path of God. Yet some hear it and don't hear it, and they say, "Yes, I'm ready to take my shahada." How can they take a shahada (bear witness) when they have not witnessed anything.
The invitation to Al-Islam is not an invitation to blind faith. You must use your rational faculties. You must sit and think while you are hearing a Call to Al-Islam, and you must reason and decide with your own tools of intelligence that, "Yes, this makes the better sense. It makes good sense that God is One Who created everything. So I bear witness that there is but One God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God." This religion came to invite people to the Path of God. It is not for the spiritually drunk, those who accept faith blindly.
MUSLIM COMMUNITY PROMOTES EXCELLENCE
God says to the Muslims in the Qur'an, "You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right .forbidding what is wrong, and believing in God." Not only have the Muslims been told to promote the good, but God's Prophet specifically points out to us the same thing. He said, "He is not one of us who does nor show mercy to our young ones, and respect to our old ones, who does not recommend what is decent (reputable), and prohibit what is indecent (disreputable)."
From the above, we see God and His Prophet telling us that we are to promote all that is good, and we are to resist all that is bad. That is the community of people God wants. That is the requirement. If we accept to be the community of Al-Islam, we must accept promoting the highest standard of personal and community excellence.
We must be a people prohibiting and resisting wrong, indecency, falsehood, corruption, vulgarity, ignorance, deceit, greed, malice, ill-will, hatred, all of those negative things that cause deterioration, degradation, regression in the life of man and society. We must be a community that rejects those things that are offensive to the good taste of the civilized man and offends the conscience of the honest and sincere person.
If we are really Muslims, we have to be an active and not a passive community. We are not a corral of sheep, dreamers or space walkers. The Muslim is called by God to be an active community. As a Muslim, you have to register concerns of those around you. You must be concerned with whether they are being mistreated or suffering the burden of their own ignorance. If they need to be enlightened, you are obligated to enlighten them.
You must also ask yourself questions, such as; "Are they without business sense? For what reason do they have nothing but a fife of dependency?" If they are your Muslim brothers and sisters, and you are business wise, it is your obligation to enlighten them.
You must also be concerned if those around you are giving themselves to wild and injurious kinds of influences in the Western culture. If you are aware of those damaging, injurious influences, and you see them giving themselves to those influences, then you are obligated to enlighten them.
RISE TO THE CHALLENGE
The Muslim is obligated to stand up and meet the challenge from those things that will work to take us out of the excellent form and excellent future God intend for His creature. Muslims are protesters. When we give our declaration of faith (Kalimah), we are giving it as a protester. Oh we could affirm and just say, "God is One God," but no, we first say "La," in Arabic, which means "No." Thai in itself is protest. We not only say that God is One God, but we say, "No God but God." That carries a message of one who is protesting.
Many of us are afraid to get in the moral army to fight for moral excellence in our immediate surrounding. Many of us are afraid to gel in the army for better education. Many of us are afraid to get in the army for better living conditions in our neighborhood. Many of us are afraid to get in the army of protest by the consumer against those who ignore this humanity, treat man as though he is a vile animal, selling him inferior merchandise at high prices.
Many of us fail to get in the army of law-abiding citizens when we see moral violators all around us, such as thieves, shoplifters and vandals. Many of us live with these things without a burden on our conscience. If you can tolerate those things, you are not the Muslim community that God wants. A Muslim community must rise up to the challenge, and meet the challenge.
God has obligated us to go against and resist all that is bad. We are to insist upon what is good, what is excellent, and we are to prohibit what is wrong, bad or degrading. We cannot claim to be Muslims if we are not willing to wear that principle and bear that responsibility, for God says, "If you fail, I will raise up another people.............and they will not fear the accusations, the criticism of those who criticize."
Many of us cannot accept being unpopular. We say to ourselves, "Oh, God knows my heart, but if I go all the way with this religion, I am going to he unpopular with my associates" Well, if that is the way you feel and think, then you are not the one to carry out that great responsibility God has placed upon the Muslim of advancing right and resisting wrong. Those who can carry out that responsibility must first be strong enough not to be dispirited, hurt, checked or made weak by the fear of being unpopular.
We cannot be strong if we worry about being unpopular. When God is our greatest love, and when our desire is to be pleasing before Him moreso than it is before our associates, that is when we will have the strength to do what is required of us.
It is a requirement for the Muslim to obey the Will of God, and to please Him of what He has asked of us. That is the real Muslim. That is what it means when we say a Muslim is one "Yielding the will, yielding the spirit to God." It means that you live most of all to satisfy what God has required of you. You live to meet God's demands and not the expectation of the people if their expectations are against what God has asked of you.
THE OBLIGATION OF PROPAGATION
"On their account no responsibility falls on the righteous, but (their duty) is to remind them, that they may (learn to) fear God. Leave alone those who take their religion to be mere play and amusement, and are deceived by the life of this world. But proclaim (to them) this (truth): that every soul delivers itself to ruin by its own acts." Qur'an 6:69-70
Many of us have fallen short in living the life of a Muslim as a follower of Prophet Muhammad. Many have fallen short because they just don't know. Therefore, it is an obligation on those who know to bring the message clearly to the people. That obligation was on our Prophet, and he informed us that the same obligation or burden is on those who follow him.
God says to us in the Qur'an, "O you who believe, bow down and prostrate yourselves, and adore your Lord; and do good that you may prosper. And strive in His Cause as you ought to strive (with sincerity and discipline). He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion. It was the faith of your father Abraham. It is He who named you Muslims, both before and in this Revelation; that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and you be witnesses for mankind."
From the above verse, we see that the Prophet will be a witness for us before God, and we are a witness before God with the people. If we carry out our responsibility, then when we are before God, we will be a witness and say, "God, those people had no excuse for what they did, and for the path they took. We lived true to our religion among them."
God didn't say that the Prophet and his followers are witnesses to Muslims only. He said that we are witnesses to the people, meaning all people, whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim. It is also an obligation on the Muslims to warn their near relatives. The Holy Qur'an says, "And warn your nearest kinsmen, ..........then if they disobey you, say: I am free (of responsibility) for what you do."'
CONVERSION BY EXAMPLE
Many nations became Muslim, not because someone preached to them, but because they observed the life of good Muslims in their nation and decided that they wanted to be Muslim. That happened in much of Africa, The Africans saw the life of the Muslims and they were attracted to that life. Certainly there were preachers, but most of the conversions came by the excellent example of Islamic life that Muslims lived.
Out of necessity, the Muslims traded and visited with Africans, and many of them came to introduce the religion. But the religion grew in Africa because of the good example that Muslims showed to all people by living the excellence of Islamic life. And this is the way we want to be. We want to live the Islamic life so that it may be an influence on others who observe how we live.
Indonesia, a country that has the biggest Muslim population, was converted in the same way. Indonesia has over 100 million Muslims, and nobody came in there and conquered them with weapons. Nobody preached them into the religion with a missionary movement to convert them. Indonesia became Muslim because it dealt with Muslim traders and Muslim business people. They were convened by the lifestyle of the good Muslim.
These are the facts that everyone should know, especially the Muslim. For centuries there has been an ugly war of false propaganda against the religion of Al-Islam, and we want to correct this incorrect view by our example and lifestyle.
LIVING A BALANCED LIFE
It is not good for an Imam to come out on Friday (Jumu'ah) and Sunday with his khutbah (lecture) and then go back and the people not see him anymore until the next Friday. This is especially so. if he is not working on a job or if he does not have a business to run. Prophet Muhammad didn't regard those who only devoted themselves to ritualistic and spiritual devotion with the same regard as those who were devoted spiritually, as well as working to help build the foundation of the community. Prophet Muhammad was a man who did both.
Allah tells Prophet Muhammad in the Qur'an, "Rise up and warn." And in another place He says, "Stand (to prayer) by night, but not all night. Half of it or a little less........
Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing the soul and most suitable for framing the word. True, there is by day prolonged occupation with ordinary duties...."
We learn from this verse that God is telling the Prophet not to spend so much time in prayer at night that he would be too tired to carry out his duties to the community during the day.
Prophet Muhammad had no off days. He was busy everyday. There are some Muslims who take Sunday as a day of rest. Sunday is no rest day. Sunday is a work day. Muslims have no rest day, not even Friday. God tells us that when we hear the call to prayer on Friday, leave off business and respond to the Call to Prayer. And when the prayer is over, go our many different ways, back to productive work.
REGISTERING MUSLIM CONCERNS
The Muslim community should be a dynamic community rising up to every challenge. Our Call to Prayer, the Adhan essentially means that which knocks on the conscience. It is designed or formed to get our awareness, to get our attention. We give the Call five times daily to make the Muslims aware of their concerns. And our most important concern is to be worshippers of God, to respond lo Him as He ordered us.
On Friday, when the Call to Prayer is made, we are told by God to leave off the worldly and business concerns and respond to Him and the Jumu'ah (Congregational) prayer. When the prayer is concluded, we are to return to those things concerned with building and sustaining the life of society.
If we understand this religion, we are in a good situation. Those who profess to be Muslims but don't understand their religion cannot be in a good situation. Muslims must understand what is fundamentally and essentially their religion. They must understand the major concerns and then make an effort to assert and exert themselves to carry out the obligations of Muslims; in this religion, in their homes, and to their neighborhoods.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, "He is not one of us who goes to sleep at night knowing his next door neighbor is hungry." This does not mean you have to feed your neighbor. Il means that you will be condemned if you can go to sleep and it doesn't bother you that your next door neighbor is hungry. Many times it may bother us, but we are not in a position to do anything about it, but we do have to register concern of our neighbor if we are going to be followers of Prophet Muhammad.
We must never forget that the Prophet is a witness regarding us, and we are a witness regarding the people, all people. We cannot be a witness against the people of this earth if we do not conform to the model of excellence that God has revealed for us. We can only be a witness when we are the best example. It is only then that we can be a witness for all people.
I cannot recognize the good life of someone else if I am not associated with what is good. The more I am committed to stand for good and to promote good, the better witness I am for others who are doing good. As Muslims, we must lead the way in establishing what is good and clean, and we must prohibit what is wrong.