Imam W. Deen Muhammad addresses concerns of all Americans
Muslims and non-Muslims
OUR OBLIGATION TO SUPPORT THE GOOD
When this nation had the ugly mark of racism, of Jim-crow and the oppression of the black people on it, even at that time this country was still strong in every sense because of a strong number of Americans promoting moral excellence for the society. But now, America has lost its moral excellence to a permissiveness. It has taken on a do as you please kind of attitude. And because America has neglected its moral life, it is now losing its economic and political strength at home and in the international world.
There is now a trend coming in this country which I am very happy to see that will correct this immorality. Furthermore, this trend is getting stronger and stronger. Recently I heard in Chicago, that they are going to pass a law that will prohibit releasing movies in which people say anything filthy, vulgar or perverted. Such a law is being passed to protect the young minds of our children. Muslims have to support those who are doing such things. If they are Christian or Jew, Muslims have to support them. Muslims are not to look to the faces of people. Muslims are of those who follow God, and God has set the way for us. He says in the Qur'an that He looks not to our faces, but to our deeds. Thus we must be the same. If anyone does a good deed in correcting the problem that is causing a difficulty and strain in the good life of the society, and it affects us as well as it affects other citizens, we must stand with them. Not only will we be helping the Muslim life, but we will be helping the society as a whole.
There are people among us who claim to be Muslim. They present themselves as Muslims, but they are doing the same things that we once did when we were known as the "Nation of Islam," or as the infamous "Black Muslims." We must understand that everyone who stands out front, claiming to be a Muslim representative is not necessarily a Muslim. You cannot take this religion lightly. You must not fail to recognize the serious ramifications for Al-Islam in America.
I have great hopes for the progress of Al-Islam in this country because I know that people are by and large motivate toward good and not toward wrong. I am also aware that the true principles, the true spirit, the true life of the American people has room for Muslims and for the Muslim community.
This country accommodates Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and others. A country that has accommodated all of these people with their various ideas of God and life, convinces me that it can also accommodate Muslims. But we must be as serious about living our life as others have been about living theirs, particularly those who have made their life liveable here in America.
To wear the name Muslim and not have the knowledge of Muslim life is to put yourself in the position to be deceived by the imposters, by the hypocrites, by those who profess to be Muslims but only have designs on your pocket. Often it is not your pocket that they are interested, though that is a necessity with them, but they also have an even greater necessity.
I have seen leaders who pretend to be interested in our religion, and who seem seriously devoted to the religion, but I've also seen these same people drooling at the mouth, anticipating the major network or media focusing upon them. They want to stand before you and regard you as nothing more than a Polaroid camera. They are hoping that you will take their picture and that they come out looking beautiful.
You have to be aware of the imposter who will stand up in the name of Al-Islam but has designs on nothing but your pocket and their egoism. If a man is true to his commitment as a Muslim, and makes Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca, he sees and learns the reality of this religion. When that person returns to this country, he should say, "I've seen that Muslims are not all black, but are of all races. You cannot be a racist and call yourself a Muslim." Now that is what he will say if he is truthful to himself and to this religion.
One of the nations with the greatest history for man is a white nation, and it is almost 100 percent Muslim. This country has been that way for centuries, but who will tell you about it? I am certain most readers of this magazine have heard of the Nation called "Turkey'1 The Turkish people are white, and they are Muslims, They are not lazy and fearful Muslims. They are aggressive and courageous. Turkey is an old and ancient civilization with a great Islamic history.
There are also many Muslims in Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania, Czechoslovakia. There are many Muslims in what we call the white continent of Europe and Eurasia. You should not let anybody fool you into thinking that to be a Muslim is to be in something small or in something limited to one race. Islam is the religion that has more people who are dependents of God from the different nations and races than any other religion. Fifty percent of the people of Africa are Muslims. Practically all of the people of Indonesia are Muslims, and they number into the hundreds of millions.
Many Americans are not aware that many Indian people are Muslims, and the Muslims among them include more than just the Pakistanis. There are over 160 million Muslims in India. Don't think that every Indian person who comes to America who is not a Pakistani is not a Muslim. There are many Muslims in China, and not only in what we call Democratic China, but also in the Republic of China. And don't think that all Russians are atheist. Many people who live in Russia believe in God, and among those are millions of Muslims. Al-Islam is not a religion for any one race, it is a religion for all people.
EDUCATION A MUST
What I am suggesting in this article is no complicated philosophy or ideology. What I offer is no more than common sense reasoning, and I am convinced that it is the best solution, When addressing the general population, you should address them with common sense reasoning. In fact, the Holy Qur'an guides us to common sense. It is a common sense message, although it contains very complex ideas. In the very beginning of the Revelation to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), he was told by God, "Oh you who are wrapped in your mantle (cloak), stand up and warn the people. God is going to give to you a weighty Word."
Although the Qur'an appeals and directs us to common sense, it still has all that is needed to satisfy the intellectual But what I am trying to do in this article is to try and make what Muslims should be doing here in the United States very simple and clear. God makes it very clear and simple in the Qur'an as to what Muslim's should be doing when He says, "Work in your places. I am a Worker".
God is telling us in the above verse that he is not an idle God or a God at rest. Accordingly, Muslims don't believe in a static universe or a God that is resting. I am not trying to address any deficiencies in anyone's religion, I just want to bring that message to you in hopes that Muslims and others will appreciate what is being said to them by God—that He does not rest, and that He never took a rest.
The Holy Qur'an gives us an excellent description that is simple and clear of how God relates to His creation It says, "God! There is no God but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permits. He knows what (appears to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass any of His knowledge except as He Wills. His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them, for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory)." Qur'an 2:255.
This verse tells us that God is active every moment of the day. There is not a single second during which He is not active in a wonderful work, Muslims have to believe that. If we believe that God took a rest, it will make us want to take a rest, and if all of us take a rest, we will be without anything.
Muslims must also understand that though we have heard of Al-lslam in the West, for the most part it has been incorrectly presented. We need the true report on this religion: how it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad, what it did to end the Dark Ages, how it brought the Arabs who were steeped in ignorance and corruption, to the peak of civilization where they became the beacon light of intellectual liberty for the human being.
Al-lslam made possible the regeneration of scientific interest and scientific progress for the whole world. This is a fact of history. And if you don't believe what I am stating, all you have to do is study the Medieval Age and the influences of Al-lslam upon that period.
When Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) began his mission, most of the people were ignorant. In fact, it is referred to as the age of ignorance in Arabia. Addressing the need to make the people literate, Prophet Muhammad instituted a public program for educating all of the people. Most of them could not read, so he taught them to read the Qur'an.
Never Too Old To Learn
Though the majority of Muslims born in America are literate in English, they are illiterate when it comes to the Arabic language. Therefore, if they are to get the great benefit of our Holy Book, they must study the Arabic language. And you should not think you are ever too old to study the Arabic language. Prophet Muhammad said that we are to gain knowledge. To become educated is an obligation on every male and female born in the Muslim society. Furthermore, he said that the obligation to acquire knowledge is on the individual from the cradle to the grave.
No matter how old you are, if you accept what he ha: given us, you feel an obligation to increase your knowledge. If you are not in school, you should return to school in some way or other. You should always remain a student. You should die a student. That should be the commitment of every Muslim.
The only way Muslims can be strong in Islamic knowledge is to turn to the pure Islamic sources, such a the Qur'an, the Hadith literature (traditions), to the sunnah (practices) and history of Prophet Muhammad Muslims must study the wisdom of the learned companions of the Prophet, and the wisdom of those learned Imams which survived the early days of the Muslims an whose knowledge was passed on to us. You must study and learn that knowledge, and as you do, you will become strong in knowledge.
There was a great man who once lived among the African-American race who said, "You will never become the equal of the white man until you strive to become equal to him in knowledge." I believe he left the African-American with a precious wisdom in that statement. However, to gain knowledge will not be enough. In fact, all that is within the human possibility is not enough unless we also exercise that which is within our moral possibility. It is the moral urge and the moral commitment in man that will preserve his life and progress.
We can learn all of the wisdom in the Qur'an, the wisdom in the textbooks of a college or a university, but if we lose the context of our moral life, we cannot go forward. The proof of how moral deficiency affects us in the whole of our life is by what we now see taking place in America today.
ISLAM-RELIGIOUS (NOT RACIAL) APPEAL
As Muslims, we will have to appeal to our audience from a position other than that of racial concerns. Racial concerns are too small and narrow. We must stop addressing race, and start addressing man. We have to stop designing our materials to appeal to just blacks, that is, the indigenous African-American. We have to design our educational materials, our books, our propagation (dawah) materials to appeal to the universal man.
This religion was revealed for all people, and that is the spirit we must come into. We should not hesitate to carry the message of Al-Islam to an Englishman, a Hispanic, an American Indian, a Chinese, or to anyone. Whatever his race, don't hesitate to carry it to him because in this spiritual situation that now exists in America— the lost misplaced values and confused concerns— everybody should be given an opportunity to hear and accept this religion. This is what we must believe. If you believe this in your heart, you will grow to be a strong people.
Fear of Intermixture
The African-American has a tendency to fear mixture with other races. Why fear the mixture of others. If God wants you and you qualify to meet the competition, invite others to come into this religion. Let every man of every race know that this religion is not for any one race. This religion is for all races. Don't fear the competition, because if God has given you something, you will be successful. On the other hand, if He hasn't chosen you to lead, then be ready to step back and let any man lead no matter what color his skin may be. I am ready to do this, and so should anyone who claims to be a believer in this religion.
It is not necessary for me to be in the forefront of a thing as long as it is going forward in the direction it should be moving. When many of our people who are now Muslims were Christians, they used to say, "I don't care if I'm just a doorman there. I'm going to be in the House of the Lord." As Muslims, you should not give up that spirit. That is the right spirit to have. If you've got that kind of spirit, you won't have to be the doorman, you will be the housekeeper. But be prepared to be the doorman rather than the out-of-doors.
RIGHTEOUS CONDUCT REFLECTS LOVE OF GOD
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) warned us that there would come a time so terrible that one good act will be worth many. Praying one prayer would account for many prayers in that terrible time. I believe that we have come to a period of such moral decadence and insane behavior in the public of the American people that we are now in that time and prophecy.
We must be careful not to become too hard on ourselves in times such as these because there are some who become so holy, they want to become guards to watch others to make sure that they are just as holy. They ask, "Hey, did you make your five prayers today?" I say to these people, "Look, when you go to Heaven or Hell, it's not going to be because somebody else didn't make their prayers; it's going to be because you didn't make yours. Furthermore, that is not the only question that you will be asked. You are going to be asked some others, such as, "How did you treat the Revelation of God? How did you treat Muhammad the Prophet? How did you identify as a Muslim or with the world in your behavior?"
Prophet Muhammad said, "Religion is behavior," your conduct. This religion is not about how you feel. You can feel good about this religion, but if it doesn't reflect in your behavior, then you are missing this religion. Prophet Muhammad warned us that any Muslim who follows the ways of the people of the world, are not of the Muslims."
You can call yourself a Muslim, but if you are drinking intoxicants, using drugs, pimping, taking advantage of other people, trying to prosper on the backs or weaknesses of others, you are following the wicked corrupt world. Whatever behavior you give yourself to identifies you. God tells us in the Qur'an that people behave according to their disposition. If your behavior is un-Islamic, you should question your attitudes and your disposition.
You have to question your feelings as to how you feel about somebody. We may feel, "Oh, my heart loves him," but is it right or wrong, to emphasize what I mean, I once lived in a neighborhood in which there was an old woman who had a man that was no good. He was a no good abusive corrupt scoundrel. But this woman loved him anyway, and she said, "I can't help it, I just love him with my heart." But was it right of her to love somebody who abused and misused her? To love him was wrong.
Your First Love
The salvation for your sentiments are first in loving God, then love His Messenger, and then dictate the portion of love that you should give to others in the light of that love. Why should we love a criminal who abuses us and is abusive to society. You may say, "Oh, I knew him once when he was good." Well that is too bad. Now he is a devil. We need to know how to place our sentiments. We must have the strength to call our sentiments back from a place that does not deserve them.
If you have no sense of your 'top priority' you cannot do that. You will be confused and not know how to direct your life. You will not know how to make decisions because you have nothing ruling in your life. Let God and His Word rule in your life. Let the sunnah (practices) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) be your human example. Then, question your behavior in the light of those things. Once you have questioned your behavior, gather the strength to pull your sentiments away from a person, an object or a situation that does not deserve them. Be sentimental, but be sentimentally strong.