Overcoming Destructive Emotionalism
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
God says to us in the Holy Qur'an, "Whoever will bring forth a good deed, for him will the like of it be multiplied ten times as reward. And whosoever brings forth an evil deed, for him will be only the measure according to that evil deed." With these Words from God to the Muslims, and actually to all people if they will accept them, I address the condition of the Muslim community and that of our ethnic community, the African-Americans.
If we believe that God rewards every individual for his good act more than ten times the measure of the act, and that He only punishes us to the measure of our evil deed and no more, then we shouldn't worry or take so much to heart the condition of those who are suffering around us.
If we don't believe this, the burden of our own condition is increased for us. Individually, many African-Americans live quite well. Some are fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood where the people live a life of affluence. But even in that situation, there are still those who suffer from other problems, such as bad health, death in the family, etcetera.
It is important that we don't allow ourselves to become too burdened, disappointed or upset over the miserable condition of the people. Why? Because if those of us who are healthy and are managing our lives will allow the miserable condition of these people to become too much of a burden, that will hinder us from doing much of what we should to make life better for all, including them. We should take direction from the Word of God and not feel too burdened. After all, God is always in charge of everything. We read in the Qur'an where it says, "Shall I seek to Lord over me anyone other than God while He is the Lord of everything."
I find great relief in knowing what God says in the Qur'an that "No person is made to bear the burden of another," and that is what we must accept. At one time I used to look at people suffering in my immediate surroundings and it would hurt my heart. I could feel my heart burning and bleeding, looking at their miserable state. And I would wonder, "Why does this person have to suffer like that?" Finally it registered on me after reading the wisdom God has revealed, when He says that He does not put on any soul anything but the consequences of its own deeds, which is to say, "No burdened soul is made to bear the burden of another." Upon accepting that, the burden was taken off of me. I realized that I did not know, nor could I see into the other person's life. But, I do know that God must see something that I cannot see.
If we are to be productive, strong and successful, we must relieve ourselves of this unnecessary sentimental burden. Black people in America are the most burdened people with sentimental burdens. We make spontaneous decisions in matters of great importance. We are not likely to say, "Hey, wait until I sleep on this one."
As an example of what I am referring to, whenever I preach this religion, and I see-somebody telling another person, "Hey, why don't you go up and make your Declaration of Faith? Let the Imam know that you want to be a Muslim." It is necessary that I say to them, "Wait a minute. This person with you cannot make the Declaration of Faith for you. You wait until you are ready to make the Declaration. Our religion is not a spontaneous religion, and we don't make the Declaration of Faith spontaneously. We think over what we are committing ourselves too. When making the Declaration, we say in Arabic, 'Ash-hadu,' meaning, 'I witness.' And you cannot witness something while you've got the Holy Ghost. Somebody has to tell you what was happening after you come out of the spell."
The Declaration of Faith
For people who want to accept, we should tell them, "Wait until the spell goes off and you can think clearly. Then say, 'Ash-hadu,' I witness with my intellect, with my own common sense that God is One, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God. And don't be so quick to do that in the presence of lots of people because some of them want to get to you right away and spoil your commitment. It would be better if you go in privacy and make your Declaration to two or three Muslims in whom you have confidence. Tell them 'Ash-hadu aila il-aha illallah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan rasulullah’, which means, ‘bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Messenger,' and know that you are a Muslim. Then come back among all these people and they won't know what you are." This is what you have to tell people in situations like the above.
Let us not be naive or stupid. During the early years of Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) struggle to establish the community of Muslims he had to tell his followers not to declare the faith openly, but to make the commitment in secret. It was later in his mission God revealed to him that the Declaration should be said openly in public.
By the Muslims concealing their faith to each other, it gave them enough time to get a few strong people who could uphold the burden of the community before the imposters could come in and throw cold water on their spirit, confuse their mind, give them false reports, tell them lies to make them believe terrible things are happening, and frighten them out of their commitment.
If you don't want the additional burden of having these modern day, black uncle torn so-called Muslims come on you with all of their negativism and pessimism the moment you say you are a Muslim, then it is best that you make your Declaration of Faith in secrecy. To some people it doesn't really matter. They have nothing to lose. They strive on notoriety. If they were told not to say the Declaration publicly, it would kill them. Their life is notoriety. Such persons will make the Declaration just to say it before a thousand witnesses, then go home and forget they ever saw a Muslim.
Lovers of Notoriety
The love of notoriety is a serious problem for the African-American people. Notoriety will keep a people weak. It will keep them from coming into clear vision. If you love notoriety, you will never be able to follow your purpose to pursue the great ends for community life. We used to say, "There is no room among us for the importance of persons." We need to return to that kind of attitude. That is Islamic. In our religion, we do not build up personalities as little gods, celebrities, deities or idols to be idolized and followed, not even an Imam.
The content of our emotional life is our biggest problem. That is understandable when you look at the bad conditions we have in our past, and the kind of opposition we meet today from our own people as well as others when we try to lift ourselves out of our miseries. We have become so heavily sensitized emotionally that we are just a lump of sentiments. We are easily hurt, self-conscious and easily offended. Most of us cannot separate ourselves or divorce our life from emotional content.
Though emotionalism may be our weakness in one situation, it is our deliverance in another, such as repentance. When we see our s-ins, and pot out our heart before God, He gives us life anew. Many times our society falls into corruption and is headed downhill to decadence. But some, because they are so burdened in their hearts by it, get the strength to march on responsible authority and demand a change saying, "We don't want this anymore. You have to change this order of society."
Our emotions are a valuable thing that has been given to us by God. We cannot put down the human sentiment. It is a value in the human life, but don't let it burden you when you have to shape up the house. Many children in this society have given themselves to drugs, to liquor, to keeping the television on all night. Many of them just watch destructive TV programs. They don't select programs that will feed their intellect and give them a sense of worth. They feed on the trash of the television for hours upon hours.
We are really blessed if we have children who are not in jail or the slaves of abusive liquors or chemicals. We are blessed if they are not crazy, doing all kinds of perverted things. Sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves in these kind of situations and demand too much of ourselves.
You have to understand the burden of the present circumstances in your life, in your children's lives and in the life of society. "And the best way to get an understanding is to remember what God has said to us in the Qur'an, "No burdened soul is made to bear the burden of another. If one heavily laden should call another (bear) His load, not the least portion of it can be carried (by the other), even though he be nearly related".