Politics And Morality
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
The one thing we must understand before we discuss political awareness, is that all forms of human awareness begins with moral awareness. I believe political awareness is the awareness of how political involvement betters or worsens our situation. And we cannot be politically aware without being aware of our particular situation.
What we want our situation to be as a people or as a community should decide our political involvement. Getting involved politically should be an activity that not only registers our disapproval of things, but also our approval.
There is a strong tendency in people, and especially the African-American, to voice disapproval, and to build a political campaign on disapproval. We should begin our political campaign based on what we approve of, and from that we should decide on what we disapprove. This approach is better than just responding emotionally and voicing every complaint about everything that troubles our soul or hurts us inside, or hurts our community.
With our great numbers, and our political involvement and support for political leaders; our allegiance and support for the Democratic party should have produced much more than what it has. Our political involvement has not produced what it should, because for most of us, it is only an exercise in the expression of grievances for a relief in the soul or the spirit. And a troubled people or community should take care to know of how much its effort and involvement are aimed only at spiritual relief. That is why there is no real relief in our community life. There is also no relief in our business life as a people because we are motivated by an urge to seek mere spiritual relief.
We say that we want more and better jobs, better opportunity, better representation in government, a better share of our taxes, etcetera. But, our patience and our attitude in the face of the poor results, says that most of us are satisfied to merely voice our grievances, to join a big crowd and demonstrate with the masses just for spiritual relief.
An Historical Simulation
How much of our effort is determined by intelligent observation, by analysis or consultation with others who have something to offer directly or indirectly. We should find those who can assist us in their knowledge or in the knowledge of how they performed when they were in a similar condition or situation. We know that more than a hundred years ago the English were cruelly commanding the life and activities of the Irish people while occupying their country, Ireland. The Irish had hardly any life worth living during the days of that ugly dominance. The English were in complete control over the life situations of the Irish people.
I once thought that African-Americans were the only people that had been disgraced, denied manhood and respect to the extent of what occurred during slavery and for many years after. I used to think that we were the only people who suffered under such a condition. But I have read incredible reports of how the Irish suffered similar treatment. Just as the roles in the African-American family was completely destroyed during slavery, so were the roles of the Irish destroyed by the treatment they received at the hands of the English who were cruelly dominating them.
Awareness of our situation means awareness of the past. We must respect what we have broadcast in the past that will bring respect to us. Most of our people cannot recall what we broadcast or published during our history in this country. They can't recall our concerns and our best aspirations. And if we can't recall those things, how can we be true to what we declared was our purpose and our best aspirations. We have not been consistent in terms of our own moral profession, our own moral claims as a people.
If there is no moral consistency in the life of a people, they cannot expect to have continuous progress in their lives. No member group in our pluralistic society can be honored among other Americans when they favor and freely conform to a spirit and an existence that betray their published concerns and their finest aspirations. The African-American has been guilty of that, and today, many of us are still guilty of that.
We need to form alliances with other people who share our principles and our aspirations. We need to become alive to such people. We need an association with them. If not directly, at least by identifying in our lives and our vision that they are with us, and are the same as we are.
We should not form alliances that will put restraints on our life. We want to recognize those people deserving of our support who were with us for our own excellence, for our own good fortune when we were weak and needed their help. We don't want to betray their loyalties or the principles that we published, principles that we claimed were our finest. We don't want to betray or devotion and pride as Americans, because what we published was good for us as a people.
I repeat, we need to form alliances, but no matter how strong the virtue of patience is in us or how strong our alliances are, or how strong the people are that we make alliances with, we will never be successful unless we put before us what God wants first, which is fear and reverence of Him.
Some people will say, "Hey, we don't want any leader calling us to reverence, to religion in any political convention." Well the best political convention that ever took place on these shores of America was carried out by people who had respect for God, and a commitment to God according to their perception of what God wanted. I am talking about the political convention that was the founding of America. It was at this convention that the idea of democracy, the idea of the future of this country was decided, based upon God approving it. And this is the destiny that God has chosen for man. So in the founding of this country, their political convention was protected by respect for God, and any that we may have should also be protected by respect for God.
Moral Consciousness Is Salvation
Some people think it reflects weakness to call to mind morality or good behavior. Many political, religious and community leaders have become so afraid, so intimidated by the extent of corruption in the life of society today, that they are afraid to knock on the door of moral consciousness. But Moral consciousness is our salvation, and it is that fearful attitude in denying moral consciousness that is our weakness, our failure in the face of the great opportunities that we have today.
If we can just clean up our hearts, our thoughts, and dedicate ourselves to moral excellence as well as other kinds of excellence, we can make great strides, not only for ourselves individually and collectively, but for all humanity. It is a shame to see in the life of Americans the opportunities that are before us, and then see the moral neglect in our life that deny us progress. If we hope to take advantage of these opportunities, we need to follow the advice of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who said, "None of you will become believers until your inclinations follow what I have been sent to you with." And we know that he was sent to us with the Qur'an and his own example of how the Qur'an should be lived. Now this is not only good advice to the Muslims, but it works just as well for non-Muslims.
If we are to live a good moral life, we must guard ourselves against disturbing and destructive inclinations. Whenever we sense feelings or inclinations that we know are not approved before God, we must fight against them. The best natural inclinations of a human being that God has given require that we love the creatures of God. And we are reminded by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), wherein he said, "Never will you enter Paradise until you become a believer, and you will never become a believer until you practice love." The natural human being practices love and does not restrain the impulse to show kindness. The impulse to do wrong conditions many people in this country to reject the pure human inclinations, and to follow the inclinations of a savage, brutal beast.
God tells us in the Qur'an, "Never will be reach the goal intended for us while the corrupted are mixed in with the good." Over the last fifteen or twenty years, American society has given itself freely and blindly to a wild and corrupt idea of freedom. Even many of those who call themselves Muslims are victims of it. But the Muslims can be thankful to God that He is slowly, and in His Divine way eliminating the corrupt ones from among us and increasing among us those who are good.
We know we cannot convert people to righteousness. They must desire it in their hearts. But we can reject the company of corrupt people. We should not, as individuals or as a community, go through great expense to win corrupt people over to our cause.
God says in the Qur'an, "Do not you see how God makes a parable of a good word that is as a good tree. Its roots are firmly established. Its branches reach up toward the heaven giving its fruits at all times with permission from its Lord. And God set forth parables for people in order that they may be thoughtful. And the parable of a corrupt word is as a corrupt tree. Its roots are shallow in the earth, and there is not for it any stability. God will establish in strength those who believe by the Word that is firm, in this world and in the Hereafter. And God leaves to stray those who are wrongdoers; and God does whatsoever He Wills."
Let us look at ourselves in the light of the above verse, and the Divine Wisdom illuminating from them. If we accept what this parable puts forth, then we must accept that we cannot be firmly established in the earth, you must first reject corruption. And God gives us many signs of this in his creation.
Let us take a look at plant life. Even though it may come up out of an environment that is corrupt, its life does not accept the corruption. A plant that comes out of a seed which is resting in mud and filth does not allow any of the filth that may be in the mud to come into its life. When you eat the plant that developed, you eat a clean life. As it developed, it left the filth outside of it, and selected only that which was clean.
The great life of civilized society, when it came from wherever civilized life has arisen, it arose up because there was first right thinking on the part of the people. God then blesses them with vision, insight and direction until that society allows corruption to set in. And God warns us in scripture, "The corrupt will perish, and what is with Him shall endure."