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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles


A.M. Journal

Muhammad Speaks

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


QUESTION: Do Muslims give Christmas gifts?

IMAM: I'm sure they do. I don't know if we think of it as Christmas gifts, but I'm sure they do. I don't, myself.

If I want to give a Christian a gift, I'll find an occasion — a birthday or something -- to give that person a gift.

During the season, I do send "Season's Greetings" cards to Christians who are my friends, or my in-laws and relatives. I don't like sending them the typical Christmas card because it has the Trinitarian concept.

Our country is made up of people belonging to different religions Jews, Christians, Muslims and many others; that's why they have cards that just say Season's Greetings. The manufacturers or publishers know that there are some people who don't subscribe to the different religious ideas.

So I find that I have no problem selecting a card that doesn't carry an offensive message or a message that would be in conflict with my religion, and I send them to my Christian relatives and friends on Christmas Day.

My wife, I think, has wanted me to give my relatives, who celebrate Christmas, a gift on Christmas, but I haven't been able to do it. They (relatives) give my children gifts on Christmas, but I wish they would give my children gifts on a birthday or on one of our Eid days.

So I understand the situation; I know they would like to give gifts on their holiday, but I have a problem giving them gifts on Christmas. I have a problem doing that.

I believe one time I did give a gift to one of my relatives during the season holidays, but I didn't send it as a Christmas gift; I sent it just as a gift, and it was after Christmas I waited until after Christmas. It got there a little late — just before New Year's.

If any Muslim gives their relatives gifts on Christmas, I don't think they should worry about it -- they shouldn't have any bad feelings because they are celebrating Christmas.

They are not encouraging the celebration o Christmas, they are merely recognizing the sentiments and the need to make their relatives feel good, feel happy let their relatives know that they love them and share the season's joy with them, although the don't share the ideas. I don't find anything wrong with that.



AMJ: These are medical questions raised by the artificial heart and by the recent rash of body organ donations.

WDM: I have been watching the progress of the patient who received the mechanical heart and I think it's really painful for many people to watch the developments in his case.
At the same time there is a side of it that gives you hope.

I don't condemn it because, who knows? Allah created all these things. He's not just the Creator of the natural resources. He's also the Creator of human potential and human possibilities - - the medical profession with all its skills.

A true Muslim who has an understanding of his religion sees the knowledge and skills in the medical profession to be a blessing of God.

So I'm watching it with hope while at the same time experiencing a lot of sadness. It is natural that we would experience some sadness, when you think of a person going through the operation and receiving a mechanical apparatus that will serve as a heart — a mechanical heart. It makes you feel very badly when it's not working. That's what is so disappointing.

Myself, I don't think I could make that decision. If something would happen to my heart and they (the doctors) would say, "Well, we could give you an artificial heart" — I wouldn't want to call it artificial...the heart is so beloved. It's such a precious organ in our body, I hate to say mechanical heart, but — "If we could give you a heart, you know, that would work for you, a heart from the medical profession, would you accept that?"

At this particular time, I don't think I would accept that. But as I said, I'm watching the developments with hope. And I'm glad that somebody accepted because we'd never know what's possible unless somebody accepts to go through the operation and receive the artificial heart.

AMJ: These questions were raised by Dr. Mikal Ramadan, and he would like to know your position on the prolongation of life through artificial means?

WDM: When we say artificial means, that can mean one thing to one person and something else to another person. If we take that too far then we'll just discard all the successes that have been made in the field of the sciences in medicine — and that would be a terrible thing because Muslims had a very great part in getting these sciences on the way.

Heart operations, treatment of mental disease, these were done by Muslims in the very early history of our religion, of the mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) long before Western society became industrialized and shot the sciences up as high as they are now.

So we should have a personal interest. We should have an interest in the development of these sciences that have been inspired or supported by the contributions of Muslims.
And I would say that if we come to the conclusion that these artificial means of preserving life are un-Islamic, we might set back the progress of the Muslims in this field as well.



AMJ: How do  Imams  and members of the general Muslim community show or evidence the support or trust in your leadership you mentioned last week? What can they do to reinforce this in themselves? What can they do to show it to others so that there's no question?

WDM: When we see an Imam using the current language of the leadership, that's an indication that he's following the leadership.

But, when we see an Imam who is two, three, five years behind the leadership in
language, that's reason for us to wonder if that Imam is really...he might be disloyal, but you don't have to be disloyal to be untrustworthy.

If you are not enthusiastic in your support — for what I would call drastic changes that are being brought about in this community from what we used to be; if we are not enthusiastic in our support for the new leadership and our feet are dragging and our language is out of date all the time -- maybe we are not disloyal in our hearts, but that's a serious problem.

It means that we have difficulty following the new directions. We find it difficult getting in the spirit of the leadership or keeping up with the leadership.

I think that amounts to a cause for people to distrust those Imams. I would suggest that if they (Imams) see this in themselves, they hurry and correct that and make sure they reflect the spirit and direction they see in their Imam.

AMJ: How would you prioritize the national programs of the American Muslim Mission?

WDM: Two priorities are, to me, of equal importance. Because of the economic conditions right now, I consider these two to be of equal importance -- the progress of our effort in education, and the effort to save our financial assets from deterioration and loss — the effort to be a factor, ourselves, for bettering financial conditions in the centers of the poor people, the populations of the poor people.

So I consider both -- the economic effort and education - to be of equal importance to us right now. And education is always our priority.