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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles


Bilalian News

New Names For Bilalians

Imam W. D. Mohammed


Chief Imam Muhammad on New Names For Bilalian (Black) People


"He is God, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or colours). To Him belong the most beautiful names; whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare His praises and glory; and He is the exalted in might, the wise."

Holy Quran, Yusuf Ali translation Sura LIX: Verse 24

I want all of our Bilalian (Black) people to put down the slavemasters' names and take on the divine names of the Holy Quran. Any name that you find in the Holy Quran is a good name. The World Community of Islam in the West has published a Muslim name book. In it there are pages that give divine names, Quranic names, and prophets' names. You may pick names from those pages. If we could get the 30 million Bilalians in North America to change their names (no matter what religion they believe in), this world would be revolutionized overnight. The name book also includes a list of historical and geographical names. This list is beautiful and very significant as Bilalian family names. Bilalians must wash their bodies free from all slavemasters'  trademarks slavemasters' names).

I am sure that if Caucasians did not think that our people were too sensitive and if they could be frank and talk to you, they would tell you that they will never respect you too much as long as you keep the names that their slavemaster parents gave you. When a Caucasian looks at you and hears your name, he hears himself. Right away he is reminded that his slave—owning ancestors named your father and that is how you got your name. The branded farm animal can walk with more dignity that we can.

You might ask why we are asking you to adopt "those Arab names." Many of our people were once Arabs, but they were never Caucasians. Arabian, Jordanian, Morrocans, Egyptians, and Sudanese are called "Arabs," and Bilalians certainly have a physical resemblance to them.

If your name is "Ruth Jones," Jones most likely came from the slavemaster. You should get rid of the "Jones" but don't get rid of "Ruth" unless there is something that you really do not like about Ruth. You should be able to show me a good religious reason to support not liking that name. Just saying you do not like the name is not good enough reason. You should love the name that your mother gave you and you should keep it unless it is a name with a bad meaning. Some of you may not like your mother or your family. Do not change your name for reasons like that.

Some of you may say that you want to change your name just because it sounds Christian or American and that you want to get away from all of that. I can accept that reason because all of us have a legitimate reason for not wanting to be associated in any way with the ex—slavemasters and their world. If you give this reason, it is accepted.

"Wallace" is a Caucasian name. There is nothing "black" or "Muslim" about the name "Wallace." Wallace is a name for people from Wales. I keep this name because it is a first name and it does not have a bad meaning.

When a believer in Islam gets a Quranic name, he gets it because he believes that he should have a holy name (Muslim name). There are a few Muslims that wear what we call Christian names, and they are just as good a Muslim as some of those who wear Muslim names. Muslims are generally known by names that are called Arabic or Quranic names. It is not right to think that you have to change your name to be a Muslim.

If you have a name with an ugly meaning you should change it. Anyone wanting to change their last name should do it, unless your last name is already a Muslim name or unless you know that you did not get your name from slavery.

I do not see how a Christian relative could object to another relative who has become a Muslim changing their name. They should understand it. In fact, the whole family should take the Muslim name.

We are setting a deadline of Christmas, 1977, for all Bilalian (Black) people in America to give up their slave names and accept dignified and meaningful names that will free Bilalians once and for all from those "yes—sir Master" names that were put on our foreparents to label a whole people as the properties of another race.

I am 3 or 4 generations from the horrible days of chattel slavery and in my life—time I have heard on the news and in the streets, Caucasians referring to Bilalians with the words, "Our Negroes," and "Our colored people." Where do you think the habit of referring to us with that term "Our" got its start? What other people have you known to be given this special treatment by Caucasians? Your good Christian names are no problem. But, slave—ownership names must go. Our claim to the term "Americans" is proof enough of our sincere belief in being one with all the people of this great land.

The problem is that we have a reputation for over — acting our sincerity. Some of our foreparents felt the desperate need to convince the master that it was safe to relax and have a good night's sleep, and that the slaves were happy with their lot and with the limits set by the slavemasters and they neither desired nor dreamed of anything beyond those limits. In their desperate efforts to establish this picture of themselves, some of our slave foreparents went so far as to copy the affectionate movements and expressions of the slavemaster's favorite dogs.

People, you will never prove your American or human value by sacrificing your human dignity.


A Name Is Not Just A Label

As a real scriptural body of people (people formed by scripture), we turn to scripture for information on the subject of names for the members of the World Community of Islam in the West.

The scripture tells us that the "person" Adam was the first human servant of Allah (this is subject to several interpretations). Further, it tells us that this person, this "man," or this mind was made first out of the "ground," or out of the physical.

The Bible says that God created the people, both male and female, and that He "called them Adam in the day they were made" (see Genesis). However, this first Adam, or this first human struggle for the goal set by the Creator, failed.

Disobedience gives the name "Adam" a bad flavor, as the sins of Genesis' first human order increase. Nevertheless, Adam's mouth of mental faculties, forced open by the thirst for knowledge, kicked the intelligent development of the mind into first gear and earned "Adam" (meaning earth having the human blood of life in it) the right to be called "man."

Although moving according to divine plan on towards the set goal, this form that the Genesis "Adam" had come to birth in was still short of the goal by more than one—third. The ill repute and the inadequacies of this first stretch for the goal deprived Genesis' man of the blessing on the promised name from Allah's own "mouth" (see Revelation).

At any rate, "Adam" was no longer a just description of Genesis' second — formed human life; thus, the term man (not man) became a common name for humanity as humanity is conceived in the Bible's Genesis.

In scriptural history, as told in the Bible with the story of "Jacob", comes an attempt to gain a proper name. The name "Israel" was given to Jacob as a "new" name to mark his turn from a profiteering mind to a spiritual mind. But, as a separate order or society, "Jacob's" people under the new name "Israel" failed to live up to the name in their public affairs; that is, in their dealings with and among other people and other societies.

This caused the early church and later the mosque ("masjid"), to address "Abraham" as the founding father, the first leader, and the model for the Biblical adherents ("AbiliKitab").

Unlike Genesis' "Adam" and Genesis' "Jacob" ("Israel"), Abraham (Ibrahim) successfully upheld the order transferred to him. The point is that a good public name as well as a good name at home made Abraham worthy of that special honor.

The Quran says, "Our dye and flavor is the dyeing and flavoring of Allah, and who is better at dyeing and flavoring than Allah (God)?" Again, the Quran says, "Create yourselves in the characteristics established by Allah." These characteristics are spelled out in the Quran's attributive names that are given in the Book of Muslim Names.

There was no fanatic fever brought on by the desire for new individual or personal names as we have witnessed in the recent history. Many towering companions of the last Prophet, Muhammad, kept the names that they were known by before they embraced Islam.

Brothers and Sisters, it is not a commandment in Islam that you change the name that was given to you at birth by your parents. The actual "new name" that is promised in the Bible is the name "Muslim." This name is related to Allah's promise to the Prophet Abraham. This name is the answer to that mystery 'which asks, but which never clearly answered the question of what form and nature the complete "man" should take.

In Islam we are taught that all people are "Muslim" in their nature (if not in their life expressions) until the enemy individual (Satan) or until the enemy society (again Satan) change that God — given nature.

But the name "Muslim" is not spelled with an upper — case "M" until that individual declares openly his or her commitment, as did Abraham and Muhammad, the last Prophet. We all will not become models for the generations, but we all have the potential courage to stand up openly and declare our allegiance to that monotheistic, upright, and universal belief which has been preached by social heroes and spiritual giants all over the world.

Thus we can see that the name "Muslim" is the promised name. This name belongs to humanity. This name distinguishes that human form decreed by the Creator for us from those forms which are not really human ("human" means earth — born mind).

All of us should strive to mold ourselves in and after the likeness of the divine attributes. Hence, the emphasis in Islam is on character and attitudes as opposed to an interest in purchasing or in merely wearing "labels."