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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

Community Awareness And The Role Of The Individual: Part 4

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


(Editors note: The following article is from a lecture delivered in Gary, Indiana on December 13, 1986.)

The same ethnic makeup of the people doing business in our community today was basically there when I was a boy. There were Arab, Greek and Jewish stores. They had the businesses; we had hardly anything. It has barely changed. There are stores and supermarkets on Chicago's South Side that I have looked at and admired for the last 25 years or more. It seems that 50 percent of those stores have now been taken over by immigrants. It's disheartening. You say, "Well, he got that Arab money." If he has Arab money, why does he come here and work on the corner in his own business where you won't work. He stays on the job 12 hours, while you won't. He doesn't drive up in a big car, open cash register twice a day, take out the money, and drive back off. He works all day long.


Arab Progress

So it it's Arab big money that makes a difference, what is it that keeps that Arab, with his big money, on that job working steadily while you won't? That should tell you he doesn't have big money. If he had it he wouldn't be there, he'd be downtown.
He'd own a bank and be at the stock exchange, if he had big money. He doesn't have big money, he's poor, just like you. Many times he's poorer than you, so now I ask the question again: What makes the difference between him and you? He has faith in something, while you don't have faith in anything. He has a belief working for him, he has a set of principles and values, that he gets from family traditions and religion. These beliefs and values disciplines his thoughts, and feeling. You don't have anything harnessing or controlling the way you think or feel.


Thoughts And Feelings

You think any way you want to think. You don't bring your thoughts and feelings under any authority. You live from one miserable, hellish condition to another one. From one zero to the next, because you won't accept to have your life put in some kind of container.

You don't walk around with your life outside of a body: God created you and gave your life your own body. And if it wasn't for God designing this body to function, you wouldn't have any life whatsoever.

It is the mercy of God that wakes you up in the morning or at night. It's the mercy of God that you go to the bathroom. It's the mercy of God that you eat' and drink something. If it was left in many of your hands, we'd die right away. Many of us don't have the ingenuity or get-up-and-go to brush our teeth.


The Majority

The majority of us are too lazy to get up and sweep the floor. We have no order in our lives or concern to make the room presentable to live in.

We live in hell, and go out with torment in us. We pour it out on a neighbor, senior citizen, poor child, or some other poor victim. Some of us shoot dope in their veins and sell them reefer and cocaine and drink liquor with buddies on the corner. Some of us are zeroes who don't have faith in anything.

We stand around and envy others getting somewhere. We won't accept that our lives should come under some kind of discipline.

No one has anything easy to offer you. It has never been that way. If you give nothing, you get nothing.


Be Thankful For Something

No matter what your situation is, have something to be thankful about. Say I thank God I'm not worse off. And if you have the right spirit of gratitude in you, it will begin transforming your whole life.


We Have Been Cheated

We have been cheated. We were brought to this country and made slaves. We came out of slavery into so-called freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued giving us a legal freedom. But the situation for enslavement still existed. The segregated, Jim Crow south, that denied us equal treatment persisted.

It wasn't until many, many years later, in fact, it was about a hundred years later, that we realized a better situation for ourselves in this country. Think about that. Here's what I want to see, and recognize. We went from slavery to freedom to the church under Christian Americans.


We Didn't Have A Choice

We didn't have a religious choice. African-Americans in slavery never had a religious choice until freedom time and we started exercising our own authority, to choose for ourself the religion we wanted.

Sometimes the mental chain is much stronger than the physical chain. We can be separated, or relieved from physical slavery, but the mental chains still hold us. And right now, the vast majority of African-Americans are not good Christians. There are only a small minority of our people who are good Christians. The majority are bad Christians who are afraid to make a religious choice. They never had the freedom to choose religion for themselves.

Don't tell me you had a choice when there were nothing but churches. That's not a choice. They brought people into slavery who were from a continent with a tradition of al-Islam. A continent that had mosques built on it, a thousand years ago, almost. A continent where families used to live in accordance with Islamic family life and discipline. A continent that saw great tribes and nations rise up, and get the name of Muslim empire.

Now, when they freed us, they didn't say "well, look you're free now, you don't have to come into the religion of my race. You don't have to come into the religion of our fathers. We would like to tell you about your past."


Many Of Us Descended From Muslims

Many of you didn't come from heathenism. Many of you are the descendants of Muslims. Islam is the religion of your people in Africa. Their God is called Allah; He's the same God for everybody, and their prophet is called Muhammad." If they were decent, cool, upright, honest liberators, they would have felt obligated to tell us the truth about our past and give us a sense of respect for the religion, that they now have to respect whether they like it or not.

So we were never given a choice. They let us out of slavery, and there was nothing to walk to but a church.

Now if I would come to Gary, Indiana and not invite you to question Christianity to see if it is suitable for you, in light of what al-Islam has to offer you, if I weren't coming here to also invite you to look at, weigh and evaluate al-Islam along with Christianity as a discipline for the ills of African-Americans. I would be in some degree, a phony.



You have been the victims; you have not been given a choice, you've been taken out of bondage and shown one thing that's the church. You couldn't even choose a synagogue or Buddhist temple. The slaves didn't know anything about that. They only knew about a church, that said "Come to Jesus." They only knew about a church, that said "Come to Jesus." They made Jesus a long haired blonde. They don't paint Jesus that way anymore. The lights are on too bright. But when I was a boy they used to have Jesus in the black neighborhood as a skinny white man, with long yellow hair, and blue eyes. The eyes were so blue they'd almost blind you. They said he was a Jew.

They wanted us to see him that way so we would worship them through an image, so that the newly freed man would still be a person captivated and captured by the image.

If I didn't tell you these things, I wouldn't be a friend, I wouldn't be honest. I'd be a phony.