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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 1

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


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

With the name Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. We give all praise to Him, we pray prayers and blessings on the Last and Universal Messenger, Muhammad the Prophet, peace be upon him, on his descendants and his Companions, the righteous all, and on us. Ameen.

Our address today is community awareness and the role of the individual. We are coming from our own Islamic knowledge and experience. Allah, Most High, says in Our Holy Book, "O you who believe! Your own selves obligate you." Now as we go on, insha' Allah, God willing, we hope to bring you quotes from the Holy Book, the authority of the Muslims, and also the life of Muhammad, the Prophet, to whom the Holy Book was revealed, about 1400 years ago, in a small land (peninsula) in the desert called Arabia. A land mentioned in the Bible, long before our Prophet, Muhammad, received the message from Qur'an, the message of Divine revelation.

The mentioning of that land, in the Bible or the Torah of the Jews, and the kind of prayer and the kind of prediction, which says, 'waters shall run in the desert,' means hope shall come to the desert.


The Ka'abah

Muslims are obligated to turn toward the Holy House in the desert called Ka'aba. It's a simple structure. No one lives in it, and it doesn't house any furniture.

It is used to house idols, false gods, after Abraham had built it for the worship of the One God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. In time, his great works and message was neglected and forgotten. Over the period of time that house came to house home-made gods of ignorant men. It is said there were about 364 or 369 such false idols in that house. Prophet Muhammad came victoriously to that place and land and cleaned the house of false worship.

The name of the house is 'ka'aba.' The term itself, literally means, connections. And we know that social life is just that, a life of important connections. It begins with the connection of husband and wife, and then parents and children, and from that simple, social life, evolved what is now the great world population in this globe.


When We Turn Toward The Ka'abah

When Muslims turn in prayer five times daily, toward that symbol of our unity, we are reminded of the beginning of man, and the life that God intended that man live in a situation with others. And that he live in accord with the best motivations possible for him. So that area is a sacred, prohibited area, where wrongdoings are outlawed. Even wrong on the part of the spirit is outlawed.

Not only are we to prevent ourselves from behaving wrongly there, but we are to prevent ourselves from even feeling wrong there.

Now we know that symbol is really a sign of what Allah wants us to keep with us at all times. A sanctuary within ourselves. A belief in right over wrong. A belief in the inherent goodness of man and the society. A belief in the destiny of man as a social creature. A belief in the dignity of man as an honorable social creature.


The Children Of Adam

Allah Most High says, that certainly all the children of Adam, were given nobility. They were created honorably. Now, I don't know if you consider yourself a child of Adam or not, but I know, according to the teachings of our Prophet, that all of us have one father, in Adam, and a second father in Abraham and both of them were honorable men, and honorable fathers. We are not to look down on either. We are to respect the excellence in the father, Adam, and the excellence in the father, Abraham.

Our religion also teaches us, that no one can go to heaven, no one dies and no one is resurrected, except in the form of Adam, or on the design of Adam. Adam is the natural man.

Our religion first calls us to be reconciled, and it invites us to become reconciled again with the excellent nature that God made, when He made the human being. We are of no shameful or sinful nature. Our religion tells us that God, in creating man, created him of an excellent nature. It is ignorance that makes us see the nature as bad. It is not the nature that's bad, it is the unique whipping us because we are bad.


The Human Being's True Nature

It's a shame that we live in a world that is so pitifully pictured the human being and his nature.
The human being is his true nature, is best situated, for progress and excellence, in every way, when he or she is situated in his or her true nature.
Muslims have an obligation to promote excellence. We believe that the driving force in life is the pursuit of excellence. We've heard the expression, "necessity is the mother of invention," and many times we've found ourselves in circumstances that we terribly dislike, and we begin to look for some outside person or development to blame. Often it is the fault of external factors. But also, it is very often, that the fault is within ourselves.


We Are Obligated To Promote Excellence

We are obligated to promote excellence. Community concern should begin with self; community awareness should begin with self. We should see ourselves as a community. Each individual is a community. He lives in the environment of himself, and that environment is a community for him.

You can hear voices and not be crazy. You hear the voice of your past, present and future. You hear the voice of your experience in a given situation, and then you will hear your voice coming from a different experience, a different situation, and you will find yourself speaking to you from different places, circumstances and concerns, in your person and your ward, and it doesn't make you crazy.


We Live A Complex Life

We live in a very complex life. Human life is not simple and silly. We may behave in a way to make people think that, but human life is far from being a simple, silly thing. When Allah created the human being, He created a marvelous, very complex and involved creature. Man, with all of his science and technology, can't produce a computer to replace man. We all are excited now about the computer. Oh you can't be a high school graduate unless you know something about the computer. The computer all the other computers are being modeled after — and none of them can match it — is for you.

When computer science was new, the leaders in the field were thinking that they were going to be able to replace man, with a computer. But here recently, the voice from the top of those people is saying, "no, it will never happen. Our hopes will never be realized; man will never produce a computer to replace man." Because whatever the computer is, depends on man. So you shouldn't think of yourself as just some ordinary thing. You are a world within yourself.

Our basic concern is the promotion of excellence. So why would these people come to Gary, Indiana?
Do they think they're going to make their religion the religion of Gary?
Do they think they can take the black people from the churches, and bring them into the mosques, the masjid of the Muslims?
You have people with such thoughts on their minds. The first radio program I was on, indicated to me that somebody's terrified, but I come to this town. I don't know why my presence should terrify people like that.
Now every address should have a focus. In our focus for this address, we are looking at the individual, as the best circumstance for progress.


I Am Not A Very Youthful Man

I'm not a very young and youthful man anymore. I used to feel like ripping, running, jumping fences, and joining the marathons, but all of that has changed. I'm trying now to use my wisdom to rest better.
I had a feel of what was most important for us as a focus and a direction in the religion, but I couldn't see it clearly, so it was for the most part, just a good feel for it.
But with the help of Allah, I remained patient and continuously searched the Scripture, the Qur'an, our Holy Book, and didn't back off of the problem, no matter what happened.
And I listened to others who also have knowledge. A lot of us don't want to do that, we think we're the only ones who have knowledge. All of that finally brought me to really see what should be in focus, when we come out to address the people.


We Are Formed By Circumstances

We are formed by circumstances. I was born to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, in October of 1933. My late father and honorable leader, may Allah forgive him all his sins and give him the paradise, had been a professed Muslim for about two years or more, before I was born. When I was born, they named me the Muslim name. I have never been named Poole. It was my parents' name. My father's name was Poole before he changed it to Muhammad.

When I was born, I was born to Elijah Muhammad and Clara Muhammad, formerly Elijah Poole and Clara Evans. I have my birth certificate at home right now, and I have to look at it occasionally, because I like what happened. I like that turn in history which came with my birth, because before my birth, the members of my family were not named Muhammad. But with my father and mother identifying as Muslims, about two years or so after their conversion, they named me Wallace D. Muhammad when I was born.

Since then, I have come through many, many experiences, which have been the experiences of a person who was trying to be a good Muslim to the best of his knowledge. I can't tell you what was going on in my mind when I was two years old, but to the best of my recollection, I have been struggling to be an excellent Muslim all of my life.


How I Was Formed

The circumstances of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's teachings and the Nation of Islam formed me. I used to believe that the best way to help self, others and approach progress was to call people to an organization, to a nation.

At that time, we were called the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in America. That's what we were called in the Nation's official documents. I really believed that the best way to approach the problems of our people, or the problems of the people we would be interested in, was to invite them to join the Nation of Islam. Invite them to come into an organization, and put the organization before themselves and out front.


My Belief Has Changed

My belief has changed. I see now that we lost many years of great work, fruits, products and production, because we were not able to see where the real focus is for the Muslim life. Only very recently in my life have I really understood.

Not very long ago, I was promoting community of Islam and saying that in order for us to get energy, and initiative to be motivated to do things big, we needed a big thing before our eyes, that we give ourselves to, to bring about the motivation and initiative.


I Was Wrong

Not that we don't need to take up the concern of community life, certainly! But I was approaching it the wrong way. I was trying to get the individual to God, by focusing on community, and now God has blessed me to see that you get the community going by focusing on the individual. For me, that's great, great relief.


I Am Free Now

I'm free now. I thought I was free before, but now I know, I was not free before. I'm free now. You can tell I'm free; I'm not hasty, I'm not rushing, I'm not desperate.

In fact, I can say 'amen,' and sit down, if you want. Because I know everything is going to be taken care of. The situation is good in the heavens, and not bad on earth. Everything is going to be alright. So the best we can do is focus upon the individual.

Now, the idea that the individual is more important than the creation, is something that the Muslim is warned against. We know that the individual is not more important than the creation. No indeed. This creation will abide; we come and go. Not only will we come and go, whole communities will come and go. Nations will come and go. But the Law of God and the constant creation abides.

So we are not bigger than the creation, no, no, no. But we are a wonderful, marvelous creation. Allah says that He has patterned man on the pattern that He gave to the very creation itself. And then He gives us a religion and it's called the religion of Fitrah. Fitrah is a term from our Holy Scripture, the Qur'an. We shouldn't say its an Arabic term, it's a Qur'anic term. You don't say Bible terms or English terms, you say Bible terms are Bible terms, and Qur'anic terms are Qur'anic terms, and the language is Arabic. But the term is Qur'anic. Din-Al-Fitrah

Arabic is a language. When you say the term is Arabic, you are speaking in generalities. But when you say the term is Qur'anic, you are speaking in specifics. You are bringing the thing home.

Some of us think to be a good Muslim is to put on an Arab robe, look like an Arab, talk like an Arab and walk like an Arab. Some of us think that to come into real Al-Islam you've got to be a thorough Arab, who represent a small minority of Muslims on this earth. The great and vast majority of people believing in this religion are not Arabs. They are Asians and Africans. About one-half the population of the whole continent of Africa, is Muslims.


Africa's Islamic History

In fact, the biggest and best and most glorious history Africa has, is its Islamic history. This is a fact.
Indonesia is an Asian country whose population of Muslims almost equal the number of Arabs on earth today.
Is it because the Prophet of this religion was an Arab of Arabia?
Maybe so. But let's look at Christianity. They say Christianity began with Jesus, a Jew. But nobody thinks that all Christians are Jews. Nobody thinks that Christianity is a Jew's religion.
Now if we can play down genealogy in Jesus, we should be able to play down genealogy in Muhammad, peace be upon the two great prophets.
So Muslims, we are at fault ourselves for allowing the prejudices and the ignorance of the world to come into our lives, and spoil our own Muslim character; warp our own Muslim knowledge.


We Must Be On Guard

We must constantly be on guard against propaganda and lies against righteousness. Righteousness is the most attacked thing on earth. If you want to get by without being attacked, be wrong. Don't care about anything, and you can walk without people pointing a finger at you. The moment you take up the responsibility to be right, you are on the spot. People will invent lies against you.
Now, is your little righteousness bigger than the righteousness of God's Prophets?
You can imagine now, how they have been lied against. You can imagine how Muhammad the Prophet has been lied on, knowing how hard it is for you to carry your righteousness, and not be lied on.


Why Do People Fear Right

Why do people fear right?
They are more afraid of right than any other thing. Do you want to know why you don't have a good audience here? This city is afraid of right. But not only this city, Chicago too, is afraid of right. We get a much better reception when we go to small towns, away from big city problems. Gary is so close to Chicago, it has no protection. Gary has no mind of its own. It has no immune system of its own. It's a sizable community right next to a giant community, Chicago. So when Chicago gets the flu, Gary gets much worse than that. It has no immune system.


The Individual Has To Know Himself

So we are focusing on the individual, as the best circumstance for progress. The individual has to know himself. Now many of us have given up on the search for self. When I was a boy, that was an occupation of black intellectuals and the educated of our people. But today, self is not that very important anymore. Race has become more important. Now how can you know yourself as a member of a race, and not know yourself as an individual. A race is made of up individuals, who are given to certain circumstances that brought them to be a race.

We say we are the black race, but what does that say for you as an individual? We are the black race, but now I want to know what am I as an individual. You have to find yourself in the black race. The black race has a history: Slavery, emancipation, civil rights, equal opportunity, no opportunity. So if the black race has a history, you have to find yourself in that history.

"Well, I need a better identification for myself than that, that ain't good enough for me, that's not enough to motivate me as I want to be motivated."

The great figures and great men in our history, they made their great contributions and sacrifices, and we must honor them. But none of them in their lives and sacrifices are sufficient to motivate the African-American citizens of this city Gary, to make them take advantage of necessity, and bring necessity to be the mother of invention.


Arabs And Oil

Arabs recently came into oil reserves. The Arabs have survived in the desert, with no land that they could cultivate. They had to go from one waterhole to another, separated by miles of pure sand. And when they'd get to the waterhole, it would be a small place, the best they could do was set up a few tents here, load up their water bags with water, and move on to another oasis or waterhole.

But in those circumstances, of scarcity and death, they have been able to survive generation after generation down through the centuries. Not just to survive as a sparrow or as a wolf, but as a family of people. They have been able to maintain family life and traditions and enjoy trade and commerce. They were able to do that long before oil was discovered.


Gary Is Not A Desert

The city of Gary is no desert. When you look out there, you don't see hundreds of miles of pure sand. If I go out there and the weather breaks in the spring, I can grow something almost anywhere, in Gary.
Look how the citizens of Gary, for the most part, have accepted a situation of no progress. Industry that attracted the people to come here to live has all but disappeared. And most of the people here are waiting on charity or some new industrialists.
They will wait just as many of the foolish in religion wait for the pie in the sky.
They will wait until they are dead. Their children will be dead and their family name will be lost from the memory of the City of Gary, waiting on some external thing to happen, when the real factor is in them. They are the best factor for change, but they have to be situated right. When Allah created man, He situated man rightly for marvelous things. You have to be situated rightly.


Some Of Us Are Shortsighted

Some of us are short-sighted. We think the answers ought-to be given to us the way our minds expect. When you don't know, you just don't know. Then you shouldn't put burdens on the person who knows of your limited knowledge or your ignorance. You should say rescue me this way, or do not rescue me at all. Some of us don't have the patience to sit down and be reawakened.

For many of us, the awakening day never has come. We've never known an awakening day, and don't have the patience to sit and be awakened.

We think someone has to have money to help us. "How much money have you brought to Gary? Did Qadhafi give you five million dollars? Did the Saudis give you any money?"
A Muslim man from abroad, powerful in wealth, came to the city of Chicago, and offered the mayor enough money to run the city of Chicago without any budget headaches. This happened recently.

He offered the mayor enough money to put all striving minorities to work. To put them not only to work, but offered to put all of them who were eligible in business.

The city of Chicago rejected that offer. It's not supposed to happen that way. If you start accepting big gifts of money to change your condition from bad to good, you are going to be beholding to the givers whether they say strings are attached or not. You can only be given so much, and then you're owned.

I don't know how much you are worth, but when people start giving to you, pretty soon, they are going to buy you. If some of us accept five thousand dollars, we're sold and we aren't hardly worth $500.

You might see yourself as being worth much more than $5,000 but there is a point that will be reached, where you will be sold, if you accept people to come and buy you into a good situation, or pay for you to get in a good situation. That's not a good way.


We Are Tempted

We are tempted to accept gifts and that kind of help. We want immediate change. But the wise will look down the road. They will say, "yes, I'll be in a good situation, securely, but will I be able to live with it, spiritually."