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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles


Bilalian News

Towards Economic Dignity: Part 1

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


(Editor's note: Following are excerpts from Imam Wallace Deen Muhammad's address at a Testimonial Dinner presented in his honor in the Regency Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Sept. 15,1979.)

With the Name Allah — that is God — most Gracious, most Compassionate; praise be to God the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds.

Distinguished guests, brothers and sisters in Al-Islam and other religions, friends who have come here tonight, we are grateful to you for your presence. After all of those inspiring and kind words that have been paid to me, I have nothing to say but I have not earned them. Our community has earned them.

It began with a stranger who came with a strange and mystical philosophy or theology and encouraged the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to accept to lead a people nobody else could lead. A people who could not make the grade in the elementary and secondary schools, not to think of the higher education this land offers its citizens.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad had the faith in himself and in his new black theology to lead his people to self reliance, and because of him I am here with courageous vision.

Some people call me a fool for having so much faith in human beings but it's because the Honorable Elijah Muhammad exhibited that kind of faith and courage before me.

Though he represented a philosophy that I myself have grown out of and discarded, he left so many positive things with me and with us that I must share tonight's tribute with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. We thank God.

And I am happy to have here, the Champion of the World (Muhammad Ali), a man I admire for more than his boxing skills.

I don't think many people know him as I know him. I have spent a lot of time with him and I do believe that our champion one day is going to be a human leader — leading human beings toward better understanding, toward justice, more togetherness.

This man has suffered since he was a young boy because he hasn't understood the justice in our society.

Justice is improving, Muhammad. We're coming closer and closer to the kind of justice we all need in this society. No matter how bad things may look through the eyes of the politician or the banker — believe me, I'm looking through different eyes -- things are getting real good in America.

Men who reject the evils in the world and refuse to step on the stage until it's clean and made right — those men, when they do come forward, make true leaders. I believe Muhammad Ah" is that kind of man and one day he'll come forward.

We have a headline on our latest issue of Bilalian News (Sept. 28, 1979) that states our community is reentering the economic program of our late leader, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

We are doing it simply because we feel we are morally, spiritually, and humanly strong enough to do it.

I don't believe any people without correct moral human vision should try to get too much wealth in this country because it will end up in bloodshed.

But I believe my community is morally and spiritually strong enough and humanly sane enough now to go in and do things in a big way like the courageous leader we had in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, whose vision was bigger than that of America.

I believe the Honorable Elijah Muhammad knew we couldn't achieve all the things he invited us to take up. He wanted to shock us, to shock our minds and bring us to grips with our problems and to give us big imaginations.

Our success or the success of any individual depends on the ability to imagine. If you have small imagining ability, you're not going to do very much.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad imagined great things happening in America among our people and that's what we want to get back to. I believe we can enter a program of collective buying — goods from American manufacturers and from abroad if necessary — and use our consumer power, our buying power, to improve our conditions and offset inflation in Bilalian communities.

(To be continued)