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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles


Bilalian News

Respect for Leadership

Imam W. D. Muhammad


In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; Peace and Blessings upon His Servant and His Messenger, Muhammad, forever. Amen.

There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

As -Salaam –Alaikum

My Dear Brothers and Sisters:


1. O ye who believe!
Put not yourselves forward
Before God and His Apostle;
But fear God: for God
Is He Who hears
And knows all things.

2. O ye who believe!
Raise not your voices
Above the voice of the Prophet,
Nor speak aloud to him
In talk, as ye may
Speak aloud to one another,
Lest your deeds become
Vain and ye perceive not.

Holy Quran Translation by Yusuf Ali: Sura XLIX: Verses 1 - 2

The Holy Quran told the true believers more than 1400 years ago that they should not step in front of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and that they are not to take over the conversation or interrupt his talk.

This Holy Quran teaching has special meaning for the Bilalian people of America because we have been trained, without our knowledge, to really act uncivilized when it comes to the treatment of each other. We have been trained to have no respect for authority among ourselves, and to have no respect for each other.

The Holy Quran is teaching us how to respect the leader, and it is giving us the example that was set in the time of Prophet Muhammad fourteen centuries ago. This teaching is not only for Prophet Muhammad's followers because if it only applied to them, the Holy Quran would state that these instructions were limited to the followers of Prophet Muhammad. But this teaching on respect for leadership is here for all times. The Holy Quran is described as a book that is an explanatory message, and it is called "Al Bayyan." which means that that makes things clear. We should understand that whatever we read in the Holy Quran that speaks to a situation that existed in Arabia at the time that the revelation was received by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) can help us to understand and explain things that are happening in the world today. If the subject in the scripture is that of respect for the holy Prophet, we are able to apply it to ourselves because in Islam we do not only take on the attributes of Allah, we also benefit from all the things that happened in the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The life of Prophet Muhammad is the example or the model for us to study and to take from that in order that we can improve our own conduct.

In the World Community of Islam in the West, we do not have the problem of respect for leadership that existed in the time of Prophet Muhammad. If the Chief Minister were to start out of a door, most of the believers would step aside and allow their leader the way, and while I am speaking, most of the believers will listen. In fact, you give me so much respect that it humbles me, but there are certain people who have a tendency to behave like savages. They have no civilization, no respect for authority, and no respect for a leader.


Value Of Leaders

You know that your head is the leader of your physical body, and if you do not respect your own head, no one else is going to respect it. An individual who cares about his head is not going to stick his head in toilets, beat it against the wall, or just fall down and let his head hit the ground. A human being is careful with his head. When he lies down to rest, he puts a soft pillow under his head, and when he goes out in the weather, he puts a nice hat or cap on his head. The human being who has a nice head of hair likes to show off his head, and since he likes his head, he protects it. Likewise, for a leader.

If the Bilalian people are ever to get respect, and if they are ever to develop some kind of strong leadership and a strong community, they have to realize that their leader is their precious possession. They have to be careful of not diminishing the value of their leader, and any time the people do not lift their leader up, his value is diminished.

Jesus said in the Bible, "If the son of man be lifted up, then he will lift all men up to him." The Chief Minister is not Jesus, but like Jesus, I have no more value than what you can give me. The Chief Minister is like Jesus in spirit, in his mind and in his mission. To the Christians, Jesus is like God, but even that figure in the Bible tells men that if they lift him up, then he will elevate them all. This is a beautiful saying in the New-Testament and it can be applied to all kinds of people and to all leaders. If the leader is not supported by the people, the people are not going to get any benefit from that man's leadership. If you do not support your leader, he cannot do anything for you.

Brothers and Sisters, we want to be careful to conduct ourselves always as Muslims and to realize that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) cannot physically be our leader because he is not physically among us. But he is our leader in the knowledge that we received which was revealed to him, and in the knowledge that we have of bis personal life and his conduct. As far as seeing him among us and following him physically, we cannot do that. We have to identify somebody as the leader in our community who is present among us in a physical body behind whom we follow with our physical bodies. Not only that, we have to trust that that leader is worthy to stand in the shoes, or in the place of the Prophet. If he is not worthy to stand before us representing the office of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), you should not follow him. Those who lived to become leaders after the Prophet represented his leadership and they came into his office, not as prophets receiving the revelation, but as a caliph (ruler) who is judged qualified to stand up in his absence and lead the Muslim community.

Now we are 1400 years from the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Muslims who belong to the World Community of Islam in the West should not get the old spirit of division and rebellion that has hurt other parts of the Muslim world. Many of them are bickering at each other, they do not want to follow each other, and they are always questioning each other's leadership. They spend much of their time questioning one authority after another, arguing over what the Holy Quran or the Hadith says, and they cannot make any progress for the establishment of the world - wide community of Islam.


Responsibility Greater; Devil More Skilled

We do not want to fall into that, we want to be Muslims who realize that leaders come and go, live and die, and that among those that live, we have outstanding ones that serve as guides, as sources of reference and check points for us to refer back to in order to see if we are in the right place and are going in the right direction. But we have to develop persons for leadership among ourselves who are qualified to stand up and shoulder the same, or even greater responsibility than that that the Prophet shouldered. When Jesus departed, the scripture says that he told his disciples that much greater things would they do. So the responsibility is not going to be lessened, on the ones to follow the leader, the responsibility is going to be increased, and the job is going to grow bigger.

Jesus was telling his disciples that because of the growing of the world and the growing of human problems their work and their responsibilities were going to be bigger. He did not mean that they were going to be more holier, cleaner, or closer to God than he was, he meant that responsibilities were going to be put on them that were heavier than the ones that were presently on him. He wanted them to be prepared to accept the weight of their work, which means that they were going to be able to convert more people than Jesus converted and that they were going to be able to extend the message of truth (the propagation of Islam) and the religious work better than he had extended it. That is what Jesus was telling the people and this is what has happened since the passing of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and all the righteous servants). The world has increased in growth and in burden and those who succeeded those earlier men have to take on more responsibility.

You might ask, "Is the test today for the leadership and the membership of the World Community of Islam in the West greater for us than it was for the religious community in the past?" Certainly, it is. Study the history of men 1400 years ago, and you see that once people were converted in Medina, there was nothing like as much temptation calling the people away from the truth and the new way of life to which they had committed themselves, as you will find in many parts of the Muslim world today. The temptation in these countries today is much great her than it was in the time of Prophet Muhammad because the world has grown so big in the sense of trouble and so small in the sense of hearing. You can hear, see and know everything in just a few minutes, and although we are living right in the midst of hell because whatever forces are in hell can reach all of us today.

Do not think that we are living in a time that is less significant than the time of Prophet Muhammad, because this time is more significant than the time of Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad's time was more significant to us as Muslims, but as far as the responsibility and the weight of the burden on us is concerned, this time is more significant than any time ever was because the burden is greater and the weight is heavier right now than they have ever been. We should stop looking back into the history as children watching dramatic plays, getting caught up into what happened yesterday. You should study and learn from what happened yesterday, but you must realize that today is the present, and the great act is not yesterday, but today.

Prophet Muhammad achieved the development of the pure and human sentiments of his heart, his moral nature and his spiritual nature to a degree that is not matched in the history of men, and we doubt that it will ever be matched in the history of men. In fact, you cannot do more than he did, and you cannot give more than he gave. The best that we can do is just to follow the example that he set. That does not mean that men are not going to be able to convert Muslims as Prophet Muhammad converted Muslims, or that men are not going to be given the support from Allah that he was given. Nor does it mean that men are not going to be able to defeat the evils in this world as Prophet Muhammad was able to defeat the evils in the world during his time.

As Jesus told his disciples that they would do greater things, Prophet Muhammad told his followers that they would realize greater successes in the future, but one of us had to come into a world completely born of the truth of Islam. This was a pagan world buried in ignorance and in filth, into which Prophet Muhammad came to risk his own life and the life of members of his family with no support from anybody but Allah. None of us has to do that today because we have millions of Muslims all over the world. Prophet Muhammad has opened the way, but do not think that our tests or the opposition to us is any less than it was to Prophet Muhammad in those days.

The world was smaller and less sophisticated then than it is now. The devil (evil mind) is much more skilled today than he was in those days and his power is greater today than it was at that time. When we look at ourselves today and realize just how great the forces of evil are against us and just how clever they are, we have to accept that the Muslim community is no better off today as far as having peace than it was in the days of Prophet Muhammad. There were so many people during the life of Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him) that once they heard of the word of truth and the great works of the Prophet, they opened their doors. Today, you have people who have been in power and who have persecuted and falsely presented Islam so long that they feel comfortable, and they feel that they do not have to worry about Islam.

They say that it is all right to let the Muslims talk, preach, and do whatever they want to do because they feel that they are so far ahead of us with their propaganda that we cannot catch up for many, many centuries. We have people who feel that confident, but we are going to have to exhibit (demonstrate) the same kind of faith, determination, and willingness to sacrifice everything, if it is necessary, in standing up for truth. We must be willing to do this in order to break this world's evil spirit and convince them that Islam (truth) is on the scene. We must convince them that we are marching forward and everything in our past will have to step back or open up and receive us. But we cannot convince them sitting down reading and talking, we are going to have to convince them the same way that Prophet Muhammad convinced them; he convinced them by showing them that he had a superior truth.

The Holy Quran teaches us that although we are likely to do so, we should not raise our voice loudly when we are speaking to each other. If all of us are talking on one level (pitch) then the majority should try hard to stay on that level. If you just cannot intelligently suggest that someone listens to you, you might have to say, "May I have your attention," but do not follow the ignorance of the ignorant people who start talking loud when they want attention. The one that is trying to talk over a loud person gets louder, and they both keep on going until finally everyone knows that there is a bunch of fools trying to get a hearing. This instruction is not just for the leader, Prophet Muhammad, it is for all of us.


Prophet Muhammad: Our Chief Leader

When I say that Prophet Muhammad is the leader, I mean that. He is not here physically, but we as Muslims have to accept that Prophet Muhammad, and every Prophet of God is our leader, but that there is one among them who is last and most complete. He is our chief leader, and that is Prophet Muhammad. The Chief Minister is a man who thanks God when I put my hand on the leader.

My nature demands that I find a leader; I was not satisfied until I found a leader, and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is my leader. I show you that I am a follower of Prophet Muhammad by doing things as he did them, and not in any small way.

Brothers and Sisters, as Muslims we shame the leadership of Prophet Muhammad When we go around acting like sleeping Christians or Jews. Prophet Muhammad sat straight for us the concept of God and prophets, and he connected us with every Prophet of God. Should not we conduct ourselves in such a way as to win respect and love from all of the people who say that they are the followers of those prophets? We have to be strong, swift, resolute, cautious, circumspect, and dynamic. We have to have every attribute that makes for a call for community and a call for leadership.


3. Those that lower their voice
In the presence of
God’s Apostle, - their hearts
Has God tested for piety:
For them is Forgiveness
And a great Reward.

4. Those who shout out
To thee from without

The Inner Apartments –
Most of them lack understanding.

5. If only they had patience
Until thou couldst
Come out to them,
It would be best
For them: but God is
Oft – Forgiving, Most Merciful.

6. O ye who believe!
If a wicked person comes
To you with any news,
Ascertain the truth, lest
Ye harm people unwittingly,
And afterwards become
Full of repentance for
What ye have done.

7. And know that among you
Is God’s Apostle: were he,
In many matters, to follow
Your (wishes), ye would
Certainly fall into misfortune:
But God has endeared
The Faith to you, and
Has made it beautiful
In your hearts, and He
Has made hateful to you
Unbelief, wickedness, and
Rebellion: such indeed are
Those who walk in righteousness

Holy Quran Translation by Yusuf Ali: Sura XLIX: Verses 3 - 7

The Holy Quran says that when we raise our voice at the leader, our deeds become vain. Vain means empty, of no account and of no effect, and perceive means to grasp for understanding, so the Book is telling us that in raising our voice at the leader this is an indication that we have missed understanding and that our deeds will become of no effect. You want people to respect your leadership, so you should only raise your voice to get his attention when there is an urgency. Yet, the Holy Quran speaks of the mercifulness and forgiveness of Almighty God. This means that we are not to take these people to be terrible sinners, to hate them or to go against them for raising their voice. We should say, "Brother, why are you hollering like that to the Apostle of God?" This shows that the act has become so noticeable now that the community is disturbed because of such an ignorant display. It is being manifested to you, that God has tolerated such lack of respect for a long time, but now He is speaking to you.

Chapter 49, Verse 6 of the Holy Quran refers to a person who is inclined to low deeds, low motives and low actions, and who gets mixed up into corruption and things that are offensive to civilized society. It says that if a wicked person comes to you with any news, make certain that you have found the truth in order to avoid making a stupid blunder or an oversight, which causes you to harm people, and afterwards become full of repentance for what you have done. What special meaning does this verse have for us in the Muslim community of America today? We live in a world that is much more sophisticated than that hypocritical world of 1400 years ago.

Most of their tricks have been given to the modern world. We have been schooled in those tricks, but this world has advanced their schools of perception so much so that today we have to be just as cautious as those people were 1400 years ago. If a Brother comes to you and begins to tell you what the Chief Minister wants, what the Nation of Islam is, and what kind of support you should give the Nation of Islam, you should be aware of his character. No matter how much he seems to be encouraging you to support Islam, if his character is highly questionable, you should be very slow to accept the kind of influences with which that Brother is trying to reach you. The comments that he is making might sound good, but they might be the poison of the serpent himself. When a person comes to me that I know wears serpent clothes, with slime dripping off of him, or who hides his act or his real business from us while conducting a business that is not his real business among us, regardless of how sweet he sounds, my ears do not accept what he is saying.

I am listening, but I am listening to see the movement of this snake and I am not buying what he is saying. He can tell me to remember Allah and that Allah loves me; I hear him and he is telling me something that I love to hear, but coming out of his mouth I am going to remember Allah, and I am going to make it my business to ask Allah to protect me from this rebellious, rejected t devil. The Holy Quran is eternal scripture and it is just as fresh today as it was 1400 years ago. Prophet Muhammad is not here today in his own soul and body, but he is here in the truth of the message of Islam.

When we read the Holy Quran we see what Prophet Muhammad was busy in his lifetime telling the people. When we read the Holy Quran (the words of God), we hear the voice of Prophet Muhammad, or we might say, the voice of the angels. But when that voice reaches our ear, it has to be translated from an angel tongue to a human tongue so the voice we hear is the voice of Prophet Muhammad. We should not feel that Prophet Muhammad is inactive because he is not physically with us. Prophet Muhammad is as near to me as the words of the Holy Quran and his leadership is as near to me as the understanding that I have of the message of Islam. All over the United States, and many other places, there are people who are saying that the Chief Minister's voice is a voice of Islamic leadership. If they are saying that, you should feel as though you are in the presence of Prophet Muhammad, because my voice carries to you the message that the voice of Prophet Muhammad brought to the people of his day.


Leaders Need Support

Though Prophet Muhammad was the exemplary leader when it comes to democratic leadership, there were instances or cases wherein Prophet Muhammad had to firmly make a stand though that stand might have been against many of his followers. Today, we have the same democratic leadership where the community is asked to participate in decision making and where you are asked to offer your suggestion for guidance for the leadership and for direction for the World Community of Islam in the West. Yet, we should remember that there is a superior mind among us to whom we should yield. In fact, even when presenting our own contribution, we would present it in the spirit of yielding.

I do not need 100 per cent support from you to manage, but the next leader might not be as blessed by Allah as I am. He might need much more support from you than I need and I know that the only way for us to ensure that leadership will stay strong among us is that we have to increase our recognition of the value and the importance of leadership. We have to increase our willingness to contribute to the building up and to the broadcasting of that leadership, and we must not be ashamed of our leadership. The most powerful minority on earth is the Jew, but it is not because the Jew has great knowledge. One thing that the Jews have that makes them stand out uniquely among other people is that they publish, preach and broadcast their support for their kind and for their leadership. They put all their energies and their resources into making strong leadership and publishing the word of that leadership.

Until the Bilalian people come into that kind of love and identification with leadership among us, we are going to be falling behind all the time. We are too far behind all the ethnic groups, all other races, and all other people, to be seeking any form that will make us assimilated with everybody else. We are too conscious of wanting to be assimilated and we want to be like the people that we paint as children. We force ourselves to being like what we think the majority of the American people are like. But, Brother and Sister, your piece of the puzzle that makes up the United States is not the same piece that belongs to somebody else, and if you want to stick your piece in, you should find the place in the puzzle that is grooved out like you are designed.

Thank you for honoring us with your time to read these few words.

Your brother, W.D. Muhammad