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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

Imam W. Deen Muhammad's Atlanta Address: Part 2


(Editor's note: This is the second installment of Imam W. Deen Muhammad's November 2 Atlanta address.)

Until the Prophet got a model for Muslim community life, there were many great tasks to concentrate on — private efforts, secrecy etc. They had to hide themselves from the enemy because the enemy was out to stamp out the light before it could be seen. That's why the matter of secrecy is taken up in the Qur'an.                           


An Energizer

So there were many great concerns for the Muslims to concentrate on. But once the model community was established, it was a constructed energizer that was tangible and visible for the believers. That's very necessary. You brothers and sisters who are not only trying to keep your Muslim spirit, but are also trying to carry out community obligations as Muslims, by showing good, legitimate work and business, are building a visible, tangible entity for the Muslim community. That serves as a tangible, visible energizer. On my way to Atlanta, I read in the Muslim Journal about your growth in business. When I arrived and saw it again, I was energized. Don't let anybody play your work cheap. In fact, you stand out not only as Muslims but as citizens of Atlanta. And that's how Muslims should stand out, because Allah says if you are truly believers, you should be successful, and go farther than other people. The non-believers should never outstrip the believers.

Now, don't go away with the mind that Muslims are competing in Atlanta against non-believers. Christians are believers; there are many excellent believers among the Christians.

In fact, on the Day of Judgment, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, has told us that people from different religions, not just Muslims, will be there. Christians and Jews will be gathered for their reward. But we have been told there will be more Muslims than non Muslims among the genuine ones. But don't think that there are not excellent believers out here.


Comparing Believers

When we start comparing believers, we have to be careful. 'Oh, let's present our believers; let's have a meeting of the great religions and let us present our believers.'

Oh, the Muslims have to be very careful, because we might present a brother or sister who will fall way down on the scale of quality believers and a Christian or a Jew might win the contest. So we have to be very careful. We have to select very carefully our Muslim believers, if we get in a contest with Jews and Christians. You readily recognize that don't you? Don't you?

We've got the best, only if we be the best at it. But still there is emphasis in other religions that will present them as being better than us in certain matters. Now, I don't think we can shout better than some of those sanctified people, because that is not one of our emphasis. I don't think we can sing gospels better than they can. Some of you Muslims got into trying to sing the gospel. But I don't think you will ever beat those Christians singing gospel because that doesn't happen to be our emphasis.


Discipline In Our Lives

Let us look at a discipline in our lives, that many of you pass by and never see, but encounter all the time if you read the Qur'an. Allah wants us to believe in the Hereafter and in the future that He has promised is yet to come. And He wants us to put more importance on that rather than on the present. He promises us that the future is better in quality and quantity. That's what Allah promises us in Qur'an, our Holy Book.

There are two ways to look at that promise of Allah: The first and most important way is to live in this world, and realize that you are not in control of your fate. We can spend all of our energy and labor hard, and be good, but we are not in control of our fate. We may live to see 80, or we may not live to see eight years old. We may not live to see 20 or live to see ourselves get married and have a family. We may be excellent persons, but our fates are not in our hands. So because of this reality that we have to live with, Allah gives the true believer, whether he's intellectual or not, an assurance that this is not all. He doesn't have to be brilliant, rich or prosperous, he can be ordinary and even sub-ordinary, but if he believes in Allah and respond to faith, Allah will give him an assurance that this is not the end of things. He can get beat out of all of his favors and robbed of all of his establishments. He can lose it all unjustly, but he won't be sent to the crazy house, because he has faith that this is not the end of it, or that he will be cut off from the rewards that his works have earned. Neither is the unjust person cut off from the punishment his wrongdoings have earned. That is not finished even when it looks finished. It's going to start up again in a new situation.


Self Awareness Should Bring Success

What is the proof of it? The proof of it is that self-awareness is supposed to bring about the circumstances for you being more successful. That's what self-awareness can do. It should give you circumstances for bringing success. But instead of it giving us circumstances for greater success, we've reached the point of diminishing returns.

When our people were made slaves, and people were born into slavery, they said, I don't think God who made all the stars that I see, intended for me to be in this situation. He (the slave) became aware of himself as a creature of God and lived on that awareness. Some of them had the courage to tell the master: "you may deem me to be so unimportant and worthless, but I don't think that God, who made the heavens and the earth, intended for me to be in this situation." Some of them had the courage to tell the master that, and they began to require better treatment. Some of them even demanded and lost their lives because they demanded it. Some of them like Nat Turner and many others didn't care. They knew they were going to die and they still demanded it. The circumstances at the time when Nat Turner rebelled was slavery. Emancipation hadn't come; the Proclamation hadn't come.


Another Concept of Self Awareness

After that came another concept of self-awareness. Later in our history, we began to give ourselves to the interest of self as a race. The first interest was not self as a race, it was self as a creature of God. Wouldn't you agree with me? This is history. It wasn't self as a race, it was self as a creature of God. The next area of awareness was self as a race. That awareness brought us to black consciousness, and finally, black power. We came into that kind of self-awareness and took the same route that the white supremacists took.

The racists among the white people took that path. They went from their occupation with themselves as a great race, and carried it to arrogance and finally to Western-style arrogance or white supremacy. We went the same route; not all of us, but too many of us. And we influenced the state of all of us. Now it's hard to talk to an ordinary, common audience of our people, and tell them sensible things about race consciousness. If we don't come with the same kind of emotional stuff that they have been used to, many of them will turn their ears off. Some of them will even get up and walk out on us.


The Nature of Self Awareness

We want to talk for a few minutes about the nature of self-awareness in the life of man. Self-awareness should begin right where it began for our ancestors in the situation of slavery. They went to the right place; they had the correct self-awareness. The white man said they were cheap, black, inferior humans, but they looked toward the universe, and followed the universe and thought of the one who did it. They thought on the white man and looked at him and said, "well, yes, he's in a better situation, but one on one, I'll whip his tail. I'd have him standing here instead of me, if the situation was different.

That was some of our ancestors genes they had brought over in their minds. Actually, it was when one of them started thinking on that, and said, "it's just the circumstances we're in that accounts for our bad state of existence — God didn't intend this for us, He intended for us to have the same freedom and dignity that our master has," that they began to rebel.

That was the first step and the right situation for coming into self-awareness. Now we have gone off track. We need to read the Qur'an and come back to that self-awareness that our ancestors found in the circumstances of slavery.


Descendants From One Ancestor

That's the message that Allah brings to us for self-awareness. He said: "I created all that you see in the heavens and the earth, and I created you, and I made you in the most excellent model or mold. And you all have descended from one ancestor. None of you have a superior origin over God. You all are descendants from one ancestor." It didn't say Adam, but we recognize it as Adam. His name is not as important as his identity. His identity is the one original human personality and nature from which Allah created a mate for him and spread from the mate many men and women. He said He caused the earth to be populated with men and women from that original human mate and personality. That tells us that Allah is saying we all are equal.

If that's not enough, Muhammad the Prophet said in his farewell address — there's no address of his more major, important or critical for us if we want to stick to what he wants, than that farewell address — that "I may not see you again, I may not see you next year, I may not see you again at the major gatherings like this." Then he begins to speak to you on human concerns and you with your common sense should recognize that what he tells you represents the most important concern. He told them to stick to Allah's word, the Qur'an, Sunnah or his way of living the religion.


The Only Superiority Is Righteousness

He told them at that same great, mass gathering that there is no superiority of a white over a black, no superiority over a black over a white, no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, and no superiority of a non-Arab over an Arab, the only superiority is how you perform before your Lord.