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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

"An Islamic Formula for a Successful Life" Los Angeles: Part 2

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


(Editor's note: This is the second installment of Imam W. Deen Muhammad's Los Angeles address.)

I'm not here to fool you; I tell you from the very start—Islam is my religion, and it's your religion. If you are a human being, a planet, a star, or a fruit tree. I don't care what you are, Islam is your religion. And if Jesus was here, peace be upon him, he would say, yes, tell them again. And that goes for Moses and all the rest. "Well where are you coming from, mister?" From the same Book.

"He is indeed successful who causes it to grow." Some translations give the English as this way: "he is successful who spends on it." As I said, the Arabic meanings are so rich, that it is hard to find a translation that will do justice. So it is good to be aware of more than one translation by excellent scholars. Nothing is wrong with this, because it is right: 'he who causes it to grow will be successful.' Spending on it is what causes it to grow. If you spend on it, you cause it to grow. If you don't spend on your children's education, you will stunt their academic growth. Spending on their education helps them to grow. Now, you give dollars, but dollars are not what's needed for the child, dollars are needed for the rent, the phone, electric bills, the Mercedes — whatever the teacher has to have, right? The buildings, the properties, and all of that, the taxes, whatever, that's what the dollars are needed for. Actually you are spending on that child's education.

But what you have to offer is not education, but dollars to pay the educators to educate that child. So he who spends on it will be successful, that is, he who spends his knowledge in the world for the benefit of those that don't have it. And the first obligation is to yourself; don't be ignorant. You are obligated to see that you get some sense, intelligence, understanding, knowledge and education; you are obligated, your self obligates you. And again, God and the Prophet says that. Your self obligates you.

Well, that's our subject, isn't it? "The Islamic Formula for a Successful Life," and God tells us very clearly, very expressively here, that you will not be successful if you don't spend on your own self. Now the trouble with us is that we spend on the weakest identity of ourselves. Man is identified in many ways. We will spend on our mortal self, we will spend on our biological self, "oh, it's going to be cold, I'm gonna get me some shoes, and I wanna pay $50 for 'em" - the poor fellow says, "I'm gonna get me a pair man, that costs $75 dollars. I got to get those shoes." And he spends on himself, right? "I got to have that long leather coat, man, I saw one that goes all the way down to your shoes. Man, I got to have that leather coat." He's spending on himself. But that's not the way. That's spending on your more distant self. Man's self goes out, and his self comes in. The more he comes in, the closer he comes to the nucleus of himself, and if you can destroy the nucleus of a thing, you have totally destroyed it.

You can hit a thing and hurt it from the outer extremities, and maybe won't cause it any impairment at all, it will continue to function and operate just as though you didn't even hurt it. But if you can fire or damage the very nucleus of that thing, you have destroyed that thing.

So we have spent all our time, dressing up, pampering, babying, carrying the more distant self, the outer self, the extremities of our self, and have neglected the sanctuary of man. God here is telling us to spend on the sanctuary of man, spend on the most sacred quarters of your life, your inherent essence of excellence and values; spend on it.

"And precious is the intellect of man." Precious is the conscience of man — the conscience that gives him the power or the sense, pardon me, to know right from wrong.

So we are not reading in English all of the verses. We stopped short of about four or five verses; we are reading verses one through ten, and the tenth verse, I repeat it, which says: "And he is indeed a failure who stunts it," who stunts the growth of his own soul.

Have patience with me — I don't like to rush anyway. They used to call me slow. They still do. I heard someone who knew me from childhood, they told one of the Imams, the reason he called to see how I was, or was I coming or whatever, they said, 'well you know how slow he is, don't you?' I don't like that — I don't like procrastinating, I don't like being slow, because you miss the boat sometimes, right? I don't like that, but I tell you, it hasn't been too bad for me, I haven't missed much. And I found a lot of things that I was late for. I didn't want to be there with it anyway.

Victory will spoil a man if he doesn't humble himself to his Creator. Look how victory spoiled the Romans. Look how victory spoiled America; how she used to brag — as an arrogant nation. The British Empire bragged 'the sun never sets on our territory.' As a child I heard the American government representative say on the radio with my own ears, 'we can police the world.' That's what I heard on the news as a child, and I wasn't even in my teens, but when it hit my ears I have never forgotten it. In fact, it's just that clear in my mind. 'We can police the world.' That was when World War II was being fought.

Now it's got you saying, 'we can police this turf, man,' I wouldn't want to be no small policeman like that.

I have read from the Sura or the chapter, "The Sun," to set the stage for this presentation. To say from the very outset, that God created man perfect. It doesn't mean that man is an angel; no, our religion makes it very clear that when God made man, He didn't create an angel, He created a human being; a creature of unlimited free will. A creature that because of his own degree of excellence, above other matter or other creatures, he's also quick in tests and trials, moreso than any other creature. Angels are not tested like that. Animals are not tested like that. Man is tested. And he must earn respect and acceptance before God and civilize man by his own efforts. He's going to make mistakes, but the natural urge in him is to grow toward more and more improvement. He's going to commit sin; and be guilty of sin, but sin is not his purpose. Sin is not his destiny, so since sin is not his purpose or destiny, we cannot say he is sinful by nature.

His purpose is his nature. You must define man's nature according to his purpose, according to the aim in him, the aim in his life, the evolutionary direction in his life. You must define his nature on that basis; not on the things that he may do, while progressing along that line. An automobile driver, may stop and get a cup of coffee, but that's not his purpose. You can't put a value on his trip. The value of his trip is a cup of coffee. The man was going to see the President; he was driving to see the President. So that doesn't change the value of his trip because he got a cup of coffee, and you are ignorant to write about his trip and say, "coffee, coffee, coffee," and emphasize coffee, and forget he's going to see the President.

Praise be to Allah. Believe me, we are doctors of science, and though I don't have a credential, a B.S. or M.A. or Ph.D., if I do good service, to what God has revealed, I am a doctor, a doctor of science. Not voodoo.

So dear audience, Believers, Muslims, people, because I have called you all Muslims already you know. What we mean by that is that your inherent nature in life is Muslim, and that word simply means that that life is akin in its form and in its purpose, to the whole external reality of matter. It's not different in its form and purpose when it comes to conforming to the order of the universe that God Himself made; it is no different. It is all the same. The sun and the stars are Muslims. The moral life and the social life of the Pygmies in Africa - this particular student of primitive society said he found no criminality among the Pygmies. They did not abuse each other; no "black on black crime" among the Pygmies.

In working out, or elaborating upon our topic, "Islamic Formula For a Successful Life," we want to follow some procedure — we hope to look at self, self-image, self-view, how self is seen in the eyes of self. And to understand self-concepts as a need in the human being in his life, for a sense of well being. People who don't have a healthy self-concept, religion and secular world science, tells us that they can't enjoy a feeling of well-being. And if you can't enjoy a feeling of well-being, you don't have a spirit to succeed in hardly anything.

So people who have a bad self-view, a bad picture of themselves, poor self-image, poor esteem of one's self, those people are not expected to perform on the high standards of people who have that. No, it can't be expected.

It beats me how when the so-called learned, the scientists, social scientists, behavioral scientists, when discussing problems of individuals, oh, they can really drive the point home, to alarm and excite the public, the leaders, the nation, that "something has to be done about this problem in society…this poor individual is suffering psychological damage. Social rejection, because of social rejection and psychological damage, and they go on and go on. Poor self-image; no self-esteem. We need money to spend so we can treat these ills." And they get the money.

(To be continued)