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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

Community And Personal Advancement: Part 3

Imam W. Deen Mohammed


(Note: The following lecture was delivered by Imam W. Deen Mohammed in Cleveland, OH on November 20, 1988, a must reading for establishing "conditions" that give way to success.)

Now I used to be a little bit shy in religion, myself; I was shy when it came to addressing the human being in the importance of "self." I was a little shy, and I thought that would be taking the importance away from that, that is more important. That is to say Allah. That kind of shyness in people often leads them to become creatures of the world to come, only. They will just get people ready for the world to come or for the Hereafter. That kind of shyness in us will do that.

In fact, it will cause us to reject the world and we will start to invite people to separate from the world and to get away from material interest. You will be told to "follow this formula for developing holiness and this formula for developing purity. And follow this formula for transforming into an angel." So that is the route we will sometimes take, not knowing really the true picture of the world that Allah wants us to see.

I hope that the Christians do not feel that we are slighting them when we say "Allah." We are not slighting you at all. We would love for you to know our term and hope that you can appreciate our interest and our attachment to the term. For we do understand your interest and appreciate your attachment to the terms that you hold and cherish. It is our term for the one Lord and Creator, Who is the same for you as for us.

We need a climate for communities and productive individuals. And it is not going to come by any mechanical method. It is going to come by a condition in yourself. It is the condition in yourself that makes you different than those people who neglect themselves in the world. It is said in so many ways in our religion and also in other major religions. So now let us hear what the author, Haidar Bammate, of the book "Muslim Contributions to Civilization" has to say in quoting writers of the west.

"By concentrating their thoughts on individual events, Muslim scholars were able to develop scientific methods much further than their Greek or Alexandrian predecessors. They were responsible for the introduction or the restoration of scientific method to medieval Europe." Now this is history. And I believe that most of us know what the scientific method is. The scientific method is that discipline of the rational thoughts that look for objective facts and realities or objective truths. It is that by which no influence is allowed. The field that is being studied or the thing that is being investigated is not influenced by human "subjective" influences, such as how I feel about it. So it has to be objective.

A person may have certain prejudices against a particular nation, but if he is a scientist, he has to be objective. Then, if he is studying their life, he cannot let his bad feelings towards those people or his bad opinions of those people influence his study of them. His scientism dictates that he obey scientific methods and that he disallow subjectivity or his own feelings and prejudices. He is to respect only what is established as truth in the given situation.

That kind of orientation, as I am sure most of us are aware of, in the mind and in the intellect has made possible the new advance of science in the world, and especially for the West and for America. When you think about it, the greatest benefits to nations has come from two directions — from the moral direction and from the material direction. And science has been the greatest tool or instrument for making possible greater advances for man in the material world. Yes, we have the great advancements for man in the material world because of the greater disciplines of science — for we must remember that science was not always this way. Science has evolved too, from primitive to modern.

This writer has focused on these Muslims, the Arabs in the earlier history, and also on the Persians, the Turks, Indians, and others who came in and did marvelous things and made marvelous strides in science and civilization, just as did the early Arabs. We find that it is this discipline in the intellect of man that has accounted for the major advancements of man in the world of societies. It is important that we see the working of tauheed or unity. These things are tied together — tin- moral life and the material life.

As the material life advances, it also brings about a climate for greater advancement of the moral life, until a certain point or a certain degree in progress has been reached where man then begins to take things for granted and forgets where he had gotten it all. Again the material advancement also influences moral advancement. Moral advancement makes possible material advancement, and then material advancement makes possible greater moral life and greater moral advancement. They go together.

Why then should we be in religion of this kind of mind that material and darkness and Satan and evil are all on one side? And that light and angels and holiness are all on another side? That is wrong! And believe me, whether you are conscious of this or not, living in a society or a world that has conditioned itself to think that way, we can be affected and not be conscious of it.

I could go on to cite to you cases that I have read about of individuals in the major religions, especially Catholicism — and I am not picking on Catholicism. But it has a big problem, although it has done much good also. I see Catholics just like I see other religious people; they are on the whole very good people. But certain things in their teachings have presented real problems for certain people among their members.

It is likewise for the Protestant church. The Protestants are good people on the whole. There are great things in Protestantism, but I also recognize that they have a unique problem in them. Too many Protestants are handicapped in the world of competition.

So you will say, "What about you Muslims? Don't you all have problems?" Yes, we have plenty of problems, too. But our problems are not like the problems of Christianity and Judaism. Let me give you an example.

I have sat down in religious discussions with representatives of the Jewish community, representatives of the Christian community, and myself. In these discussions it is brought out that they have an idea that God revealed the religion, that God did give us revelation, but once it is in our hands then it is our responsibility to not only follow it but to update it. They were surprised when I told them that we will never think of updating our Holy Scriptures.

They asked, "How then can it continue to serve you, if there is no room for you to make changes in it? Are you going to accept that women can't be Imams?" I said, well I don't see any problem for a woman being an Imam, if you take the word 'Imam' to mean teaching and leading. She can teach and she can lead. A woman can do a lot of things a man can do, then are we going to call her a "man" because she can? Then there are certain terms that have been fixed for certain things. In our religion the term Imam is fixed for the man that comes before the people and leads them in prayer and gives a speech or khutbah. This role is not for a woman.

If a woman says, Then can I lead?" The answer is yes. She can learn the religion and teach it. We have many learned women in this religion who make great contributions to the bettering of the understanding of Muslims and the religion. Some are better teachers of the religion than many of the Imams. Some have better ability and skills.

Now if we continue with this kind of extremism in the name of some kind of liberation or freedom, I believe we are going to reach that point pretty soon, and a woman will say, "Hey, don't call me 'woman/ for I have a right to be called a 'man.' And right now, I want you to call me 'man.' I am in the spirit to be called 'man,' and you don't have any exclusive right to that term." Following that trend some of us will be just careless enough to say, "Okay, 'man.”

But some of us know better and will not go along with it We are going to stick with what Allah has revealed and make ourselves bend to its light. We are not going to bend His light to fit our wild desires.

I do not know how many of us are familiar with the Crusades, for I understand that now in many of these schools you don't learn very much. They don't even teach you how to count your pocket change. Although we still have some very good schools, but on the whole our schools are very negligent. The Crusades were wars between Christians and Muslims. These wars lasted for centuries — some say eight centuries and some say longer. But during those centuries of war there were also periods of peace. They were not constantly fighting all the time. There were periods of rest, though not for long. Soon the Crusades would open up again.

Actually, "Crusades" is a term for the Christians in the conflict, and the wars are all called Crusades. That should tell us something. In spite of what history has done to make it appear that the Muslims were the aggressors, the wars were named by Christian powers to identify the Christian war spirit.

I will quote from the same book by Bammate, "The Crusades had brought a considerable number of Christians face to face with a civilization much superior to that of the Europe of their own time. The Crusaders found many things that were completely new to them, as well as techniques that were still unknown to the West." These techniques mean skills, skills of the intellect and skills of industry. "The large scale introduction of oriental products into European markets and the adoption of new techniques in agriculture and industry, et cetera, brought about a profound transformation in the economy of Western Europe."

This is a Western author saying this, and I repeat, "...brought about a profound transformation in the economy..." Now if my religion was able to influence a sluggish or slumbering economic society into lively economic activity and growth and eventually productivity, if it was able to do it back then, then I should have a concern to at least look at my religion and respect my religion for its economic value as well as for its other values.

That is what 1 have learned, in fact, many years ago. I learned it when I was following my late father and our late leader the Honorable Elijah Mohammed. I learned that there were powerful influences straight from Qur'an, itself, for bringing about appreciation for material life, and appreciation for business growth and economic development. I found that that was there.

At that time I was crippled, because I was under my father's rule and under his order and at that time under his spiritual grip or grasp. I was crippled and couldn't come before the people with what I was actually seeing. In my heart, I actually wanted to say to him and to others that we have better help for economic development coming from the Qur'an, than we have from anything my father could say. I recognized then what I am telling you now. That there is greater help for development, for economic life and development, coming directly from the Qur'an, than from anything my father ever said or that I have ever said or ever could say. And I am aware of that.
(To be continued)