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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

People of African Descent on Race and Traditional Pride: Part 2

Imam W. Deen Mohammed


Perhaps you are aware that because of Muslims selfless work, the West came into an awakening again in the sciences, a time known as the Renaissance. I would think that even the great religious leader and thinker for the West, for Christianity, Martin Luther, was influenced too by the contributions of the Muslims to universal logic. He then came to better understand his own religion and to give it better appreciation because of the Muslims' influence on the thinking of the people at that time. That is a religious leader, not to mention those in the field of objective sciences.

Race: what it was and what it should be now. As language, race formed of religious symbolism. The term "symbolism" says a meaning is given to something understood in one definition from something understood in a different definition. In symbolism, a word or an expression, represents a meaning of a different nature. For example, a lion in physical image represents and communicates to us abstract meanings of power, dignity, courage. I have had encouragement to be attracted to ancient Egypt's language that has mystified the modern world for thousands of years called hieroglyphics. That is the language of symbolism.

The Native Americans, we call American Indians, have language that is in symbolism. They have pictures or images that communicate for them, language. And we can go to northern Africa right now to that nation called Egypt and can see the remains of a great ancient civilization. We can look at the script on their great monuments and edifices and see that it is a language put in pictures.

A Chinese philosopher reportedly said, "A picture is worth ten thousand words."
And the best help I have gotten to communicate to an audience has been from a natural interest in speaking through pictures. I don't do it as much now as I used to, because I try to control my speech more and leave little to imagination. So I tend to try to work now from notes more. But if I were to relax and have my nature take over, I would be speaking to you through a lot of pictures.

We have a Muslim brother who had done a study of symbolism; he is Dr. James Rasheed. As a Ph.D. candidate he wrote a thesis that he presented to me in the form of a book on race and religious symbolism. Dr. Rasheed's scholarly work for which he was given a doctorate degree attempts to unravel an area of symbolism — religious and general — to show that racist language fed upon religious symbolism. It fed upon that mythical language to acquire its present body called "the body of language."

We will be speaking to each other and calling it common language and using terminology from the original source of language — symbolism — and wondering why we can't make ourselves understood. It is simply because we have been given language that is really not in accord with the common way of thinking. More correctly it is not in accord with the natural human way of thinking.

Hence, the term and expression "white man" may be rational in religious symbolic language though not rational in common language. If I understand some of the meanings we have been given for "white man," then the expression to me is not a rational expression. It is not rational for me to think that simply because a man has white skin he is more virtuous than I am or more intelligent than I am and so on and so on for the language of racism.

"White" racism as it was imposed upon the world would have us believe that because a man has white skin he is superior to a man who has black skin. That white straight hair is better than nappy wooly hair. This is not rational. The victims of white racism were affected mentally by it to think themselves inferior to the white race.

That tells us that if language is introduced by the established order or society, the subjects and the people who are not in the power of having an intellect to examine or question the established order become victimized by the established order. They have no way of defending themselves or proving themselves. So whether they dislike it or like it they are affected by the order of the powerful and by what the powerful have established as language.

(To be continued)