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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

The Importance Of Character: Part 1

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


We begin in the Name of God. Bismillah-nir-Rahman-ir-Raheem. With the name Allah, the Gracious, the Compassionate, and we seek His assistance, and we turn to Him, and we pray that His peace and blessings be upon the last of the Prophets, the Universal Prophet, Muhammad, Ameen.

First, I want to turn to my own religion, to look at the importance of character. Our prophet is believed to be the last of the Prophets, and the highest and most complete and perfect human being. This perfection, according to the teachings of our Holy Book, is really to be seen in his character more than anything else. Our Holy Book says that in Muhammad, you will find the most excellent model of character for anybody to follow, not just Muslims.

We believe that man must hold to some particular form. Our religion offers us a form of life, and the real value in our religion is that it offers us a form of life. We don't just stress spiritualism, or emotionalism, we stress character.

I believe that character is identity. When we don't have character, we don't have identity. We say we are Black people, but Black is such a vague term; it's a color. More than anything else, we should think of our character, the character of the race. Identity is to be seen in character; and character is associated with emotionality. You say he's a good character, he's a bad character, he's a criminal character. Character is always associated with emotionality or moral value.

To build identity, one must have an interest. From the interest your behavior will form according to your interest. People who are not interested in anything don't have any established behavior. But if they have some established interest, then they also have an established behavior. It is expected that one will be moved by the principles of his own character to perform in a certain way.

In all of this we see a developmental progression. We see the phases of character moving from interest to behavior and then to endeavor. Once we have established our main interest in terms of what we want to devote ourselves to, our function, our job, our career or whatever it is, then the character increases, it becomes bigger. It becomes more than just an emotional or moral image, it now becomes a career image in the field of science.

We will still have an emotional character because we never really lose that. We'll have that at home and among our friends and associates. Many times you don't know the emotional side of a person because you only experienced him in the professional field, so you only see the character that was developed because of his devotion to his profession.

It is very important to associate identity with character. I believe that in spite of the negative feelings that religion provokes sometimes, it, more than anything else, has offered an identity to man. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has said that a person acts according to his own disposition. The Holy Book also says that everyone behaves according to his disposition. How a person is predisposed spiritually or emotionally, or morally, will give him his design or his identity; his actions will be a reflection of his disposition.

— Correction
In the February 28 issue of Muslim Journal, under the headline Muslims reap the harvest of ignorance and disobedience, the photo caption on Page 11 showed Shiite Muslims demonstrating and holding placards bearing the image of Imam Ali. Al-Islam discourages such displays. It is primarily a Shiite practice. The use of the photo is not to suggest that Muslim Journal supports such displays.