New Africa Radio Logo
W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

"Steps to Success": Part 4

Imam W. Deen Mohammed


(Imam W. Deen Mohammed gave this public address in Poughkeepsie, New York on December 29, 1991. From it he has now prepared this article for Muslim Journal's readers.)

This community is not ever to come under the extremes of materialism. On one side there is humanism and on the other materialism. We are all born as humans. As the Prophet said, "We are all born Muslim", which is to say we are all born the human God created us to be. But how we end is another thing.

The Gnostic people are the ones who believe there is a divine spark in man that can be traced back to God, that man has his origin in God. For us this is "shirk" and is a terrible shirk. The Qur'an parable says some people look at the sun to see it and the sunlight puts out their eyes. In straining our limited human and mental capacity to see the Creator, the Only Divine, we put our eyes out. The light is too much. In other words that is too big for the dimensions of our human intellect or mind.

I feel very comfortable. I was born into a society (N.O.I.) that taught me to see God with these eyes. I was born in a society that taught me that the only way to see God was with these eyes and that the only way to know God was with this rational mind. I was taught that the only way to know any reality was with this rational mind, and that anything that could not be proven by the five senses does not exist. I was born in a society that taught me that with the milk that came from my mother's breast. At that early age in my life I was given that.

I have come to be happy and comfortable with the real Islamic idea. That idea is that you cannot see God directly. Isn't that what God told Moses? "You cannot see Me directly. If you want to see Me, look at the mountain." (The Qur'an) I became very comfortable with the idea that I can't see God directly, because the idea that I could see Him directly had punished my mind. And I was tired of being punished in my head. I was happy to be relieved, and so I accepted that I cannot see God directly. Then happiness began to fill up my heart and my breast. It was a good feeling.

I began to tell you all (the followers from the N.O.I.) back then to stop trying to put "God" on a microscope slide. And I say to you that you may not have the scholarly knowledge and resources that many of them (overseas) have, but our general membership is more educated than their general membership. Our support in our general membership is more in the excellence of the Muslim than their general membership by and large. Now when it comes to scholars, we do not have the scholars yet to measure up to what they have in their scholars. Insha Allah we are going to get that too. And we are getting it step by step.

I am not here to play down the importance of the old world of Muslims, but that is just what it is. I'm coming more directly to what we need to do in order to have steps to success. Allah Most High says this in the beginning of the Qur'an. And why do I say it is the beginning of the Qur'an? The first chapter of the Qur'an is called "The Opening", and by opening we may also mean an introduction. The introduction to the Qur'an is Al-Fatihah or 'The Opening". So when we start the Qur'an itself, Al-Fatihah begins with no signals.

Scholars will tell you what the Arabic letters "Alif, Lam, Mim" mean. But where is it established in the Qur'an and where is it established in the sunnah? They are just letters but they do get your attention. And isn't it a wonderful way to get attention? It is something natural and must be the natural way in the communication media.

After the signals of the letters "Alif, Lam, Mim", the words then come: "This is the Book. In it is Guidance for sure without doubt to those who fear God..." (Chapter 2, Qur'an). Let me bring this to your attention — "to fear God"— for this is very important. There is no language in that verse that says "fear God". The word that is translated as "fear" is not accurately translated. The word that we have here is a combination of emotions and is not just about fear. The best way to understand the meaning of this word is to understand what you feel inside of you when you are about to do something wrong in the "Eyes" of God.

You feel something in your heart. You feel something in your nervous system. You feel something in your soul. When you know that you did something wonderful in the "Eyes" of God, you also feel something. When you are striving and you are in a very dangerous situation that may cause you to do some wrong and be taken off the path of "Islam" and you are very cautiously and very attentively following your Islamic mind and discipline, you are under that same influence. It is called "taqwa".

The better translations give it as God consciousness and the fear of God and so forth. It is also translated "regardfulness". Many don't want to use that simple translation. They think it takes something away, but that is what it is. "Taqwa" is "regardfulness". We have to have that regardfulness. It is a special regardfulness that we only come to understand as Muslims when we see the word in its context in the Qur'an. Here is one context in which it appears in the very beginning: "Those who fear God". But the meaning I would give if I were translating it, although I am not rejecting that translation, is "Those who are regardful."

If I had to give more explanation, then I would give it in a footnote or in a commentary. I would then explain this state of consciousness and the terminology in the context of the Qur'an. It goes on to say "...who believe in the unseen". Now understand this, that whenever the Qur'an introduces a word or an idea, what follows that or what went before that addresses the meaning of that. "...Those who believe in the unseen "is a condition of that taqwa, of that state of mind, or of that state of the soul. That you believe without (your) proof. To believe in the unseen is to believe even though it has not been proven to you. "Bilgraib" means absence. I believe and have strong reasons for believing.

If all of us were put to test to prove that God is, we cannot prove it to anyone but that person who believes it or who has the tendency to believe it. To the others, we cannot prove it. Allah is in the heart. Allah is in the life. Allah is in the conduct of the life. You can go shopping and the ease is given to you in traffic that is difficult for other people. Then you as a believer will say, "This is God". You will thank Allah. That is what you have experienced. Then there is nobody, an atheist among us or an atheist from any other religion, to tell you that 'God doesn't exist'. They may make a few of you doubt your religion, but you will still believe in God. The only reason they can make you doubt your religion is that you don't have enough knowledge about your religion. So the Satan will get you there.

Believers, read the Qur'an often. Become more acquainted with it. All of us are supposed to be reading the Qur'an daily to become more acquainted with it. And the verse continues, "...who believe in the unseen and who are steadfast in prayer..." If you have that taqwa or regardfulness in you, then you feel a compulsion to pray to Allah and to do it as He has ordered you to do it.

Any believer who can neglect the daily prayers and not feel anything, they are either ignorant — they don't know the religion, or they are unconscious Muslims. If you are a conscious Muslim, it hurts you to think that you missed Fajr Prayer. It makes you feel bad that you missed Thuhr Prayer or Asr Prayer or Maghrib Prayer or Isha Prayer.

I have done something that would make most of your say, "Oh, Allah is really going to punish him." One time I missed my prayer and had to do something so pressing, that I just did "sajdah". I did not do the prayer. I know "sajdah" was not a substitute for my prayer, and I still missed my prayer. But at least I showed God that I wanted to do it. I got down and counted the number of "sajdahs" in that prayer and made that number and then left out of the house.

I would rather come up before God and be told "Wallace you missed your prayer. And your sajdahs that you did do not excuse you." I would rather be told that, then to be told, "Wallace you missed your prayer period!" I caution you not to follow me in that but follow the commands of God in the Qur'an and in the Sunnah. I am not going to answer for you in the Judgment.

(To be continued)