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Bilalian News

Let's Lift Our Heads Up: Part 3

Imam Warith Deen Muhammad


With the Name Allah, the Gracious, the Compassionate. As-Salaam-Alaikum

On Feb. 24, 1980, Imam Warith Deen Muhammad, leader of the World Community of Al-Islam in the West, delivered a stirring ad­dress on the subject of the African-American "Identity Crisis" in a nationwide, live radio broadcast. Speaking from Masjid Elijah Muhammad in Chicago, where more than 6,000 Muslims gathered for the address, Imam Muhammad urged African-Americans (Bilalians) to "lift our heads up" and put faith in God.

Following the Imam's hour-long broadcast directed to the general public, the members of the WCIW conducted an extended meeting on Community matters via telephonic con­nections with scores of masjid communities around the country.

According to the WCIW Council of Imams, this February meeting ends a near 50-year tradition of the Community in conducting a special February observance or convention during the last week in the month.

Following is an abbreviated text of Imam Muhammad's historic address. Continued from the last two weeks:

There is a race called the yellow race, a red race, a black race. But how many Indians do you find saying, I'm red? How many Japanese do you find saying, I'm yellow? When you locate the people calling themselves after color you find where the devil is.

I'm talking about the devil that exploits racial differences to dominate all races. More of that has been done in Europe and in America than anyplace else in modern history. In America it's common to call each other black and white. No matter how close I am to white as long as there is any African blood in me, I am black.

This worked well for the slave-master because he wanted to multiply the production of slaves. If they all didn't fall under one iden­tity he would lose some of them while trying to produce slaves. Many immoral, filthy, wretches among the Caucasian slave-masters were so low that they would go with their black mistresses to produce more slaves for free labor.

Many of us got our Caucasian looks not from the freedom that has been given to us here recently — and not from some wild eyed, red eyed buck that jumped on the mistress knowing that he would be lynched — but many of us got this blood in our veins from a white slave-master daddy who did not make babies to enlarge his family but to enlarge his free labor camp.

Now dear people, knowing that the Caucasian called us all black during slavery time to keep the camp of slavery mulitplying and full — that alone should make us put down color labels as a way of identifying ourselves.

The man who is called yellow also has another nationality — he has a proper name; yellow is improper, he has a proper racial name — Chinese, Japanese. The man who's black in Africa has a proper name. If you call him black he might answer to that, but he also has a proper name, a name more at home; he's Ghanaian, he's Nigerian, he's Swahili, he's Yurba, he's Howsa, he's Sudanese — he has a proper name but when it comes to us, we're Negro.

What does Negro mean? Black in Spanish. We're colored people, we're black. Somebody has put us in a frame of mind that is doing racial harm not only to us but to our babies from here on until we correct this thing.

You might say well what answer do you have? I have a natural answer. People have gotten their names from their fathers, they have gotten their names, from their human family, from social experiences. We have a figure in our past who identifies us with a religion that has dealt the blow against slavery, against racism, and against color consciousness, more courageously, more intelligently, and more effectively than any other religion.

We have in our ancestry a figure who ac­cepted that religion. A figure who was a caller to that religion. Not an ordinary caller to that religion — he was number one caller to that religion, appointed by the Prophet of that religion — Muhammad, upon him be peace.

His name is Bilal. Here is an identification that's not a color identification, but never­theless it permits release from identifying with color inferiority. Here in a man who by chance was of our color; here is a man by chance an African, black, and nappy-headed, but by good fortune, by Divine fortune he became a shining star in the history of Al-Islam.

Here is a man that we can look to not to draw some kind of power, some kind of security, some kind of courage for racial dominance, for militarism, but for humanitarianism, to conquer those inhumanitarian things that have made the world miserable.

Can you point out to me a better ancestor? Mamsa Musa was great, but when I identify with Mamsa Musa I identify with another social or political leader. Askia the Great was great, but to identify with him is to identify with something political.

Bilal was not in a political position of authority. Bilal was in a prophetic role representing justice for the common man, representing the undying spirit of the man, that spirit for dignity, that spirit for truth, that spirit for moral righteousness that would rather see the flesh dead than bend or knuckle under to corruption and lies. That's what Bilal represents.

He was put in the hot desert. In Arabia the desert temperature in the daytime goes up to 120, sometimes 130 degrees. The sun is so hot that it will give you a stroke if your head is not covered with white cloth or some kind of cloth to keep out the heat.

The idolator put. Bilal, stripped, on the hot desert and placed heavy hot stones upon his chest to make him give up this dignifying religion — he refused.

Every time his master would send somebody to him to see if he had given up they'd find him shaking his head. "No, no," he said. "One God, Muhammad is His Messenger." At one point he was so weak from the heat and the torture that he couldn't speak — he raised his finger. He couldn't speak but he had the strength to point one finger and with that one finger he said, "One God, and one humanity."