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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles


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Victory Over Self

Imam W. Deen Mohammed


(Editor's note: Following are excerpts from a Khutbah delivered by Imam Warith Deen Muhammad at the Washington Masjid, Friday, Feb. 20,1981.)

All praises are due to Allah, Guardian-Evolver, Cherisher and Sustainer of all the worlds. We seek aid from Him. We beg Him for forgiveness. We put complete trust in Him. We ask all goodness from Him. Further, we ask the blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad, the honored and exemplary Messenger of God. Peace and the blessings be upon him; and T bear witness that nothing deserves worshipped except Allah, alone, And I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger.

This religion has come to us by way of the Prophets and is completed in the last Prophet, Muhammad. On them be peace. It has come to us to give us direction so that we can realize the full life intended for us by our Creator, who is Allah. The road for us in this life is not an easy one. It is one that assures us the best possible life because it is the one prescribed for us by our Lord and Creator, Allah. It challenges us in many ways. God has said. He has created us into toil and struggle.

He has also said of us in the Quran, that the human being is made in the most excellent mold. He has also said to us in the Quran that we can have nothing except that which we strive for. He has also said of us in the Quran that we have been made weak. He has also said of us in the Quran that surely He's with those who persevere. Surely, He is with those who do good; surely He is with the righteous; surely, He's with those who are constant in their prayers: and on and on and on, recalling what Allah has said of us respecting our human nature, our human capacity, our human weaknesses our human potential.

Allah the Most High has said, "Who seeks victory to succeed for Allah's sake — Allah will make them victorious” The key then is to be faithful to Allah, to serve Allah, to seek His pleasure above everything else. Doing that, we are assured success in life.

Nothing challenges the human being more than his own creation. Man has not failed in the world or been overcome by the world because of the challenge to him from the world but rather because of the challenge from himself.

Dear beloved brothers and sisters, it has been said by learned Imams in this religion that ' 'The best victory is victory over yourself" The best conquest is the management of your own impulses or urges. We can go on and on, quoting wisdom of the learned in the religion. The Holy Prophet, himself, has said that "to achieve self-control is the best Jihad." We know of Muslims who have made the Hajj. Hajj is a struggle that requires a tremendous amount of self-control. We see that this religion challenges us to take our own forces (impulses) into our hands and manage them well.

Allah requires of us first that we be able to discipline ourselves. Life as we understand it is a child of human emotions- Therefore, how well we fare in life depends on how successful we are in gaining influence over tendencies toward extremes in this emotional composition.

How many of us are defeated when we pursue higher education? We are defeated by attitudes. Attitudes that grow and build up because of urges in us we have not disciplined, refined, or cannot control.

Once a person approached the Prophet and asked him to give him some advice to serve him through life. The Prophet said, "Resist anger." Consider how often we are defeated because we give in to the tendency to be angry rather than resist.

If we manage to see the challenge to our life and our emotional makeup and having been successful at that, we are ready then to contribute and make lasting contributions to the betterment of society. But anyone who has not managed his own impulses well is not ready to make any lasting contribution to society, because we cannot expect good behavior or intelligent behavior from that person for any length of time.

The crucial relationship between emotional life and moral life is addressed in the story of Jonah. The emotional circumstances of his life engulfed him, overwhelmed him. At the most distressful stage, Jonah cried out in prayer to Allah. This brings to my mind what I've heard the preacher say in the church. He said, "Be still."

"Be still" is a command of prayer. Conforming to that spirit in him, Jonah became a source of irritation in the belly of the big fish. Emotional extremism and emotional discipline just don't mix. It follows that the attitudes which give us to emotional extremism are not necessarily corrected when we take the position of piety.

Piety in Al-Islam as you know, is called "taqwa" and it means constant awareness of the Presence, Omniscient, Omnipotent, the Almighty, the All-Powerful whose name is Allah. It is an awareness that brings obedience into the Believer. Obedience, because he fears to displease his Lord. Obedience because he knows his Lord has complete power over him. Obedience because he knows he owes gratitude to his Lord.

Dear beloved Muslims, the social usefulness of piety is seen best in social justice. The road from prayer to proper moral respect is a long road. It is a stretch in conscience, requiring that our attitudes conform to rational principles in any given situation. Whether is be in our relationship with our family members or on the job, or with members of the public or with government officials or with the police department, with people who injured us; no matter what the situation is. We are required to always reflect rational attitudes.

Allah, the Most High says in the Quran: "Allah does not change what is bothering a people until they change what is bothering their (hearts) souls/1 The burden on Jonah's heart and on his intelligence as found in the popular Bible story was his prejudiced attitude toward a people by whom he had once been subjected. What a meaningful reference this is or can be and a reflection on our spiritual situation as regards our attitudes toward European-American predominance.

The healthy attitude is in desiring to be lifted up by new-found dignity, by which racial feuding becomes distasteful. Hope in Allah and fishy whims don't agree. Come into a new dignity and new appetites, a new hunger by which excellence and greater enterprise is realized. Many of us fail to see that human productivity is inherently tied up with a subject to human attitudes.

Dear beloved people, to carry the proper attitude over into our situation as a people here in America means success. It means the removal of social ignorance. It means overcoming the tendency to abuse self or to selfishly block the advance of our brothers and sisters.

May Allah, the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful Lord, forgive us our faults, guide us in His path and protect us, Amin. (To be continued}