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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal

April 3, 1992

Muslim Journal

"Steps to Success": Part 5

Imam W. Deen Mohammed

(Excerpts from Imam Mohammed's Public Address, Poughkeepsie, NY, Dec. 29, 1991)


A Well Balanced Community

For us a well balanced community is "a midway" community. And that word is not sufficient, but it is the best word that I have right now in English. "Midway" suggests that it is not a community of the extremes. It is not a community of the extreme right and is not a community of the extreme left. I am going to address the "Steps to Success" within this theme of a well balanced community.

The word is "al-wustaa." The context where this word is given, both the community and the "middle" prayer are identified by this term. We are to be a community of "al-wustaa". And we are also told to guard a certain prayer. That prayer is called Salaat al-wustaa. It is the middle prayer. Most scholars, if I am remembering correctly, do not identify salatal Thuhr as that prayer, but they say it is 'Asr.


Asr Implies Difficulty

Why are we cautioned to not neglect that prayer. The midday in the society of Muhammed was a time when they took a break from work. So they are free from work at midday. The Friday prayer is the time of Salatal Thuhr. It replaces Salatal Thuhr. If we miss the Friday prayer, we have to do the four rakats instead of the two rakats for the Jumuah.

'Asr, in the very name itself implies a difficulty. Allah says, "Surely with difficulty there is ease' Qur'an. The juice out of the fruit is called 'Aseer. That means it was gotten by pressure. You squeeze the orange and mash the fruit. And there is a saying: "He will tread the wine press along". 'Asr is a time of difficulty.

It is a time of difficulty for what? It is difficulty for man and society, the historical society or for developing life of man. This is not a time in one day as much as it is a time in the life of man. It is a time when he will face great difficulty and his life will be pressed. And if he is to get anything to quench his thirst, he will have to press to get a little "aseer".


Guard Against Extremes

We are supposed to be "the midway community." Now the times of difficulty is the time when people are given to go to extremes.  So we  are to guard against extremes. Call to mind the heavy emphasis in the Qur'an for us to stay out of the forbidden extremes. When we say we want a well balanced community, we are saying that we want a community avoiding those forbidden extremes.

This concerns first of all the extreme that we see in the life of society that brings the society to die, to fall to its end. The history of the rise and fall of enlightened civilized society captures man's obsessions with his destiny and origin—these are extremes too. If I say left and right, you may take the terms politically. But the extreme too is when man becomes obsessed with an idea of his origin and destiny. This obsession captured in history provides a focus for viewing society's classical rise and fall.

Hence, man's fate and society's fate is most often tied to that obsession. Therefore a midway community and people is to be understood as a community neither given to fatalism or to romanticism. Romanticism brings to my mind what we have come to see today in these times as humanism. That romanticism of the past is related to the humanism that we have presently. Humanism is a child of that old idea. We are not to become so humanly tender or sentimental that we are identified with humanism.


Strong Souls Measure Up

I know this is difficult for us, but this (strong souls) is what Allah wants. Allah wants us to measure up to the difficult task. If we do not measure up to the difficult task, we cannot sustain this great life. The difficult task is to check our tendency to be too sweet, too mellow, too soft, too ripe. Some will say, "Brother Imam, as bad as we are, you don't need to give us a caution like that." I think most of you are as bad as you are because you are too ripe, too tender, too sweet.

We may say the extreme is the East and the West symbolically speaking. For we know that Allah says that this light "is neither of the East or the West," but it is of "a blessed tree" neither East or West. So East and West are given to us as extremes to avoid. I am focusing upon the tendency in man to be obsessed with his origin and his end, birth and death.