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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles


A.M. Journal

Islamic Democracy

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


(Editor's note: In response to numerous requests, A.M. Journal asked Imam W. Deen Muhammad to describe the criteria believers can use to judge effective leadership. His comments follow.)

WDM: They should use the example of the life of Prophet Muhammad as a criteria. We don't expect for the majority of the members of the community to be that familiar with the life history of Prophet Muhammad IPBUH) in order to be able to deal scholarly with such a question, but they should have some general knowledge of Prophet Muhammad's life. If they (the believers) see the personality or the qualifications of the person who wants their support in the leadership as being an insult to the office of the Imam under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad, then they should make a judgment on their general knowledge.

If they see that person's general makeup being a reflection of the general makeup of Prophet Muhammad or being compatible, being agreeable with the general makeup and the general qualities that are in Prophet Muhammad — then upon that they can make a stand on support for him.

We don't have to be scholars of the law or students of the law or traditions of the Sunnah of the Prophet in order to make these judgments. I'm sure all Muslims know that Prophet Muhammad was not an oppressive man. He was not a mean man. His mannerism were such that he won the admiration and affection of everybody.

Prophet Muhammad was a loving man, a generous man. He was a man who was tender hearted. He responded to the suffering and the needs of the old people and the young people, to the widows and the orphans. His heart went out to the people who suffer and bear misery in the world.

If we have an Imam who is not sensitive to the things that Prophet Muhammad was sensitive to —the important concerns established in the Quran for Muslims to give their minds to —we don't support him.

If we don't see in our leader or the person who is nominated or seeking leadership a makeup similar to that of Prophet Muhammad and we see that he is the opposite of this or that he's not only lacking this but what he represents is in conflict with what should be the personality, the image and the attributes of a Muslim leader, we can't support that man! We shouldn't support him.

AMJ: What is the best action to be taken if you find somebody you wouldn't want to support?

WDM: That depends on the organizational structure of the masjid or the community.
If we're talking about masajid that represent the membership of the American Muslim Mission, then those masajid are expected to. .although administration-wise they're not obligated to report to me and they're not obligated to carry out my directives—but by virtue of the fact that their membership, the people who support them, most of them profess to be members of the general community and supportive of Imam W. Deen Muhammad in his mission or in his propagation work. Since they are on record as being my supporters. I would think the system that they would have would be one of Islamic democracy — system of Islamic democracy that protect the rights of the individual to voice his sincere complaints.

If an individual has a difference with the local leader or with the national leader-with myself—the Islamic democracy protects his right to bring that grievance or those differences to the attention of the public gathering like we have on Sundays or on Jumah days.

Now  no one is to interrupt the service, but after the service has been concluded on Jumah or on Sundays, then the person who has a sincere grievance or problem or issue to raise —and they shouldn't be treated as troublemakers —they should be heard and listened to.

If they are proven to be troublemakers after they have expressed themselves, then they should be called troublemakers; but don't call a person a troublemaker before they have an opportunity to speak. The opportunity to speak is supposed to be preserved in an Islamic society until they have that opportunity to express themselves.

I give opportunity here (at Masjid Honorable Elijah Muhammad)...not at every meeting because our agenda is so crowded at some meetings we can't give time to questions and complaints, but I hate to let any week pass that we don't give the people that opportunity. The last time I spoke here, I promised that we would give the opportunity for people to express themselves the following Sunday —to ask questions and also to have discussions.

AMJ: What should happen when the person who raises the question has the majority of the people go against them?

WDM: We expect that the majority will be right, but I have seen and we fact we're cautioned by Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) against blindly following majority.

We are to seek majority opinion from the scholars, from the learned people and even from the general body when certain situations call for it. However, we are to understand also that sometimes the majority will take a wrong view. Then the Quran and Sunnah will have to correct the majority.

If the majority can't bring Quran and Sunnah to back up their position, then they are to be non-vocal on that matter until it can be proven who was right and who was wrong. It's not just (fair) enough just (only) to have a majority opinion on a matter; that majority opinion has to be supported by the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet