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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


A.M. Journal

Imam Muhammad Comments On 10 Years Of Progress: Part 2

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


(Note: The following material was recorded in Chicago, III, with Imam Farid Munir reading a statement from Imam W. Deen Muhammad regarding the 10th Anniversary Celebration.)

IMAM MUNIR: Imam Muhammad, what is the feeling towards the growth in the community?

IWDM: I feel very good about it- We don't have the same promotion we used to have; we have a different mind, a different philosophy, and we're under a different religious idea. We don't have that same promotional machine. So we're not so concerned about how many new converts we have this week as much as we are concerned with the total growth of the community and its members. By total growth, we mean the total growth that Allah has given us in the life of the Muslims.

So when we see the people growing more into concepts of the life of a Muslim, then that's the growth in which we are most interested. As for other kinds of growth we are concerned about also, that would be the growth of our school, education in the community — the growth of Dawah, period: Dawah for correcting the false conceptions about Muslims.

When we look at all of that, I think we have something to celebrate. And the statement is going to be made on a regional level, and also nationally - just like here by yourself and myself — I think that's going to verify that.

IMAM MUNIR: What were some of the most trying times during these last 10 years of your leadership?

IWDM: Well, they are still continuing - the trying times have never stopped. But I would say the most trying time of my leadership was at the passing of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He was so much to us. He was a dad, a father to us — and he was my genetic father.

But he also was my father as a leader. We depended on him for so much. In fact, I think we depended on him more than we depended on profit, and when he passed, there was a void in the members of the Temple of Islam. From that, point on, the members had great difficulty deciding where we should go.

I didn't have great difficulty, for I had already found a clear place for myself — before God, that is - - that was in the Qur'anic teaching. So I didn't have any difficulty myself knowing where I should go in terms of my religion and my religious life.

But I knew that when I came before the people they would have great difficulty, and this was because many of them weren't blessed like many of us were, to prepare for the passing of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

After carefully searching his teachings to see what direction he was pointing to in the event that he would pass, some of us — and I know individuals and myself, men and women - shared the experience I had deciding what we should be, where we should go, what should be our position if the Honorable Elijah Muhammad should pass.

We weren't consciously thinking, 1 would say, of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad as passing away, but we were aware that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad would not be here forever. We were trying to see what he was pointing to as a new life, or new direction.

For those few who were going through those kinds of experiences, they didn't have any problems accepting my leadership. But the trying times for me was preparing something for those who had never given any thought at all to the situation.

So all I could do was come out and speak my spirit, speak my mind — God blessed me, and it worked. The majority of the people supported me, and still the majority of the people are with me because I represent the best; I try to represent the best of the people.

IMAM MUNIR: What would you say should be the attitude of everyone regarding the Ten Years of Progress?

IWDM: I think the attitude should be that we are blessed people, that God has blessed us miraculously to make a complete turn — in terms of theology, in terms of real critical religious ideas. We should feel very victorious and very blessed by God. Our attitude should be one of jubilance, one of celebration.

But also now, we should be aware that we also have a great job of gaining recognition, not only from the outside public, but from ourselves, from our family members, from the people in our community — to gain recognition from them for having achieved something day-by-day, week-by-week, year-by-year, in the Muslim community life.

IMAM MUNIR: Methodically, how do you see your leadership in the community in relationship to the rest of the Muslim world?

IWDM: I see my leadership as one that is new, fresh, but genuine. I think we represent a kind of new nativity in our religion on a continent where the people were not familiar with the religion of Al-Islam. I look at myself and I think of myself in relationship to the world community of Islam, the world society of Islam, as a regeneration, a birth of renewed vision, a renewed perception in the religion. But it is genuine and it is disciplined by the Qur'an and by the Sunnah of the Prophet. Therefore, it should be accepted by Muslims all over the world.

Also, I think we offer the Muslims of the world a kind of unique setting, a unique experience and a unique kind of development and aspiration, and that uniqueness is also tolerance of people of other faiths.

IMAM MUNIR: How long do you think it will take the United States of America to recognize the influence of Al-slam for what it really is?

IWDM: I believe that depends mostly on us and how ready we are to live the Muslim life in America for ourselves. That is. is there a big percentage of us really desiring to establish the Muslim life in America?

When I say in America, that means to exist, to live peacefully, side-by-side with our non-Muslim neighbors — to cooperate with them in the spirit of truth and accept those things that our religion approves — more aspirations, etc. I would say also, the civil aspirations of the American people.

So we really want to build Muslim community life for ourselves in America, and then I would say the hope would be really great and bright - we would have a great future. I believe it won't take many years — maybe about 10 years or so, and then I believe that this country will be speaking of us in its literature, its books, etc.

IMAM MUNIR: What type of advice would you suggest for the Imams of the American Muslim Mission, and how do you see their roles improving?

IWDM: I would advise the Imams of the American Muslim Mission to study, to continue to be studious — study the Qur'an, study the life of the Prophet. Study the earlier life of Muslims under his leadership and be prepared always to present an impressive picture of speech on this religion and on the community, whether it's before the immediate congrega­tion or by way of video tape or recordings shown in the community, or the national media, radio, etc.

Wherever they go, try to be prepared as much as possible, and try to seek others who perhaps have more ability than they do as I do. When they come before the people, to make sure they leave a good impression, an impres­sion which really represents the substance of our religion. This is my first hope. Many are doing a great deal in that respect, but still we need others.

As for the role they should play, they should accept to be persons standing up front alerting the community to danger. But don't forget, there is a great responsibility to alert them also to the opportunity—to also move them for­ward.

The Imam should always be aware of the good situations for progress — the serious needs and the aspirations of the community. These things should be recognized by the Im­ams, and he should bring solutions to those aspirations.

In other words, he should be the one who is aggressive. He should be more aggressive than everyone else, speaking for the communi­ty, and most importantly, pointing out direc­tion for the community.

IMAM MUNIR: What methods do you have for the members of the community?

IWDM: Every member should understand that responsibility is given to each and every one of us and that no one is to reduce his ef­forts or his responsibilities. The responsibility for the community is shared by all of us.

IMAM MUNIR: Over the next 10 years, Im­am Muhammad, where do we go from here? How does our future look as a viable communi­ty in this country?

IWDM: Well, that will be dealt with more directly from the National Office when we make our address, that is, from our own Dawah efforts here in Chicago. But I would say that the next 10 years should not carry a lot of the concerns that we had to carry the first half of the ten years.

That is, a concern for the old. or the First Experience under the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I think we should realize that we are a totally new establishment; even our schools had to conform to a totally new philosophy — their philosophy of education. We should just make up our minds — maybe we should make a resolution — on the 10th An­niversary Year celebration to not weep or moan or long for any of the past. That is not ac­ceptable by the Qur'an or the Sunnah of the Prophet.

I believe that if we do that, the next 10 years will show us more real community progress. I think we will be able to go on and build a com­munity, a good Islamic community to support the good, hardworking people in our communi­ty - the Imams, the businesspeople and others. So. it would be 10 years of building for Allah — to build an Islamic life for Allah.