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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

The Inherent Spirit And Character Of People: Part 2

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


Editor's note: The following article is adapted from an address delivered April 12, 1987, in Fayetteville, N.C. during the dedication of Masjid Omar ibn Sayyid.)

When the Qur'an, our holy book, was revealed, it became the standard for the Arabic language. Muslims, especially those who were converted in America, understand that when we say the revelation in Qur'an is in Arabic it is not a compliment to the Arabs, or to Arabic; no, the Qur'an complemented Arabic and the Arabs, because it was the Qur'an that brought Arabic to a higher standard.
And if anyone wants to correct or evaluate the worth of a piece of literature, the Qur'an is the standard for testing it. It is fus'ah, an Arabic term that means classic. Number one.


The Qur'an: A Miracle

Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was asked by some people — doubtists — 'where is your miracle?' (all of this is in way of introduction) The Prophet said, "my miracle is the Qur'an." He pointed to the very revelation that God had given him, and said this is my miracle. How are we going to understand that this is a miracle? In steps; the understanding comes in steps — and the first step is the language itself. Muhammad the Prophet was not an educated man; he was an unschooled man like Moses. But, through this man, the Arabic language came to the Arabs, in its most purest, and eloquent form; so that's a miracle. And it is not a miracle unrelated to scripture and prophecy; prophecy before the Holy Qur'an said that the word shall come and it shall come clearly, and it shall come from the mouth of the uneducated, not the elite.


A Khalifah

Let us now give the quotation we want now from the Qur'an. "And whereas your Lord said to the angels: surely I am going to make in the earth, a khalifah." Khalifah means many things. It's translated custodian, caretaker, one in charge, but not the owner. That's familiar isn't it? For in Christianity, Jesus said, 'I am the caretaker, but not the owner: the owner is my Father,' meaning God, the God of all of us.

God said He's going to put into the earth, a caretaker. But this term is also translated as ruler. Now, we have some difficulty with that translation because God. So what is meant here is one who inherits the rule, upon what God has established in his nature and original creation. So the trust of rule is for the one who has that nature, free disposition, character, spirit, and orientation in its form, that God created him with and for.

So God said to the angels, "I am going to put into the earth, a khalifah" — one charged with authority and trusted with the power to rule, God also says, and I'm quoting now from Chapter 15 — the previous quote was from chapter 2, called 'The Cow — Al-Baqara." "And when your Lord said to the angels: Surely I am about to create a mortal from potter's clay, from black mud, fashioned into shape."



In the continuation of this same verse, given later in chapter 15, quote: "And Iblis, the rebel, (Satan that is) he said to God: I can never expect to make obeisance to a mortal you created from potter's clay, from black mud, fashioned into shape." Here is a conflict. God intended for certain types of human creatures to be literate for human beings. But that human fight was challenged, that creature was challenged by the rebel, who boastfully said, and I won't give the quote in full - - "I will not accept to acknowledge him as being above me; you made me first, and you made me better."

Now here is a creature created by his Creator, telling his Creator something different from what his Creator is insisting upon. Now that is the chief rebel.

To understand this conflict I would like to give you again the quote from the Prophet, who gave the picture of the situation before Iblis. The picture means our circumstances or situation after Iblis. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said God showed the angel Gabriel, His marvelous work of the Creation, and when Gabriel beheld the Creation as God was about to make it, Gabriel said, 'Oh my Lord! How can any creature go wrong in such a marvelous Creation?' And then God, Allah, as we say in Qur'an language or in Muslim language, showed Gabriel the Creation after Satan (Iblis) had come and affected or influenced it, to his satisfaction. He said, 'Oh my Lord, how can any creatures go aright in such a Creation?' At this point we acknowledge that we are not left alone in the wonderful situation that God created us for. We have a jealous, boastful, arrogant, conceited, adversary (opponent), enemy called Iblis, Satan, Shaitan, devil.

So if we are not left alone, that tells us that we have to be blessed by God to survive in our natural form because the rebel is too big for any of us. God created us in a specific form, and as long as we keep that form, we are in good shape.


We Are In A Good Situation If...

We are in a good situation no matter whether we are in the Garden of Paradise, the land of the heathens, or in the environment of Satan himself, if we are in that form, Satan cannot hurt us.
How do we know this?
Allah says in Qur'an that Satan caused your father, your first ancestor, to slip out of the form that God had put him in. That's what made all the trouble. But as long as he was in the form that God created him in, Satan couldn't touch him. Allah says to all of His creatures, Satan has no power over you except to invite you; you have the power to turn down his invitation.
Once you give any accommodation to Satan's invitation, he has you, and you are in a difficult situation.
Let us look at what we have in the verses that I have quoted. Number one, God was addressing the angels, when He introduced His new creature for authority on earth. And note in the language of the
Qur'an, how God speaks to the angels; God said, "I am going to make; and I am going to create."


The Adversary's Language

And then note the language of the adversary "I am going to make, I am going to create." What is the difference?
"Make" means in Arabic, to start something, and bring it to its conclusion; if it's forming something, it's starting that form towards its conclusion, bringing about activity in it, bringing about development in it, so it will come to its destined or intended form. Now, the word "khaaliqun" means I am going to create something, and it suggests this: that definite identity is being given to this. So one just means to affix to something the forming of something, and the other term that Allah uses tells us that something is given a definite character, uniqueness and definition. He's not just making something, he's making something with a specific identity. So God is saying that He made up and gave us our identity. And in keeping with the form that God intended for us, we hold to our true essential identity. God is making a human person; God said, 'I am going to make a human person.' This is our essential character, identity, or human person.


Identity Crisis

Man is created and put in a situation where he has to discover himself. Again we find in that the connection for "black" people in America. Still today, it is recognized that there is a kind of identity crisis for us. Many have forgotten that there is an identity crisis, it hasn't gone. All we have to do is look at ourselves and see that the identity crisis hasn't gone, because we still have "black" Jews, "black" Frenchmen, "black" Italians, "black" Englishmen, "black" Africans, I mean African-Americans that are "black" Africans, "black" Arabs and "black" Indians. They are all among us, African-Americans, so-called Negroes, as we used to be called. All we have to do is look at that reality to see that we still have an identity crisis.

When the average youngster — and you have to be a youngster; some of us who are middle-aged are old, too — and if white people make us mad, we start to heckle: "well, I know who I am. I'm a man. I'm grown!" That's the trouble with that identity. You try to tell him, "I don't know how you regard me, but I know I am somebody just like you are. I'm somebody definite. I have a definite identity. I'm God's man; God made me. I'm God's woman."

And some of the old folks will tell you "I'm a child of God, don't treat me like that."
Well, we know that there's still an identity problem and believe me, we're not the only people that inherited an identity problem.
All people at one stage in their development or progress had an identity problem. If you study the history of people and how they evolved in society, you'll find that they had to discover either by tradition, revelation or scientific inquiry an identity for themselves. It doesn't mean that we are different, troubled, and don't have a satisfying identity. Is "black" a satisfying identity? I say no! That's why I told you to put quotes every time I say "black." I'm quoting somebody else. That's not my choice.