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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

Excerpts From Imam Muhammad's N.Y. Address: Part 2

Imam W. Deen Muhammad



Charity in our religion is a great necessity for the well-being and good future of the society, because God says, though He has created us with equality, He also has favored some above others. So there are some of us with greater spirit, greater talents, greater skills, and those who are ahead of the others, may find themselves at the mercy of the better achievers.

So God wants to sensitize us and keep us in touch with the best of our natures that He has given us, He wants us to keep charity, in our spirit. So in our religion, we are given the concept of charity. It's closely related to the concept of charity in Christianity, and I would even think, maybe, in Judaism. But I know that it is very close to the concept of charity for Christians.

It starts with the minimum requirement and it goes to the maximum. And in the maximum margin, or degree of the exercises of charity, we have to be prepared to share our wealth, share our money, share our homes with them, be willing to give up a lot of that that we hold private and dear for the benefit of those that are shut out.

But in our religion, charity is a means for improving society, it is not an end condition. At sometime in your life you should want to get off the charity roll.

Zakat, in our religion, according to the teachings of the Qur'an, the Holy Book, which is the number one, and supreme source of information for Muslims, and also according to the great work of the scholars of our religion, the role of Zakat in society, is to relieve the pressures of the less fortunate, by taking a percentage of the annual income from those most fortunate or from those who have opportunity.

The figure arrived at by most writers and teachers on the subject of Zakat or charity in al-Islam is 2.5 or 2 1/2% taken on your annual holdings. This is not an income tax, this tax does not come off your income, or from your wages. It is taken off your accumulated wealth, and whatever you've accumulated is considered accumulated wealth. If you have an automobile, under this particular concept or ruling, your automobile is accumulated wealth. If you have a garden, your garden is considered accumulated wealth. Farms, agricultural animals are accumulated wealth. Money in the bank is accumulated wealth. So the range of accumulated wealth, under the term 'zakat,' is very wide, and we are to give up 2 1/2 % on that.



That's not the only way that the Muslim society survives economically or financially. There's also sadaqah, and there's a great range for sadaqah also. We have Sadaqah-Eid, on the two great Bids, Eid-ul-Fitr, and Eid-ul-Adha, the bigger Bid or the greater Bid. We have sadaqah, another term for charity that we give on those great days. And that is expected from everyone, the poor as well as those who are in a better situation. Many times we don't have much to give, but the spirit of the charity is what's important for human society. And every man and every woman needs the spirit of charily in their lives, in order for them to feel healthy and be healthy and meet the great challenges of life.

Zakat, then, is more than just that 2 1/2 % tax, it is also a free gift, that you give freely. Also, sadaqah is for many other things, and is taken from the rich as well as the poor, so we have to finance important new projects. We have to finance the defenses of our homes if we are an independent Muslim nation. We have to finance the defense of our homeland. Therefore, there are other forms of revenue, but in our religion, it is all charity.

Returning to  the  role  of Zakat, the role of Zakat is to improve the social life for the less fortunate, to help them have the basic necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, education, a chance to free themselves from that situation, and establish themselves one day.

As we say over here in the colleges and universities of our people, the mind of man is a terrible thing to waste. And it is better to teach one to fish than to give them a fish.

Moving along, and I hope I will be able to cover this in the time allotted, if I don't, I promise you we will put this in print and make it available to you at a reasonable price: $50 per copy (laughter). That was to move you up to higher performance.


On Personal Responsibility

Our Holy Book speaks on personal responsibility. The concerns that I am now on, are very precious to the life and real aspirations of the healthy American people, and I hope you took note to how I worded that. Personal responsibility.

God says to us in our Holy Book, "You are obligated by your own self." Your own self obligates you. You are responsible to your own self.

And again repeating that phrase from Qur'an, "And struggle in the path of God, with your very selves, your very souls." With your very selves and your very souls.
So we have a responsibility to ourselves, our own self, and our own personal, private life obligates us. Why does God have to tell us that? Do we need a revelation, do we need that great, great unusual kind of experience, just to get us to accept responsibility for ourselves?

Well, if you think of the neglect, the personal neglect in the world today, if you take account of the personal neglect in the individual life, of persons today, who abuse themselves, with crazy physical habits, who abuse themselves with drugs, liqueurs, who abuse themselves by not even remembering to brush their teeth daily, or to keep up the proper hygiene; risk terrible illnesses that are many times terminal for them, if you consider the behavior of the people today, especially in the big cities, for themselves, the great degree of that neglect, you will understand why God has to tell us, hey, you are your own obligation.

When we, little folks down here, tell somebody something, it doesn't have to impact, it doesn't have the force, it doesn't hit there, as it does when somebody way up there tells them.

That's why the networks, the media, can control the spirit of the African-American better than any of our leaders singlehandedly or together. Well, thank Allah that there's always a number of us who are saved, by the grace of God, to keep struggling in the path, to keep fighting for the precious life of our people.

God tells us our own selves obligate us. When God tells us that and we believe in God, the trendy atmosphere of America, in terms of what is put out here in the form of cultural sensitizers, cultural signals, no matter what is sent out here, to go against my best spirit, no matter what it puts out here in the air to suppress my best motives, if I truly believe in my religion, if I believe truly that Allah has all the power; that He is the Supreme, and He says to me, "Wallace, don't forget your obligations in yourself." No matter what the atmosphere says, no matter what the environment is saying, God is bigger than the environment, He made the environment, so what God says in it to me, I hear Him.

You see how important it is to believe in God, because when you believe in God, you have the power to meet any oppressor, you have the power to meet any opposition, when you have God.

And that's why Satan, the worst of the   oppressors, never wants us to have God. God blocks them out. He puts them out of business.


Community Responsibility

The Qur'an on community responsibility. God says: Hold firmly to the cable that God extends out to you for your salvation, for your unity. Hold on to the help that God extends out to you, and do not be divided, among yourselves.

We have a community obligation, to hold on to the Qur'an, the word of God, to hold on to Muhammad, the Prophet, the last and universal liberator from God, to hold on to him and his pattern of life, his Sun-nah, we have an obligation to hold on to that, and we have an obligation to hold on to each other. For God has extended His help, that we may be united. United against the forces of Satan, and Satan's schemes and devices. He can break the unity of everybody, except those who are united under God.

And again, God says, The believers (the real believers) they are the ones who call to all that is good and excellent. They call to all that has good utility, for man and society. They call only to that that Allah, their Lord, has approved. And then command (order) and insist upon that that is of the most excellent standards.

And they prohibit, they disallow that that is defective, degrading, corruptible.