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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

The Individual's Role In Community
Responsibility: Part 1

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


(Editor's note: This is Part I of Imam W. Deen Muhammad's address at the United Taaleem Banquet. Los Angeles, Ca, May 22, 1988.)

As-Salaam-Alaikum. Bis-millah, hir-Rahman, nir-Rahim. I begin always with Allah's Name, bearing witness that He is the One, the Lord of all creation and there is none besides Him. That Muhammad to whom the Qur'an was revealed was His Servant and Messenger. We pray the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and upon his descendants, his family, his Companions, all of the righteous, and upon us be peace.

I always feel very grateful for the opportunity to address such a special occasion in the interest of our religion, of our Muslim nature and character, and in the interest of our communities. Our communities make one community, and our separate communities are in that one community of Al-Islam.

However, at this particular time, I am aware of the duty of Muslims to pray Maghrib prayer, and we always make accommodations for our prayers. It is requested that we take out five or ten minutes to do our Maghrib prayer. There is a place already prepared for this, and immediately afterwards we will return. I hope to address you then for fifteen or twenty minutes.

I must say thank you to the Muslims and their leaders in this California area of the united masajid or mosques and the united Islamic centers. May I express my appreciation to you in thus effort of organizing this work. I speak not for myself, but I speak for the Muslims who support me. We thank you and pray Allah's blessings upon all your efforts, and that you continue to work and strive harder for a united effort for Muslims in this part of California. For I do know that your success here is encouraging those in other states and distances away to attempt the same. It is an encouragement for those who have already begun this same kind of cooperation, to make their efforts even better.

I had planned to speak on "Concerns for Muslims" at this particular time that we are living in. and I had planned to write out a very thoughtful address or speech. However, I did not get a chance to do that. I have been traveling and just arrived here this afternoon at 3:20 p.m. I have come a long ways, but I won't give the whole story. For this is not to be as an excuse; it is offered as an explanation that I hope you will be satisfied with.

Still, I am very happy to be here and I thank Allah that I didn't miss being present at this banquet. And God willing, I will say something that will be appreciated by you tonight. For some time now I have been striving hard within my own self, within my own private efforts in time and thoughts, that is when I am alone with myself, to arrive at concerns that will do the most for us, if we respected those concerns and did something about those concerns.

1 wanted to arrive at concerns that first of all could be supported and established within the life of our religion. That is with the Qur'an, which is the Word of God, through His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and with the lifestyle or life's habits of Prophet Muhammad. I am striving still to identify those concerns that our most able and most learned Believers, past and now, would also approve.

This is because the Believers are not satisfied, until we feel that we are on solid ground in terms of what Allah's Book requires and in terms of what the Sunnah or lifestyle of the Prophet requires. We also want to be on solid ground in terms of what has been expressed to us and left with us and is continuously coming to us from our most able and learned leaders, scholars, preachers, Imams, or whatever else you want to call them.

For if we are truly on solid ground, the Qur'an attests to it, and the Prophet's life attests to it, and those among us who have been guided by God also attest to it. They will support it. It is not easy when you identify the most important concerns. And why is that? It is because all of us are affected differently in our different situations and in our different localities.

As an African-American, I am influenced by the conditions that affect African-American Believers, in this religion. I make that distinction simply because if I were not a Muslim, I don't think I would be affected as I now am. I would be affected differently. Maybe I would be a hard worker in the Civil Rights movement or in some kind of political movement, that is in knowing my own make-up. But because I am an African-American Muslim, then this environment and conditions affect me differently. It is because my emphasis are different. The religion of Al-Islam gives us a different organization of information and with specific emphasis in that organization of information. So that makes us quite different.

So the difficulty is to see what are the major concerns for Muslims — not African-American Muslims, but for all Muslims. If you are a Chinese Muslim or a Pakistani Muslim or an Egyptian or Saudi Muslim in America, then you have that same difficulty. If you don't, then you have not yet even begun to think about the subject. You must experience that same difficulty. For you are going to have problems identifying one of the major concerns for Muslims, if you don't realize that you, yourself, are a problem.

The first problem we have to overcome is ourselves. Ourselves constitutes the biggest problem we have. We have to get beyond ourselves to see what is the responsibility for Muslims. So many want us to put the emphasis on the Sunnah of the Prophet. And we experience a lot of that when our immigrant Muslim brothers have come from Islamic countries and Islamic societies, where the Islamic religion is the order of that society. Whether it is practiced as they desire it to be practiced or not, it is the accepted order of the society. They come here and right away want to see us resembling them in their practice of the religion.

I am not criticizing that, and I could not do that. For that is an obligation on ail of us, to practice this religion as it was demonstrated by our Prophet, the peace and the blessings be upon him. To make our daily prayers as he made his, because we didn't know how to make those prayers until he taught us and led us in the prayer.

I am not speaking of myself now, I am speaking of us Muslims in the very first Muslim. He led the very first Muslims in prayer, and that is how we learned to make our prayer. It is that condition that made it possible for us to learn our prayers. We pray in this same way and are obligated to do that. We are obligated to carry out all of the duties of Muslims — the five principles of the Faith. We believe in those essentials of the religion, and I won't enumerate them, because that is not the point of the address tonight. And most of us know this. That we are obligated to have Muslim manners. Yes, there are Muslim manners.

So when these brothers come among us and stress that we must practice the religion, that we can't say we are Muslims, but that we must be Muslims in our actions, in our habits, they are emphasizing something that is a must in the life of a Muslim. I am not playing down that. But for them, there exists a problem and that problem is seeing the concerns of Muslims through their own eyes. We have to see the concerns of Muslims through the Qur'an. through the Word of God, and from the Sunnah of the Prophet. That is how we are to see the concerns of Muslims; that is the instrument.

The instrument is the religion as revealed to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and the religion as lived by Prophet Muhammad; we are to see our concerns in the light of that. When we attach our hearts and our minds and again our hearts to that — for the heart is first and last, and we strive hard as we are committed to that in obedience to the Word of God and in obedience to Prophet Muhammad, to his life and lifestyle and to every order that he gave us, then we are able to see the concerns that should be the
concerns for Muslims.

I believe that we all need that to see what should be the concerns in any given place and in any given time. No, you don't have to know the modern circumstances. You first have to know what we are obligated to do as Muslims. When we know essentially what we are obligated to do as Muslims, then look and see what the world presents. Whether it presents prayer or no hope, whether it presents opportunities or no opportunities for us, we will best be able to see that, if we first are grounded solidly in the Qur'an and in the Sunnah of the Prophet, the peace and blessings be on him.

I have thought about these things for a long, long time. And as I have said, I have been striving in myself for a long time to identify clearly what should be the concerns that we should point out and stress. I have asked the Muslims to get behind these concerns and work for them. And believe me, after all of that, it is still very difficult.

But I am sure we should begin with a concern for the genuineness of the Muslim life. Let me repeat, 'The Genuineness of The Muslim Life." The Muslim life should be genuine. It should not be a pretense. It should not be a blind or fanatical effort. It should be a rational and sober effort. It should be to live the life approved by God and as demonstrated in the Prophet, peace and blessings be on him. It should be a rational and sober effort.

We should not try to copy anyone, unless it is the Sunnah of the Prophet. We should not try to copy another nationality. We shouldn't try to copy a certain saint. I am a Muslim, and that leads us astray. If we try to copy nationalities, you will go astray. If you try to copy some individual or holy man, you will go astray. I am not a holy man, and if you try to copy me, you will go astray. I have tried my best to tell you that. Do not copy me!
The most precious thing you have is your individuality that God gave you.

(To be continued)