New Africa Radio Logo
W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

Build In Honor Of Our Traditions

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


(Editor's Note: The following is excerpted from Imam W. Deen Muhammad's Apri113, 1986 address at the Jacob Javits Conven­tion Center in New York. This is the final installment.)

Many people have come to the United States in the bad times of Reaganomics. Many have come from Cuba, Haiti, Korea, Viet­nam. They've come from Africa, attracted to this land of oppor­tunity, and the principles of this democracy, with its free markets and free trade. They've come here poor and in rags. They usually live in a little apartment which, they share with each other, sometimes two or three families share in the same small drab apartment. A place that the ordinary welfare recipient among black people wouldn't stay in. We would look at it and say, "Those people ain't nothing. How do they live like that.." But they do live like that sometimes for five years. They save up enough money to buy the abandoned property on your block and bring life to it.

They bring business to your abandoned property, and do so much with it until you become jealous and say it is wrong for them to have come here and do this. But what is wrong with it?
I'll tell you what is wrong with it. It is wrong that you are not in a cultural or ethnic situation; that you are lacking a community spirit or a community context for your spirit that would make you d9 what they have done. That is what's wrong. It is not wrong what they have done. They have the right to do it. They are free. This is a free market!

To conclude this, let me remind you once again. to look at the strange behavior in our group spirit that leaves us undistributed as a people with Al-Islam, mosques as houses of worship, Islamic education for the family, Islamic social sensitivity and Islamic social values in our past. Do you think these other ethnic groups have no social sensitivities of their own? Do you think they have no social system of their own?

Every ethnic group has either a strong or a weak or an inkling of a social system of their own, and that is what enables them to survive better than we survive, with not even an inkling of a social system of our own. With Islamic social and family life in our past, don't you think it is strange that others—Asians, Euro­peans, etc. could bring their religious house with them to America and set it up and we haven't?

Follow me, no matter what your religion is. Do what they do. They build houses in tribute to their traditions. They build houses respecting their past, though they don't intend to live in them anymore. They build them to preserve what was. So join me whether you are Muslim or not. Join me first of all in supporting my brother, Jabir Muhammad, who has built a beautiful Islamic structure, a mosque (house of worship) near the house where our parents lived in Chicago. My father worked out of that house as an office, and did the national business for the Nation of Islam there.

Jabir Muhammad has built a mosque, but he has experienced a financial setback since Muhammad Ali's retirement from boxing, and the bad economic times which have had an adverse effect on many people who were much better situated than Jabir and Muhammad Ali. Even the Catholic Church has had to give up and abandon property because of these times. Businesses have pulled out of the North and gone to the South, Mexico and overseas because of these times. Businesses have collapsed because of these times, so Jabir shouldn't feel bad because he is experienc­ing bad economic times. Thank God that he is still here. And thank God that he still has something because these times have wiped out bigger businessmen than him. If he believes in God, then he is looking to a better future. That is the spirit of a Muslim. That is the spirit of free people.

But what are we going to do in the meantime? We are going to join each other, Muslims and non-Muslims, and remember our past, and do something that will reflect a free man, a free spirit. Let us join each other. Christians and Muslims and socialist blacks. Let us join each other and build edifices, mosques so that when people visit this country they will see the sign of a con­tinued life of the African-American. They will say, "Well, yes these builders were in their past. We see that they have honored their better traditions.
Let us build Islamic schools, cultural museums and theaters. Let us infuse the African-American spirit for music, dance, art and culture, Islamic potency, and social value. Let us give birth to a new man. Peace be unto you, As-salaam-alaikum.