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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles


Bilalian News

Our Internal And External Life: Part 2

Imam Warith Deen Muhammad


(Editor's note: Following are excerpts from a lecture delivered by Imam Warith Deen Muhammad at Masjid Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Sunday. May 24. 1981 -Continued from last week.)

We keep an eye on the reality of our own circumstance. The biggest occupation with human beings today is the occupation with themselves. Self knowledge will help us. We need self knowledge.

A man will work 40 hours a week, spend time commuting, cleaning, dressing in preparation for his job — that adds up to another 10 hours a week — giving 50 hours or more a week to his job; some may be giving 70 hours. It's like two jobs, you see. And then there are those with two jobs. They don't do anything but run to the washroom, toothbrush in their hand and a sandwich in their hand. They run out of the washroom to work. They run back into the house to the bed. And they get a day off once a week or a couple or so days off every two weeks and they splurge. And they go right back to that hell for another week or two weeks.

That's slavery, slavery of the worst kind. A man spending his whole life, all of his hours, doing nothing but trying to get enough money to sing and dance and get drunk or clean his yard, polish his automobile, take his children out to play ball and go right back to the dungeon. That's no life, that's slavery.

Do you know the word recreation? Read it again, it's re-creation, pronounced recreation but it spells re-creation. You need time to improve upon yourself. You need time to tend your own development. If you're working 16 hours a day, you don't have development. If you're working 16 hours a day, you don't have time to improve upon your own development. Your job is completely dominating your life, your job has become your slave-master, your job has become your God. We should be occupied with the thought of carrying out life as God who created it intended. That's what we should be occupied with or occupied in: the thought of carrying out life as the God who created it intended it to be carried out.

Let's talk about rights. We are occupied with rights. And rights, too are always self centered. What's good for me as opposed to what's good for the whole. I want my rights. I have a right to do this, I have a right to do that.

Freedom. The concept of freedom is tied so closely into the rights of the individual in the democratic society that we almost use them interchangeably. We say I've got my rights, meaning, I've got my freedom. I've got a right to do this, meaning, I am free to do this.

We don't really understand our rights, we don't really understand our freedom. Do you know that freedom is the occupation of world powers? That's what they are occupied with, preserving and promoting freedom. But freedom for whom? Freedom for a few at the expense of the majority. I'm not talking about a new thing. I'm not here to make political fire talk, to attack the President of the United States or Congress or local government. No! That's farther away from the problem that I have to think about than in connection with the problem. The problem is in our way of thinking. That's where the problem is.

There was a great American man by the name of Thoreau, and I believe it was him who said — and I'm not putting it in his words exactly, but I'm saying it as near as possible. It is not an exact quote — that the destiny of nations is not in the political leader but in the character of the people.

Now, let us apply that to our immediate scene. If that's the truth, it applies here. The future of the American Muslim Mission is not in me, it's not in Imam Hamidullah, it's not in the Council of Imams, not in any of these Imams; it's in the character of the people, the membership of this community. And if you neglect to keep your character strong, healthy, no leader can do much for you. No indeed.

So what is this telling us? — that action in leaders doesn't write history, the state of the people's minds and hearts writes history.

We need to understand life and the world. By life I mean our own individuality, our own character and the character of world powers. They are different. They're not the same. World powers are like small political leaders demagogue type. Demagogue means one who is interested in nothing but his own interest or concern. He is concerned for himself, that's the demagogue the leader whom we call demagogue.

Being concerned only for himself, he manipulates the life of the people to his advantage. He sells them whatever they will buy. He doesn't sell them what is good for them. He sells them whatever they will buy. If the state of the people is good, the demagogue, at that time, will appear good because he wants the support of the people. But when the people appear bad, the demagogue begins to appeal to their base nature or base instinct: to their low motives, low desires; to their selfish desires, because he only wants to ride the crest. He doesn't care about the state of the people.

Don't you know that the world powers for the most periods of history are just like that? Are people like that? No -- world powers don't represent the people. And most of the time the world powers are not representing the people, they are representing the narrow interests of a few of the exploiters of the masses. So their character is the character of a demagogue, therefore their reign — their life and their reign over the people — is oppressive.

Dear beloved people, man has been oppressed in every quarter of his life. There are those who come experimenting without the guidance of God to see how we can bring about change for the better in the life of the people. (They contemplate.): What key or what lock must we turn to bring the people out of the prison they are in? So they experiment — those who know the secret wisdom that God revealed to His chosen one, the Prophet (on him be peace). They used that knowledge too and they have learned that oppression aids or promotes willpower, determination, strength on the part of the individual.

Now, is it right to use that wisdom to bring about change in the people over the heads of the people? It's not right in a democracy; it may be right in a dictatorship, it may be right for the demagogue, it may be right for Satan, but it's not right for a democracy in the true sense of that word. Why — because the moral character of a truly free, democratic society doesn't accept double standards of justice, double models of right and wrong that conflict with each other. No, no, no, wise brothers and sisters, that's not acceptable because in a democracy we believe that people are to be ruled with their own consent. Not only with their own consent but with their informed consent.

Isn't that the language of our democracy? That we are to be ruled or governed with our informed consent? That is, we have the right to know how you are ruling us. I have the right in a true society to know what principles you apply, what theories you apply, what philosophy you use, what psychology you use to rule me. Without that knowledge, can we say we live in a just society? Well if God has blessed us with that kind of knowledge, will we go back to the slaver-makers or will we stay with Al-Islam?

(To be Continued)