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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

How Your Religion Views Extremism: The Lesson For Daily Life: Part 6

Imam W. Deen Mohammed


(Editorial Note: The following is the completion of Imam W. Deen Mohammed's public address in Bridgeport, CT on Sunday, June 11, 1989.)

Economies and business, material concerns and obligations are just part of our obedience to Allah. They are not the main objective. That is what we have to he clear on. Our base is "taqwa," and we will support any good effort — economic effort, political effort, and others — as our resources and ability will allow. We will support all that is good. Whatever we do, we do it as Allah wants us to do it and see that as an act of worship. It is an act of worship, if it is good for the individual and society.

This is the way we think in Al-Islam. We have been taught this by our learned scholars and Imams in this religion from the time of Prophet Muhammed until now. We can read the Qur'an and come to these conclusions for ourselves.

But don't think that someone can come up and appeal to our hurt or address our wounds and misery, establish themselves with us based on that and that we automatically join them because we are of the same color. You do not necessarily need a mosque, if what you want to do is help people in business. You will need a business!

What we have done in these comments on extremism and the pursuit of goals is address the moral obligation on us to respect what is morally imperative or demanded of us. When we want something, we cannot go after it without any sense of moral obligation. On the other hand, although moral obligation be not an issue, the approach that we take is also important. We cannot go directly all the time to what we want. We may ha ve to get it by indirect approach.

There was a news release from the Office of Lieutenant Governor George H. Ryan of Illinois. I am mentioning this to give an example of how it is that sometimes you cannot just go directly at what you want. He says, "We must make a strong and concerted effort to expand our export base." This is the saying of Lieutenant Governor Ryan. He continues, "That means we must encourage more small businesses to think 'export'/' I will not read his entire release and will only select out of it that which makes the point I am seeking to establish. "But at the same time we must change the way we think about international commerce," says Mr. Ryan.

Here the Lieutenant Governor wants to get more businesses, especially small businesses, and the government people or policy makers to support his interest in having more exports from businesses to countries overseas. And at the same time in order to achieve that objective, "We roust change the way we think about international commerce." The important provision here is, "... we must change the way we think ...."

In the light of this example, we can understand that we also have to be aware that for the many things we want, we cannot all the time approach them directly. There might be something else in the way, and we have to attend to that need first. "Imam, we want money! What are you going to say about money. I am not coming down here to waste my time to hear Imam W. Deen Mohammed talk about religion and morals and about the way we behave and think. I'm not wasting my time. Does he have any jobs for us? Does he have any money?" I have heard this kind of talk and know that it is going on.

I have also heard it said, "I'm going to listen to so-and-so, because he is talking about money!" And how much money are you giving to hear talk about money? Some things you cannot go after directly. Certainly we want money, but there might be a condition that is keeping us from getting money. We want economic power, but there may be a condition that is keeping us from getting economic power. Are we going to be so foolish to keep going after something without respecting that there is a condition that is denying our approach? We first have to attend to that condition that is blocking or denying our approach. In time we will be in a situation to go directly after the thing we want.

The best help is Allah's Mercy, this religion of Al-Islam. It comes to us and sensitizes us in our complete and total form and make-up. It makes us have a better sense of ourselves, a better sense of our relationships with others, a better sense of our position in the world of reality, a better sense of where we should be going in this world of reality. It also gives us a sense of duty to our Creator, to self and to others. It brings light and a healthy situation for us.

Al-Islam enables us to see that we are not supposed to just jump up and get on the "band wagon" of everyone that is tooting a horn and playing music to our suffering and weaknesses. We are not supposed to jump on their band wagon and go with them blindly and give them money to talk about money! All of this can be changed, if we will just be sincere and straight as Muslims.

I am going to conclude this by saying that we have to guard against extremes in our personal lives. Allah says, "Don't extend your hand so far out to give charity or to help others, that you make your own self dependent and helpless where others will have to rescue you. And don't be so selfish just to keep your hand right to your own neck." Guard against the two extremes."

If we would just follow that, many of us would be helped greatly financially. The fault of many of us is that we get money and give it out without any sense of what our needs are going to be today, tomorrow, at the end of the month, at the first of the month. We have bills to pay, and we will just give to impress people. You will not be looking at what this month's bills are demanding you keep on hand. "Honey, don't you make $200 a week? Then give the boy $50." It could be $500 a week salary, but $50 out of my $500 this week may shipwreck me. It depends on what my obligations are. Maybe I cannot give the boy $5 or I may not have 50 cents today! Tell the boy to see you next month for $2.

Be sensible. We have to become money conscious in an intelligent way. We have to be money conscious in a business way. Don't you know that everyone who is responsible for handling any amount of money should be responsible for having some business sense. That's what business is. It is the intelligence to manage finances, money, properties, belongings, and the like.

If you do not have any intelligent business sense, you cannot even be a good customer. That is a simple truth. Your habits that go with your patronizing a business may be destroying that business. Your habits in patronizing a business may be the cause of that business having to move soon to another location. That good business may be lost. The way you spend your money there just might destroy a good business. You might spend in a way that cannot be kept up.

You come to the check-out with two or three carts of merchandise loaded to the brim. Since you are not keeping any intelligent record or inventory of what you have and what you need, soon this heavy spending runs out. Then the business owner says, "I miss customer so-and-so/' And if there are twenty of you doing that, then all of a sudden that store will have to move. Your thoughtless spending put them out of business and have made them move out of that neighborhood to find more solid customers.

The problem is your spending habits cannot be kept up. The business owner will have gone and got more stock because of your buying habits. The business saw twenty to fifty blacks shopping regularly at its store. The store would have been in that neighborhood with other ethnic groups for tens of years. Now that the neighborhood is black, he goes out and gets more stock to satisfy the heavy buying habits of these twenty to fifty blacks that just bought houses in the area. These blacks are just spending. But after a while they have spent out and have to sell out and move out. The business owner says, "Where are my heavy spending customers?" Now he has to move too.

This is extremism in our spending habits. I remember that we used to be referred to as the "black plague," and that would make me very angry. That racist language gets out into the media sometimes in connection with fears of "blacks" moving into "white" neighborhoods. My first thought after hearing this was that "the whites are the plague." I was emotional, until I sat down and began to think about OU*1 consuming and spending habits. Then to myself I admitted, "We are the black plague."

Moreover this is not the only problem for us. When we run out of money, we will then let the son do something that we whipped him for last year. We will have to ask him where he got the things he brought home. The boy will tell the mother to just take it and cook it. He will ask, "Don't you need it?" And she will respond, "Yeah boy." Then she will brag to her friends about all the things that Little Junior brought home. She will not ask Little Junior any more what it is he did. But she will know her son has changed and is a thief.

We pray to Allah that we will not give ourselves to blind extremes. We must realize that the devil, himself, is the author of extremism. Allah says, "Surely, such as liquors, drugs, intoxications, gambling, magic, and such are the works of the devil. Stay away from it, if you expect to be successful." Isn't it gambling, superstitions and drugs that are the cause of us giving our lives to a lot of extremes in corruption, sin, where we have to be very, very extreme in our behavior and lifestyles in order to keep up those habits? Going far beyond our means or income pressures us and tempts us into crime and into images of ourselves that we did not like before, but now we have to accept and even slump to become comfortable looking at ourselves in the habits of crime.

We pray to Allah that He benefits us from what we have received as Qur'an and as proper teaching of our Prophet. May He benefit us in our Muslim life and conditions and guide us to better understanding and better vision and better decision-making. We want to have more good management in our personal life and more enjoyable things without ugly consequences because of good management in our personal life and because of a cautioning tendency on our part to avoid extremism.

Thank you. As-Salaam-Alaikum.