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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal

1986-August / September

Progressions Magazine

Something Of Value

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


There are laws operating at all times in the life of man and of society as they operate in the physical world or universe. Those who respect laws, rules, and order, will always fare better than those who don't.

At times, there comes a mood and certain trends over society that take the people away from respecting things that govern them. Those who believe in God, believe that they are constantly under Him, responsible to Him and that their life depends on pleasing Him. There are many people in America who say they believe in God, but we see in the society a life of disrespect for order, discipline, intelligence, common sense for the family, and for each other.

People who really believe in God have a special kind of attitude and respect for other things. The family has always been a great motivation in the life of man-for motivating him to greater responsibility. When a man has a wife and children, that is an influence in his life. The responsibility to provide for them will motivate him to greater things.

There are many men and women lawfully employed because they believe their families deserves their support, loyalty and devotion. Many men will tell you that their family is what keeps them motivated. They like to see their family in a good situation." If they did not have that kind of respect for family obligation, they might be giving themselves to something destructive. The one thing we must always remember, is that the family cannot be a motivating force in the life of people who don't value the family.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, "Marriage is half the religion." God also says in the Qur'an, family rights have a priority before God," He also tells us that charity (zakat) is due first to your relatives before you give to anybody else. In Church life, I have heard it said that charity begins at home then spreads abroad.

We are now living in a time when families are not valued like they once were. In fact, people are not valued anymore like they once were. I remember as a child in a big city like Chicago, that  if someone became sick on our block, everybody knew about it. And if anybody died, the whole neighborhood appeared as though it was in mourning. But those times have changed.


Faith Outside of Self

The masses of people have little to help them other than faith in something outside of themselves. When times become difficult, many of them seem to give up or either find new leaders to follow. If they cannot find a new leader or someone that they can have faith in, they give up and their life becomes wasted.

Most people depend on something outside of themselves because they are not established within. They don't have sufficient knowledge of themselves or of the external world, therefore, they cannot appreciate themselves or respect the external world and the external forces as they should. When this happens to people, they become victims of trends, fads and changing times.

Muslims are not to think in the terms or the language of ordinary common people. They should think in the terms of the Qur'an-the language of their religion. They should think and see themselves as defined or presented in their religion. Al-Islam. I would like to quote several Qur'anic verses that if understood, will be a great help in the life of those who heed them.

God says to us in the Qur'an, "We have indeed made honorable (noble, deserving of respect), every child of Adam," and that, "He has rendered into service for man whatever is in the skies and whatever is in the earth." God also tells us, "There cannot be for the human being, anything without him making an effort, and his effort shall be seen." In another place He says, "Everyone will behave according to the mold he gives himself too." Thus, we have to watch the company we keep as well as our environment.

Many years ago, our parents would pull us back from the wrong environment. In fact, it didn't have to be a parent. Sometimes it would be a relative or friend who would say, "Hey boy. You better watch out. You are keeping the wrong company now." They knew that such an environment was against us, and they would warn us against keeping bad company and against bad influences. They knew that if you gave yourself to bad company or to a bad environment long enough, it would affect you, and soon you would take on the character and behavior of that bad company or environment.


You Must Value Self

Many people wonder why they are not better off. They wonder why their family life is not stronger, and why they are not more successful. Well, there are many answers, and some of the eye-opening verses of the Qur'an such as those quoted above can save us if we would just hear and obey the Words of God.

Whenever you hold something in low esteem, you don't place very much value on it, nor do you expect very much from it. If you are working with a tool that you know is cheap, and that tool breaks, you don't cry over it. You just say that it was a cheap tool. But if that tool was something of value to you, you expect more from it.

God wants us to see value in ourselves. That is why He has said such wonderful things about our work as created beings, as His creatures. He wants us to have respect for ourselves, for each other, and for the wonderful things He has created for our use and service. God wants us to have respect for Him and for our families. He says to us in the Qur'an, "Fear God (have reverence or sacred respect for Him),.. . and also the tie of family relations." We see from this verse that God has commanded a sacred respect for Him, and He has put in that same context a similar respect for family relations.


Sharing A Common Spirit

People who are together share a common spirit. What common spirit do we share? What principles have we established? What cherished virtue of our people have we established that we can all respect, support and salute that will keep us together and make us feel a part of each other? We don't have such principles. Some of us will say, "We have our soul food." Well, 'soul food' is not popular even among the African-Americans. How many eat it? How many soul food restaurants do you see? We don't even have a good hot dog or a bowl of chili to hold us together. We have a lot of work to do. We need leaders to lead us into a sense of cultural unity so that fads won't take us in all kinds of directions that will break up our families and take our loyalties away from each other.


Why A Black History Month

Until we start making our own history, I don't see much sense in a Black History Month. Do we make our own history? No, we only react to the white man. If the white man ill treats us, we react to that. If the white man treats us well, we react to that. But do we have any independent goals ? Do we have any separate ideas where we should go? Do we have any plans for motivating our race? Do we have any plans for getting our race out of the situation of economic instability? No! We don't have a plan for any of these things.

Other ethnic groups have a much stronger ethnic life. They have a common bond that gives them a sense of belonging, a sense of importance that makes them loyal to the life of their people. But we are without such a bond. We think it is enough just to be in America.

I would like to see a time when we would commemorate the virtues of our great leaders of the past, and the sincere people who followed them. We shouldn't commemorate just being black. We should be commemorating the virtues and the fine principles that people of our race stood up and died for. That kind of celebration would help the spirit of our people as a whole. It would be a healing in the life of our people and give them a sense of respect for things of value.

To just have a February commemoration of Black history means very little if anything at all. It saddens me. We should ask ourselves, "How did it come about anyway? Who chose February, and why February?" Maybe they chose February because it is dark and gloomy. You can hear 'worry' at the end of the work, 'Febru-ary'. I don't know who chose it in the first place.

If you are a Muslim, you should not be looking for blackness in yourself in order to appreciate or to love yourself. You should look for human qualities in yourself. A beast can be black or white. God has said that He made the human being's form excellent. He also said that He has honored, made dignified all the descendants of Adam. If you claim to be a Muslim, then you should be striving to bring out the excellent qualities of the human being that God has put in every person regardless of race or nationality


Gaining Economic Power

President Ronald Reagan said that the minorities: blacks, Hispanic and others; will not have equality and equal power until they have economic power. But you cannot have economic growth and economic power until you first have values. You have to value yourself very highly as a wonderful creation of God, You must also value very highly your family and your family relations. With such values on yourself and family, that will be a motivation in your life to make you productive. It will give you the patience to endure hardships through the bad times until something opens up for you. People who have little or no respect or value for anything, will always be inferior and subject to others.

The African-American people like to take their problems to the White House. But the answer is not on the steps of the White House, the answer is in our hearts. The answer is at home on your own doorstep. The President said something else that I thought well worth noting. In fact, it took courage for him to say it. He said, "There can be no economic revival for the ghettoes while criminals are permitted to run loose freely."

Many of us would be better off financially if it was not for the strong presence of crime and the freedom given to criminals in our neighborhoods. The average individual is afraid to open up a business because he thinks somebody will rob, shoot, kill or make him pay protection. Even if you survive the criminal element, then your least worry which is a big worry for the small businessman or businesswoman is that you have a difficult time trying to find an honest worker.


Look At Self First

Before we start pointing our finger at outside factors as the cause of black people's plight, let us first look at what is happening at home. Then you should demand of your religious leaders: ministers, Imams or whoever claims to represent religion, that they be truthful. And should they prove to be liars and hypocrites, drive them away from around you. You should tell them, "Get out of this church," or "Get out of this mosque. Get out there with the filth and criminals with whom you belong." If you do this, you will become a strong and better people, and God will be with you.