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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles


Progressions Magazine

How Can African Americans Solve Their Economic Dilemma?: The Solution

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


"Man can have nothing but what he strives for. That (the fruit) of his striving will soon come in sight. Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete."
Quran 53: 38-41

God tells us in the Quran, "Every person behaves according to the mold or manner that it gives itself to." God is warning us to be careful of what we indulge in because eventually we will be formed by that indulgence. Our elders used to work very hard to keep their children out of bad company, because they knew that the company and environment would eventually form the child after it.

The word, "indulge," means to yield to an inclination or desire. If you are attracted by something and pulled toward it by desire or inclination, and you give yourself to that desire, you are indulging in it. Thus, the above warning from God says that if you indulge in something, it is going to mold you in the form of it.

We can see how this relates to the African and African descendant's situation. The thing that keeps African and African descendants from being a formidable force on the earth with others is this inclination to indulge in emotionality to the extreme. Therefore, Africans and descendants of Africans are formed mainly by emotional influences. History tells us that we were not always like that.

When you read the history of our ancient ancestors on the continent of Africa, you find that before the Greeks came into the sciences, the Africans were pointed to as their heroes. I have a picture of one of Greece's greatest heroes, Hercules, and he is depicted as a typical black man with thick lips and nappy hair, typical African features. Furthermore, we have documented proof from the Greeks that they gave credit to Africa for the sciences that reached them.

The great Cushite Empire which ruled before Greece were African people. This is more evidence that we were not always inferior and un-established in the world. At one time, we had scientists, power, sovereignty, dominion, great expanse of territory and responsibility. We brought knowledge, culture and sciences to other nations.

It should make you wonder what has happened to throw us into a state wherein we cannot find a base or home for ourselves. Now that is our problem. We are just following the white man, and that is the truth, that is the problem. The white man is not our father. He doesn't recognize any obligation to parent us. So why look to him to teach you what time and a bad situation have taken away.


Failed Economic Program

Twenty years or more ago, an outstanding African-American said that the amount of money that comes through the hands of black people in America is more than what is used by Canada. As a people, we were as rich or richer than the nation of Canada in the amount of money that came through our hands, but we were poor in reality. No economic program is going to change that condition. Many have come with economic programs, and still we are left in a bad situation.

The government instituted enormous economic programs to bring the have-nots into what others have, but look at how those programs failed. Why do you think all of that money was allocated to employ and educate minorities? It was allocated in the hope that this kind of opportunity would change the state of African-American people from one of a poor race to that of a normal race in the American life. They thought those programs could normalize the situation and a great number or most of our people would come into a more constructive life and opportunity, and be separated from the poverty stricken masses. But that did not happen and has not happened. After these programs, there are more poor percentage-wise among us now than ever before.

There are many African-Americans with Doctoral degrees that have nothing but time and leisure. Some of these people have no more than the bum in the street has: a whole lot of time and nothing to do. Anyone who has earned a Doctor's degree should not be idle. They are supposed to have the intelligence to make a job for themselves. They are supposed to have enough sense to establish themselves. So what is the problem? The problem is that the African-American is not really structured by the knowledge he has acquired. When you acquire knowledge, that knowledge should also structure you. Some people just have the knowledge, but they have not structure their own life after that knowledge. Their life is the life of a poor man. They are like the Qur'an says of them, "A donkey carrying huge loads of books."

You can have fifty Ph.D's, but if you just memorize the knowledge in order to pass the required examinations, then you have not grown with that knowledge But if you have grown with your learning so that it influences the shaping of your life, and you take on principles dictated by that knowledge you received, then you will grow and be in the likeness of your knowledge. If you have the dignity of your field, you will not accept to be idle with the poor.

Why can't the African and the African-American people establish themselves? Why can't the African-Carribean people establish themselves? We are all the same people from the same African ancestry, and we all depend on the white man for hope. We have no vision of our own. We're just following the white man's light; therefore we stay in the dark.


The Object of Life

What will bring the African American into the proper ordering of his emotionality and into the proper devotional urge rather than the pleasure urge. This world sells its citizens on the pleasure urge. They say that pleasure is the first motivation. That the object of man's life is to be happy. Yes, happiness is a primary need in life. It certainly is basic, but the wise didn't call it happiness. They called it "well-being." They said that the natural object, the natural goal of life is "well-being." Happiness is too vague a term to describe this natural goal.

Let us take a look at the word, "well-being." Well-being is not only an essential requirement in our life; it is an essential requirement in the life of anything. A dog, cat or any other creature will. struggle for well-being. But well-being for the human being is a big term because the limits for our growth are much bigger than the limits for the growth of an ordinary animal or creature. We may be happy. We may start out seeking to acquire something that our life needs. We may acquire what we were seeking and still not find happiness because what we needed or wanted was just one part of what our life really needs. While we were seeking it, we thought that was the whole. We might say, "If I can just get that, I know that I will be happy."


Finding Happiness

Some people think that if they get enough wealth where they don't have to be insecure or feel any material threat, they will be happy. Most people who have a lot of money are not really happy. There are some people who think that if they get enough knowledge, it will make them happy. You will find that some of the saddest people are those with Ph.D's. None of those things just mentioned are a guarantee for happiness. The only guarantee for happiness is that you please God. God says of those who please Him that He will make their life pleasing to them. This is well-being.

The same condition that keeps the African-American people out of progress is a necessary condition to bring them to the proper state. This emotional makeup that keeps them out of progress will keep them out of establishment if allowed to prevail in their lives. This same condition is also necessary to get them on the right path. Emotionality is a baby state in the evolution of man. If we look at the levels of progression that life goes through, that society historically has to rise to, we know that the state of emotionality is one of the primitive states of man. But never-the-less, it is that emotional state you must first order correctly before you can find your correct way in the world.

Faith is a form of emotionality. I have faith because of my emotional makeup. My spiritual expression, my fear, intuition, instinct, etcetera, are nothing but conditions of emotionality. We find then that the original form of man is emotionality. Thus it is in emotionality that the intellect dawns. Emotionality in its proper state is the suitable womb for the birth of the intellect.

The thing that is wrong with the African people and their descendants is in following a people who are not responsible for establishing them in the world. If they would stop following another people and try to find God, try to solve their problems upon their own strength, their own sensitivity, their own motivations, they would come to life once again. That is the answer, and it is as simple as that.

We live in a country where we were once slaves. And what has been our path from slavery to freedom? It has been one of rejection to integration. We were struggling against social rejection to be integrated, to get into the main stream of life in America. Our whole history as a people in this country has been one of struggling under the pressure of separation and segregation, and trying to get out of an isolated situation and be accepted in the white man's society.


Integration Is Not The Answer

There is nothing wrong with integration. That is a sensible urge and direction to follow if the society is suitable. The society that is suitable will help you enter it. And when you are near, they will give you more, and share with you what they have. But if there is a society in which you are not wanted, and that society is not based upon pure principles, the closer you get, the more their program is upstage to keep you out. In their estimation, you came from one situation of subjection to another situation of subjection, because they upstaged the strategy to keep you out. And though you are in the society physically, you are not yet a pan of it.

Look at the word "integration." The Nation of Islam under the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was calling for separation, and the Civil Rights movement was calling for integration. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad's movement made more progress during the conflict of the Civil Rights movement than ever before. Those were the glorious days of the Nation of Islam. The Nation of Islam was voicing a contrary or different opinion than the one voiced by the black masses or the Civil Rights movement.

The Civil Rights movement gained prominence around 1954 or 1955 when Dr. King and Rosa Parks brought the situation into the eyes of the nation and the world. And it was from that time on that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad began to make big outward gains. People in the Civil Rights movement desired to be accepted as a natural part of the American life in society. The Nation of Islam was insisting upon its own life and identity separate from the life of America and the American society. These two extremes were operating. One calling for integration, the other calling for separation.


The Hurt Woman

Why was one movement calling for integration? What was the main motive, the main force asking for integration? All you have to do is look at the character of the leader. The leadership was emotionality. Dr. King with his ringing beautiful oratory was full of emotional impact. His appeal was not to the scientist of this society. His appeal was to the sentiments of the society. He was appealing to society's sentiments to support something that is just no more than humanly decent. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, on the other side was claiming to be pragmatic. Claiming to be scientific, but actually he was just the other side of the emotional ball expressing the same thing. He was saying, "You devil you." When asked why he called the white man the devil, he replied, "Because he mistreats my people, and won't allow me the opportunity to get what he has."

Both movements were of the same thing. One is the hurt woman that says, "Prove to me that you are a human being by loving me and letting me share your life." And the other is the hurt woman which says, "I don't believe in you anymore. It is finished for good. I will never accept you again." One asking for integration and the other for separation. But both of them are hurt because they are rejected.


The Need for Integrity

Let us look at the word, "Integrity." To integrate means acceptance as a natural part of the total. It means to function within the total and have the benefit of the total. Integrity on the other hand means more than that. Integrity refers to a discipline. The dictionary defines integrity as honesty, sincerity, uprightness, undivided, wholeness, completeness, entirety, perfect condition, soundness, etcetera. And I thank God that I found an English word to explain the state that God wants us in.

Prophet Abraham said to God, "Surely I have turned my whole self, being upright to Him who originated the heavens and the earth." As stated above, uprightness means integrity. And when you look at the emotional and spiritual constitution of Prophet Abraham, you find that it was one of integrity, of wholeness, pureness, honesty, soundness, completeness, etcetera. All of those definitions in the dictionary fit Abraham perfectly; therefore, I can safely say that the state of Abraham in English is integrity.

If Abraham was a man of integrity, and exemplified the qualities God wants in the human being, then what is the goal of human emotionality, of human spirituality? The goal is to come into a state of integrity: of honesty, sincerity, uprightness, truthfulness, soundness, completeness. Although we may be right within a narrow focus, our sincerity cannot be tested if we are ignorant to the rest of the world. But when we become aware to the rest of the world, our sincerity will be tested. We will be tested by the need to extend our appreciation to other people, to their lives and their rights on the same earth and in the same creation as ourselves.

Although the racist is morally perfect in his own narrow vision, when the forces of the world drive him to recognize the good that is in another race he was raised to hate, it challenges his integrity. Most racist cannot pass the test. Most of them fail because they would rather stay in their narrow confines of racism than to extend their own moral life and embrace the moral life of other nations.

Let us look once again at the word 'integrity,' and see how close we came to it. We came all the way to i-n-t-e-g-r. And that was very close. The thing that kept us from coming all of the way was our trying to integrate or trying to find acceptance in a wholeness that did not want us. We did not look at the original creation and try to envision or determined the content of the life God intended for us. We should have asked, "What is in that content as direction for me in living my life." But that was not our search. However, that was the search of great men before us, such as philosophers, scientist, prophets, white, black, yellow, all of the different colors. These great men were the fathers of civilization.

The position of the African-American people since being here in the Western world has been to leave the direction of our lives to the whiteman. We have just resigned to say, "Whiteman, you direct the nations. You direct our brains. You tell us how to live. Just give us the right to share it with you."

The black institutions in the South, such as Tuskegee Institute look for ways to extend and build upon the intellect of the blackman, but something is missing. They don't have a soul searching program. They don't have a heart examining program. But it was these very things that brought great men to blossom, to become bright with knowledge. They had the moral courage, moral fortitude, moral integrity to condemn self for all of its faults.

Many African-Americans will not try to break from this indulgence that is detrimental to them. Many of them do not have the patience to do that because they are under the gravity of another situation that has dominated their life so much that they do not have patience with anything that says, "Break from this indulgence. Break from this pull of gravity and work on improving your life." The desire to get free from the immediate thing that they are looking at is so strong that it denies them the freedom to give their life to working on something that is even more important—INTEGRITY!


A New Direction

If we really want to get free, we must get leadership from among ourselves that will question our own behavior just as it questions the behavior of white people. We must bring the moral searchlight to shine on our own life just as we bring it to shine on the whiteman's life. Furthermore, we must follow the direction which that disclosure establishes. If that disclosure says that we are immoral and must improve morally, we have to follow that direction. If it says that we are socially irresponsible and have to become socially responsible, then we must follow that direction. If the moral searchlight says that we are vulgar in our spiritual appetite, and vulgar in our emotional nature, then we have to follow the direction leading us out of that condition if we expect to progress and have establishment.

Those of us who are Muslims must understand that our faith obligates us to do more than just carry it in our heart. This is in accord with the scriptures that came even before the Qur'an., I recall hearing the Christians say words to this affect, "If you got a light, let it shine. Don't take your candle and put it under a bushel, put it on the housetop." You put it there so that it will give light to the environment. So that it will spread and give light to others. You don't bury your talent, you put it to work.

God tells us in the Qur'an that man can only have that for which he strives, and if he strives, his striving will soon produce. And Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, "No descendant of Adam has ever enjoyed any meal more than the one for which he himself worked." So the Prophet has given us insight into the life and struggle of man, and into the soul and nature of man in terms of reward. This tells us that the best reward, the greatest amount of pleasure is to rise from your own effort.

Those who have chosen the way of servitude and dependence for a better life have really sold out the better life and are not aware of it. They think that their life is easier. They say to themselves, "I have more comforts now. Now I can really enjoy life. I don't want the hardship. I don't want the headache. I don't want the burden, so I am going to just take it easy and go with the wind, bend with the pressure.


The Satisfied Slave

Most of our people just want to stand around and never merit anything because they follow that principle: bend with the wind, go with the pressure. That is the slave makeup in our people—just to live for conveniences. That is what makes a slave satisfied with slavery—the fear of obligation, the dread of being responsible. He trust his master with all responsibility for a few conveniences. And he gives up the principle to bend with the wind, to go with the pressure rather than do the right thing to keep from succumbing to a low level of existence.

There is no price too big to get that out of ourselves. That is the fault of the African-American people today. We talk freedom and independence, but actually our spirit, our mode of behavior is that of a slave. Most of our people say to the whiteman, "Give me something to do. If you don't have anything for me to do, let me rest. I am not going to leave you. I will be right here when you want me." But really, the lazy slave in his heart is saying, "I hope you don't want me soon. I like to do nothing. I like being carefree from all obligations."

God tells us to accept our obligations, to fulfill them. He says, "And as soon as you are free from one task, take up another." This teaches us that we should not be idle. That as soon as we finish one task, we should begin another immediately. If any people follow the Word of God as it is given in its pure form, they must become successful.

There is a time when a people came to a point in their degeneration at which nothing can save them but the right turn back to God. And that time has come for the African and their descendants. There is no salvation, no progress, no real establishment for them until they turn their hearts towards God and be reawakened. That is the only answer."