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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Progressions Magazine

Community Transformation

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


Sincerity— The Right Stuff

The African-Americans as a race are a nonproductive people on this earth at this present time. Of course there are some who are really making a lot of progress, but these are but few among the many. The majority are in a state of suspension, being afraid to move left, and afraid to move right, afraid to go forward, and afraid to go back. Most do not trust anybody or anything. Most have no internal motivation to get up and pull themselves out of this unproductive state.

What will awaken our conscience and bring us back to a productive state? Sincerity will bring it back. But what will bring about that sincerity? We have to bring it about. And what will make it possible for us to entertain that need with for ourselves. We need someone who is not in the above situation to address these needs in our people. The one who calls the people back and alerts the community to get back to its interests and concerns is the one who sees the neglect. And because he sees the neglect, he is able to awaken the conscience of others who are under other influences and cannot see the neglect. Among those whom he alerts, there are some who will be just as sincere and committed as he, maybe more so, and because of that, life can come back to the members of that community.


A Population Clinically Dead

Let us take for an example a patient in the hospital who shows no signs of brain function. Such a person is called 'clinically dead,' but never the less, dead. We have heard the issue this has brought about: some decide that it is just best to take away all of the artificial supports and let the person die because they are for all real purposes, dead. They argue that if you let them live, they will be no more than a vegetable. Thus many of them say, "It is mercy to take away the support and let them die, finish the death."

I am not saying that I take one position or the other. I think that life and death is in the hands of God, and that is where it should stay. I am aware that a functioning human being is a living human being. On the other hand, a nonfunctioning human being is a dead human being, though he is still biologically alive. The same thing also applies to a community.

A nonfunctioning community is a dead community, though it is alive in other respects. If it is dead as a functioning community, it is dead because, after all, what is its identity? What is its essential life? To be alive, its essential life and identity is community. Therefore, if it is non-functioning as a community, it is dead.

You may not know that the African-American community has never been alive. Maybe your church or perhaps your family has been alive. I have seen many African-American families who are functioning as a community. Many churches and other small organizations are functioning as a small community, however, as a race or as an ethnic community, the African-American is nonfunctioning.


The Target Community Conscience

To function as a community means to be to that community as the brain is to the individual human life. There must be an activity. There must be a responsibility. There must be something carried out for the membership that resembles in its function or its nature what the brain does for the human individual.

The brain carries conscious behavior. It tends to the need. It rises up and meets the new day. It recalls the work that was left off, and it puts us back on the job, and directs us on the job. The brain goes to sleep retaining what has been achieved today. If there is something to be followed up, it recalls that and gets right back on the job.

The brain's function is a conscious function. It has to be in touch with the needs of the whole body—not just its immediate environment, but the total environment that it is affected by. It is not just in touch with the immediate time, but also the past and future time. What organ, what voice, what ideology, what man or group of men are performing or functioning like that for the African-American people?

You may say, "Well, even if that is the case, other ethnic groups don't have that either." Yes they do, but you cannot see it because they achieved an established life long, long ago. Now most of their life is carried on automatically because they have inherited a pattern of behavior, a way of thinking that was established for them many generations ago. But, we have not inherited a way of thinking and a pattern of behavior from our own people. Attempts have been made, and some influences have been imparted to us and have become a part of us, but it is very weak. It is too weak and incomplete to be called a life.

Certainly we remember our suffering. However, we need to do more than that. We need to remember our life. We need to know what has not been finished as to the building or the structuring of that life. We once had a spirit to build and structure the African-American or the black person. We had our great educators, such as Frederick Douglass, the great orator and statesman. There was Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, W.E.B DuBois, and the recent educator, Dr. Benjamin Mays, and many, many other men and women who saw the need to build and structure the life and identity of their people. Certainly they made their contribution, but their contribution did not complete the job.

The job must still be completed. You may ask, "How do other people do it?" When we study the life and history of other people, we find that they have an idea of their origin. They have an idea of their ethnic spirit. They have the will that has kept them together and identified as a people—the common nature, the common sense and the common aspirations that made them a people, that has given them their spirit that has survived and lasted. Furthermore, they have an idea as to whether it is myth or fact, and it is a combination of both.


Ethnic/Identity Myth & Fact

The White man has myth and facts that he can relate to and can recall that gave his people a sense of identity a long time ago. There is the myth about the Roman people which other Europeans identify with. In this myth, there is a story of twin brothers (Romulus and Remus) who found themselves without parents— orphaned. Worse than that, they didn't have human beings to nurse and care for them at the time. According to the myth, a female wolf nursed them and made it possible for their survival until they were found by a herdsman. When they grew older, they decided to become conquerors, and eventually founded Rome, which was named after one of the twin brothers who became the father of the Roman people. His name in myth is Romulus. Now that is an idea, though it is only myth.

Now to some, the myth may sound silly and feel that we don't need anything like that. I am not suggesting that we need myth, but I am suggesting that we must have something like that. If you understand mythology, you know that the Roman people were identifying their essential spirit that accounts for their endurance, their courage, and their social excellence.

The purpose of myth is to hide the knowledge from your enemy. Man puts his precious knowledge of himself in a myth so that others won't be able to see his logic, his goals, his life that he really appreciates in himself so that he won't be threatened. We should learn from that. We also need to develop the sense to have a lot of things privately. It is not necessary to tell everybody everything. We should have the sense to keep a lot of things to ourselves.

The Romans were telling us in this myth that as the wolf is more loyal to his wife than other dogs, so are the Romans loyal to their wives. As the wolf helps his wife with her children, willing to sacrifice his life for his wife and children, and willing to go out and fight whatever is threatening his home life, so it is with the Romans. As the wolf stands watch at night while his family sleeps, and as he is overall excellent in his social conscience, so it is with the Roman.


Loyalty Builds Social Spirit

When are we going to come to an idea of us as a social people, and have a commitment to our f social life? When are we going to have an appreciation for our social spirit or at least a belief that we are a people of great social spirit. We must become a people with social loyalty, and then we must raise that principle high, and tell others, "We weren't born to be traitors and deserters of our family. We were born to be loyal to the social purpose." Not only do we tell this to others, but we must pass this commitment on to our children.

We must tell our children, "God made us a strong social people, with a strong social spirit to be loyal to our people, to our wives, and to our children. We are not to abandon our children or our family in the time of trouble. We are not afraid of those who will threaten our life. We will get up and meet the challenge, even though we know we will be killed. We must be like the people God made us to be."


Live Up To Your Calling

God has given us a purpose. And the highest purpose is to fulfill community life, not personal life. The highest purpose for man is to fulfill community life under God as He intended. You might ask, "How can I know how God intended my life to be?" You have to trust Revelation, trust what God has revealed. If you don't have any trust in that, then use your good senses: study what God has created and made possible for you as a created being, or study your own creation.

If you don't believe there is a Creator, then study your own creation and see what your own creation holds for you as a possibility for excellence, progress and responsibility—social and community responsibility. By just studying that, you will come to the conclusion that you are a creature of great excellence because God has not created you inferior. God has created the human being as creatures of great excellence.

The difference between our spirit and the spirit of an achieving society like the Jews, the Asians and many of the European races, is that we have been cutoff from natural social progression. We were taken out of the social mold of life by slavery. Slavery broke up the social pattern of the lives of those who were enslaved and made them conscious of themselves as properties and dependents of their masters. This was often expressed: "Master will do this for me. Master will take care of me. Master will defend us. Master will save us. Master will sell us. Master will keep us. Master will make things better for us."


Free To Find A Common Purpose

Just saying that you are free is not enough. In fact, you can't be free until you become rejoined with the natural process of your life. How can you be free if you are not free to be in a situation to function in the life that is nearest to your soul, which is community life?

Because of the nature of this so-called free civilized world we call American democracy, there are certain designs that work especially against the African-American rejoining or coming back into that spirit to realize social fulfillment which is the true nature and spirit of man. I don't believe these designs are directed at us intentionally as a people, but nevertheless, we suffer from them more than any other people.

The makeup of life in America, the trends, the kind of things that demand our attention and occupy our spirit are so diverse, so isolated and so estranged that it works against the needs and the soul of the people to unify their life. It is difficult to find a common purpose, to bring the group spirit to conform to the needs of the group. In the American form of democracy, everything is pulling you in so many-different directions.

The environmental conditions do not favor any people in pulling their life together. Therefore, it is much more difficult in doing so. The only way we are going to realize social unity is to make a conscious effort. There has to be a conscious effort, and it must be drilled into the soul and mind of the people; that we are not yet a social unit as a race.

Take for example the Jew. The Jew doesn't have to call a Jewish meeting. He is unified and has a Jewish spirit, a Jewish awareness, a Jewish sensitivity, a Jewish aspiration, a Jewish belief, and the Jewish faith. The Jewish people are unified in the sense of their history. Every Jew has a sense of his past, and every Jew feels an obligation to his fellow Jew.

The Irish don't have it to that same degree, but they do have it. The Asians who come to America have it. You don't find them anxious to move and scatter themselves all about among other people. You see them trying to live among themselves. They may not know each other personally, but they still want to live with each other. But for the African-American, many want to live away form each other. We are not happy until we move away from ourselves. The fault is not all ours. The problem is past conditioning from a time that was cruel, brutal and unnatural, and we still carry that problem with us. It lingers, and we have to find a way to consciously address it.


A Leadership Of Service

We need leaders, and we need people from among us to study our condition, to study what hap , transpired in our life's history that brought us .-' down, and to save that which has transpired that will lift us up. This we need to know if we are to discard and throw away that which happened to bring us down.

We need leaders and people to work for the good of the whole common lot. We need a sense of identity that will make us comfortable in our souls. We must have a sense of identity, a sense of being and a purpose on this earth. We must have a sense of our worth as a people. We need to know what will raise us up, and what will put us down. We should know what accounts for our excellence, and what accounts for our degradation.

We don't need racial meetings to do that. All we need are dedicated people who will be committed to passing on information that is scientific. Some readers will take this to be race talk, but this is not. This is talking sense. How can you expect to be a compliment or to be expected to be welcomed by other nations of this earth while you are not yet yourself a nation.

We need to think of ourselves as a nation. Though we are not within a national boundary or a national flag or with government offices, we still must think of ourselves as a nation because that is what we are. A nation only means a community. And we are a community. The African-American people represent a community, and no other people will accept us in their community and feel comfortable with us until they feel that we have achieved a community tor ourselves.

We should be disturbed knowing that we don't think of ourselves as a community or feel an obligation to be a community. We should be disturbed when we see our own people not measuring up to that structure or to community fulfillment. It should bother you knowing that we cannot manage two or three blocks or one little district. It should bother you if we are able to be the responsible factor for the tax base, the moral and economic life or the cultural life. It should bother you that your people are not able to be the main factor for sustaining that life and for carrying that life forward. If these things do not bother you, then you are dead as a community, and other people that are alive as a community don't want your dead bodies in their living society.          


Human Beings, Yes! Clones, No!

We have become too emotional. We blame too much on the white man. We have not tried to understand why the white man feels the way he does towards us. We have not tried to understand why white people do not want us among them.

Many other people of different ethnic origins come and move among the white man, and it doesn't bother him. Why? It is because he knows those people have a sense of identity. They have a kind of unity, and though they are separated as members of their body, they are not separated in terms of the group ego and the group spirit. Though a person lives in a neighborhood with other races, he is still united with his people in spirit. He is still united with his people in terms of how he sees himself.

When an African-American moves into that same neighborhood, he tries to view himself like the white people view themselves. And they look at this clone of their race and say, "Hell, I ain't going to recognize that. That is artificial." They are not going to say that to you because that is too embarrassing or too revealing. God has blessed us to see these things, and we have to tell those who have not been blessed to see them.


The Natural Process To Power

We have wanted power ever since being in America. And we went from Black Power to Dollar Power, and still we are without any real power. Power is not going to come to us that way. Power comes when you follow the natural process. We have to first assert ourselves as natural creatures, and not as artificial creatures. We must stop being shy in the face of our social obligations and social opportunities. We have to come forward. We cannot be afraid to trust our own intelligence. We should not let any other race disrespect us by talking down to us when we are trying to lift ourselves up. They want to tell us what is not good for us, and that is an insult.

We have been struggling to come out of a situation of centuries of being deprived, centuries of being shortchanged, centuries of being out of touch with our life and our possibilities. And now that we see a way to approach that, there is a spectator on the side line that is not even of our group telling us what is good and what is bad for us, what we should do, and what we shouldn't do. This spectator tells us that we don't need a leader, that everybody should do their own thing. When anybody outside of your race or even in your race tells you that you don't need any leaders, they represent the number one enemy to your people.

The work of correcting our problem is a long way from being finished. And there are those who want to abort it by getting us to put down leaders. Of course, we should put down bad leaders. We must demand good leaders that will represent the needs of the people, and are willing to fulfill the obligation to advance the achievement of those needs, and not live for personal gratification.

I would say that our present need is to purge black leadership. We need to demand more of black leadership, but we should never think of putting down the commitment to support and to demand good leadership. We need people to come forward and lead us and fulfill the purpose of bringing about social unification among our people.

Just as an individual is troubled by a narrow, blind, selfish ego, or an ego with a small awareness, so can a people come under that same condition of a group ego that is small, narrow and selfish. Such a group ego will not allow them to grow and flower into the great creature that God made.


Disobey Tyrants, Demagogues & Self-Lovers!

We must work for community fulfillment and understand community purpose. We must be willing to give ourselves to improving our community life and never accept to have tyrants, demagogues or self lovers make us their blind followers again. We must demand excellence from our leaders. We must demand that they not be arrogant, domineering or oppressive.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, "Anyone who obeys an oppressor has disobeyed." We are not to obey oppressors, whether you are Muslim or not, because to obey an oppressor is disobedience. You might say, "Well, what about obeying an oppressor in something that is right?" No! You should not obey an oppressor even in the things that are right, because that builds up his hope that eventually he will get you to obey him in the things that are wrong.

The late Dale Carnegie developed a course on how to use the power of persuasion, and he teaches that one way to win a person or to win them to your point of view and get others to do what you want is to start saying things first that you know they will agree to. Once you get them in the habit of saying yes, then you can tell them what they would not have agreed to, and they will say yes to that also.

What I have just related to you or brought to your attention is something I believe could help us as a people. Whether we accept or reject what was stated, the fact remains that we are a people with a serious problem of social disunity, and that condition will not change until we bring about that change. And that change is not going to come about without our conscious efforts and the help of God.