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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles


Progressions Magazine

A Community For all People: Part 2

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


To protect the concept of community life for the Muslim is to fight against any idea, any trend or any spirit that will tend to make us focus our attention on anything other than the collective life of the Muslim community. For sake of clarity, let us take an example. We may become so enthused over business possibilities for ourselves that all of our energies and our spirit will be expended for business progress. In a situation such as that, we need alert people in the community to call the community's attention to the bigger concern, which is community life.

No matter how much you are in need of a dollar, do not allow the dollar to become your main focus. Community life is always the main focus for the Muslims, then within that concern we work for business. We should only put all of our energies behind business because the community is in need of business moreso than anything else. And that is the only reason why we can all promote business, because it is a community need.

If your community cries for business establishment, and you go out to rescue your community, and give all of your energies to business in the Name of God, you will remain healthy. But if your concerns are only for how much you need as an individual, and for what you can do if only you had some money, you will be small forever.


The Basic Elements

Life first needs a climate. If there is no climate for life, you may put the seeds there but nothing will grow. The first thing the life needs are those things that are basic or essential elements, such as water, food, land, air, and activity. But you will not have those things until you get the proper climate or environment for life. The environment or climate for community life is community focus, community interest, community concern. These things are the breath for community life. African-Americans have missed as a people because we have not been able to find that simple key. If we want to thrive in a situation with other communities, we must have community as our central concern.

The people who have the poorest representation for contributing and supporting this country are the Indians and the African-Americans. The Indians, still divided into small clans like they were when the white man first came, are the people who have the poorest sense of community. They have tried to unite, but they have not been successful. They see only their little small narrow concern, and they refuse to come into America. They chose to stay on the outside.

The African-Americans are also divided up into little clans, and are almost in the same shape as the Indian. We all have our own individual concerns. We are all divided and separated from each other without the power to do anything. We have very little influence if any at all. We don't have any great impact. The only impact we have is what we see in the assistance programs that have been made law for minorities.

Our crying for assistance has enabled others to get aid. We have indirectly been a factor for spreading charity to people who are unable to stand on their own feet. We have a loose idea of what freedom really is. We want freedom for everybody. We have served in legalizing free thought, freedom of behavior, gay rights, every right for everything and everybody.

If we come into this religion with that kind of mind and with those kinds of sensitivities, it will prevent us from becoming a real Islamic community. We must first see that old life and old sensitivities as unwanted and unworthy of the Muslim life.


The Big Mistake

The big mistake of African-Americans has been to let their interest go to just one need, to just one aspect of community life. We often hear our people say, "Oh, we need a sense of black unity." How important is black unity in giving us a sense of unity, a sense of worth, a sense of progress, and a vision of the future.

We know from past experience that race based concerns and money concerns have not established us as a people. This is not the first time we have gone after money. Marcus Garvey called our people to race, black nationalism, and money. There were others who called us to black identity and money, but that has not established us.

Some of us say that we are not racist anymore. But, what are their energies being used for? What are they dedicated to? What are they serving? What are they investing in? If we put down one idea as the energizing idea in our life, we have to pick up another. And the idea that we pick up should be better than the one that we put down or we make fools of ourselves in the eyes of the world.

Should we think that we can simply say that we are not racist anymore. No! That is not enough. God has shown us a bigger interest. He has called the people from their narrow racism and narrow view of the world. He has called them to see One Lord, one creation, one humanity, one nation, one community. God has motivated the Muslims to realize community life, and that is what motivated the Muslims in the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It was their commitment to realize Islamic community life that motivated everybody to do something productive.

Prophet Muhammad never headed up any single concern. What I mean is that he was never the sole person responsible for any single concern. Even if it was war, he would invite the men who knew war to discuss the need to defend themselves. He put the men in charge who were best qualified for that purpose. If it was in construction, he called on the people who had that ability.

There is no history or Prophet Muhammad sitting down for hours trying to work out how something was going to be done. What the Muslim community did was done naturally. Their interest was in the community. God has equipped all of us just as He did them with assets and contributions for community enrichment. Prophet Muhammad's followers would organize and do great things without him knowing about it until he was told or until he came upon it himself. They were all excited by the same fire, the community's advancement.

The Muslims in America should be giving their attention to the same purpose, promoting community concern. We must let the people know that we are primarily, essentially, first and last, a community, and that we are obligated to realize community life more than we are obligated to realizing anything else.

We are a minority in America with a double job of establishing ourselves. If we were in a land of our own, we would just have the single job of establishing our community. However, as a minority in America, we have to begin with two concerns. One is to establish ourselves, and the other is to be a compliment to America. We want to be a beautifying, healthy and strengthening member in the pluralistic society of America.

The Arabs have been in America for a long time, yet they are still on the outside. They have the religion of Al-Islam, but they don't have an Islamic community. They don't have influence like other minorities. This is because they made the mistake of coming here without a vision for their future as Americans. This country has two main processes: the process of gathering, and the process of excluding. Actually, that is what you have to do in life. You gather the worthwhile things and exclude the worthless things.


A United Concern

We need to be united in a single concern, a single purpose that draws all of the best and strongest Americans together. We need to be allies for the future of America as seen in the eyes of the best Americans. Many of us have never seen America, and we refuse to see America. Such people are not ready to do anything of any consequence or real significance. You must first have a vision of your environment, a vision for the whole, and where you would like to see it go. This is the key; it is what separates men from boys.

You should not have static vision, such as the vision to just get rich. What is going to happen or motivate you after you become rich? In contrast, to have a vision of the life and future for the whole is not static. It is continuous, and we believe the Qur'an and sunnah (actions and sayings) of Prophet Muhammad gives us such a vision.

As Americans, we have to identify with such an idea. Where is our vision as Americans wherein we can share in the excitement over the healthy growth of America? If we identified in the vision that is responsible for America's life, its being here, its unity, its form of democracy and ideal, we would become prosperous. There is no way for you to be at a standstill with that kind of commitment and with that kind of identity. The bigger your concern, the more energy you will have. The smaller your concern, the more deficient you will be in energy.

Many African-American Muslims only concern is to get some money. Such people are small people, not capable of discussing the future of the Muslim community here in America. All they want is a good weekend or something for their family.

The greatest concern of those who teach this religion (Imams) should be for the whole life of the Muslim. An Imam should be hurt because we don't have halal products coming from halal producers who are members of this community, He should be hurt to see our teenagers go to a dance or see a movie in a non-Islamic environment. They should be concerned knowing that Muslim teenagers must go to cultural productions produced by non-Muslims with anti-Islamic influences. If any Imam is satisfied to see his children go to the movie theatres, watch TV all day long, dance and listen to records and have their whole spirit taken out of its Islamic form, he has no right to be an Imam or teacher in our community.

Our need is not to have any one person lead us. Our need is to have one vision to lead us. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had the most willing followers. They were ready to give their all in support of him. What was it that made them so close? It was their sharing in the vision of the life that was for all of them. They were grateful to God for bringing up one of their own sons who was not taught by the world to lead their community and get the people to realize that vision. That is what made them so attached to him, and why they became attached to each other.


Putting Roots in America

The African-American is an uprooted people. Our history is in slavery, in the desire to be free, and the desire to integrate into the blessings of America. Beyond that, we can only guess about our past. As individuals, we don't know whether we came from Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, China or where. But the fact remains, we are an uprooted people. We have not been able to root ourselves since we have been in America. It is a need of any people to have roots somewhere. But how can we root ourselves in America if we continue to reject America? That is like a man trying to have a baby by a woman, yet he refuses to have sexual relations with her.

It is very difficult, almost impossible for the African-American to identify freely with the future of America without experiencing some pain. I have met with many African-American leaders— mayors, congressmen, senators, church leaders and others, and I have been so disheartened, so disappointed. After meeting with most of them, I've had to say to myself, "These leaders have the same restricting, denying sentiments that we once had in the Nation of Islam. Some of these leaders go to the government like the Hebrews went to Pharoah.

If America is your country, when you go to the government, you shouldn't go as if you are going to Pharoah. You shouldn't, in your mind and heart, go to Pharoah when you go to see the President. But most of these leader's sensitivities will not allow them to see the government of America as their government, or see the President as their leader.

The key for re-establishment of an uprooted people is community life. All of our people don't have to become Muslims to establish themselves in America. If they would become excited about building a future in America for their coming generations, they would automatically come into America. But, as Muslims, we are doubly blessed. In fact, I really think God has rescued the whole of our people, that is, African-Americans, in His rescuing of those who accept and follow the religion of Al-Islam, the Muslims.