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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles


Progressions Magazine

Issues & Answers

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


Imam W. Deen Muhammad brings enlightenment to critical topics In the news:




QUESTION: What do you think of the recent outbreak of hijackings, particularly of American airplanes, and an Italian ship, plus the many kidnappings of foreign citizens alleged to have been carried out by Muslims? What Impact does that have on the Muslims in America?

ANSWER: The hijacking of innocent people by Muslims, whether it occurs in the Middle East or elsewhere, has to have some effect on the life of Muslims, especially here in America where so much attention is given in the news media to that kind of terrorism.
We are definitely against any injustice, and not just that against an oppressed people such as the Palestinians, but injustice against anyone no matter what they are subjected to. Therefore, the strategy of using innocent people to get relief from a given situation should be rejected by Muslims. We no not accept it, and we condemn it as a kind of terrorist activity.

QUESTION: Can terrorism be Justified under any situation?

ANSWER: There is a point of desperation that can be reached at which whatever happens can be looked upon as justified. For example, if my apartment floods, and I jump out of the window, people will say, "He is crazy." But if my apartment catches fire and I jump out, they would accept that.



QUESTION: What are your concerns with Shi'ite fundamentalism and the Iranian situation?

ANSWER: I have long had a desire to go to Iran, In fact, when the first hostages were taken during the term of President Carter, I expressed a desire to the State Department to go to Iran in the hopes of meeting with Iranian leaders. I did not expect to meet Imam Ayatollah Khomeni, but I thought if I could have met anyone close to him, it would be helpful for them to understand my concerns as an American, and as a Muslim.

I have a lot of respect and admiration for the Iranian people, and for Imam Khomeni, as well as for much of what he represents. But, at the same time, the image of him in the world's eye and what is projected by the media is something that I cannot identify with. There are a lot of questions that I would like to ask. I would like the leaders in Iran to know that what they do, affects the Muslims here in America.



QUESTION: Do you have any plans or proposals to help bring peace to the Middle East?

ANSWER: I have met leaders from Islamic states, ambassadors who are here in America, and they have expressed a desire to do everything they can for peace there. Many of them have been working for peace in that area for many decades now. Many sincere Muslims in positions of political and governmental leadership, as well as many community people have been desperately trying to make some contribution toward relieving the situation in the Middle East, It is a very complicated situation.



QUESTION: Since the Israelis are claiming they have a Divine right to the land they occupy, how can the issue be resolved between the Israelis and Arabs In the area?

ANSWER: When a people believe that God has given them the right to something, and they insist upon those rights but can't see the practical reality of the situation, it is very difficult to reach them. You must try to appeal to their sensitivities, and I really think the Israelis and Arabs with their special kind of sensitivities should not bring the idea of having a divine right to something into the picture. What political right do the Israelis have to claim authority and set themselves up as caretakers and supervisors over that land in the Middle East, and over the people and natives of that land?

The Israelis claim that God gave them that land, and they sing a song to that affect. That is an argument that should not be admitted into the situation there. If the Israelis can get rid of that kind of sensitivity, and not claim any divine right to the land, and look at the situation for what it really is, then I believe the people could come together and agree on living with each other under a form of government that will allow freedom and opportunity to all.

What complicates the situation is a design on the part of militarist to build a power base for dominance over the Middle East. I don't think these militarist are really sincere when they say, "All we want is a homeland." I believe they feel as though they are more qualified and responsible for that area of the world than the Arabs who are in the great majority. What really needs to leave is the military machine with its political design on the Middle East.



QUESTION: Why did you dissolve the American Muslim Mission, and what impact will this have on the American Muslims In the United States?

ANSWER: The main reason for ending the national office and national leadership of the American Muslim Mission as represented in myself was to make way for a normalization of the American Islamic community. This is necessary for the process of Islamic democracy to be free to grow and reach its destination for the Muslim people in America.
I believe that if that process is free to grow and reach its destination, we will have a good image in the eyes of Americans who believe in democracy. I also believe that once that process of Islamic democracy is opened up, it will give the Muslims an opportunity to contribute to the strength, health and productivity of the American people. I believe that Islamic democracy is the situation we need if we are to really progress in America.

QUESTION: And do you believe that democracy and growth has been stifled because the people looked to you as the power at the top of the organization? Do you feel that the way to grow is to decentralize the organization and give local Imams more responsibility?

ANSWER: The old organizational structure of power, authority and centralization in the Nation of Islam was dismantled and removed to some extent when I first became leader of this community in 1975. And I continued to de-emphasize that kind of interest, to take away importance from that kind of concern while I was in the position of leadership.

When I made the statement that I would no longer accept the position of leader for the African-American Muslim community, I was only dramatizing what should have already been accepted. I am not responsible for the conduct or decisions that have to be made locally by the masajid (mosques) Islamic centers, etcetera. Thus, it was necessary for me to say that I no longer accept to be cast in the role as leader of the organization, and that the American Muslim Mission is too burdensome and stands in the way of Islamizing the Muslim community if we are to bring in the situation of democracy that we desire. In my opinions, what hurts black people all over the earth is that they have too much dependency on individual persons and personalities.

QUESTION: What will be your role In this Islamizing process?

ANSWER: I hope to be an influence in the same way that Billy Graham or Dr. Benjamin Mays have been as an influence. I also hope to be producing more Islamic books with the hope that the Muslim community will read them. All of my efforts, whether by speeches or writings will be to aid that process of Islamization that I see as Islamic democracy.



QUESTION: Why is It that many people still feel that the Muslims In America are a cult? Is it because of the Image the Muslims had in the sixties?

ANSWER: It has been very hard to dispel such an image. That image was promoted so effectively that it is very difficult for us to get the American people to see us in the new image. It is hard for them to think of us in any terms other than 'Black Muslims'. They are having difficulty trying to separate us from a race based movement. The reason for this kind of thinking is that so much publicity was given to the Nation of Islam which was race centered.

QUESTION: You previously stated that the movement your father started, which came to fruition In the sixties, was a necessary process during that time. Are you saying that maybe your lather did his job too well?

ANSWER: I do believe he did his job too well. My father was definitely a religious man. Regardless to what differences we have with his religious ideology, he was a man who feared God. I believe he felt that no matter how much attention he gave black identity and business development, eventually the religious spirit would survive all of that one day and again become the focal point for our people.

I hate to risk the religious interest, the spiritual life's needs, for temporary material needs and requirements. When I became leader of the community, I felt a desperate urge to alarm the community that our material ambitions and our race mentality had caused us to neglect our moral and spiritual life. That was my message and mission.

Today I would like to see our community get involved once again in business development since I believe the members have their religious life in a somewhat good form. It is my desire to see them grow very actively and energetically in business development because we are a poor community. The African-Americans are un-established as a race business-wise and economically. We do not have the same kind of representation as other ethnic groups when it comes to possession of wealth, economic independence, etcetera.

QUESTION; What are you trying to accomplish with your economic program?

ANSWER: Marcus Garvey and a few other leaders recognized a need for the African-American to get involved in material development. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad called us to recognize the need for a material base, such as farms, businesses, banks, etcetera. He had no wealthy people following him. In fact, most of his followers were poor. Many of them were earning the lowest wages that working people earn in the big cities of America, and many more were dependent on aid. But he did not say, "We don't have anything." He told his followers, "If you have a quarter, send it in to our central fund. I have a plan that can bring business, growth, jobs and other things to our community."

I still believe that is a necessity, not only for the African-American poor, but for any poor ethnic group that is in a situation wherein they are not established in America's business or capital life, I think it is good for them to see the need for collective effort and community programs in line with America's principles and ideas of freedom and democracy in a free enterprise system.

Today people are inclined to depend upon some miracle to happen to bring relief to their life. They are not motivated to take the matter of their own situation as their own responsibility. The kind of environment we live in today demands more of the individual due to the conveniences  we have.  This  environment demands more initiative in terms of self responsibility.    


QUESTION: Do you find that Minister Louis Farrakhan and his followers, who are still carrying on the philosophy your father adopted, slowing down your process In trying to move American Muslims Into the mainstream of Islam?

ANSWER: I don't think Minister Farrakhan can slow us down. I think he makes it easier for us to show people the distinction and choice we have had to make. When I want to tell an audience of our history — what we once believed in under the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and why it is important for us to now live the life of the Holy Qur'an— all I have to say, "We were once like Minister Farrakhan and his followers."

QUESTION:  Can  capitalism  and morality coexist?

ANSWER:  I don't  like the term capitalism because of its bad connotation. We support capitalism more than perhaps socialism because of the contrast between them. If we can get rid of this conflict between socialism and capitalism, and see a capital system that promotes capital and also accepts as its duty under God to take care of the social responsibilities and to promote healthy social progress of the individual in society, then we can see capitalism as being acceptable.



QUESTION: You are very patriotic, aren't you?

ANSWER:  Only  when I  think  it pleases God am I very patriotic. The essence of the American life that brought the  pioneers  to America,   seeking religious freedom and democracy, contains aspirations that Muslims can identify and share with other Americans. I think those things are the sacred destiny of man. So when it comes to promoting the great vision of America's life as it was seen by those early pioneers, then I am very serious. In fact, I am serious enough to go to war if necessary, to defend those aspirations and ideals.

I feel very comfortable as an American and as a Muslim, and I believe that if all Muslims had a better understanding of the Qur'an, they too would feel very comfortable as an American and as a Muslim.

The religion of Al-Islam has a natural relationship with American philosophy and with the spirit of the United States Constitution. It is a shame that Muslims in Muslim societies of the world are not aware of the common language of the Qur'an. The Qur'an addresses the personal needs of man and his collective needs in society. It also speaks to ideals and philosophies in such a beautiful and profound way, yet in a very essential and simple language.