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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Progressions Magazine

A Community For All People

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


Establishing Community Life: Part 1

In the early life of this country, a philosopher who worked hard to advance America's democracy once said, "If one cannot be trusted with the government of himself, how could he be trusted with the government of others." I believe that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had the same concern a thousand or more years before, and worked hard to promote acceptance of responsibility by the individual person for the government of self. I also believe that the Sacred House (Ka'bah) erected by God with the hands of Abraham and his son, Ishmael, is both a symbol of the acceptance of self-government and a symbol for a unifying concern for all humanity.

God says in the Qur'an that He raised the House so that it should be a place for all people. It is at the Ka'bah where you find people of all races, nationalities and countries worshipping God during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

When people are trying to establish themselves, they have to find something that will hold them together. Communities and nations have come together upon political, moral and material concerns. But before any of them were able to unite, they had to identify with a unifying concern.

As Muslims, service to God is our purpose. But how do we serve God? We serve Him by living our religion, Al-Islam. Our religion gives us concepts of our personal and community life, and we serve God by living that religion the best we can. Whatever we do as Muslims, we conform to the Muslim life and the Muslim community life. This is a service to God.

The Muslim community is one community under God. You have probably heard this same language before, "One nation under God." You find that language in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States. More than a thousand years before, the very same ideas were given clearly to the Muslims: "One community (ummah) responsible to God." In the English language we may say, "One nation under God," but in Arabic, the word 'ummah' refers to community or nation.

God has identified us as Muslims. He says in the Qur'an, "I named you Muslims before, and in this (Revelation)." So though we were named Muslim before in previous Revelations, God tells us in the Qur'an that this name is being given to the followers of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). God also calls the Muslims a community. He says, "You are the best community, brought out ('ukhrijat)." The word 'ukrijat, is an Arabic word, and when translated to English means, brought out or to exodus.

The Muslims should recognize that we also have an exodus. In order to join the Muslims life or the Muslim community, you have to come out of the world you are in to enter the community of Al-lslam. And just why have the Muslims been brought out? In answering that, God says, "For the good of all people."

Why is it so important that this be clearly stated in the form of Revelation? So that the informed and wise leaders of the nations will respect the Muslim community, and not regard it as a threat to world peace. This statement enables such leaders to understand that the Muslim community is a compliment. It is a legitimate aim, a legitimate cause that all people can identify with and embrace.

I sat before one of our recent Presidents, and he said, "We recognize Islam to be one of the major religions that is sacred." And even before him, Presidents Madison and others have given that same respect to our religion. However, despite what such great Americans may think, we still have some Americans who are disturbed by the presence of Al-lslam in this country. They do not want to see it here. These are the real outsiders. They do devilish and deceitful things to make sure that the religion doesn't thrive and become an established life in America. It is such people who are out of touch with the real American life. They have brought foreign sentiments and foreign interests to this country. Those people who accept Al-lslam to be a legitimate religion, as having a home in these United States, are in touch with the real American life. They are the true Americans.


A Community Within A Community

Is Muslims in America need to know what holds them together as a community. We need to know the situation for the best possible life for Muslims. And because we are a community within the community of the United States, within the government of America, we need to know what holds the different communities together that belong to America.

We need to know what binds the Irish, the Italian, the Jew, the Polish and other ethnic groups that live here in this country. They are all American citizens. They all have a claim of ownership in America and contribute to the strength of America. But, where is the common bond for them? Where is their focus for unity? What holds them together as Americans? Those who are not aware of what binds these groups might say, "Well, the fact is that they belong to one nation."

I know many people who belong to this nation, but they have no bond. They have no unity. They are just here like trash in the wind. All of the Irish, Italians or Jews are not united for America, or in the cause of America. But, enough of them are united in that cause to give each group a sense of security. So it is for every other ethnic group except the African-American. We don't have, as a people, a sense of security in this country. As a people, we are still on the outside.

The average African-American thinks black and separate. We see ourselves as the unwanted, and we see the white people as being our oppressors. That was the case twenty years ago, and it is still the case today. For the majority of our people, they are still on the outside. And that is a problem, because when they become Muslims, many of them keep that feeling of insecurity, which makes it difficult for them to identify in the American life.

After becoming leader of the former 'Nation of Islam,' I lifted the American flag in respect. My picture was taken, and there were African-Americans saying, "Hey, there is a crazy man." Most of my own people didn't like to see me do that. Not a single political or church leader said to me, "We are proud of what you did." Why? Because most of them feel like they are also on the outside.


Muslims In America

Most Muslims in America have not accepted to become a legitimate part of this country, entitled to a share in it like everybody else. It is a situation we must recognize if we want to build an Islamic community life. We must recognize this need in us to get inside that unified interest, that unified concern that hold together those Americans who are responsible for America's life. There is something that holds them together, and they are responsible for the future of America. They invest in the future of America, not only with money, but in every way. They will even die for that interest. These are the people who are responsible for shaping and preserving America.

Any ethnic group that comes to America and does not share in that responsibility doesn't have a real home here. African-Americans were brought to America. After having been here all of this time, we still do not have a real home here. If we are to have a real home in America, we will have to see America's future as our future.


The Nature Of Giving

This country should be cherished and loved in our hearts as it is in the hearts of others. You are probably saying, "How can I have that kind of feeling for this country, knowing what this country has done to us, and knowing that this country is not giving us anything right now." That is the attitude of one who is on the outside. This country never gave anything to anybody. It is the people that wanted to give that made the country have what it has today.

How would you like for one member of your family to say, "What is this family giving me?" That is the wrong attitude. The family is not supposed to give them anything; they are supposed to be contributing to the wealth and well-being of the family just as everybody else. With everybody contributing, the family will have something. Then, what you get from the family is what you put into it.

What we as a people have failed to understand is the nature of giving, of charity. The key is in understanding the two major principles for maintaining life. These two principles are involved in breathing, taking in and giving out. Whenever you breathe, you must take in (inhale), and give out (exhale). When you take in, you improve yourself, and when you give out, you improve the environment. When you breathe out, you are contributing to something that is not of yourself. You are contributing to the environment, to plant life which is essential to your growth and development. When we breathe in, our lungs are filled, and when we breathe out, we help another life grow. This is the nature of charity.


Nigger Sensitivities

The African-American has a lot of sensitivities. Those of us who are Muslims must remember that we are fresh Muslims but old "niggers". I hate to use that kind of language, but I just want to put it like it is. Now how are we going to get into the Muslim life with the old nigger sensitivities. We must first get out of those old sensitivities to get into the condition to really become Muslim, and not just Muslim in name, but Muslim in the way we live. And the most important concern in a Muslim's life is the community.

God says that He created us from one single person, and from the one, He made mates, and spread from the two (mates) many men and women. We understand many men and women to mean many nations and many orders controlling those nations. God also says, "You were once one people." Then He invites us to accept to be one community.


The Correct Vision

The key for giving the Muslims the correct vision of our life and the future is to identify community as our major interest. Our major interest and major responsibility for each other should be community. Whatever we have as separate interests should be done under this idea and interest—community. This simple thing is salvation for a people.

If all of our people get that sensitivity, we won't have to run around giving pep talks like, "Say brother, do business. Work hard for your business." If the person has community concerns, he will work hard for his business. It will come as a natural consequence. We won't have to give pep talks to the teachers. We won't have to tell them, "Hey, do a good job. Teach these children, and be concerned about their welfare. Give them a good education."

People who need a lot of leaders and pep talkers are people that don't have correct vision. Once the vision is correct, the freedom is there, and you don't have to walk around holding people by the hand, carrying them like they are little babies and little children. Once the fire of dedication, commitment, interest, sacrifice for community life catches on, the people will begin to thrive and prosper as a natural consequence.

The people that came to America in its early days and made it move and grow
to what it is today were not holding each other by the hand. Some were out in the wasteland. Some were on the seashores. Yet others were in and out of the country, but all were working for one and the same cause—the future, the health, the greatness and beauty of America. Many of these people weren't educated or never had a chance to attend school. Yet, they built wealth and dignity for themselves and this country. They became so strong that they hired the professional. They even hired the educator and gave them and their children jobs. This is an historical fact.

What made that great growth possible for that uneducated person? It was an ennobling and enriching idea. There was no America until somebody started talking, and the bigger they talked, the bigger America became. And the only reason America is getting small now is because we have so many small talkers.