Public Address at the 2006 Annual Muslim Convention - part V
Imam W. Deen Mohammed's Public Address at the 2006 Annual Muslim Convention
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(The following Public Address was given by Imam W. Deen Mohammed at the Annual Muslim Convention 2006, on Sun., Sept. 3, 2006, at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, III.)
THE TOUGH GRASS
We see all the great material achievement. But I was walking along the street and noticed that through the concrete sidewalk, through a very small crack, there was growing grass. And the grass that was strongest was the tough grass we don't want for the lawn; we call it crab grass.
I thought about it: If grass tries to get out from under concrete or grows in concrete long enough, it is going to get tougher and tougher.
Difficulty brings about ease; facing the difficult brings about ease. There was this little grass breaking through the concrete.
Then I was taking my walk in the forest preserve, but it is also a park with a nice walkway of five miles or more. And I noticed the blacktop or asphalt.
There was coming up little grass through the asphalt. You know they call us the "grassroots."
Vines, if you let them, will grow all over a building, covering it up. They are little flimsy things that will grow up all over a building.
I saw a movie about New York City that was a movie to try to get us to turn around from savagery. It showed how wild gangs had become popular in New York.
Civilization and civil government had disappeared and New York was occupied by wild folks, wild motorcycle riders and others.
Eventually, vines and growing plants made a jungle of New York, covering it all over. In time, knowledge and science tells us, if man neglects his world in time you won't even find a trace of it.
In time, knowledge and science tell us, if man neglects his world, you won't even find a trace of it. Iron will rust and become dust; steel structures will all come down, not to mention the wood that will deteriorate much faster. All of those things will go.
SCRIPTURE SAYS SEARCH HISTORY
Scripture says, "Search, travel and see what became of great nations before you." You don't find hardly any trace of them anymore; they have been buried under the ground.
In time, wind will cover them with leaves and other things. Rain will help bring them down. The weather will wear them out. Trees will drop leaves that keep piling up. In a few thousand years, those leaves go back into the earth and become dirt, as do all organic things.
The earth keeps rising up, and what you made keeps going down. Pretty soon, you can't find any trace of the material accomplishments of a great people. So what gives us a start will also bury us and put us out of sight. That is G-d's Creation.
G-d says, "Think not, man, that you are bigger than the Creation." You are not bigger than the Creation. The Creation supported you coming here, and the Creation will take you away and erase your presence forever.
We think ourselves too important; we think ourselves too wise; we think ourselves too mighty. Put the mightiest of you tough men in a small room with an ape, and we know what will happen. You can't have anything but your muscles, no pistol, no knife or anything else. We know what will happen; I can hear you now singing soprano. Trying to show your toughness to people makes you small.
MAN'S VISION BECOMING STERILE
Man is becoming sterile mentally. He cannot come up with a vision anymore to advance his world. We had great men and women of vision in our past, who helped advance the human life for American people. The intelligence of the people is becoming sterile.
Our males on the street level and otherwise are becoming show offs, bullies, a little global species of little-daring big men. Aren't we, Mr. President Bush?
Several years ago, I was a guest of Yasser Arafat in the Palestinian quarters, a camp rigged and designed obviously to me to contain Palestinians under extreme pressures to take away the human quality from their life and drive them out of their human form and existence.
While there, I observed their distressful existence, and I also observed their unflinching moral and political determination and their human concern. That included their human concerns and feelings for Jews. I know Palestinians are a humane people. They are not what you see and hear about.
QUALIFY FOR FREEDOM
We have to qualify for freedom and economic empowerment. The African American people, coming from slavery and seeking opportunities in this world, had our attention, our interest, our focus on this world. Our politicians and all were focused on this world for coming in.
Once you get in, you should stop putting so much attention on this world and put some attention on your past, on your human essence, to see if you can better your human essence, so you will be qualified to get more freedom and to have economic empowerment.
Troubled lifestyles that we see in the street are blinding us. Rich cities of the ancient were walled in. They had special gates through which a tourist might enter.
Cairo was one of those great ancient cities. It had civilization with scientific achievements over most of the world and at one time over all of the world.
A story is told to introduce us to myth, in the Egyptian mythical religion. It goes like this: To enter that city, you have to solve the riddle. You come to the gate and there is an oracle above the gate, a mythical creature that could speak to you in your language. The oracle would ask: "What moves on four, then on two and then on three?"
The answer that you give should be, "The man." Now if you can't answer the question, you cannot be the man.
Religion is ordered to keep the need hi the human soul and its expression in community life upper most on man's agenda.
You can work for money, you can work for knowledge, you can work for popularity - you can do all of that forever. But if you don't have the essential life of the human creation on the agenda as something you are supposed to study, watch and keep, to know when something is influencing it out of its form, to know when something is working against it..., to see if the culture is hurting it.
You have to have watchers. All of us can't be watchers. So you should choose those good leaders of yours, in the church, in the synagogue, and certainly in the mosque. Without leaders, you are doomed. Without leaders, you are dead. Without leaders, you are not going to have anything - eventually.
Satan and his influence are going to take it all from you. I am not talking about a mystery. Satan is real. Hell-fire is real. You want me to show you Satan. Look in the mirror; you probably have become so corrupt, all you have to do is look in the mirror.
MAN IS A FAMILY
G-d says to us, "Oh you who believe, save your own souls and save your families from the wild fires of blind passions." That is the Qur'an, our Holy Book. For both community and secular society, family life is first. The whole world of achievements has to be seen as tracing back to family.
Man is a family. The first unit of society is the community unit called family. It all originated from there. That is why G-d wants us to identify with the whole human family on the planet earth, so we can be prepared to survive and enjoy all the riches that G-d created for us - and not destroy each other.
So G-d tells us that we all came from a pair, a male and a female. And they had children and family was established. And those families progressed and became tribes and nations.
GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER
G-d tells us how it all started and how we got to be where we are. He says that He did that, not that you should tower over each other with your egos, but that you should get to know one another, to become acquainted with each other.
If you become acquainted with the people from a distant land, that you called strangers, in the mind of the savage he would want to conquer them and take over their land. But that is the ignorant man, not the divinely guided man. G-d says that He did not make you different for you to tower over each other and look down on each other, or despise one another.
G-d says He made you different, so that you would be curious to get acquainted with these new people or other people. When you become acquainted with them, you will find that G-d gave them something that He didn't give to you. G-d gave them a land and an environment that you have no experience in.
When Marco Polo went to China, he came back with a lot of help for his people. I am sure Marco Polo did not say, "Take an army into China." He was so happy to learn of the things that they had, that were not available to him and his people, he brought those things home and said, "Here is something we have never seen before."
It was more than silks. It was also gunpowder that the Chinese were using for festivals, like we use on the 4th of July, with beautiful colors exploding.
But that Ku Klux Klan type man, when Marco Polo brought it back and he saw it, he saw a way to kill people will it.
We have to return to family values. As the Focolare people stress all of the time, "Be Family." Be family at home and be family with all people.
That one thing can save our community life, if we would just accept it and act upon it. Be family at home and in the community, with all of your neighbors and all people.
In the time of Muhammed the Prophet, they had no jails. They had no hospitals as such. They had no family services institutions as such.
The obligation was on the people. The rich were to provide for the poor, the orphans who would have been left in the street to survive on their own.
Prophet Muhammed PBUH) influenced he rich to share their wealth with the orphans and with people who needed it. They were to take those children and the widow mothers and save those mothers from prostituting themselves, so that their children would be fed and survive.
They were to take that problem away from them by telling them, "Yes, I will take you and your children." They raised those orphans as their children.
Prophet Muhammed told them, "Don't call them 'slave'; call them 'my child.' Treat them as your own child, your son or your daughter." It was connected with prophecy and Scripture.
It was revealed that those who would accept the Word of Gr-d and live the Word of Gr-d, that He would inscribe the Word of G-d upon their hearts. They would have it in their hearts.
We don't have to have all of these taxes spent on law enforcement, jails and penitentiaries. If we can bring human life back to the Plan of G-d, we would be much richer than we are now. Just shiploads and truckloads of money could be saved, if we would just have it in our hearts to be kind, to have mercy and forgiveness.
If we would just live with those three kindness, mercy and forgiveness we could save our communities a lot of money.
Who are we benefiting by following this way we have in the world of turning our backs on G-d? The Satan.
Who are you benefiting, when you go take the earnings you got over two weeks and go buy all this stuff from the grocery store - you buy 10 pounds and through out five pounds? Who are you helping? Satan.
Satan wants the money to come back into circulation, no matter how dirty it is. Drug business, that's what Satan wants. You are dying of drugs. The parents are hurt and the son is suffering, because the son has been turned into a drug addict. It pains the neighborhood.
Everybody is suffering, when drugs take over the life of the family or the whole neighborhood. Other crimes take over the neighborhood. Somebody is paying for all of that. Dollars buy drugs. Dollars buy all of the sins that we are committing.
The Satan wants the dollars to grow fast as they can and big, so the dollars can get back into circulation. Satan is the greediest of all the creatures in the community. He is the greediest of them all and wants that money to keep coming. And he doesn't care how it comes.
His extreme greediness makes his brain work only for money, control and dominance. He has been doing this since man was put in The Garden.
That is when he started, and he is way ahead of everybody else when it comes to how to get money to move and grow. He is responsible for most of the growth of money in these United States. Satan!
I am telling you to go back to your human self and see what happened to it, to cause you to lose your precious life.
Observe man, the free thinker, the philosopher and the scientist, how they engaged in study of Mother Nature, the natural existence inside and outside, and how progress was realized for man in society or in community. And civilization grew, wealth grew, the comforts grew and the good life grew.
Family is where socialization originates. It is not just socializing as we do at a party or at some happy occasion, but socialization is the knowledge that we get from each other when we engage each other.
Your intelligence speaks to me; my intelligence speaks to you. Your concern is passed to me; my concern is passed to you. We see that we can fare better, if we cooperate or support each other in the common cause or the common good. That is how man progresses.
Numbers increase in time for Mother Nature ruled society it births societies and rules in societies. Then man gets all of this knowledge and he knows how to use Mother Nature and how to exploit Mother Nature. In time, he then becomes the enemy of Mother Nature.
We have to return to the best of human existence. Our main motivation should be the motivation to preserve the best of human existence, human life. To preserve it, you have to be aware of its line of progress in history.
We are not asking all of you to carry this burden. We are just trying to wake up the many, so the few good ones can take the lead and have more support from all of us Insha Allah, G-d Willing, that is coming; that is happening.
We look at the simple things, like food. We buy food outside of our community and bring it into our community. These necessities like food, clothing, shelter, transportation should be the responsibility of every individual sharing the life of neighborhoods or sharing the life of communities.
We should have our strong leaders leading the way supporting this. Look at the money we could have in the poor African American communities, if we would be determined to have all of the grocery stores owned and operated by us. "How can you do that, Mister?"
If you can see the great purpose and the great benefit coming to us from doing that, then you would have the energy, the courage, the patience to support a program that said: "Do not go outside of your neighborhood and buy your food. Wait until your brother who is qualified to build that store and operate that store gets it."
Then work for it; promote it; run for it and go out and beat the drum for it.
Let the whole neighborhood know, we are not going to accept going out of the neighborhood to buy our food. We came from farms in the South. We know how to grow food. Let's have the Black farmers become strong again.
You can solve these problems!
The story of the first man is to tell us that G-d made man powerful, resourceful, and he can manage for himself in a wilderness or environment that has not been developed. So you should ask yourself, without even looking at the Qur'an or Bible: How did the first people exist?
How did they exist before there was industry? How did those exist before science, before doctors and lawyers, before carpenters and welders? They are the ones who started all of that for the industrialized nations.
China was much like that 30 to 40 years ago. China did not have foundries. Mao Tse-Tung had his people making iron in their backyards. He told them, "We can do this and do it on our own property."
Look now how China has become so big and competing with other nations for recognition, especially in economics. China has such a huge work force, they present strong competition to the industrialized nations.
G-d knows, I have been willing. I told you back on Stony Island some 20 plus years ago. If it takes it to get us to grow our communities in business and support our own schools with our own money and support our own religious life with our own moneys and advance our communities with our own money, you should be willing to give up this money you are spending on cars and start riding bicycles.
Do like the Chinese and make a rickshaw, a cab on a bicycle. Put a couple a big strong brothers who like to show off their muscles to run this and take the delicate ones and the ladies shopping or wherever they want to go. That is what the Chinese are doing, and I believe they are still doing it.
It is comfortable in the rickshaw. It is nostalgic; something says to you, "This is mamma pushing me down the street in the buggy." There is something very pleasant about it. You can still go to downtown Chicago and get in a horse drawn buggy to take you around the city for sightseeing. It is nostalgic.
We hear a lot of talk about heredity. Inheritance is in the language of the Founding Fathers. They say we have inherent rights, and we are losing our inheritance. We are losing our original heritage of human excellence and a spirit to grow better and do better and accomplish more. That is inherent.
Inherent means that no one gave it to you; you had it by birth. So what we accomplish as a people trusting in G-d and working for a better life in the South, isn't that heritage? If a people forget and get separated from their heritage, they will be in bad condition.
Life is developmental, continual progress after progress. So if you leave the history of your heritage, how are you going to continue that progress? So you are just starting out in the dark; the struggle was to put you in the Light.
In Scripture, heritage is very important. And the most important inheritance is to come into the human creation that G-d made possible or that G-d gave you. That is the most important heritage.
A few words on the political scene - the Democrats and Republicans. For me, we have been hurt by just following something because we think it is what we should do or we think we owe it something.
I think that is why many of us follow the Democrats and vote Democratic - we vote Democratic religiously, as though Jesus Christ is the leading Democrat. That is no good. You follow something so long, and you find out it is not helping you, you should question it.
I wish I could tell you much about the Carter Center founded and headed by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Roslynn. I am asking you to consider supporting the noble work of such persons as Jimmy Carter.
He is a wonderful man, and I don't have enough time to tell you all that he is doing. He is helping suffering people all around the world - especially in Asia, Africa and in America.
This is from the materials that he sent me, and in return I had my office to send $6,300 contribution to the Carter Center. I wish I had more money, for I would have given more.
I was offered to join the Ambassadors Circle that provides critical funds for the Center's operation and programs.
This permits the donor to join the ones who come to the Center and get executive briefings and allows that person to hear reports on the progress being made by the Center.
I was told, "Your generosity will help the Carter Center to have resources to sustain our worldwide efforts to wage peace, fight disease and build hope."
That is what they are doing and the results are almost unbelievable, that private citizens can get together like this. We know he was President of these United States and that says a lot about what he should be able to do, but it is still amazing.
He says, "... despite only recently having emerged from 14 years of bloody civil war, Liberia has emerged as a model nation seeking to represent peaceful elections.
"In a historically significant election last October, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became Africa's first elected woman president."
How did that happen? The Carter Center workforce went there and stood by them and worked with them and gave them the faith, that the gangsters would not be able to overcome them.
Isn't it a shame that African people have stopped being responsible for their own life and community and let gangsters take over. That is not just in Africa; that is here in America.
Building on a reservoir of trust that began with mediation efforts started by the Carter Center in the early 1990s, they have made progress. And now it is a model of how a country can have a democratic process and enjoy voting and electing their officials.
I also want to point out another Democrat to you all, one whom a lot of us put down - President William Jefferson Clinton.
Bill Clinton also makes trips to Africa and other places. He put his office in Harlem; he could have put it somewhere else. He put it in Harlem, N.Y., right in our midst.
This is a city where we achieved a lot for community life and business 60 or 70 years ago. We lost it all, because we gave up.
Bill Clinton also goes to Africa and makes great contributions to that suffering continent. He opens up opportunities that will be to the betterment or give Africa a better future.
I also want to include Senator Barak Obama. He is here in Chicago, and he recently made a trip back home to his family in Kenya and to other parts of Africa.
Senator Obama is a quality human person. These are the people we should be looking at. These are the people we should be organizing to support.
I want to mention someone else who is a Republican -Condoleezza Rice. The lady is educated, resourceful, brilliant and powerful. Now how am I going to choose between the Democrats and the Republicans?
Believe me, if it weren't for my knowledge of the works of Jimmy Carter and the role that Bill Clinton is playing right now, and a few other Democrats that I know, I don't even see a Democratic Party.
Where is the Democratic Party? It doesn't exist, except in a few noble Democrats who are serving humanity and not just politics.
I know you heard the news that I am a Republican; I was honored by the National congressional committee to be selected as a First Republican from Illinois.
Well, I have never said that I was a Republican. I never asked to be recorded as a Republican. And I regret that I ever went to vote and got recorded as a Democrat.
I don't want to interfere in your political life and how you vote; that is not right. But I am letting you know that I am not committed to either party to vote for them, and I never will be.
I am going to vote for the good guy. I am going to vote for the clean guy. I am going to vote for the true guy, I don't care if he is Democrat or Republican.
I want to share a little poem with you, and it is a tribute to our hero in our moral life, Bill Cosby:
Has nasty cold water got us in hot water?
Where goes today's youth?
Most live a life of lies, few a life of truth.
The slow walking three....
(the three boys who performed at The Muslim Convention, Culture Night, Sat., Sept. 2, 2006 -they had a powerful message)
Says blame points back to you.
That impulse for every fun thing in the street groove keeps us prone to lose.
Now watch the street language or be hung by it.
Clean your asphalt.
Don't be drugged off.
We know street life is a drag.
Now get yourself out of that bag!