SOLVING THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN DILEMMA
By Imam W. Deen Mohammed
"And seek by the means God has given you the eternal home; however do not neglect your share of the world, but do good as God has been good to you, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land, for God does not love those who do mischief." Holy Qur'an 28:77
(Excerpts from the Book - "AN AFRICAN AMERICAN GENESIS" with the address given at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York )
The Struggle Against Oppression
I would like to begin this section by expressing the Words of God in the Holy Qur'an, which says, "O you who believe! Shall I lead you to a bargain that will save you from a grievous penalty? That you believe in God and His Messenger, and that you strive (your utmost) in the Path of God with your property and your very souls. That will be best for you, if you but knew."35 This is not just speaking of any striving or struggle, but a striving and a struggle that respects our Creator, the Maker of the things that we are using to advance the struggle in the Path of God. The things we use are our wealth and our very souls.
The part of the verse that reads, "your very souls," refers to ourselves and our personal life. We are to put our energy, our personal concerns, our heart, our sympathies, our intellect, our muscles, and all that we have in the Path of God. We do not struggle for something imagined, a fantasy or something unreal. The struggle is for the real things that God has directed us to on this earth and in this human environment.
God says to those who oppress man's moral, intellectual, social and political potential: "Certainly the suppression of man's potential is worst than slaughter."36 The suppression of the God-given potential in man is a worst crime than outright slaughter. An effort or campaign for crushing the will and spirit of the common people is a bigger issue, a bigger crime than the outright killing for wealth or territory. Men kill for wealth and territory for the purpose of expanding the domain of their nation or power. Yet this is not as great a crime as the suppression or denying the potential that God put in man for his dignity, his freedom and for his function as a total creature on this earth.
We are happy to see better days in America and the world. Yet, we are not going to be so foolish or naive as to overlook the subtle oppression and serious evils that still work to undermine the freedom of the common person. For example, it is not entirely the fault of the African-American community that we are spending our wealth on quick self destructive pleasures, such as drugs, a shallow image, silly fads, silly hairdos, silly dress styles, and other destructive things. Many of our youngsters are now wearing the popular dunce cap, and they don't even know that the name of it is a dunce cap.
It is not entirely our fault that we are using our resources on these temporary and passing things. I won't go into any details to put any particular sector or personalities in our society on the spot. My real purpose is to reconcile our own life and to make peace in America . We must do this if there is to be real success, and not only for now, but for generations to come.
The struggle of African-American people during and after slavery was joined by many Caucasians and Jews because there were liberation virtues in that struggle. Not only was there a spirit, but there were principles. When I was a child, there was a spirit among our elders who would tell us, "I can't let you behave that way. You have to be a decent person." They would insist upon us being decent because they were in a spirit for their liberation, and they knew liberation would not come without virtues.
In order to win freedom in a country of Christians that sought great excellence, our downcast people knew they would have to live in accordance with the best of their spirit, the best of their morality, the best of their mind and principles. It was the only way to be successful on that very painful and steep road to equality and justice in America . They did not give up, and they achieved much in the way of success. Why? Because the free people were impressed who saw the oppressed struggling in that spirit with the best of their God-given virtues. They believed in the innocent and noble motives of the struggling African-American. However, since that time something has happened in the African-American community. Something took place in the sixties and seventies that robbed us of that spirit. Something made us abandon those virtues and fine principles, and much of this could be the results of the advances in science and industry, and their influences on the environment.
Several great men, in and outside of America , have dedicated themselves to watch over the life and precious possessions of man. They stand as soldiers near the gate of the precious human potential to assure that it has a good situation for its future on this earth. One such person is Alvin Toffler, who wrote a book twenty or more years ago, entitled, Future Shock. In this book he addresses the condition that will come upon the people at a future time because of the great advances that were already underway. Advances had taken place in science to bring about very drastic alterations in the physical and cultural environment, creating a situation for culture shock.
Mr. Toffler warns of the fast growth of industry and its influences on the growth of the environment. He tells of how it was going to produce a situation that would have the effect of culture shock on American citizens, as well as all who came under these influences. He was not knocking, resisting or questioning progress. He was doing no more than helping progress by alerting the people to things that would represent a situation for cultural shock.
Cultural shock in certain degrees can destroy our equilibrium. A healthy, strong, well balanced and equipped man who can handle ordinary problems, if suddenly ejected from one situation into a very different one, may appear to be acting crazy, though he will not be crazy. His problem will be that he cannot understand the situation because it challenges his intellect, confounds his sense of balance, and shocks him to the extent that his balance is destroyed.
Both the Holy Qur'an and Bible tells us the coming of a time like that.37 And both say this in very much the same language. Paraphrased, they both say, "You will see men walking, reeling and rocking, and you'll think they are drunk. But, they will not be drunk from intoxication; it will be the environment itself that warps their behavioral functional ability, creating that kind of dysfunction in them."
Our learned Muslim brothers from Saudi Arabia have volunteered to pay the airfare of our children so that they can go to the best colleges and universities over there for an education. But, they have told us we need a program that would take into account the cultural difference. Though we have the same religion, the same Holy Book, and we are Muslims, they realize that when you take a person out of the American environment and place him suddenly in the Muslim or Arabian environment, there is a risk of culture shock.
If you can understand the notion of culture shock, then try to imagine the culture shock that African slaves experienced when they were brought here from Ghana , Sierra Leone , Nigeria , and many other places. Imagine being brought suddenly from an environment that our system had known and adjusted to, and then suddenly put in plantation life under cruel slavemasters that regarded us as field animals or as domestic pets. And even today, we are regarded by many as foster-home children.
Can you imagine the degree of culture shock that our system had to survive? It is a miracle of God that the African-American man is still sane. It is a miracle of God that the African-American people still want to go forward in the line of civilization and human excellence. Such a situation would perhaps have destroyed many other people who are not prepared by their past situation to meet and encounter the great culture shock that America had prepared for those innocent unprepared, uninformed slaves.
One of the great tragedies of the African-American experience has been the inability of the race to re-establish a stable family life since being physically freed from slavery. Part of that tragedy has been the failure of the race to understand the importance of the woman and her role in establishing that family life. In our religion God gives us the understanding that the woman's role is one in partnership with the man. God also tells us that they are our mothers.
Now, these concepts and the concerns for them are fundamental. We cannot abandon these dear and precious essentials from our life without suffering catastrophic kinds of problems. On the other hand, if we don't abandon those essentials, we can make progress in dealing with other problems. But first we must deal with the basic, primary needs in the life of the human being in society. In this connection God wants us to remember that the woman is our mother.
The African-American community has a great burden on it because slavery separated the mother from her greatest occupation of being a mother in the true sense. And since slavery, we have not been in a situation to re-establish her back in that great noble position.38 We had some grandmothers, great grandmothers and great, great grandmothers who did a good job in that spirit of excellence. They had the spirit to carry out the mother responsibility to their children and to their society, but generally, we underestimate it.
We are right when we do not act like our mother or grandparents did when it comes to disciplining our children. When it came to disciplining her children, my mother was from the old tradition. She would love you with a stick, and love you with an apple pie. She would love you with chicken and dressing on Sunday, love you with your favorite biscuit or your favorite cake or your favorite piece of meat. She would say, "Momma cooked this for you. I know you like this." But, she would also love you with a stick, and she would then say, "Momma got this for you."
If you talk to some of these modern social workers, they might tell you that my mother was crazy, cruel, brutal and a child abuser. They might ask, "Oh, did she really whip you like that? Did she leave scars on you?" Yes she did. Then they might ask, "Did she brutalize you?" No she didn't. It makes you wonder where these social workers were trained. Some of them cannot understand the changed circumstances. In today's circumstances, it would be improper to take a stick and beat kids like that because they are not responsible for their behavior.
It is the extremely altered environment that is causing most of the malfunctioning in our children. We cannot take up a stick to correct them. Social workers today should study the past, the old situation before they start judging our mothers and trying to make us believe that they were cruel. My mother wasn't cruel. She had a right to do that to me. I knew better, and there was nothing influencing me to behave that way but my own free choices.
For children today, it is not only a person's free choices, but the overwhelming super image of the environment saying, "Oh, you are wrong to behave like your mother. She is backwards and unpopular." This is a greatly changed situation since I was a child. Therefore, man needs the strength and power that only God can give him. He needs the strength to challenge the very environment itself, no matter what dimension it has. Whether it is the size of New York , America or the size of China , man has to meet the task.
Man and Woman's Nature Established by God
The Holy Qur'an teaches us, "He has created for you mates that you may find in them rest."39 There is nobody on the earth today more in need of resting his head than an African-American male, especially if he has a family. God also says, "By virtue of natural development, they (women) are dependent on the males."40 If God has established this, then we cannot change these nature based things that have served to establish man and civilization and usher them forward. We cannot get a happy notion about freedom in this very liberal wine drinkers society of equals and forget about these things that have accounted for the establishment of man and woman, for the health of society, and the advancement of civilization.
In addressing the inherent equality for males and females, God says that we have been created from one and the same entity.41 God doesn't tell us that the woman was created from a rib of man to fit under his arm as she walks down the street as his sweetheart. I actually heard a woman preacher say, "God made woman from the rib of man. That's from his side, so he can put his arm around her as they walk down the street." That is a ridiculous statement to make of the woman who has a much bigger and nobler job to do at home.
Sometimes a woman doesn't have the time to walk with her man down the street under his arm. She has something more important to do at home. This world has frightened the woman out of her home domain. In her home domain is the fortress for protection of the life of society. And it has been the deterioration of home life that has resulted in the bringing down of the African-American race.
A Strategic Withdrawal
The African-American's life-the group spirit, the group form and group identity has never been established. That is why members of the race has a feeling of loneliness. That is why we have not yet arrived as other ethnic groups. With so much material affluence around us, with wealth piling up over our heads, with all of our degrees in practically every field of endeavor, we still feel lost. We still feel short of the mark of arriving at home simply because we have not retreated.
We need to step back from the Whiteman and say, "Look, you have led us as far as you can take us. Now we are going to build our own ideology. Now we are going to build a philosophy of life for our own people, and you cannot help us any longer. Therefore, stand aside and watch us do it, and if we want or need you, we will call on you." In our soul, that is the work that is yet to be done. W. E. B. DuBois made a strike at it. So did Carter G. Woodson. A man who wasn't even on this land or in this part of the world, Franz Fanon, made a strike at it. Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, was striking at it before he died, trying to do something about it. Dr. Mays' sensitivities indicated this as the direction in which he wanted to take his people.
With all of the efforts of these people, none were able to accomplish it. Why? It is because the African-American think more of a civil rights struggle or civil rights protest. We have been conditioned by past experience to think that the only way home is through the politician and the preacher, but history has shown us, that is not the way to get there. We need to set up camp in a desirable climate for six months, or a year, even longer if necessary. We need to stay together until we come out with what we need. This is what Moses had to do. He took his people up into the wilderness and they stayed out there until they got what they needed. I am not trying to pretend that I am the only one who has this kind of concern or wants to move our people in that kind of direction. I am only stating why we have not done so, and why it must be done.
Eric Fromm, in his book Sane Society, dwells on this need in man. He was fascinated by what he saw in this dynamism of man, and he recognized that dynamism in the spirit of man's potential. It is from that potential that there arises or emerges a spirit that many times we are not aware. You may not know your potential, but there is a spirit that keeps telling you, "That isn't enough. You are not situated well enough yet. You have not realized enough freedom yet." You may think, "Well I'm free as a bird," but that spirit tells you, "Not enough yet. I want to be even freer. I want to be free enough not to putter out while I am going in the direction I want to go."
God tells us in the Holy Qur'an, "And He has made whatever you see in the Heavens and in the Earth as a utility to man."42 If God has made me for such great significant performance on this earth, then it tells me that He has put into the human being a potential bigger than the challenges of these environments. He has given me a potential equal to the task of the universal environment. This potential is what makes Superman. But in our religion, that degree of growth is not Superman, it is true man. God tells us that man is created for a productive life, that man has been created to grow.
Although we have been created to grow, we know that the most crucial role for man is the one God gives us in these words, "Neither did I create men nor jinn for any purpose except My Worship."43 Thus the worship of God is man's highest purpose. When we say, "Worship God," we do not mean to just have a spiritual session, clapping our hands and getting the spirit. Worshipping God means to be of service to Him in a way that benefits man, plants, animals, the total environment that we must live in. It is this kind of concern that separate the big nations from the small nations, the passing away nations from the sustaining nations.
The Work Ethic
Man's spirit wants to go to the Moon. That is the spirit of your potential. That great potential is telling you, "Get up out of this mediocrity. Get up out of this inferiority. You have a greater destiny. You are not yet home. John H. Scanzoni, in his book, The Black Family In Modern Society, tells us something that is revealing about the African-American. He points out that the deteriorated condition of the African-American family and social life should not be taken as an indication that the entire race is given to such situations.
There has been, and there still are African-American Christians who hold to the Protestant work ethnic. Neither they nor their families are lost. They still have disciplined forward looking children. Their children are not filling up the jails. Their children are successful, and represent the strength, and maybe even the future of the many others that do not have the better foundation for life.
Mr. Scanzoni points out, that having similar credits are the Black Muslims who could not find that work ethic in Christianity.44 He says that they were the unfortunate ones. They were not blessed to have had that Christian work ethic and Christian principle of fine performance in life imparted to them; therefore, they turned their backs from Christianity in disappointment and followed the loud call of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to a new way of life, a new concept, a new future and a new self-image.
Mr. Scanzoni says, after researching the followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, he found that the Black Muslims, who were mostly from the low poverty strata, able to achieve that same work ethic. They were able to perform in the same way, and they were also emerging into the main stream of American life. What does that tell us? It tells us that if we couldn't find it in Christianity, and nearly ninety-eight percent of us do not, then we need something different. The same old thing just will not work for most of us.
When we consider work, we find that it fulfills the need for happiness in our lives. How do I know what work fulfills? I found it in the Word of God. He says, "Enter you, among my workers. Enter you My Paradise."45 I cannot make it any clearer than that. However, it is also important that we realize what the Prophet said. Referring to work, he said that no descendant of Adam gets enjoyment from having his needs supplied equal to the enjoyment of what is gained from his own lawful efforts and endeavors. In this connection, I believe it is appropriate to mention a poem written by an Arabic poet many many generations ago which states, "A cage is not my living quarters. It is not my habitat. The open environment was made for me, and I will never accept an existence in a cage, though my master makes my cage of solid gold." This is the kind of attitude the African-American needs.
The Genetic Factor
I believe with all of my heart, and with every fiber of my being that God has blessed us as a people by putting us into this situation. You can read the history of slavery in Encyclopedia Britannica, which is no ordinary encyclopedia. In one section of the encyclopedia, it describes the peculiar slave system America had in the South.46 It tells us that it was unlike any other condition of slavery that ever existed. It was drastically different from any other slave system in the history of man in its nature and its attitude toward the enslaved.
Who was it that experienced that? The genes that represent the core of my genetic life right now experienced that. Don't think only of your ancestors back there in the 1700's and 1800's. Even though those people are buried and gone, their genes are in their descendants. That is why long after a man has done a work and departed, people who know his history will say of another person, "Hey, he has traits just like that man." And that is why many people believe in reincarnation. But it isn't reincarnation. It is the sperm that puts it there. It doesn't have to come back.
I have the genes of my mother, father, both grandfathers and grandmothers just as you have the genes of your ancestors. I also have the genes of Adam in me right now. They didn't go anywhere. They were passed on exactly as his genes were made by God. That explains why you can put a man in the dark, but you cannot keep him there if he has the spirit from his better ancestors.
If a man responds to the genes and the better spirit of his ancestors, you cannot keep him in the dark. You may try to keep him there, but eventually you will find him with a light. You will wonder, "How did you get a light? There was no way out of this place." God is the One who lights from within. Now many may want to play down the importance of what I have just said, but give another explanation if you can as to how this happens.
There are many peculiar things in the situation of the African-American people's enslavement. For example, the nature and degree of cruelty we experienced while enslaved. It is a peculiar and different experience from anything in the history of other human beings on this earth today. But, that is not all we have to look at when we are looking at peculiarities. We also have to look at our own behavior. Our behavior is the result or the effects of the peculiar experience behind us.
Although the present cultural environment that works against the natural function of human life has contributed much to our peculiar behavior as a people, and as individuals, I believe our behavior owes more to that peculiar past experience behind us. It owes more to the ugly pages of history and the enslavement of the African-American man.
This odd way of behaving is seen in our choices. Where in history have you ever read of people treated the way we were by their superiors, then when they gained their freedom, walk arm in arm with the people who mistreated them. We even joined their religion, the same religion that was used to justify our enslavement. We accepted their concept of God, even though that concept does not admit our race. We walk into their religious houses, accept their concept of God, bow, pray and kneel before the images that they have which don't admit our image, our ethnicity nor our race.
I have seen no African-American in their image of God or in their Heaven. Their Heaven is filled with Caucasian Americans or European angels,47 and those images are in their own likeness. They invited us to it, and we went right in and joined their religion. We lift up their image over our black suffering lot and say, "This is the Savior. This is the Lord. This is Jesus, this is my Lord." I am not knocking Jesus because Jesus never saw the pictures they paint claiming them to be him. So, forgive me if I seem harsh.
When we were freed, we were given a religion. As slaves, some of us wanted to have religion, but most slavemasters would not allow it. We had our own religious spirit, our own songs, but no organized or revealed religion as such. We only had a spirit in us that made us feel religious. It was just the belief that God exists, and that He is a God of Justice. And knowing how we felt and believed, the Whiteman knew that we were ready to come into somebody's congregation.
Most people reading this book know that if you really want to make a child do something, just pretend that you don't want him to do it. If you pretend long enough, when you finally say he can do it, oh buddy!. He will go right to it. This is the kind of psychology that was used on the African-American. For a long time we were not allow to go to the Whiteman's churches or read the Bible. But when they said, "Now you can," we were conditioned to do so.
When first allowing us into their religion, we were told that we could not be a member of their church. This prompted a man in Philadelphia to start the first black church, which is now called the A.M.E. Church.48 Thus, we had our own black church, and we walked into that church with a great feeling of pride and dignity. We said, "They can't stop us from having church. They can't stop us from having our Bible. They can't stop us from having Christianity now. I'm free."
Some readers are probably saying, "Are you suggesting that many of our people accepted Christianity just out of spite?" Yes I am. What was there in that original Christian message for our people to accept? We had just been oppressed by a white figure, and then they offered us another white figure and said, "This is your salvation." We had just been oppressed, had our humanity taken from us for generations by a white figure, then that same oppressor gave us another white figure and said, "This is God, your salvation."
That was an insult. It was a terrible insult that no normal people would have accepted without being conditioned to do so. But we had been conditioned. The psychology to make us accept it was put to work before they introduced it. This is not just true for the religion or the church. This happened in other things we sought as well. Take the matter of integration. There were shrewd masterminds and shrewd manipulators of human emotions and behavior planning integration long before we fought for it.
I am not saying that all black Christians should leave the Church. It is up to the individual to make that decision. However, it would be better if our people left the church and came into the mosque. It would give them a level of dignity in this country that they have never enjoyed before. It will hurt many whites, but the hurt won't last very long. Now I know that there are some who will say, "How is the mosque or Al-Islam any different from the Church religion?" One very significant way in which our religion differs from many other religions is that it does not allow us to see God in any man's form. Our religion does not say that God made man in His Own image and likeness.49 It is the Church religion that makes this claim, even though the Bible contradicts an idea or concept that raises any images as a likeness of God.50
Ever since I have heard that claim, I've asked myself this question: If God made man in His own image and likeness, and the Whiteman is really a true convert to this belief, why doesn't he show that common image of man rather than the image of a whiteman. You may ask, "What is the common image?" The common image first of all is that we have a good nature, a nature to rise up to the higher life and higher principles toward excellence.
As human creatures, we are naturally moved by goodness. Our humanity is not seen in our physical shape. I have heard some people say, "God is Spirit, and must be worshipped in the spirit." If that is the case, then why show me flesh? The reason I am shown flesh is to leave me with the flesh picture on my mind. We should have the courage to question these things in Christianity. These are the real issues that African-Americans must discuss.
I once read a book on English composition, in which the author was trying to help the would be new writer learn how to write. He wrote something that caught my attention. He said, "Quality means a lot, but the best writers are those who will tell you that when faced with a dilemma in which you have to choose between quality and substance, choose substance."
I would much rather have somebody talk to me about substance, than talk to me in a lot of flowery academic and overly exaggerated language, sounding eloquent about nothing. Some people talk to you for hours and say nothing of substance. They just leave you with an encyclopedia of words, nothing but fancy rhetoric. Don't misunderstand me. I am not knocking education.
We should study the peculiarity of African-American behavior. I think the African-American has accepted everything his former oppressor established for him. Some may say, "Well they are not oppressing us now." That is true, but we will get more respect if we establish more independence in terms of making choices for ourselves, by ourselves. We will get more respect from other ethnic groups if we had the courage to follow our ancestral spirit, the best of our past, and grow into something more uniquely ourselves as others have done. Other ethnic groups will have more respect for us if we were a more legitimate ethnic pattern.
The African-American has wanted power ever since being in America . We have gone from Black Power to Dollar Power, and still we are without any real power. Power is not going to come to us in 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 must come forward and not be afraid to trust our own intelligence.
We have become too emotional. We blame too much on the Whiteman. We have not tried to understand why the Whiteman 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 white people and it doesn't bother them. Why? It is because they know 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 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 a African-American moves into that same neighborhood, he tries to view himself like the white people view themselves. And white people look at this clone of their race and say, "Hell, I am not going to recognize that. That is artificial." They are not going to say that to us because that is too embarrassing or too revealing.
It will seem very strange for those future generation who read our history and find that we lived in Africa before it was named Africa . In fact the continent, as it is presently called, was not named by its inhabitants. The name " Africa " was given by Europeans who came there and conquered the people. Practically every state over there at one time or another bore a foreigner's name. This is not just talk, these are recorded facts.51
I am not only talking about a situation that we need to address, but one that even our motherland has to address one day. There are people who go around explaining the low spirit and low state of the African-American man and his descendants. They charge that the condition is due to the Whiteman's dominance. That is only part of the problem. The condition is also there because of our confused sensitivities and failure to establish a normal homelife.
We need a homelife for the race, for the family, and for the individual. We need a homelife that has a spiritual context, a set of principles, and a network of sensitivities shared by all of us that will make us a people and will give wholeness to our life. We need to do some philosophical thinking. We need to go back to what W. E. B. DuBois said, "The extent to which we will progress in the future, depends on the extent that we will go in teaching our children to think for themselves."
It is very strange, very peculiar that coming from Africa and from an Islamic past, we hear the ignorant among our people say, "Yes, but the Muslims sold us into slavery." Who told you that? That is untrue. Muslims did not sell us into slavery. Many of us were captured by marauders who raided the coastlines and small villages and took us from our land by force. The marauders were not even natives of Africa . They were marauders from Europe . This is a fact, and it requires very little study to prove it. This information is available at any public library for those who want it.
Many of us were sold into slavery by non-Muslims who wanted to get rid of their unruly population. They just sold their unruly population to slave traders. I could go on naming the conditions and incidents that contributed to so many millions of us being brought to this land and put into slavery, but it isn't necessary or fitting for this small publication. But, no matter what happened on that side, let us take a look at our judgment. If I do not want to be a Muslim or associate with Muslims or Arabs, nor want Arabs or Muslims close to me because they sold me into slavery, then I should apply the same rule to everyone. I should use the same measuring stick.
If you find the Arab whom you don't know as being so intolerable, then how can you tolerate integration, love and intermarriage with white people? After getting you into their hands, they did a much worse job on you than those whom you claim sent you over here. What kind of reasoning is that? You should be level headed. If you don't want to associate with a religion because Arabs are in it, then you shouldn't want to associate with Christianity because white people are in it.
Doesn't that make sense? It makes perfect sense. Rationalizations such as that will heal the mind of the African-Americans as a race. That is healing salve, and that is what we need. Those who fear to say these things don't have God's backing. Those not willing to go into the deepest quarters and recesses of the black man's life and experience to prepare him for success and progress in this world, they are not prepared to do this job.
Ordinary Remedies Won't Work
If we have people who fear to address the whole life of the African-American person, and deal with his problems, his deficiencies, his weaknesses, his spirit, and even his sense of worth, they are either cowards or not qualified to deal with the problem. They should just sit back and wait until the job is done. Such people are still foster-home children. They talk tough, and some of them even call me passive and sheepish, but my moral courage makes them look like cowards. If you find what I have said thus far to be the truth, and it is, then you should just accept it even if you don't acknowledge it publicly.52
I am not saying this to woo you. I say this because it is in my spirit and in my soul to say it. I love my people. My very soul and spirit says that this peculiar experience that is behind us-the one we call the plantation life or slavery in the New World has set us so far back that none of the ordinary remedies will work for us that has worked so well for white people, and that includes the socialist theories of Marx.
The populist or democratic theories of the West won't work for the African-American people. We look at them, but find no benefit in them. The Whiteman looked at these ideologies or theories, and they sent him jutting forward into the future. These theories made him a great industrial nation, and a powerful leader among the nations of the world. His fathers wrote those beautiful and profound theories for him. These theories can even help us considerably, but they still fall short in getting us home.
Must Study Our Life's History
We need people from among our group to study our condition, to study what has transpired in our life's history that brought us down. We need 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 who will 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 should know what accounts for our excellence, and what accounts for our degradation.
We need 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 we expect to be a complement or expect to be welcomed by other nations of this earth while we are not yet together as a community. 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 for 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 us knowing that we cannot manage two or three blocks or one little district. It should bother us if we are unable to be the responsible factor for the tax base, the moral and economic life or the cultural life in our community. It should bother us knowing that our 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 us, then we are dead as a community, and other people that are alive as a community do not want our dead bodies in their living society.
I repeat! Our circumstances in the past set us so far back that we need something more powerful than the ordinary remedies. You may ask, "Well, what will help us?" If you would believe, we can just take the Holy Qur'an and do the job. But you can never get the general community to believe in a Holy Book. It has never happened before, so why expect it to happen today.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had a core of excellent believers. They were the ones who established the life, brought in the system and environment, and imposed that environment on the ignorant ones who could not see beyond the tip of their noses. That is a fact, not only for Prophet Muhammad, but a fact for every liberator. A liberator must have a core of people who first have sensitivities. You can be ever so smart, but if you are sensitized in a way to be adverse, you are going to be adverse.
We must have a core of people with the sensitivities to respond first to the importance of the issues, and have the courage to join the liberator and be his staunch supporters. With that kind of support, such a person can make progress. People with that kind of sensitivity represent the strength of their people. They will be able to foster in or force forward that concept, that life, that theory, that ideology, and those structures necessary to house the life of the people. They will be able to accomplish those things, and in time, change the whole life of the masses. But this takes time, and it takes love. It takes love for what is right.
Looking at our situation, it is peculiar that coming from an Islamic experience, African-Americans want to play up primitive experiences in our African past.53 I'm talking about the so-called educators. They make a point of trying to play up the primitive experience in the the African man's past. What would the Germans do if we or anybody else were to search their history, and only showed their primitive past. They were some of the most superstitious and savage people the earth has ever given birth, but they found the torch of enlightenment, grew out of their superstition and began the history of civilization for the German people.
Suppose somebody had the power to impose an idea on the German people and make them think that the best they have done in the past was during that time of wild, backwoods superstition. That would be awfully cruel. We have African-American students on the high school, college and university campuses who have been duped. They are being told that their past in Africa is primitive religion, ancestral spirit worship, animalism54 and other superstitious things. Emphasis is not being placed on the fact that they have centuries of history as scientist, and this was even before the time of Prophet Muhammad.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) came with the religion of Al-Islam and brought about a renaissance of interest in science. He not only wakened and quickened the intellect of the West (Europe), but he also touched the blackman's mind in Africa and brought him back to his scientific pursuits. You can read of the results in the history of Mali , Timbuctoo , Ghana , and many other African nations.
In studying the true history of Africa , you will learn of the glorious past of Al-Islam as it relates to us before we were brought here to America.55 Who can challenge that? Nobody on earth can challenge that, and you know it. I am asking that the learned among our people join me in correcting this mis-education that is designed to send our people away from the thing that will best help them. We want to give them an alternative. We want to offer them Al-Islam, something that will give them a dignified distinction in America .
It makes you wonder if it has ever occurred to the African-American people that the Europeans come here to America , become an American citizen, his generations are Americans, but yet he has the religion of his homeland. The same applies to the Asians and other immigrants who come here whether they are white, black, brown or red. After they arrive, they build their home, and in it they have a sanctuary for their traditional religion
Muslims must also understand that though we have heard of Al-Islam in the West, for the most part it has been incorrectly presented. We need the true report on this religion: how it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad, what it did to end the Dark Ages, how it brought the Arabs who were steeped in ignorance and corruption, to the peak of civilization where they became the beacon light of intellectual liberty for the human being. Al-Islam made possible the regeneration of scientific interest and scientific progress for the whole world. This is a fact of history. And if you do not believe what I am stating, all you have to do is study the Medieval Age and the influences of Al-Islam upon that period.
There are bad elements in the American society, in the American government, and in the halls of academia that don't want our people to come into anything other than what they have offered us. Why is that? It is because they take pride in our people being their adopted children, their adopted sons and daughters. They take pride in having us in their foster-home, looking at us as a foster-home generation. They take pride in those things and they know that if we become Muslim, we will break out of the foster-home. They know we will become our own man, and that is what they don't want to happen. It is a sick love, a sick jealousy on the part of the arrogant whiteman.
Liberty Or Death
I say to the Whiteman, "don't love us too much. Your love is cruel. When you love us to the extent that you don't want us to come into our own, that love is cruel, and that love is jealousy." The Whiteman wants to be the great savior, the great redeemer of fallen civilization. He wants to be the civilizer of backward nations; therefore his subjects must follow him. His attitude has been, "They must take the dress of a different culture, the dress of a different religion, because these are my boys, and I'm their daddy. My fathers and I raised them, and they had better stick to the life that we choose for them. They had better imitate daddy or they will have no life at all."
I say to them, "Give me liberty or give me death;" that came from one of their fathers. I mean what I am saying. Do not think that I am joking. I am very serious. If we want to normalize the spirit and behavior of the African-American people, we must have the courage to follow the call of those leaders who address the whole need in the life of our people. Today there aren't many of them around. Once we had quite a few, but most of them are gone.
A Purpose In Life
God has given us a purpose. And the highest purpose is to fulfill community, 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, social and community responsibility. By just studying that, you will come to 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.
Why Are We Different
Our condition demands that we ask ourselves the question "Why we are so different from everybody else?" The answer is that we were cut off too abruptly, too thoroughly to have the kind of sensitivity we find in other ethnic groups. We were suddenly cast upon a new part of the planet with no recollection of how we got there or whether we should stay or not. We have taken all of our signals from the new environment that offered us little or nothing from the past except negative things.
We are shown pictures of an uncivilized whiteman called "Tarzan, Lord of the jungle." He is a half naked savaged whiteman who is incoherent, and an illiterate who had to holler. Yet, they show him as being the lord over the black people of Africa . That is the kind of pictures or movies they showed to our children two, three and four generations ago. These pictures were to condition our minds to believe that even the cheapest whiteman is lord among our ancestors.
When there came the opportunity for Muhammad AH to be made a mythological hero for our people, many fought against it and didn't even give it a break. It was given a little exposure and then withdrawn because those who want us as their field animals, their domestic pets and their foster-home children, do not want to separate from us. If they see a trend that will take us out on our own and establish us in our own manhood and in our own dignity as a people, they fight it even though they know it is against their better principles of civilization. They fight it because they are too weak in their sentiments, and too much attached to their old property called Uncle Tom, Blackboy, etcetera."
Those who study psychology and sociology, know that a person can become too attached to their own children. They can become so attached, that eventually they become a cruel taskmaster. They become a domineering restraint on the potential of their own children, holding them back from dignity and progress because they love them too much. Their love is coming from a dependency and a weakness within. It is coming from an insecurity within, and in coming from that weak situation, they send their children to inferiority behind inferiority. That is the same kind of thing the whiteman's supervision is doing for us. We should not want his supervision anymore. We should walk together as men just like he does. We should decide our own destiny and future. We should not want him doing for us anymore the things that all others do for themselves.
The Problem Child
Whether we live in the Old World or the New World, the Third World or the World of the Superpowers, we are going to find ourselves in environmental situations that challenge the very nature of man. The dynamism of man challenges him. In all worlds you are going to find bright children and slow children. Undoubtedly you are going to find children that will become unruly, and because of your short-sightedness, you will judge their unruliness wrongly.
Because of the effects of certain environmental influences on them, you may think that your children or your subjects are against you, resent you, don't appreciate you, and are even trying to overthrow you. But have you considered that this situation might be the result of them being out of touch with what you really represent? Have you considered that they may have been separated from what you really represent-from your traditional strength, your traditional life, and your traditional progress. You have left them by the wayside, and you did not bring them along with you, so apparently they may have become a factor for undermining you.
It can happen that in your neglect, you fail to see that among them are some bright ones who have insights and vision that will take your society much farther than you can. You may be in the ruling position, but you do not have the insight nor the genius that has emerged in your subjects. Therefore, because you see an unruliness and a tendency to undermine, you go against them, and many times destroy your best people. You destroy your own best future in ignorance.
Let us take a look at the African-American in relation to the above. In these big cities we see our teenagers in gangs that have their own code of ethics. They have loyalty to each other, and a code they live by. They exercise more respect, commitment and loyalty among each other than do African-Americans in what we refer to as the legitimate society. We don't have that kind of bond in our homes. We don't have that kind of commitment to principle or those kind of loyalties. In our own homes we turn against each other, ignore each other, and walk away from each other. We are killing ourselves, going into drugs, wine, prostitution, theft, being recruited by gang leaders, and most of us just sit back and let these things happen.
Sometimes the terrible destiny that God allows to happen is better than the situation that we have for our children at home. That is pitiful. We can become ignorant and become our own oppressors. We can become the very forces that suppress the seeds in our potential, and suppress the spirit in that potential. We have to understand the complexity of life and the complexity of society, whether it is in 1986 or earlier. We must understand that there are competing forces and competing systems, and that there are always personal needs.
Many times these competing forces and systems can become misguided and warped, and an environment will be created that is insane. When that happens, the urge in human potential will begin to emerge, and with the spirit and energy from that human potential will come personalities who will address the wrongs of the environment. They will begin to recommend remedies for correcting the problems of the environment. If we are too caught up in our own traditional ways, too fascinated, charmed and excited over our own achievements, we will not be prepared for the factor of liberation that is emerging in the new individual.
A Price For Freedom
I would like to relate something that happened to me recently while shopping near one of the better high schools on Chicago 's Southside. I overheard a young girl student say, "In the USSR, basic necessities are free. The Russians don't have to pay for their education or housing." After listening to her, I turned to her and said
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