How Your Religion Views Extremism: The Lesson For Daily Life
How Your Religion Views Extremism: The Lesson For Daily Life
By Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editorial Note: Imam W. Deen Mohammed made this public address on June II, I989 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Imam Mohammed has stated the fallowing regarding his editing process: "My somewhat random and unwritten speeches often require not only editing, but also the rewriting of rough parts. I like to improve.")
Praise be to Allah. As Salaam-Alaikum. Which is peace be unto you. We begin with Allah's Name, recognizing Him as being responsible for all the good that is in our life and for all the good results that come to us. We pray and seek Him that good be produced with all our endeavors, and we pray His blessings and peace upon the last and universal prophet, Muhammed.
We witness that there is but one Allah (G'd), the Lord and Creator for all. And we witness that Muhammed is His Servant and His Messenger, the last universal prophet and messenger.
I thank Allah for the opportunity to be in this area of the New England states and to be in this city of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and also to be the guest of some of the finest people and finest Muslims that I have ever met. These are the people who hosted us here in the New England area. Imam Abdul Majied Karim Hasan of New Haven and Imam Nasif Muhammed of Bridgeport along with all the good Imams and good people of this area. We really thank you for being better human beings than the average we've met.
There are some comments I would like to make before going into the concerns that I have prepared for this address on extremism and how our religion regards and views extremism. Let me first say that while I am very much pleased with the results we have been getting over the last four or five years now, I still see that we are under tapping our resources. We are not yet reasonably using what we have. We have plenty that we are not using. I am not talking about the national effort or an administrative effort. I am referring to the resources that are in all of us and the responsibility that is all of ours to use what we have to the best of our ability. Not many are doing that.
I remember, too, while I feel very good over the response that we are getting in this area, if we would measure the response here to the responses we have gotten in other places like Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Philadelphia, and other large cities, then the results and support to our call here in Bridgeport are far better. I don't know what it is about the small towns, but they seem to be bigger than the big towns in ways that are dear to us.
I don't want to embarrass anyone, but if I were to ask how many people took Highway 95 or the inexpensive train and traveled one hour to get to this meeting from New York, it would be shameful to see how many hands would go up. There are those who did not want the Muslims to hear me. The most disgraceful ones are in New York City. Their attitude is "that if he (Imam W. Deen Mohammed) speaks to you, it will be on our turf."
I remember under the Honorable Elijah Muhammed, and I am qualifying my referring to the Honorable Elijah Mohammed and what he did by what the Prophet, himself, said, peace and the blessings be upon him, and also by what Allah says in comparing those who were doing things before the Prophet (PBUH) and his mission with those who were called to act and respond to Allah and to produce after the advent of our Prophet (PBUH). Allah says in the Holy Book that you should respond to this with the same enthusiasm that was expressed before for idol G'ds, but (in support of Al-Islam) you should be even more enthusiastic and even more sincere.
That is not to say that we had idol G'ds of that jahiliyyah time (dark age) when we were following the Honorable Elijah Mohammed. However, in a modern way we had idol G'ds, some more impressive than the shirk (false worship) of jahiliyyah (dark age), ignorant age Arabia. We wanted to believe the "black man" was G'd and the "white man" was the devil.
The Lord (Allah) I worship tells me that He is constantly in some great work of producing and that He is never idle. There is never a split second that Allah is idle. He is at all times producing a marvelous work. Thanks to Allah, we gave up that shirk.
While I am happy on the outside, I am still disappointed. It is because I know that many of us are not responding as we should, especially in those big misguided cities. We are not even responding to our duty to be truthful and honest regarding the person that we say we support W. Deen Mohammed.
My purpose for coming to these small cities is to have a better environment at a much reduced cost. Big cities are too expensive for our meetings. It takes too much money to rent suitable facilities and have suitable hotel accommodations and meals. The big cities are greatly overburdened and unsuitable for the striving poor.
Some of your leaders are too desperate financially to be of good help. I don't warn to blame them. I want to blame their situations. We are using our intelligence and coming into smaller towns that will not tax us too much and will offer a better environment. In these smaller towns the people are more human, the media is more human, the atmosphere is more human, and therefore we can expect better results from the small cities. We hope to find desirable facilities near big cities within an hour distance by car.
I have sent that message out and I have been accused of boycotting them, while they are boycotting me and my supporters. I am not here in the spirit of a complaining person, but I think some things should now be said. It would even be stupid on my part, if I didn't make you aware of what is being done on this side and of what is being done by those pouting because things are not going their way.
I recall being under the Honorable Elijah Mohammed while I was Minister in Philadelphia, there I was able to get support to bring over seventeen buses to one of his lectures that he made in Washington, D.C. How many buses came from New York City to Bridgeport today? How many buses came from Philadelphia today? That is to say, we are not treating our interest of today as we treated our interest of yesterday.
Of course, there are many reasons for this. We know that going to hear someone tell you about the "original black man being the father of civilization and G'd of the universe and that the sisters are the mothers of civilization" I can understand you being more enthusiastic to go and hear that. But when the dust settles, then we would think that you would be more rational and appreciate this straight religion more today than you appreciated that flattering talk of yesterday in "temples of Islam."
One more comment on this particular concern: Would you believe that after all of these years of working and preaching to bring respect to all of us individually and collectively and to bring a situation where all of us will feel free to work, produce, and campaign for positions, that today we still have sneaky people around us trying to stir up the feeling that "we have to overthrow the leadership that we have now?"
They will say, "Yes, we pray Allah that all of us can rally around "La illaha illallah, Muhammadan rasullullah and insha-Allah." You know, the term "insha-Allah" on the tongue of most Muslims not only American Muslims, but it is the same throughout the world "Insha-Allah" for them is an expression of "doubt." For what they doubt, they will say, "Insha-Allah, brother, insha-Allah." For this occasion they will say, "We pray Allah there be great results out there in Bridgeport. All of us support 'La-illaha illallah, Muhammadan rasullullah.' And insha-Allah we support Imam W. Deen Mohammed."
Now what is the reasoning behind that? What is the cause for that? Am I blocking your way? Am I competing with you? Am I stopping you from getting where you want to go? Where is it you want to go? Do you want to be the leader in the New England area? Then my prayers are with you. And if you are really a good person and qualified and if I think that you are the one who should be supported if you will let me know, then I will join you and help you. I will give you my support. Do you want to be the national leader? Come and let me know. Show me your qualifications and I will do whatever I can to help you, even if you take my place. If you are better, then I want you to succeed me right now in my lifetime. What is it you want?
The Imams have their right to send their articles to the Muslim Journal. The Journal is not my private paper, it is our Muslim paper. It is the business of the people running it from the offices of the Muslim Journal. I do not dictate to any of them. So what is it? Do you want to be visible in the Muslim Journal newspaper? Then you have the same right that I have. There are Imams with beautiful articles in this newspaper. Some of them give beautiful khutbahs (lectures). I read them. I read the Muslim Journal every week from first page to the last page front and back. That is for me an obligation. It is our pleasure and also our obligation to know what is in our Muslim newspaper. In the Muslim Journal, I see the Imam's words and speeches, and I see some of them with wisdom.
So what is it you want? You have access to the same media I have access to? Do you want to be on television? Go ahead and work for it. I have failed and cannot get on major television. Do you want something that Allah has given to somebody else, and Allah has not given it to you? That was not my decision. I cannot do anything about that, and you should not have a problem with me over that.
What is it I am talking about? If people admire me, love me, and want to help me with their money, then I accept that Allah has blessed me with that support from them. If Allah has not blessed you with that support from them, then I cannot do anything about that. I have no power to manage that at all. If I were to tell them, "Stop sending your money to me and send it to Brother So and So who wants it," they would not do it. It is shameful that we have such silly and petty problems. However, these petty things ignored can trouble us and deny us the situation we want and need for our Muslim life.
Some of these people I am speaking of are so shrewd, and one of them I know even looks like an angel. He has the appearance of an angel and looks almost like he is not there. You feel as though you want to touch him to see if he is real!
"Insha-Allah," is his favorite saying. You can say, "We will have prayer now." His response is "Insha-Allah."
We know nothing can happen without the Will of Allah, but was that the habit of the Prophet? Did Prophet Muhammed say, "Oh Muslims, come to prayerinsha-Allah?" Never did any language like that come from Prophet Muhammed, peace and blessings be upon him. "Oh Muslims, may our prayers be heard by Allah, in-sha-AlIah!" "Oh Muslims, let us go and support zakat, in-sha-AIIah!" So they do not know that they are mocking themselves and putting the brand of the rebel on themselves for all of us to see.
Here is another concern as I have come to conclude my preliminary concerns. This address is on "extremism," and I am now beginning to address the topic. We have to understand that if something strikes our true human sensitivities in a way that offends us or makes us uncomfortable, then that is not Qur'an and that is not Muhammed the Prophet and that is not this religion of Al-Islam. If anything, I repeat, is said by me or by anyone addressing you or if you read something, if that thing touches your true human sensitivities and makes you feel offended or uncomfortable, then that thing has been presented to you in the wrong way. It is not Qur'an. It is not Muhammed the Prophet (PBUH). It is not this religion of Al-Islam.
As I look behind me and see what we have done together, for I have made some mistakes but I have tried my best that whenever I have seen a mistake I have made, I have tried my best to come back and correct it. Whenever I see anything that I have presented wrongly, if I become aware of it, then right away I begin working on it to present it in the right way and do away with that bad impression or bad presentation.
Don't think that I make no preparations. From the moment I knew I had to come here to Bridgeport, I began working on my talk. If you were to ask. "How much time does the Imam spend in the office?" The answer is "all of my awake hours." My office is wherever I am. I do not waste my time. If I am sitting up here waiting to be called to speak, while sitting there I am thinking on how I can better present what I have prepared. My thoughts are on how can I better improve the things that I am doing? I am thinking and trying to do better all the time. If the hands are not at work, at least the mind is all the time.
My constant concern, my constant duty, my constant responsibility, and my constant activity is to try and do better. I begin thinking on what I have to do and on how I have to present a matter from the first time I know that I have to do it. As the days wind down, I begin to formulate something on paper. It is easy then to formulate something on paper, for I have been thinking about it all along. I then formulate something on paper and come and present it to you and pray to Allah I pray to Allah before I begin and I pray to Allah behind my work, that I present something acceptable. Most of all I pray that it is something that Allah accepts. I pray that I conform to the requirements of Qur'an and of the Prophet's life on me as a Muslim. That is my concern.
When we speak, we have to be very careful that we are saying what is right and that we are saying it in the right way. Don't you sometimes feel that you have not said the right thing? Even if it sounds good, if it is wrong, you should be able to feel that you have said the wrong thing.
Understand that we are not here as a religion on this earth to remove other religious people and other religious communities. We are not here to get rid of Christians. We are not here to get rid of Jews. That is not our purpose. We are here to propagate, to testify, and to witness to what Allah has given us in Qur'an and in Prophet Muhammed, peace and blessings be on him. And we are to acknowledge that Allah also guided others. We are to establish ourselves as a people of faith and also we are to acknowledge that others are established as people of faith.
We are here to establish ourselves as people serving the good of society and humanity, and we are at the same time to acknowledge that there are other people, too, working for the good of society and for the good of humanity. That is our religion.
We have to call the shots as they are. We have to see the facts as they exist. We have to be able to see facts and identify facts as they are and not as we want them to be. I believe that is what the Imam before me was saying. Some of us want to make the facts like we want them to be. But we have to look at the facts, see them as they are, then address them as they are and present them as they are. Do not change the facts to satisfy your problem.
We have to be very conscious in this religion to obey always the best motivation in ourselves. We have all kinds of motivations in us. Don't follow the bad motivation or the selfish motivation or the weak motivation over the better motivation. Always follow the best motivation in yourself. That is an obligation on us as conscious human beings in this religion. It is an obligation on us as conscious human beings.
Be very careful of what you say, especially when you are talking to other people. I am careful of what I am saying when I talk to my wife, when I talk to my children, and others. I am careful of what I am saying when I am talking to an associate worker or to my friend. I am afraid to say too much. I would rather hear what they have to say and see what it is they want, and then I will come in on that. Maybe it will be something good, something straight, and something strong that I can join them in. I don't like to take the lead. I would be afraid that I would be giving them something that is bad for them, or something that they don't want.
First of all our religion came to Muhammed as Revelation in the form of the Qur'an, the last revealed Book from the Lord of the worlds. Muhammed is the Prophet and Messenger from the Lord of the worlds. This Book (Qur'an) addresses the universal order and gives us a sense, a picture, or an idea of how extremes are dealt with in the universal order of things.
When Allah created the worlds that we know as the universe, He said that the creation was in a state of confusion or disorder. In other words this world was not given to us in the order that it is in now. Its creation began from disorder, and after disorder Allah brought order about in the creation. That process of order continued until there was a universal order established. Orderly movements in the heavens and the high realm of order were established.
When we look at the heavens, that great and peaceful order, we may feel at peace in our hearts. It influences us on the inside and makes us feel peaceful. Perhaps it doesn't do that for all of you. But still for many of us on a clear night, we can look at the sky in its beauty and in its order and it affects us inside and will make us feel peaceful. It makes us feel more in order within ourselves. It touches us with its orderliness and it touches us with its peacefulness and beauty.
Allah says that He addressed Himself to the heavens while they were in a state of confusion or disorder, and He ordered them seven strong heavens. Allah brought about that order of that mystical seven. Allah brought about the seven strong heavens. Then Allah recites to us or gives us by way of Revelation the many beautiful signs of this orderly creation.
It brings us to see that things are just not happening haphazardly, but things in the universal system are happening in a very orderly fashion. There is the timing for certain events, and things are not coming out of their boundaries haphazardly. They follow a course and keep to their disciplines in the heavens, these escaping their boundaries are ordered into new boundaries, or they are brought to an end.
Then Allah points our attention to the earth as well, so that we can see the signs showing that Allah wants the same respect and same obedience on earth that is in the heavens. Some translators of Qur'an give the translation of the condition of the universe before it was made orderly as the universe of "matter in violent motion or commotion." This is the translation that has come from some of the traditional scholars. At any rate, we have to say that Allah brought about the order and peacefulness that we witness in the heavens today.
That former condition was a condition of extremes; disorder and chaotic condition represent an extreme. Allah then ordered the heavens and did away with that state of extremes and brought about a condition of orderliness, peace, and harmony. However, Allah did not tell the universe to be "dead." He did not say, "Now, you have been too active. So now be dead!" He did not take the creation from one extreme to another. Allah brought in something between the extremes. It is not over active and it is not dead. It is still phenomenally active but orderly and peaceful.
Now shouldn't that be a sign for us down here on earth? Some of us in our moods and attitudes and dispositions are saying without articulating that we prefer chaos, violent commotion, and confusion rather than order and peace. If we are guilty of having that kind of disposition, if we are really serious about wanting to be Muslim, start right now rejecting that disposition to favor discord and extremisms. To give up destructive dispositions for constructive dispositions is a sign of an intelligent person. An intelligent person will reject a troublesome state for a productive state. Some of us do not have the ability to reject our self-abusing dispositions. You have to have the ability to reject yourself in an unwanted disposition.
You must say, "This is the self that I do not approve of." Look at that person you say you are and criticize that person you say you are in the light of the person you claim yourself to be a Muslim following and obeying Allah and His Messenger. Question yourself in the light of what you claim, then look at what you are presenting as yourself and see if that is the person you want as yourself. If it is not, then say, this is the person I want to get rid of I do not want to be this person anymore. I want to be the person that Allah wants me to be. I want to be the person that I claim to be as a Muslim." Let all of us work on that.
I don't think I am wasting my time. I have seen many people that were given to confusion and extremism come around, and some of them are my best friends and best supporters today. I am not wasting my time. I think some of us are ignorant of our own actions. We are ignorant of our own behavior. We are ignorant of our own poor sightedness that we are not seeing straight.
But if someone can approach us to build on our good, we can see it and change and will throw off ugly attitudes and rid ourselves of the ugly persons we were. We will do this to become the persons that we claim to be, the Muslim Believers who are obedient to Allah and to His Messenger (the peace and blessing be upon Prophet Muhammed).
We don't have any excuses from Qur'an and from Prophet Muhammed for this ugliness in us. Some of us will pick up anything, just any excuse, any lie to avoid exercising strength required to separate ourselves from wrong. We will lie about the religion just to get another person out of the position that we want.
They, the weaklings, will say, "This isn't Al-lslam. This isn't the way we should be, brother. We are supposed to have extremism. In the face of extreme, you are supposed to be extreme, brother! You need an extreme to deal with an extreme." And I am sure some of you have already been saying that while I have been talking.
Some are working on how they are going to handle what they disagree with when I am gone. They are working on what they are going to do behind me. "You have to fight fire with fire," some may say. But I say, in most cases, that is a stupid statement: "You have to fight fire with fire!"
Except to contain brush fires with a ring of fire, have you ever seen anyone fight fire with fire? The only fire I know you fight with fire is the "fire of anger."
There will be one person angry and all fired up and will be fighting another person who is angry. That appears to be fire against fire.
Opposing the fiery state in each other can end fires. If I start attacking the logic of your fire, and you start attacking the logic of my fire, we may come to some kind of understanding. But you cannot attack fire with fire that will not work. That will only make my fire blaze up more, and pretty soon the people will not be able to distinguish your fire from my fire. They will say, "Yes, there are two people in one big fire."
I am aware of what is in the Qur'an as much as the average person or perhaps even more so than the average educated person. Certainly Allah says that if He had not caused one people to check another people, then the disorder and destruction would have spread all over the world. Tell me; wasn't He checking one people with another people through Prophet Muhammed and through those who supported him?
Allah was checking the idolaters and the persecutors of faith. He was checking them and their corruption that they had established and wanted to perpetuate on earth. But were Muhammed and his followers extremists? If they represented the extreme, they were the sober extreme of good in the race of the drunken extreme of bad.
That is the only kind of extreme we Muslims are to accept. As Muslims we can come with the extreme of sober good to deal with the extreme of bad. But we cannot come with the extreme of violence to deal with the extreme of violence. We cannot do that! We cannot come with the extreme of hurtful hatred to deal with hatred. We cannot do that! That, we are not allowed. Our Islamic life, our Islamic teaching, our Islamic principles will not allow us to step into the character of the condemned to achieve our goals.
That would mean that we would come out of the Muslim form and out of the Muslim light. We would lose the Muslim light and the right to be identified as Muslims, if we were to step into the behavior of the condemned. So we cannot do that! Prophet Muhammed, the peace and the blessings be upon him, when he was warring with crazy and violent enemies, look what they did.
Look at how they mutilated the beloved followers and even relatives of Prophet Muhammed. Those who followed Prophet Muhammed were opposed, killed, and sometimes mutilated. We pray the peace be upon them that they will always have the highest place in the heavens and also in the earth.
Did Prophet Muhammed ever tell his followers: "Mutilate them likewise?" No! He never even hinted that the followers should mutilate. Do you read where the followers say, "This savage tore the heart out of a Muslim, so tear his heart out?" No, you do not. We have to have sober civilized behavior, Muslim behavior at all times, We are not to allow into ourselves the extremes that are in the wicked, the un-G'dly, the ignorant, to influence us to take on their images. We cannot do that.
When Prophet Muhammed sent his armies out to fight those who were fighting him and were fighting to keep the religion of Al-Islam from spreading and to simply stop it, he would caution his army to not damage even trees. His armies were told to not hurt anyone who was not armed against them. They were told to be careful not to hurt the old people, the weak ones, and the little children. This is the recorded (instructions) teachings of the Prophet.
Would I now get into the emotional excitement and join those who say, "Ignore all of those fine principles of civilization" which have been established for us in Qur'an and in the life of our Prophet? Will I ignore all of that and just get into the emotional excitement and follow someone who says, "Yes kill the children, the babies, bomb the homes. You must destroy the innocent to get at the guilty." Am I going to join that? No! It is because I think of myself as a decent person, and I am going to always try to be a decent person. In this religion, I have to obey the demands of decency on me.
I cannot immorally follow my own ideas. I cannot follow my own selfish motives. I have to bring my total self under the discipline of the teaching of Qur'an and of the Prophet and that is it! Dear Believers, true faith protects us from extremism. Again, true faith protects us from extremism. The true faith of a Muslim is not an emotional faith by description. It is a rational faith by description.
We have pointed to Prophet Abraham, peace and blessings be on him, to identify the nature of the faith and the kind of faith that we identify with. It is the faith of Abraham, the upright one. When we study the faith of Abraham, we see that Abraham's faith is clearly presented as a faith based upon sound reasoning, the rational nature as well as the emotional. Abraham said to Allah, "O Allah, tell me how the dead will be raised? Not that I have any disbelief or any weak faith, but tell me so that my heart will be at ease. How will the dead be raised?"
Abraham was a rational thinker. He was not just satisfied believing and not understanding. His intellect was asking for understanding. Abraham was pure but had the courage to ask of Allah, "So that I will understand this and so that my heart will be at ease, not that I disbelieve but tell me how will the dead be raised?" It was a legitimate question. Allah accepted from him the question and gave him a sign of how the dead would be raised. (Qur'an)
When Prophet Abraham was seeking to know who was G'd and where was his Lord, he was observing the heavens. With the sky in their view, people came to an idea of Allah (G'd), if you study Bible or Christian, Jewish scriptures and scriptures of other religions, you will see that most of them found or thought they found G'd first in the heavens. They saw the concept of Allah (G'd) in the heavens and many made the mistake of describing Him by or through heavenly objects.
To symbolize the Divine, they used the sun, the light, and other things. Some of these are still attributes of Allah. He is called The Light. We don't understand it as the light of electricity, we know not to be that far out. He is not the light of the fire that is kindled.
This is a parable in that the light gives us a situation that we can see in, move in, and progress in. The light gives a situation in which we can perform better and be more accurate. The light presents the better situation for us, and Allah also offers the light of virtues and intelligence. Allah is the Source of that and is Light.
We also know that some people actually thought that these heavenly bodies were actually G'ds. Prophet Abraham, peace and blessings be upon him, was observing the heavens and trying to come to a conclusion. He asked, "Where is my Lord?" It is said that he watched the heavens and thought that the great star was G'd, but he saw that stars do not stay up. Some of them will fall. Then he said, "No, my Lord cannot be that. My Lord is not One that falls."
Finally, Abraham sat so long until the sun, itself, was seen rising and setting. As it was rising, Abraham said, "What a glorious and splendid thing. This must be my Lord." But as it begin to set (for Abraham stayed watching and observing until the night) then he said, "Oh it is setting, and my Lord is not One Who sets." So he rejected the physical universe and all its parts as being G'd. Abraham said. "My G'd is the One that did ail of this." He saw His G'd as the One behind the things that he could see, and not as the things seen.
We see Allah by indirect observation and not by direct observation. Allah said, "You cannot see Me directly.'' That is what He said to Moses.
Abraham's faith is a faith that allows us the use of our rational faculties, the use of our human intelligence. Our religion is not a religion that says, "Believe and do not think!" It does not say, "Believe and do not follow your intelligent urges or motivations. Believe but do not follow your pursuit of a certain logic."
We can question anything we want to question, as long as our motives are decent and right."
We should understand then, that Al-Islam is a religion that does not allow us to go to drunken extremes. Faith proper, especially religious faith, is of such nature that it requires of us that our own reasoning acknowledges its limitations. Allah has blessed us with rational faculties, with an intellect and the power of reasoning. But we have to understand that we are not perfect or beyond making an error. We are not Allah and we are not without some limitations. We question but we are not so stupid as to think that our intellect or our reasoning is so complete, is so powerful, is so perfect that it can establish everything conclusively and nothing is above it. That is not the case. Its Creator is above it.
There are some things that my intellect will have to accept that it just cannot do away with or conclude totally. There are still some things that my intellect has not been able to understand or to grasp or to explain fully to my satisfaction. But there is enough evidence, enough proof for my intellect and for my rational side to convince me of matters I should support. When there is enough proof to convince me, although I am not completely free of all questions, I may give my support. I still may have some questions, but sometimes I may feel those questions are not important in the face of all of the other evidence. In that case, I may forget about even asking any more questions.
We are limited. That is what I am saying. We are limited as rational beings and as mortal beings. We are not G'ds. And in the final analysis, what is the best thing going for us as Muslims? It is our faith. There are a lot of us who claim to be intellectual and claim to be bright and heavy. But the best thing going for us is our faith. If the faith is not right, then everything else is going to be wrong. The right faith gives us a situation for establishing everything else in the right way. Our faith is what enables us to establish our moral life in the right way. It is not our knowledge, it is our faith that makes us able to establish our moral life.
It is our faith that enables us to think right. If your faith is wrong, then you will think wrong. It is not our knowledge that is going to get us into heaven. And I hear you quoting scholars and saying that the scholars are going to be in a room in the heavens next to the prophets, I have heard it and I accept it too. I know you have heard that it is the learned scholars that best worship Allah. But I also know other things that Allah has said, and one is this: "It is My sincere devotees who know Me best!" I also know that Allah says, "Those who believe and work righteousness, their Lord will guide them because of..."
And it did not say "because of their intellect." It does not say "because of their superior intellectual insights." It does not say, "because they have superior knowledge and are scientists". It says, "because of their faith."
In the final analysis. Allah looks to our hearts. And it is the moral content, the disposition in our spirit to be faithful to Allah. That will get us in heaven. When you do not have that right (rational) faith, then you tend to go to these extremes.
There are those who worship knowledge (light) and become blinded by the (light) knowledge. They leave the world thinking that they are a class of invisible beings. They think their work is outside of our view and consequently become an invisible order working in secrecy. That is not our religion. Many of them are disbelievers in the existence of a Real G'd. Soon, they think they will come to convince us that they are G'ds. That is the worst kind of extremism.
On the other hand, how do the Words of Allah in our Qur'an and from our Prophet deal with this tendency in us to misconceive, to wrongly perceive the external world and our role in it? First of all it shows us the encompassing unity of this creation. That Allah is the Creator of all of this. There are no two creators, no two G'ds. Allah is the Creator and Lord of the material side and also is the Lord of the spiritual side. All of it before Him is one creation belonging to Him.
It is said, "Can't they see that the heavens and the earth were once joined together before they were separated?" Qur'an. What is that saying? Didn't many astrologists study the heavens and came to stupid conclusions? They thought the heavens out there were just ceiling and decoration for the living room, earth. Everything out in the heavens revolved around the earth as the center of the universe.
Later they found that they were wrong, and that the earth and other bodies mars, mercury, et cetera were going around the sun. That the sun is really the center of the solar system, and that we all are going around the sun. Scientists (rational thinkers) came to that conclusion later.
Casual busybodies thought the earth was apart and separate from the heavens. Allah asked, "Can't they see that once this was one continuous unit before it was separated?" Then again Allah says to us, "And seek with the means that Allah has availed you the Home of the Destiny. However do not forget (neglect) your share of this world."
As we mentioned last night in our address to the Muslim business persons, that most of the scholars and the learned people in this religion in fact, all of them I have heard prefer this verse from Qur'an when they want to address the problem in man and in society of separating the total unit, reality. That is when spiritual life is made something separate and foreign.
Spirit and material are not two foreign realities that are in conflict with each other. They are a part of one creation, the same reality. Whereas they are separate and have distinct form and distinct worlds, so to speak, they are also united in a continuous whole or unit. They are one and are reflective of each other. The people (the witnesses) saw among them a man. The Prophet (peace be upon him) identified the Angel in what appeared to be a man in immaculate dress of black and white. Bukhari and Muslim reported hadith.
The material is reflective of the spiritual; the spiritual is reflective of the material. What we see in the material is a sign of what is in the spiritual. We are to see the unity.
The unity for Muslims is more important than the division or the diversity. We are not to believe on the principle of diversity. We are to believe on the principle of "Tauhid." This tells us that the unity is more important than the division or the diversity, because the unity overrides all divisions and all diversities. That is a fact for the intelligent ones who have studied. And it should be a conviction for the others that are sincere.
Upon this unity, we are to dismiss all notions that we are to have a cut-and-dry separation of religion and state, or a separation of business life and religious life. There is no separation of business life and religious life for us. Business life is religious life for us. The life is one, although it has its distinctive separations. The life is unitary and is to be valued importantly in its unity, in its continuity, in its wholeness more so than in its divisions and diversities.
This is of the principle tauhid, and this affects us in ways to keep us from going to extremes. The world that believes that the devil and demons are all in the material and all of the material world is the caster of shadows and the giver of darkness, that world is the world of extremes. I have never seen any light without material, unless it was what I perceived of myself in the abstract. But out here in the material world, if you see light, you can expect for it to be coming from something material. If I see a shadow, I also expect it to be coming from something material.
We have to dismiss all notions of there being some material world of blackness and darkness and demons. That is religious ignorance. That ignorance has with it a belief that we "black people" are children of the blackened angel. There are some people in religion who believe that, and I am not talking about just in the West or in Christianity. They say that you are marked as the children of the black fallen demons and they have to be suspicious of you and that you can't be trusted. They say that you have human in you also, but still you are the children of the black demons.
There is one organization that just recently informed the public that it forgave our blackness. A representative of theirs said, "Well, they have suffered enough." They then opened up their denomination to us, so that we could become members now, after being barred from membership since it was formed. I will not even name the group; they were so nice. But I wish I could be standing at the door whenever an African American seeks to be admitted. I would just like to say one thing to him or her: "damn fool!" I would say no more.
That is one thing that gets us so much disrespect in America and in the international world. That is, our foolish, stupid hearts. We are more in a hurry, running to hug the person that has been telling us, "I don't like you. I don't want to hug you, Stay away from me, for you stink, you are black, dirty, inferior." Now as soon as they say, "You are just like us." there we go, wet cheeks and all, "Oh you sweet creatures of G'd. Let me hug and kiss you!" Yuck!
What you should be saying is, "What do you have to say for your past stupidity and cruelties, now that you are thinking sensibly?" Don't run to them. What you should say is, "I would like to hear how in the hell you got into that kind of racist mind in the first place."
We should not distrust our business people, no. We should not distrust them, but we have to be aware that many in business have the wrong motive. Many are deceivers. And a religious community that believes in Allah and righteousness is an attraction for slick people. They think of you as stupid, so they will come among you just to get over. Therefore, you, have to be aware. We want not to be foolish or naive.
Certainly you should not be suspecting anyone without them giving you a reason to suspect them. But neither should you be so stupid or foolish hearted that you just grab into your confidence everyone you meet from outside your race or from your race.
Check a bank out. Don't just put your money in any bank. You should go there and look the place over. See how they are treating their customers. Stand in line and observe them for a little while. Maybe that is not the bank you want to put your money in.
Allah says, "Research the Qur'an." He did not just say to accept it on face value. He says, research the Qur'an. Non-Muslims, intellectuals have done this and some were through inquiry converted. They were not converted by an Imam, but they were converted by their study of Qur'an. One intellectual said that he was studying it to disprove it and became a convert.
However, you will not get help or support for your conversion from the Qur'an if your attitude is wrong. This doesn't mean that you have to believe in it, but you have to be decent. If you just want to go into the Qur'an void of moral feelings to criticize it, your attitude is wrong. But if you really think that it may not be valid and you have a sober attitude, then Allah will bless you to see that is, if you have good intentions.
We have many problems with extremism, and I have approached the bigger ones first. That is the extremism that comes from misconceiving the unitary order of this universe. That is also the extremism in the mistake of thinking that we have two original and conflicting lives and two conflicting natures and two conflicting life forms (orders) within ourselves. This is the biggest problem that gives rise to spiritual extremists, religious extremists on both ends.
These extremists are responsible for most of the evil in the world- They go to the material extreme and deny everything spiritual and deny the existence of a spiritual nature. They deny the revelation that has come to people for them to accept the spiritual nature and to accept faith. The people who go to that extreme present the worse cruelties to us.
On the other extreme end you have the spiritualists. They go to the extreme and want to persecute science and want to persecute the scientist. They want to persecute everyone that challenges what they say is the reality and the truth. They go to horrible extremes in being cruel and abusive and destructive. It is these foreign extremes that destroy us.
We have to understand that Allah has identified the problem of extremism with Satan. It is the devil that wants to influence you to accept a life of extremes. This is Allah's teaching in the Qur'an, that this work of influencing life and people to go to extremes is the work of the devil. Satan's method is to get you to accept extremes. Don't you know that extremism in materialism is the devil's work? And also extremism in spiritualism is the devil's work? Both extremes are the works of the devil.
We had extremism in identifying with a cause. Some of us think that to identify with a religious cause is to accept extremism. Such a person cannot even prepare a meal without going to extremes. The prayer of the believer, the G'dly people, in Qur'an is this: "Our Lord, grant us from our wives and from our offspring, those who will be the joy and pleasure of our eyes. And make us for the G'dly (the G'd fearing) an Imam (a leader)."
If we accept that and apply that, we are not going to be extremists. And we are not going to open ourselves up to be led by extremists. Allah is saying that we are to be examples and leaders. "Imam" is not only a leader, but a leader who leads by example. The Imam stands before us in prayer and leads us in prayer. We do exactly what he does, He is leading us by example. He is not saying, "Bless you, children, bless you. Now, pray," And then everyone goes and prays by themselves with him watching us while we pray. When we finish praying, the Imam then may say a prayer. This is not the case.
The Imam also has to do everything that we are obligated to do. If he can do just as we are obligated to do, then we will accept him as the Imam to lead us in the prayer. That is the qualification, that he be able to do exactly what Allah has obligated us to do in the way of performing our prayers and imparting the teachings and presenting the religion. He is under an obligation, the same obligation that we are under. If the leader cannot see his own mistake, then the one who knows is obligated to make the correction.
You have to understand this religion. This is not a religion of extremism.
"And make us for the regardful (the G'd-fearing) a leader who leads by example, "Qur'an. The Arabic language used here is not applying to the person or the leader in the singular. It is applying to "leadership." It is applying to a people, who by their life, by their example are to be respected as "a leader" to other people.
"Make us ..." It does not say "Make one 'from' us...." It says, "Make us a leader." Doesn't Allah say, "Let there arise out of you a community calling to all that is good, protesting all that is bad," and setting the best example? They are not fearing those who want to blaspheme and label them and criticize them for their righteousness. They are not fearing the criticism of the criticizers. Isn't that the group Allah is calling for in the Qur'an?
Then, when that group rises up, that group will be an "Imam" they will be a leader, an example in their collective body for other people who love, respect and fear G'd. We cannot be a leader for those people who are without morals and are materialistic, We shouldn't be trying to build up our leadership so that we can be a leader for fanatics, for racists, for criminals, for the immoral, for the degenerate that just give themselves to vulgarity and wasteful life styles. We do not want to be a leader for them. They are not in a condition to want the kind of leader that Allah wants for all of us.
We should be building up ourselves to be a leader for decent people, G'd-fearing people who respect sacred things, things of high value. We should be trying to raise ourselves in status to be a leader and example for people of conscience.
If we stoop to make ourselves attract the silly minded and vulgar people of society, then we are cutting off our chances to ever be dignified, to ever have anything of value that the society in general can appreciate. We do not aim so low. We are aiming high to establish leadership! We want to have the admiration of the most decent people in the society. We want to have standing among the people who have respect for the Creator and for the sacred things that man has cherished traditionally for thousands and thousands of years. We want to be able to impress the decent people.
However, we hope those down in the sewers will be impressed by us and will look up to what we have done, come to appreciate it, have a spirit for decency and grow to reform themselves. We hope for that. We will plead to them to come out of their foolishness and vulgarity. We will plead to them, but we are not going to pretend we love low minded people just as they are. "I love you just as you are"? No.
''Extremism and the quest for power"; I was watching a television program once and there was a statement made. "Power is the ability to influence behavior or attitudes of other persons and groups." Agreed, that is power. The people who were having this discussion were quoting statements from their intellectuals which, I am sure, had been given as the findings and conclusions of those intellectuals. This is not a statement that was just gotten off the top of someone's hat. This is a statement that was arrived at by intellectuals who had made observations and studies and came to scientific conclusions.
For different ones there will be different ideas of power. We know also that the most important power is the power that is "institution based." The power of government is much more influential and affects our attitudes and behavior more so than the power of any single individual. By government we also mean institutions, schools, colleges, universities, the elementary schools, and even included are pre-schools. When you put your baby in a pre-school, know there is a power there to influence attitudes and behavior. We should care that the overall affect will be good for our children.
To be included are business, places of worship, television, newspapers, videos, and records. These are represented by institutions. We have to understand this as power. We hear the expression, "We want power." "Power for the people!" "Power for the black man!" "Power!
First, you had better know the nature of power. It is working on you all of the time from so many different centers of influence. One of those influences may have just produced you and made you what you are today. You may not be in control of your own coming into a particular mind. We know some of our people once raised their fist for "black power." We know what they meant and respect their good intent. But it went wild and became sick. I also recall a changing from "black power" to "green power." And now there is a call for "economic power.''
That is good, for we want power. But we have to understand that we are already ourselves being influenced by established power. We aren't always conscious of how these established powers are influencing us, most importantly those that are institution based, but also personalities. There are those persons who have the power to influence our attitudes and behavior. We have to be aware of their atmosphere and environment, whether they are individuals or institutions.
We also know that you have heard the expression "power comes out of the barrel of a gun." That is a quote. Now who can say for sure and be comfortable saying it, that that idea and saying has not been significantly responsible for a lot of the violence we have in our streets? There are people shooting up each other. Look especially at the males. The males want to identify with power. The males want to be a reflection of power, a focus of power.
Look at the male youngsters. They can be only two years old and you will see them running in a show off manner exercising muscles. That male child will run different from the girl child. He will run displaying power. Tell that youngster that "power comes out of the barrel of a gun," and he will want a gun. Violent crime is our number one problem. I just read that recently in the media. We also heard what the State Senator said last night in this small city, that there were fourteen killings in one year.
If we get the right understanding of our religion, our religion has in it the protection for us. It will protect us from going to these extremes. We want power, but we do not want to give ourselves to blindness.
We also know that there is often extremism in the pursuit of goals. How are we going to get what we want. Some people want to follow the rule of extremism. We believers cannot follow that rule. Certainly we want to have "funds" as a religious community to take care of our financial needs. But we cannot go about it in any kind of way. We cannot establish a pyramid scheme to get money to pay our bills.
We have moral obligations on us. Allah says, "Do not mix that that is unlawful, that that is corrupt into your spending into your charities." That is it, and I have to accept and obey that. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Indeed Allah is all good and He does not accept anything but good." Therefore, I cannot give money from things illegal. I cannot serve this religion while having a life of crime. That type of person may say, "I know I am a criminal, but I am doing something for Al-Islam." That does not work and is not accepted.
I cannot take on the behavior and attitudes of the race haters, stating, "Just because they did it to me, I will do it to them." You cannot say you are going to be a "black racist," since they are "white racists." Also I cannot join anyone upon any basis. I have to join with you upon bases that are accepted in this religion. It will be said, "All Muslims must join with such-and-such Muslims, because their base is economics. And what we need now is jobs, income, and businesses. The greatest need of the African-American man now is business, economics. So we all should be rallying behind the one who is calling us to a base of economics." That may not be correct.
The only justifiable grounds or basis for us to unite as Muslims is "La illaha illallah. Muhammadan rasul-lull ah." That is belief in One G'd and belief in Muhammed the Messenger and that we follow the Qur'an and obey Allah and obey His Messenger. That is the only basis for our unity. Allah says that the mosque that was established from the very first day on "taqwa," on regardfulness and G'd-fearing, that mosque is the only mosque suitable for you to stand in and pray. That is what Allah says. That is in the Qur'an.
If I say, "Let us get together and establish a mosque so that we can have economics," if I am opening up a mosque for economics, for business for advocating from that particular facility business growth and money as my purpose, and that when you come there you expect to see me with money on my mind, that is wrong.
It is right to support business and economics from the mosque or at the mosque, but that is not the condition for coming to the mosque. That is not the condition for having a mosque, the condition for having a mosque is to have a place where Muslims can pray to Allah and respect Allah and carry out the obligation of group prayer and teachings and education and address all concerns. But the central attraction there is not economics, it is obedience to Allah.
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