Productive Ideas For Us In Religion - Part I
"Productive Ideas For Us In Religion" Part I
By Imam W. Deen Mohammed
Editorial Note: No one can speak for Imam W. Deen Muhammed better than his lectures and their impact on the attending audiences have spoken. Here, again, the words of his address to the overflowing crowd at McCormick Place in Chicago on September 4. 1988 must be put in print as they were given, Muslim Journal is honored to have this opportunity to further disseminate the words of this historic lecture.)
As-Salaam-Alaikum, and that means peace be unto you. With Allah's Name, the Merciful Benefactor, the Merciful Redeemer, we pray the peace and the blessings of Allah he upon the Universal Messenger, His Servant and Messenger Muhammed, upon his descendants, his Companions, the righteous all. Amin.
Dear beloved people, Muslims and Believers, and all here, we wish you the best and pray that we do not insult you in any way. That we do not waste your time. We pray that Allah blesses you with peace, happiness, and the blessings that He has created for His creation and the creatures that He has created in the human beings.
In addressing or speaking on ''Productive Ideas in Religion," I want to begin with the statement that I have prepared. And in presenting this I pray to Allah that you will give consideration to this and in the time after you are gone from here, that you will think about what was said and give it studious attention.
There are many ideas that we need to share with the common members of society. However we hate to use the term, "common," but this is the way we speak. For "common" may suggest that someone else is not common. But all of us are common. What we mean then is for the "general society." These ideas need to be shared with the general public. It so happens that this audience is almost 100 percent Muslim, but that is not because we desire it that way. The only way we would be happy with an 100 per cent audience of Muslims would be that the United States was 100 per cent Muslim. But we are happy always to be with each other, for that is a special happiness.
For an audience like this, it is very good to give ideas that many speakers would be afraid to give. Why would they be afraid? It is because he would say, "the common man's mind is not sensitive to those ideas. That is too much burden on the common mind. That is too much burden on the common person. What you are to do is just talk about the light-weight things."
But G'd said He was going to give Muhammed a Weighty Word not a light word. And if G'd gave Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, a heavy word, then I think we should have faith in the ability of the common person to receive the heavy word. The burden is on us, if we are aware and knowledgeable for many of us profess to be knowledgeable. I don't profess to be knowledgeable. I profess to be blessed.
However, many Imams and preachers claim to be highly knowledgeable but stoop down so low to perform the duties of our office. So insha-Allah and with the blessings of Allah, we intend to talk about sacred ideas and productive ideas for us in religion.
Surprisingly I am going to start with the language that may seem to be away from religion. But it is not. So I will go to the matters that will set the stage for my talk.
As on all occasions, we ask Allah's blessings on this occasion because we cannot guarantee anything. No matter how hard we try, sometimes we miserably fail our own expectations. Many times I have even put what I felt was everything into a speech or lecture, and then came back feeling that I did not come anywhere near doing what I wanted to do. But if Allah blesses us, we are happy with the results and the results are good.
Although today's message is intended for the general public, as it has been the case, my immediate audience is the harvest from the many years of my father's hard work at reforming history's most played over people. That is that no other segment of man has been abused as a play thing by so many nations of the world. Most of you in this immediate gathering know this.
As for the principle of righteousness, I have not been disloyal or unwilling to bow and repent, when I have seen myself in the wrong. On the other hand in responding to a greater urge to follow the excellence that has been heard both as shouts and as whispers from Elijah Muhammed's lips, while always agreeing with the aims, I was not always agreeing with the details.
Our father, Elijah and I say "Our father" because I have many brothers and sisters here from the loins of my father and from my mother, Clara Muhammed. Also I have many of you here who think of him as father, as well as there are non-Muslims that I have met in the public of Chicago that also call him "father." I like to call him "our father, Elijah" and I like to speak of "our mother, Clara." Our lives and theirs can never be completely separate. When all is concluded, it is their company that I am wanting in paradise.
Be aware that the aim is of greater substance than the details in the message of our greatest reform teacher, Elijah Muhammed. On the other hand what is wrong with wanting to be more decent regarding our actions and regarding our efforts to see clearly that aim?
The world, as it was did not offer any relief to the natural hunger for the food of freedom, justice, and equality. Poverty encaged the lot of the people. Stigmas of racial inferiority tagged the people as losers fit for abuse. Society signally rejected this people.
Now will it broadcast weakness or will it broadcast strength to say that was a different world and a different time? Thirteen years ago has gone like one yesterday, to me. Reader's Digest said in a caption which introduced an article on Elijah Muhammed's organization and I quote, 'The Most Influential Black Man in America."
Not long ago our local media helped Chicago celebrate its birthday. In the Chicago Sun-Times article, the Honorable Elijah Muhammed was listed as being among the leading figures having made an imprint on the great City of Chicago.
And I quote from that special man, the Honorable Elijah Muhammed, our father "You will not be equal with the white man until you have equal knowledge." Again it is not the details to his diatribes against wicked America as it was for as for those details and as for other details, speaking for myself and for my sincere admirers, the substance was not in those details. The substance was in the aim.
When we take out single lines and look at those single lines and statements that came from the Honorable Elijah Muhammed's mouth that represent a thought or a message, then we are looking at details. When we pick up one of the old pamphlets or lessons and read one of the questions, we are looking at details. When we look at the whole thing and get a feeling for where the Honorable Elijah Muhammed wanted to take us, then we are looking at the aim. And the substance was in the aim.
What is substance? It is the best parts. Substance is the strength and the best part. It is that that is essential and the important make up, the important ingredients. That is the substance, for it is that that is most needed for support.
And it was by the "aim" that corruption met its defeat, and not by the details. I should not have to make it plain for you as to what corruption I am referring to. You who have been with us for the last twenty years are well aware of the corruption that I am talking about. That corruption is responsible for the change of properties from our ownership to the pleasures of the courts.
It was not the changes brought on by W. D. Mohammed. It was the changes brought on by corruption that put us in the position to lose material properties. Where we sit before judges who sit there with the image of the courts and pretended to be respecting us, but in his mind and in his heart he is saying these people made mistakes that justify him confiscating all that they have produced. He also knows that he has enough support above him to get by with what he is doing. That judge knows also that he has the principle of our religion against us that helps him to carry out his design. What is that principle? It is that corruption is not supposed to inherit from society. Again, what is the principle? Those who neglect their possessions should lose them.
Now returning to that special man, the Honorable Elijah Muhammed. What a soul stirring farewell he gave. When you think to give me credit, then give it to my "name" or give it to his "name." It is a good feeling to say, "I want to be about my father's business. I perceive Elijah Muhammed's aim, and his aim is pure and good and strong and best for all of us. It is the universal aim of man in society, and that is to have what G'd created him for - the dignity at home, the dignity when he is alone by himself, the dignity in the public, the dignity before the government, the dignity in the international world. That is the longing of the human person, to be honorable and respectful and to command respect wherever he is.
That was the desire of the Honorable Elijah Muhammed, to see his poor and disrespected people brought back to a plane like that. Whether we walk the same walk or walk the same road or not is not important. Are we after the same thing? I am after the same thing that he was after.
I perceive Elijah Muhammed's business as the dignity -the created dignity, the inborn dignity of a miserably degraded people. What is equally demanding now is attention not only to this people but attention also to the deteriorating lot of the many others who are appearing to be in about the same situation.
In my perception, the first step against a people's deficiencies is the step of soul searching. I am coming from the teachings of religion. I am no authority and have no strength, except for what I have gotten from religion. I have nothing to stand upon, except for what is provided for me in religion. I am not a graduate of Harvard or Yale or of any college. The extent of my formal knowledge is a High School education, except for three hours of credit in English 101.
You would not consider me an educated person, except on the basis of personal experiences - being self taught. But for a formal education, I have no credentials there. You know if they do not respect the average college certificate now, then you know how they look at a high school diploma.
However, one of the many productive ideas in religion has to do with the responsible attitude towards self. The serious watch over our behavior, where the concern is significantly formed of a desire to escape the pull of hell and qualify for the reward of heaven is rooted, no doubt, in a naked self interest. And upon that note, it can be said that soul searching occurs at the point of critical examination of our self interest.
It makes me want to do "thikr" right now, in saying "subhana-Allah," "Al-hamdul-llah," and "Allahu-Akbar." In doing that, aren't we soul searching? We are remembering G'd, and we are remembering Him for what? We remember Him in order to strengthen the soul, to cleanse the soul, and to make the soul presentable. As one remarkable Western philosopher put it, "Nothing serves the public interest better in a democracy than an educated self interest." Let me repeat -"An educated self interest."
G'd has blessed me to see where my spirit wants to go with you, and that is the education of your own self. It is not the education of the society. It is the education of your own self that will make you educated for the society. It is not going to be easy, and we don't expect to get to anything great by the road of ease.
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