Tag Archives: Imam W. Deen Mohammed

Respecting and Trusting the Group Intellect: Essential Foundations in Islamic and American Democracy – Part 1

The following comments were delivered in April 2004 before visiting dignitaries and leaders from Afghanistan as part of an official U.S. State Department visit. The presentation’s purpose was to compare the elements of democracy established in Islam with the compatible values of representative democracy established in modern American society.  The issues of diversity, tolerance, and pluralism are pragmatic characteristics of a more fundamental issue for all: How society values, respects and utilizes its group intellect.  The remarks include how our U.S. Constitution and other founding documents reflect Qur’anic principles of leadership and responsible government.

Dear Believers, leaders, Muslim brothers, As-Salaamu-Alaikum. With Allah’s Name, The Gracious, The Compassionate, Beneficent and Merciful Benefactor, Merciful Redeemer. We witness that He is One, The Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. That there is no partner with Him in the rule of the Heavens and Earth.  He is G-d Alone. And we witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger (SAW), and what follows of that traditional salutation to the Last Prophet, The Seal of the Prophets.

I thank Allah (SWT) for granting what is a great honor to share in dialogue with you, our brothers and leaders from Afghanistan, particularly such distinguished group of leaders and scholars.  We are aware of your struggles and are witnesses to the resilience of the believers (the people) there and their desire to be free to control their destiny and contribute to the best of the global intellect.  It is our prayer that Allah (SWT) grant you the strength and wisdom to succeed under your new constitution, and with the leadership of President Karzai, his administration, the leadership of you who are visiting with us here and your fellow representatives, and finally with the constructive help of the world community.  I want to thank Habjiax and the International Resource Center for planning and supporting this wonderful opportunity.

I have prepared just a few comments to share with you and I pray that Allah (SWT) will allow me to say only what is helpful and best for us and I plan to leave as much time as possible for an exchange of questions or observations.

I have read the objectives for your visit and reviewed your national itinerary, and wish to address my comments on the recurring themes of diversity, pluralism, and tolerance and to address these elements within the larger discussion of Respect and Trust for the Group Intellect. I believe such a discussion is important to begin appreciating how important this element is in the ethos of American democracy and how it prepares the path to a great future for Islam in America.  Consequently, American Muslims are obligated as others are to contribute as citizens and leaders in promoting the best of this democratic tradition that forms a major part of the “American Dream.”

Let me preface my comments in this area with the acknowledgment that I am honored to be a student of Imam Warithudeen Mlohammed, a Muslim American leader who through his love for Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (S) has dedicated his life and has worked for many decades to help bring millions of Americans to Al-Islam. He is a leader for international interfaith cooperation, economic development and human rights.  It is through his leadership and tafsir that I and millions of others have learned Al-Islam, the Miracle of the Qur’an and the Life Example of Muhammad (S) and the practical application and wisdom of these sources in the management of our affairs and lives.  I have some gifts for you that include introductions to Imam Mohammed and his work in bringing Al-Islam into the mainstream of American religious practice.

In 2001 (prior to 9/11) I was on Hajj and while at the Prophet’s (S) Mosque in Medina, I was approached by many Muslims from several countries who once they learned I was from the U.S., eagerly asked me about being a Muslim in America.  Specifically, they were  curious as to whether I was able to practice Islam freely.  My response was perhaps as surprising to them as their question was to me.   I told them that certainly I can practice my religion, that there are perhaps as many as 8 million Muslims or more in the U.S. and that we have masajid, schools all over the country.  That Muslims were in the military, government, business, indeed all sectors of American life.. That we have Muslim lawyers, judges, a mayor at that time and now we have 2 or 3 mayors I believe now and that we not only practiced Islam, but that Islam is the fastest growing faith in America and predicted to be the 2nd largest religion early in this century.  And that because of these facts, Islam shall play a greater role in shaping the future of America.

They were astounded….they had no idea of the diverse presence of Islam in America. And it is one example of the misconceptions most Muslims probably have about America, just as many Americans have misconceptions about Islam and what its presence means here.

On the one hand, there I was performing the Hajj and seeking to dispel false notions among fellow Muslims about what it means to be American when only a few months later (post 9/11), I would be addressing fellow Americans about what it means to be Muslim.  Such a position inherently means to me that American Muslims may be in the best position to bridge divisions separating East and West. And that this bridge is perhaps the best hope for the peace that G-d wants for us all. And it may be a greater burden even upon the descendants of America’s ex-slaves who are now Muslims and who have seen two sides of America. That is my belief.

How will Muslims play a greater role in shaping the future of America?

The answer is in the same way that others have in the past based on our society’s respect and trust in its group intellect as given is such documents as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Pledge of Allegiance, and our Constitution. What is this concept of a group intellect I refer to and why is it important?

In our personal lives, we use 3 sources of authority to manage our affairs: The Qur’an, the life example of Muhammed (S), and our intellect (Fiqh, Ijmah-ul Ummah, Shuraiyat, Mushwara, Ilm ul Kalam, ijtihad). In Al-Islam, human intellect is the third source for decision-making which we use to understand and apply the first two sources. And G-d has given man this intellect as a gift according our Prophet. From Al-Hadith: G-d has not created anything better than reason, or anything more perfect or more beautiful than reason.  The benefits which G-d gives are on its account and understanding is by it; and G-d’s displeasure is caused by it. And by it are rewards and punishments. Verily a man has performed the pillars and all good deeds; but he will not be rewarded but in proportion to the sense he employs.”

And we all know G-d says to us many times to us in Sura Ar Rahman: And which of the favors of your lord will ye deny?. It is important then for leadership not to deny a gift of G-d and that is the right of the individual expression and the voice of the people. And G-d trusts Man.  He believes in man, His khalifah. Gd says in Al-Shams: “By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right; truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it.”

When we make decisions as a group, we use the same 3 sources (2 remain constant). the third changes due to composition of the intellect. The affairs of the state or the community no longer rest solely upon my opinion, but rather with the consensus of the group opinion. A political structure is not given in Qur’an. Because the political structure evolves through the group intellect. G-d commands us to use the process of consultation to establish the politic.

How did America’s political structure and emphasis on Democracy develop?

Well it grew first out of their experience with an oppressive Church which stifled intellectual development and debate, reinforced class differences, and denied general education for the masses. However, dissatisfaction while serving as a motivator cannot suffice as a blueprint for changing one’s circumstances.

Some claim our country’s commitment to democracy is based exclusively on Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman models or principles, but more properly and by the evidence, the founding fathers were influenced by the global group intellect which includes the known historical group intellect influenced by Al-Islam.

Islam and Muslim countries were understood by the American population from the point of view of the “Other,” some Founding Fathers made serious efforts to educate themselves about Islam and its civilizations. Many of the Founding Fathers were not as uninformed about Islam as are the rest of us, even today. Indeed, some made a special effort to read about Islam and related ancient civilizations.[29] Thomas Jefferson’s library contained at least one copy of the Qur’an and was rich with books about ancient civilizations, including Islamic ones. [30] Jefferson appeared to consider his knowledge of these matters important for the development of the American model of political governance. In that approach, he was not alone.

Another of our early presidents, Madison, for example, read about ancient confederacies before formulating his own proposal for a federal system in the United States.

– To be continued.

Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.

Sincerely & respectfully,

Mukhtar
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Financial Literacy Month: A Golden Opportunity for Families & Communities

”Who prohibited the nice things G-d has created for His creatures,
and the good provisions? Say, Such provisions are to be enjoyed in this life by those who believe. Moreover, the good provisions will be exclusively theirs on the Day of Resurrection. We thus explain the revelations for people who know.”
–Al Quran 7:32

“O my Lord, I seek refuge from being overpowered by debt… protect and deliver me from poverty and let me enjoy my hearing, my sight and my strength in Your way.“
–Muhammed The Prophet (S)

G-d intends for us all to have life and have it better and better all the time…”
–Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra)

President Obama has proclaimed April as National Financial Literacy Month and is calling on all Americans to recommit to teaching ourselves and our children the basics of financial education.

This month presents an excellent opportunity for both families and community organizations to do a self assessment and critically examine how resources are being generated and managed. Financial literacy is a leg up to economic prosperity and protection against fraud and predatory banking practices.

All institutions including the family have been squeezed financially not only because of the financial debacle that brought on the worst recession since the Great Depression, but also because of income inequality and other social economic ills affecting communities, especially minority communities. Of particular concern is the targeting of ethnic minorities by unscrupulous corporations. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is through education and superior personal financial conduct like Maintaining excellent credit.

Nonprofits in particular must be sensitive to the general financial circumstances of those they expect to support their institutions. Help your supporters help you.

Now’s a good time for our organizations to help themselves by helping increase the net worth of their individual supporters. Encourage personal financial education through workshops, seminars, contests and on-site counseling services to enhance your community’s financial preparedness.

Some of my recommended titles for this month are:

Debt Free for Life
80 Proven Ways to Become a Millionaire, All you need is two or three!
Smart Women Finish Rich
Emotional Currency: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money
The Kids Guide to Money Cent$
Lemonade in Winter
Money & The Law of Attraction
The 4-hr Workweek
Your money or your life
Retirement Revolution: The New Reality (DVD)
Save Your Retirement: What to Do If You Haven’t Saved Enough
The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires

The 7 most important takeaways for financial literacy this month?

— Identify bad and good habits
— Start making changes today
— Practice delayed gratification…we don’t always have to have “it” now.
— Be a savvy consumer and investor…educate yourself and your family.
— Invest now in your future by realizing that not all of your money earned today is to be spent today…some of it’s for tomorrow when you will have less or zero earned income.
— Make a commitment to live debt free.
— And finally, pass on the knowledge, good habits, and perhaps some measure of family wealth to the next generation and help end any cycle of generational poverty.

Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.

Sincerely & respectfully,

Mukhtar
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Remaking Our World Calendar 2014…A Reminder of a Great Responsibility

“Every man created is entitled to what G-d has created. No man is to be discriminated against. Entitlement is not to be based upon anything but justice. Go on and build a great life for yourself, as much as any man in the United States of America.” (Imam W. Deen Mohammed, front cover 2014 Remaking Our World Islamic Calendar)

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I’m very happy to announce the release of the 2014 Remaking Our World Calendar. As the project’s editor-in-chief, I’m proud of the writers, editors, and reviewers who made the project possible. We believe we’ve produced one of the most concise, yet comprehensive publications on Islam in America; it’s written to inform every American about what Islam is and is not and what its presence means.

All my life, people have asked me questions about my faith, my name and where I was born, under the assumption I must not have been born here because of my name. But I believe we’re in a time now as a citizenry where we realize more than ever that “American” is not a single cloth where one size fits all. It never has been.

We are rather a quilt of ethnicities, cultures, and religions and each of us as citizens bear the duty to create the best environment for the human spirit such that we become a standard of excellence for the whole world. Every nation should be seeking to cultivate their best. The President, Congress, nor the Military can take on the burden alone…it’s all of our collective responsibility as the late President Kennedy exhorted, “…Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”

Now I want to relate that in early 2001, I was honored to be on Hajj pilgrimage to the sacred precincts of Mecca. While in Madinah, a city about 250 miles from Mecca, I was asked by groups of Muslims from several countries what it was like to be Muslim in America. Specifically, they were curious about whether I was able to practice my faith freely.

My response was perhaps as surprising to them as their question was to me. I said, “yes I can live my religion freely…that there are perhaps as many as 8 million Muslims or more in the U.S., and that there are mosques and schools all over the country; that Muslims were basically in all sectors of American life…that Islam is the fastest growing faith in America and predicted to be the second largest religion early in this century.”

My fellow hajjis were astounded and it’s one example of the misconceptions most Muslims probably have about America, just as many Americans have misconceptions about Islam.

On the one hand, there I was performing Hajj and dispelling false notions among fellow Muslims about what it means to be American, while only a few months later following the tragedy of 9-11, I was addressing fellow Americans about what it means to be Muslim; such a position I believe means that American Muslims may be in the best position to bridge divisions separating East and West.

It’s important to me as an American citizen, as an African American, as a Muslim American and as one who has taken the oath to protect the Constitution of our land as a veteran of our Armed Forces, to fight for the best our Country offers to all its citizens regardless of religion.

Our best includes not allowing extremists to tear us asunder as they sought to do on that fateful September 11. I pray Remaking Our World helps us to know one another better and that it will be a powerful tool in the arsenal against both Islamophobia and extremism. After all, it’s ultimately in the realm of ideas and not on the battlefield that the real victory will be won.

My publisher is distributing the 2014 limited collector’s edition of the Calendar and I invite you to purchase your copy as part of an effort to share 25,000 calendars with our fellow citizens. Your purchase also supports the Words Make People Literary Excellence & Scholarship Award open to students of all faiths…“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools…”—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I wish each of you a Safe, Happy & Blessed Thanksgiving!
Left open for further thought and research.

Peace until next time…Mukhtar

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