With G-d’s name, the Merciful Benefactor, the Merciful Redeemer
“Straight vs. Straaaayed” – HOW TO ENTER THE PROMISED LAND
Rashad Sharif, Resident Imam
Masjid Al Mu’minun, 4412 South Third St., M.E.M.P.H.I.S., TN
We praise G-d, to Whom all praises are due. He is the Lord of all the worlds, the Lord of all systems of knowledge and Master of the day of religion. It is Him we worship. It is Him we serve. It is Him we worship as servants. To serve Him is worship.
It is Him we turn to for help. All others we could turn to actually need help themselves. In the case of Brother Jesus, for example, the Bible reports that he “fell on his face and prayed” (Matthew 26:39) and in prayer he called the one that he was turning to “The One True God” (John 17:3). Therefore we seek help and guidance from the Only True God today as Brother Jesus did 2,000 years ago.
In following the Guidance in the Opening Chapter of the Qur’an, entitled Al-Fatihah (The Opening), we ask G-d (the Only True God) to show us the straight way and to keep showing us the straight way. We know that if G-d cuts off His guidance, we will be lost and astray, wandering and wondering.
We know that G-d’s guidance is without compare. It works. It has worked and it still works. He has guided others before us, and those whom He guided received His grace/ His favor upon them. And in contrast to the way of those who were graced and favored before us, we want no part of the way of those burdened with wrath nor the ones who straaaaaayed. Our spirit says “STRAIGHT, yes Lord.” “STRAAAAAYED, Lord please no.”
So what does “Straight vs Straaayed” look like when MAN-ifested openly in our lives and the lives of those around us ? To be blunt, “straight” looks more like a clean, decent, strong brother in a suit and bow tie and less like a lost specimen of misguided masculinity with pants (and spirit) sagging below the buttocks.
To be equally blunt, “straight” looks more like a clean decent, strong sister, covered in the way modeled by respected women of faith since before the days of Mary (peace be upon her) and less like the overly exposed female with diminished self-esteem who is categorically referred to in degenerate cultural terms of being a “B” and a “H”.
This is said for three purposes: (1) so that the concepts of Straight and Straaayed in the Qur’an are not assumed to be only lofty concepts that fail to manifest themselves in the daily life of society; (2) so we never under-appreciate the fact that this society was given a real real-life flesh-and-blood example of “Straight vs Straaayed” through the modeling of the pioneers in the Nation of Islam under the leadership of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad; and (3) to call attention to the irony of how the urban American religious leaders preached that the clean, decent, strong, and straight brothers and sisters of the NOI were misguided and “going to hell” and now it is a shame that we see the “opposite of NOI” image being considered typical of urban America.
By the time the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King came to Memphis,TN, and declared in 1968 that he had been to the mountaintop, seen the Promised Land, and that we, as a people would make it to the Promised Land, he had shed the anti-Muslim rhetoric that his fellow clergymen still spew on a regular basis more than 40 years later. It therefore, is no wonder that, after more than 40 years, there has been no entry into the Promised Land proclaimed by the sectarians who have directed the people away from the straightness modeled in the Muslim example, which is also consistent with the Biblical example of what it takes in order to enter the Promised Land.
So, for the purpose of successfully entering the Promised Land as foreseen by the Rev. Dr. King, it is essential that “we, as a people” turn from straaaying and make it our business to straighten up and go straight.
Now that chattel Slavery has ended and we African-Americans of both major faith movements have escaped from “Egypt” into the “Wilderness”, the question is why haven’t we gone straight into the Promised Land, and when will we admit that “we, as a people” have been wandering around, astraaay.
The Promised Land (the improved condition of self restored to masterful levels) is not for non-Masters. Quite simply, slavery is at the bottom of life; freedom is up from slavery but nowhere near the top if it is not combined with mastery. And Mastery requires self-discipline, self-development, and strength. Weak people cannot “overcome” except by simple benefiting from favorable shifts in the environment. Masters are shapers of the environment, and wilderness people are dependent on the environment for signals and a sense of direction.
If we go back to Biblical descriptions from Genesis to Joshua, we see that man was created to have dominion (Genesis), that a certain set of people fell into being slaves to others, that they emerged from slavery into freedom carrying a bad internal condition called Wild-er-ness (Exodus), and that they were not fit to enter the Promised Land (Joshua) until they had transformed the condition of their own selves (souls) individually and collectively.
We, as a people, have a specific transformative and developmental work to do. We have to work on redirecting our own selves with faith, knowledge, insight, and respect for Scripture’s Eternal Wisdom. The downline of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam has a multi-generational head start in that work, and we offer our insights for the general benefit of humanity and the advancement of our people in particular. Please be on the lookout for the next Message from The Promised Land.
We thank you for your time and attention, and always remember: Every human being is M.E.M.P.H.I.S.: Missioned and Empowered to Monitor and Perfect His/her Industrious Soul.
[ Expanded from Jumu’ah presentation at Muslim Journal’s 11th Annual “A Time To Be Grateful”. ]