With G-d’s name, the Merciful Benefactor, the Merciful Redeemer
“Fighting for Freedom For The Intellect In The Land Of Plenty”
Rashad Sharif, Imam
Masjid Al Mu’minun, 4412 South Third St., M.E.M.P.H.I.S., TN
As Imam W. Deen Mohammed has emphasized, we must prepare to make it in the Land of Plenty. Without thinking, one may assume that “Freedom”, “The Promised Land”, and “The Land of Plenty” are all the same thing with no distinction. Actually, in scripture, Egypt was “The Land of Plenty” in its good years, but the Plenty was Pharaoh’s. In a sense, The Wilderness Land, just like America today, is “The Land of Plenty” – plenty good people and plenty corrupt people, plenty opportunity to freely establish the best in life and plenty opportunity for predators to “eat you alive” by taking advantage of whatever weakness and / or ignorance they detect in you. We have to prepare to master the challenges of this wilderness situation in North America in order to be qualified to enter masterfully into a better situation. When a people is no longer slave and no longer merely free but finally masterful in “The Land of Plenty”, then it becomes the Promised Land for that people.
But WHAT MESSAGE MUST WE SHARE WITH OUR PEOPLE to re-activate the Original Drive For Excellence (mastery) in our collective consciousness ?
Imam Muhammad Ameen, one of our illustrious associate imams in Memphis, TN, showed us how the corrupt psychology promoted in the Wilderness of this world has to be faced, fought, and defeated by believers who are committed, dedicated, and faithful to the purpose that we were created for.. He explained that the purpose of religion is to bring Man to G’d-consciousness (taqwa). Once we are G’d-conscious, we will strive to do our best; and no one is truly happy unless they do their best, since the soul has a natural desire to obey its Creator.
He presented the word “try” in the way that it means to put forth effort and also in the way that it means to “try on” a suit without making a commitment to buy it. It is the first of these two meanings that he highlighted in his July 3, 2015 khutbah “Committed, Dedicated, Faithful”, His references for this type of commitment were initially
Sura 9, Ayah 52
…“Say: “Can you expect for us (any fate) other than one of two glorious things- (victory or death)?”…and subsequently
Sura 6, Ayah 162
Say: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death,
are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds:…
Having laid that foundation, he called our attention to the way our African-American heroes born during or in the decades immediately following slavery modeled the relentless pursuit of the best that their souls could produce. First he called attention to Frederick Douglass (whom Imam W. Deen Mohammed called The Father of our Freedom Movement) and his strength of speech and persuasion, and quoted some of his 1852 speech in Rochester, NY entitled “The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro” [ which can be Googled or heard recited by Morgan Freeman at http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/frederick-douglass/videos/the-meaning-of-july-4th-for-the-negro]. Imam Ameen pointed out that Frederick Douglass, in his essence, was both Muslim and Christ-like in his courageous speech. Quoting from “Human Intelligence” by Imam W. Deen Mohammed on how Man has been created to be intelligent and industrious, but the World gives us so much unreality and nonsense that it conditions us to give up on the human role in this creation, Imam Ameen stressed that the fight to resist this corrupt conditioning is a fight until death, to be victorious or die trying. “The human role in this creation is to be intelligent, to be intellectually curious, to be intellectually productive, and to be industrious”, he quoted from IWDM. Imam Ameen stressed that Allah did not create us to be lazy and trifling; this world created an environment to make a person be trifling.
He cited the problem of the fact that most people DO NOT THINK; they feel embarrassed to think. He further quoted “…the basic need in such a curiosity, that is, a curiosity to know self, is for FUNCTIONAL FREEDOM FOR THE INTELLECT ….the need in our mind, in our intellect, to reason, to understand what has driven us to progress and what is burdening us now, and also what is punishing us for not seizing the opportunity to continue to make progress.” He explained how we, as a people, are being punished for not pursuing certain excellence that G’d has asked us to pursue.
Continuing to refer to the “real champions” in our collective history, he told the story of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, from her humble beginnings through her rise via her personal academic achievements and into her lifelong commitment to create and establish an educational institution for the benefit of others. She succeeded despite meager means, and her school went through several name changes including “Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School For Negro Girls”, “Daytona Educational and Industrial Training Institute”, “Bethune-Cookman College”, and now Bethune-Cookman University. But she started with 5 girls. “Is that determination ? Is that saying I don’t accept failure ?” She declared “The White Man don’t determine my future.” So we should not accept excuses today or give support to excuses. Once you commit yourself to something, it’s either victory or death. (You spend the rest of your life striving toward the fulfillment of your commitment.)
Quoting again from Imam Mohammed “,,,that not only is the child born with that motivation of intelligence but also with that motivation that results in work, industry, and production. That is what the world DOES NOT want you to know- that it’s your nature, it’s your purpose on this earth to be intellectual as well as mentally productive and to be industrious. That’s what the world DOES NOT want my people to know.”
Emphasizing that we can’t accept less than our best, Imam Ameen referred to Elijah McCoy’s mastery as an inventor of railroad train lubrication equipment of unmatchable quality (leading to the demand for the “real McCoy”). Imam Ameen used Imam Mohammed’s tafsir (Qur’anic commentary) in combination with example after example of our African-American heroes to help us see their human spirit as models of a committed, dedicated believer, in essence.
Be on the lookout for the next Message from the Promised Land at www.masjidalmuminun.com.
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.
[ Message aligned with the Jumuah presentation at Muslim Journal’s 11th Annual “A Time To Be Grateful”.]