Channel: Siraj Wahhaj
In this lecture, Imam Siraj Wahhaj discusses what it means to be a Muslim man in an inner-city environment characterized by poverty, crime and the other well-known challenges existing in the typical American urban environment. He not only discusses what is needed from our brothers, but how he was able to lead an urban renewal scheme around Masjid al Taqwa and his vision for the future of the Masjid and the coming role of Muslims in our urban communities.
Bismillah R Rahman Rahim al hamdu Lillah
Allah, Masha Allah Muhammad Abdul Salam Abad
run system very happy to be here mm Zaid Shakir May Allah bless you, brother Tarik and wonderful group forgiveness together.
runs this is a couple of weeks ago myself, and somebody saying the lambs that you see here will gather together in Washington DC.
That is no conference. And at that conference, there was some 30,000 people
over 200 speakers.
And that night, mm, I had the opportunity to have dinner,
or all of these speakers around the country around the world.
But the night that I came in and said, I didn't have dinner with any of those speakers.
Rather, I had dinner with three young men
from an organization called the Global Deaf Muslims.
One of the brothers couldn't hear at all.
He had to use sign language just as we have here.
to them they could hear barely.
And I'm reminded something that allowed the almighty revealed in the Quran to our beloved messenger, Mohammed sub lalani was Southern cool.
In the Rasulullah Aleikum, Jimmy I
say, oh, all mankind, I am the messenger of Allah to all of you.
I am so pleased that this organization
in this great work of united against poverty United for change united against poverty, has had fit to have an interpreter. So that even if there is one person in the audience who can have their be able to get the message, how often we go to the masjid and enjoy the Juma prayer, we go to set up the Torah, we we enjoy that and don't realize that there's so many people that can have that same sweetness or can experience the same sweetness as us. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them is the Messenger of Allah. for everyone.
What I'm going to say this afternoon
thank you and by the way,
mmm, I don't know who to give credit to. I'm telling you. Mmm, this water I don't know if it's Connecticut is the best water I've ever tasted in my life.
I'm going to say from the beginning, I don't, I hope that what I'm going to say is not going to be misunderstood.
And know that it might. So I'm going to take my time.
One of the things that almost any Imam will tell you who have a Masjid in the inner city.
We don't have to read the Wall Street Journal
to recognize the difficulty of our society economically right now.
There's not a day to go by.
All day long with people are knocking at the door of the man
in them and in soccer. Mmm. I'm about to be evicted. Imagine I need money for food demand all day long every day.
And if we would give money for everyone who came we would have no money.
Every man will tell you that. The reality of where we live right now.
One block north of master taqwa
is a man's homeless shelter. Atlantic Avenue in Bedford Avenue. 1000 homeless men, many of them Latino American, African American men.
And you'll be shocked to learn that there are number of Muslim Muslims in that homeless shelter.
Poverty is real.
Everywhere you go, someone is begging for food. Begging
The other morning I went to my newspaper stand to buy my newspapers, in a grocery store owned by Muslims.
And there was a man outside saying, sir, can you can you give me some money?
And the thing that I always do our asks the question Why?
Why do you need money? He said, I need I need some some food or something to drink.
I said, Okay, come in the store with me.
I said, This man wants something to eat, or something to drink, I'll pay for it.
And he said, I'll get something to drink, he wouldn't got a soda. And that was it.
I got into my car.
And I was about to go running. So I wanted to write a couple of notes. So I stood there for a while. And I noticed the same young man was standing outside of the store. And I wrote my notes. And when I looked up, I noticed that he was gone, but the soda was still there.
And so I drove to the corner made a right turn, and I saw him and he was begging people for money.
I blew the horn,
got his attention and said, Come.
So you came to me, you said you wanted money. And I gave I gave you what you said you want it. And yet you left that soldier that had that cheapest smile on so I had to go to the bathroom. But yet he was going around asking for money
all throughout. Now for me, I'm going to ask you, I want to know why you need the money. If you need the money for food, I think we should help people to eat.
So everyday we have examples of people in extreme poverty.
But poverty is relative, isn't it?
I mean, when you think that you are poor, when you look at people around the world, then you realize you ain't as bad as you think you are.
For instance, the average European city, the average person drinks 375 liters of water. A Day
in America is like 450 liters of water a day in Arizona, 1000 liters of water a day the average American uses in Arizona and Phoenix.
And United Kingdom the average person uses 50 liters of water a day just to flush their toilets.
I'm a private person.
It takes a lot for me to go to the bathroom on a plane. I mean, I'm horrified.
I don't know if you feel the same way.
I mean, honestly, I can't I mean, if I go if I go to use the bathroom on the plane, and if I come out of the bathroom, there's a long line of people that I'm like I will die.
So I'm you know, I'm private. In some places of India
1440 people will share the same toilet.
And yet you have some places like Muslim Mozambique.
In Mandela King quickly knows.
The average person uses less than 10 litres of water a day. I'm not saying 10 liters of water to drink. I'm saying 10 liters of water to drink, to wash the clothes and to wash the bodies.
We complain about our homes, our own life like my home, my home was this. If you want to complain about your home, go to Haiti
and see 400,000 people still living in tents in Haiti from the last earthquake. So poverty is relative. And this is why the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him said into Illa men who are Estrella Min kumala Allahu
Allah tesaro Mottola alikum. Look to those who are less than you and don't look to those who more than you because it is more appropriate that you don't look down on the blessings that Allah have for you. So the first thing we want to talk about is that poverty is relative.
Having said that, having acknowledged how poor people are having acknowledged how we have to help the poor and by the way, I want to, I want to give out
a shout out to the Nation of Islam.
Right now, they have a massive campaign to go on to the community.
All throughout America, they're going to the community, talking to the people.
In if I would have a complaint against Muslims, I will say that we are not connected to the people to the masses of the people.
They don't really know us. And one of the things that I hope that we will do that our moms our leaders will go back to our cities. And he will go back to your cities and develop programs to deal with the people. I hope that this conference is not just hearing wonderful speeches mean inspired and motivated, but rather being inspired and motivated to do something. I hope that would happen.
Having said that, let me tell you my message for today.
The the perspective
that Islam takes or the direction that Islam takes is holistic.
And I would argue that many of the people they deal with part of the the problem
while Islam deals with the complexity as brothers Shaco mentioned, the complexity of the problem, and that's what I'm going to talk about for the next few minutes inshallah.
One of the things that the Quran has done,
one of the things that the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him has done
one of the things that all the prophets have done for the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him said lm bl totally Allah, Omaha.
But do you know why?
The prophets all of them are brothers, but their, their mothers are different, but their religion is one.
So you want to find a similar chord throughout the teachings of all the prophets. So the Quran and the Sunnah, and the prophet and all the prophets conjoined together, have a very cohesive, consistent message and you will find I'm going to give you one or two examples, inshallah.
One of the things that the Quran has done that the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessing has done that Jesus has done,
and other prophets
is put this whole issue of poverty in perspective.
I'm going to ask you a question. How many of you have ever flown a plane?
Okay, Mm hmm. Do they have to have the lights off? You need it for you?
You need okay? Because, you know, I don't like Be honest. I don't like looking at you in the dark. I don't like that. I want to look at you. When you're looking at me. I'm gonna look at you.
nonserious How many of you ever flown first class? Raise your hand?
You know, first class, come on.
Come on. Get out of here. I don't believe that. I believe you. Hmm. Series.
Three. Same thing first class. mm is first class.
Now I I'm be honest with you. I love first class. Nonsense. Well, I love it. No, no, no, I have I have never made anyone who invited me to a city ask them I never made them put me on first class. But when they do a lot like bar
is, you know, I'm telling you, something happens to you when you fly first class.
I'm honest. First of all, you have your own entrance entrance, you walk on a carpet. If you're not first class, you can't walk on a carpet. I'm telling you, you got to go on either side. So no, no, you can't you got to walk over here. And and and you know, there's some amenities. Like, for instance, when you go to first class, you don't have to stand on the same line, you go to a separate line. You know, you're the first one to get on a plane, the first one to get off the plane. When you get your luggage. You're the first one to get your luggage. I like that. But then there's something else about you. You know, I was sitting in first class, in first class, they have their own
And I'm sitting in first class and somebody from economy see come in first class. I'm like looking at the like, you don't have my bathroom. I'm sick. I'm sick.
But you know, bonuses but there's a there's a disdain
that people have in society for poor people. They look they look down on people that are very poor, the way they're dressed. You know, and it's a kind of sickness of our society, to look down on on the poor. So what Islam is done, all the prophets have done what Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon them has done is changed that whole idea about the poor people and looking down on the poor people.
And they do it in a number of ways. One of the things that was done by the prophet peace and blessings be upon him, he said, it allowed to feel genuine for it to occur.
Hello, and fuqra
I looked into Jen and saw that the majority of the inhabitants were poor.
So this whole idea of poor people being less than was changed with Islam and the Prophet peace and blessings be upon them. sayoko lucara Jana cobla, ugly, ugly, ugly is the consummate admin. And poor people were intergender 500 years before rich people. So the thing that was been has been done is that the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him,
made poor people dignified.
Some of his great companions would dignified.
Having said that, also, the Prophet peace and blessings be upon them, made the the wealthy people made them feel responsible for their brothers because in the head the automatic olatunde ye the honorable confab? This owner of yours is one oh man, and I am your Lord to worship me. So the Prophet peace and blessings be upon them made a bond of brotherhood between these Muslims, the blacks and the whites and the Arabs and the non Arabs and the Persians and the men and the women and the rich and the poor. They were one oma and they were a magnificent brotherhood, so that the prophet SAW what was said about the Prophet Allah Rasulullah sallallahu Sallam bene Abdul Rahman Ibn
Al Assad Eben rbR. And the Prophet peace and blessings be upon have made a bond of brotherhood between some of the poor hygiene and the answer he made a band of brothers because some of the Muslims who left Mecca like anybody else who had been rich, but gave everything for Islam, and therefore when it came to Medina, he had nothing. So the prophet in his wisdom paired him with Saudi Arabia the wealthiest of the answer
in he didn't do he didn't do what
you know, he wasn't afraid of what
Governor Romney like will we win? We're gonna redistribute, distribute, no, we'll shut up.
hidden hidden tax hidden text them like that.
So, so Saudi Arabia, he said to
me when Alfie said, Listen, I'm the richest of the answer.
This is my wealth.
Take half of it.
Then as real a fake
who of us will say that? It's like, you know, being paired with Bill Gates.
Bill Gates, a young man at 28 billion, take half of it.
The same thing.
In so the Prophet peace and blessing the problem Islam the Quran
helped us to go the agenda,
Babel, South Africa, the gate of South Africa,
so that you can give to the poor mandatories a cat one thing, but even give an extra South Africa for the poor, and be a gate for you to go to Elgin. So the whole idea
changed. Change the thinking in made a real brotherhood that people were concerned about one another. And really, he said that the food of one person could feed to the food of two people can feed for the food of four people can feed ate this way was this is the Brotherhood of Islam. Now, I've gone all across the country and I've seen some great communities lashing out Islam right here in New Haven, doing wonderful work for the people in the community. There's another Master's Master's at Islam in Dallas, Texas. Got to you know, say you know, that Masjid, right, African Americans primarily, they've done unbelievable work in the community, they have given hundreds or
10s of 1000s of fed 10s and 1000s of people over the years have given clothing out to the people in the neighborhood. They're not Muslims, the people in the neighborhood, not Muslims. And Muslims, they give it they don't care who they give to, but they give it to the people in the neighborhood. Los Angeles homoclinic oma free clinic these Muslim doctors who give health care health services to the poor people in the Los Angeles area. And while all of that is good, and it's wonderful to me, that's not the signature of a Muslim. That's not the signature of the Muslims. It's good. We do it we give the cat Yeah, but that's not you know, I mean, but the signature more than the identity, the
signature, I'll give an example.
First example I'm giving you is going to be real
mumbling to you is real bad.
Mmm Abdullah Hakim, quick.
I'm not sure you know exactly how old you are.
I know you from Canada and Jamaican all that stuff, right.
Have you ever heard of the temptations?
You did? Mashallah.
Well, the temptations, you know,
my wife will tell you, where is she?
She's loved the temptation. She loved the temptations. He wants to walk in here, you know.
But the temptations had a signature about them.
When you when you hear them, it's Oh, that's a temptation. Stevie Wonder, signature.
Um, what's her name? Aretha Franklin, signature?
For those who say, What are you talking about?
I put it this way. You know, to me, there's nothing better on this earth than good recitation Qur'an. To me, that's really to me my love or the love I used to have when I was young for the for the music, nothing touches, good recitation of Alcor and nothing, nothing comes in there. So there are some besides you know, anybody recite the Quran,
you know, but then there's others who recite it is like, Okay.
Sheikh Abdullah Ahmed Ahmed admits today's
as today's right,
the Imam of the harm, Mashallah
when you hear him right, it's like, his signature that yet that that's him.
So what's the signature of Muslims?
while feeding people is good, we should do that. And don't get me wrong. Sister asthma is right. We should help that, you know, the shelter the woman shelter and Baltimore, I think it's a Baltimore right?
We should help them even we raised money while we hear this one, one day conferences, it'll be good. Give it to them and let it do the work. I've seen the work that she she's done.
You know, food pantries, like mash it out. Islam is good, we should continue, we should do more.
But that ain't our signature.
This is our signature.
That's our signature. You are the best the people evolved for mankind because you enjoyed the good and you forbid the evil.
And you believe in a lie.
These people in these societies, especially the poor, are taken advantage of
in this society.
They're getting ripped off, who's ripping them off. In the inner cities, you can see you want to make some money come your man and you sell some drugs, you make plenty of money. So in the inner cities, you see those who have the change, the goal change, and they have all the money and they're getting enticing youngsters to sell drugs.
Not only that,
don't get mad at me.
Mm hmm. say they're gonna get mad at me when I'm gonna say they're gonna get mad at me. I can still say it man. Don't be afraid, say it.
Brothers and sisters, one of the most destructive teachings, in my opinion
of some of the people in the church, not all of them because there are many people in the church is against what I'm going to say. This gospel of prosperity is a trick. What is the gospel prosperity, the gospel of prosperity? Right, amen. You know, imagine that you Masha Allah. Masha didn't see you there, man. You're pretty you're pretty man. No, no, serious, not real. He's both handsome and pretty.
The Gospel of prosperity is when the preacher tells the congregation basically, listen, if you are poor, you are poor because you are disobeying God.
That's why you poor
you know, and some woman she was criticizing that philosophy, they they said that they have a god that's a venden God, Ovenden God, a vending machine God, which means that, you know, you you put you present something of prayer, and you get these blessings automatically. But no one's like that. So they're teaching the problem is is that it's like, Okay, if you're poor, it's your fault. God wants you to be rich. And if you are poor, if you
Sick is your fault. And once you understand the Bible, you follow the Bible, you're going to be prosperous, you're going to have a lot of money, you're going to be healthy. Now the preachers have a lot of money.
They get it from the congregation.
Now see that teaching a real because what happens when the majority of the people are poor? What happens then now?
It's somehow your fault, man. You're poor. It's your fault because you ain't doing it right. And that's wrong. And I'm gonna give you one example and then I'm gonna close
it incredible. Hadith.
Abdullah bin Omar, Abdullah, Abdullah,
Abdullah, Abdullah and Houma.
He said to attack,
he said, Shall I show you? A Moroccan agenda shall show you a woman from the people of gender. He said, of course, he's a hair the model to sell that this black woman, this black woman, people paradise, because she came to the Prophet peace and blessings be upon them.
And said, O Messenger of Allah, I have epilepsy.
And whenever I have this fear of epilepsy, I'm exposed. So federal law Lee MacDonald for me, is a is a faithful believer. She's asking permission to make dua for her. And the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him said in [???]ty stability will it kill Jenna? If you wish, you Be patient, and you will have Jenna. But if you wish, or make dua that Allah heals you. She said, I'll be patient.
She said, but you know what, when I have epilepsy, I'm exposed to at least make the other not exposed and the Prophet did it. And I looked at that I studied that thing for years. It makes me I love the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings be upon him because he's teaching us a lesson man. And no guarantee because if you follow Islam, if you become happy with the Quran, if you memorize every Hadith in Bukhari and Muslim, Buddha, Odin, Timothy, even magic, memorize all of those had the practice, everything of the Sunnah is still no guarantee that you're going to become rich, or you're going to be healthy and no guarantee. So we have this world view, this Islamic real world view. What
we have to do, in my opinion, be advocates of the poor. As Amanda said, yesterday, Masha goodbar, that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him as a champion of the poor, that's true, we should do that we should help those who are poor. But on the other hand, brothers and sisters, we have to teach them the whole picture. If you don't believe me, that this is the way of the prophets. I'll give you one example from the Bible. You find this and Matthew, you find that a Luke and you find it a mark, a young man came to Isa, Jesus, peace and blessings be upon them according to the Bible, and said, all good Master,
what shall I do to get eternal life?
And according to what the Bible said, Jesus said, that, if you keep the commandments,
then you will have eternal life. If you, you know, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not commit adultery, and he named some of the commandments. And young man said, Oh, I, I've been doing that since since I was a youth, young man. What else? What How can I be perfect? And according to what they say, Jesus said, in words,
it all your wealth,
and sell it
and give the money to the poor, and you have treasures in heaven.
And the man who walked away said,
and Jesus said, hardly you will find a wealthy person in paradise. He said, it is easier for a camel to go to the needle of eye of a needle than a wealthy person to go to to paradise.
It doesn't mean that wealthy people won't be in Paradise, they will be in sha Allah. But it doesn't mean that we have the right have the right attitude. the right attitude, yes, give to the poor, but teach the people
teach the people the beauty of Islam and the guidance of Islam. mullahs upon water Bless you, bless this conference, and blessing us to do something to help the poor. Thank you. Islamic legal