The American Muslim Scene over 40 Years With Imam Siraj Wahhaj
Channel: Yasir Qadhi
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Episode Transcript ©
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Salam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato.
Alhamdulillah. We began by praising Allah Subhana Allah to Allah is the One and the unique. He it is whom we worship, and it is his aid that we seek. He hears the dua of the oppressed and he answers the prayer of the week, as to what follows
100 years from now, in sha Allah to Allah, when the history of Islam and American Muslims is recorded and documented and multivolume details,
our guests to my right will have not won multiple chapters insha Allah huzzah Allah, dedicated to the seminal efforts that he has played over the course of his entire lifetime. And over the course of this entire country, in planting the seed for so many masajid and so many Islamic schools, and so many fundraisers, and so many national conventions. Wallahi to give a summary of his life and times is an insult to the man sitting to my right. And I feel that it is a bridge and window into the past, to have a living legend like Imam Suraj still in our midst, somebody who has been preaching and teaching from the member since before I was born, his first sermon, even if it was that with the
Nation of Islam, as he'll talk about his story, his first sermon was in 1970. That is way before I was born. And throughout all of these years, he has a traveled cross country, fundraise for countless massages that are now multimillion dollar mega complexes, and done so at a time and a place in an era way before our internet and social media. And yet Alhamdulillah still strong and going and still here for yet another event and fundraiser. And before I move on, I do need to plug in our sponsors and our fundraiser for this event. It is busmap organization and the bus organization is one of the premier if not the premier organizations for taking care of the Rohingya
refugees. And tomorrow they have a fundraiser. That's why mom's Rogers here and you can find more information outside and they're going to be building a medical complex for one of the most underprivileged minorities in the entire world. So make dua for Rohingya brothers and sisters and give whatever you can. Imam Suraj will Hodge needs no introduction. And yet still, we have so many in the audience, especially our youngsters, who know the name but they don't know the life and times of the legend. So we thought today instead of him just giving a hotter a talk, which he's very good at mashallah, we will crack open the real Suraj watch. We will hear from the legend in a personal
manner. And I'll ask a few questions. And then I'll hand the mic over to you guys. So prepare your handwritten questions to figure out how we can do them Murad, if you can take charge of taking the questions that shallow data. So we'll open the floor for you guys to ask some good questions about the amounts that I just life. But the first question I want to begin with him, I'm Suraj. You got the mic? I got the mic. Okay. And actually doesn't need a mic but the microphones
the first question if you can summarize for us what is specially for our next generation, your own brief biography, and especially your phases of conversion through the nation and whatnot. If you can summarize for us Your Life and Times Bismillah R Rahman Rahim Al hamdu lillah wa Salatu was Salam ala Rasulillah. Salam, Salam.
Today I'm going to say something that probably none of you heard, not even shake Yes, had heard about my life.
I was speaking to my mother recently, humbler, she just turned 89 years old. And one of the things that I have
over most of you is what the Prophet alayhi salat wa salam said either Raju, either Amana Raja lon the ISA Toma, I'm gonna be follow our journey. Whoever believes in Jesus and then believes in me will have a double reward. Sheikh I'm going to tell you about the very day I was born. I don't think you've ever heard this.
My uncle saw me the day I was born. And he said he's going to be a preacher.
Which means the minister in the Christian faith, they're going to be a preacher.
When I was in the church, a teenager I used to teach Sunday school.
As a sophomore in New York University.
I joined the Nation of Islam
same religion that Malcolm X was in Muhammad Ali, that that organization.
And when I was in a nation of Islam, I was a minister in the Nation of Islam,
and Hamdulillah. In 1975, Allah guided us to Islam and Hamdulillah I became a Muslim. I consider myself a Muslim for the first time 1975 Then I became an imam.
Among the Muslims. I heard that when I was young that he said I was going to be a preacher. But what I didn't know until recently, my mother told me that the day I was born, not only did my uncle say that, but my aunt said the same thing. He's going to be a minister. So that is the kind of beginning of my life, I can say, I want to mention one of our companions. I'm gonna even at last
he was on his deathbed.
And he was away from the crowd, and he was crying,
and his son, Abdullah radula hand whom he said, What's the matter? You did all of these good things.
And then he turned around to the people and said, I've been to three stages in my life.
There was a stage where I hated the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him. If I could have I would have killed him. He said, had I died, then I know I go straight to hell.
Then Allah guided me to Islam and I asked the Prophet Put out your hand and the Prophet put out his hand, and then I will drew my hand and the Prophet alayhi salat wa salam said, why you will draw he said, I want conditions.
He said what condition I want to be Muslim with the condition that I be forgiven my sins. And the Prophet alayhi salat wa salam said, Don't you know that when you become a Muslim ALLAH forgive you all your sins.
When you make Hajj, ALLAH forgive your sins. When you make Adria ALLAH forgive your sins. And if so, he said, I took shahada. He said, had I died at that moment? I am relatively relatively sure I would go on to Jana.
He said, Then there were things and he didn't go into detail and not understand what he meant there was things so what I'm saying to you, how many of you were born to Muslim parents? Raise your hand. Look around? Look, look, look. Okay. So one of the things that we're going to we'll talk about later on, is that we have to change the narrative. Here in America. 1/3 of the Muslims in the world live in non Muslim countries.
Where do you find them? You find them in United States, you find them in Great Britain, you find them in France, you find them all over the world, Africa, Asia. So I would like to see one day in the masjid. And I asked the question, how many of you were not born to Muslim parents? Maybe more would raise their hand. So one of the things I have one complaint against Muslims would be not enough Dawa.
And so during our course, our discussion, we talk something about that, and about my role as a di e, and especially in the Nation of Islam, and then 1975 becoming Muslim. Maybe I'll talk about a little bit that just as kind of introduction. So now, when I was born, when my uncle say,
going to be a preacher. Alright, let's see if you listen.
So chef Anna, you went through some phases through the nation, and then to Sunni Islam? Can you describe what attracted you to see we are Orthodox Sunni Muslims, when we hear about the nation, we don't understand. Frankly, I'm being honest here. And please forgive me for my frankness. We don't understand the notion of some alien ship taking you and saving you built in Japan. This is true, by the way, they used to believe that and some God coming to earth and preaching some, you know, satanic like everybody's Satan, except for it sounds unreal to us. So can you explain why, you know, you're in a college or university, you're very active. You're passionate you believe in
Christianity, which we understand even if we don't understand it, what attracted you to the nation back in? Was it 6869? What would attract you to a theology and ideology that doesn't resonate with most of us in this audience? Yeah. I think this is my opinion. And yeah, say I've been thinking about this. Like, like for years, right. I've been thinking about the Nation of Islam and in the teachings in the theology of Mr. Elijah Muhammad
And I came to this conclusion
you know, and what I'm going to say here is an opinion
in Allah subhanho wa Taala He gives us the right to have opinions we could be wrong.
I remember the Prophet alayhi salat wa salam he went to Medina
and the people were pollinating date palms and he said what what you're doing he said we manipulating the day palm so get more fruit he said, maybe is better you don't do it. So they stopped doing it.
And and the crop failed.
And they came to the Prophet delays. So that was an answer. Yeah, rasool Allah, you see. And the Prophet Elisa Hassan said something so profound. Every president, every king, every prime minister, every general, every mayor, every governor, all the Congress needs to hear what the Prophet he said Elisa, that was some he said, Is there a map that can be shared in Mundaneum kung fu movie, if I tell you something of your religion, you take it,
whether or not to come be shaken Miura Eve in them on a butcher. But when I give you something in my personal opinion, I'm only a human being
my experience of the Nation of Islam, and I think after years after leaving the nation, Elijah Muhammad never meant the things that he said.
but metaphoric, and I'm gonna tell you why. Because Because not it doesn't make sense. For instance,
you know, in the Nation of Islam, they taught that white people devils, right, you heard that?
Some of them? Ah,
But you have Black Devils too.
So the thing why it doesn't make sense, is that how was the devil made?
According to the theology of the Nation of Islam, we made the devil, how could you blame him? If a black man named Yaqoob created this white race of devils? How could you blame them? What do you say about them? How do you how do you reform them? So with Islam, Al Hamdulillah, everybody have an opportunity to become Muslim? The attraction for me, I think, most of us to understand the condition of black people.
When you say k for Halochem, what does that mean? K for Hello. How you doing?
It does mean that but don't really mean that it does. You could you said the right thing. The word Arabic Heil means conditions circumstance. So when you say k for Hello, calm, how's your circumstances, what your circumstances like?
And when you study,
black people in the 50s and the 60s and the 70s, you will find out that Martin Luther King Jr. said he who gets behind in the race must forever remain behind or run faster than the man up front.
Every thing you want to use to judge the success of a people black people under law in everything. So Elijah Muhammad came with something I think, in his mind, he's thinking, let me attract black people.
And when you listen to Malcolm X, Alhaji Malik Shabazz listen to Minister Farrakhan, listen to Muhammad Ali. All of them in the early teachers were teaching Black Power, black nationalism, love for yourself, and etc. So that was the attraction but really, if you look at it, for instance, I was in a nation of Islam for six years from 1969 to 1975. I never made salad one day
I prayed but I didn't make salad. They taught us to pray but the Prophet said Sir Luca matter I Tony Sunday prayers, you see me pray, so I didn't make this about like that. So the real concern even Ramadan chakra Ramadan, we didn't fast in Ramadan we fasted in December.
The Prophet alayhi salat wa salam, one of the Sooners is for the man to grow the beard in the Nation of Islam. They cut the bed.
So there's a lot of things that I think he did on purpose, Allahu Allah. I won't go into his Nia. I can't. But I can say I think after an after I left the Nation of Islam. I read his book, message to the black man, maybe 15 or 20 times more trying to understand why because I'm saying how
And I think that the attraction to black people wasn't the theology. But the attraction was due for self. They went to the prisons cleaned up, people read the life of Malcolm X. Right? How the nation cleaned them up. And there are a lot of millions of Malcolm X's out there. And the Nation of Islam had that that great attraction. But Hamdulillah 1975 When Elijah Muhammad died,
the great irony that it was his son, Imam Waterfoot, the Mohammed who transformed in one year, that entire movement into Sunni Muslim. And this is why I shave with me personally, I notice about myself.
I am not as
Regardless of the practice, I mean, let me tell you what I mean by that. When I was I remember one day I was selling Muhammad Speex newspaper, you heard of Muhammad speaks newspaper. This is the paper of the Nation of Islam. And I was in a hallway in Crown Street, Brooklyn.
And I remember, I used to go knock on doors, selling this 25 cent newspaper.
And when I came downstairs, I was about to go outside. a Sunni Muslim saw me.
And they used to not treat us well. You can imagine all of the things that we taught, these are not Muslims.
But this one was different.
Is I don't my brother
May Allah bless you something like that.
I thought about that for a year.
His warmth, this is kindness.
And when I looked at them when I look at the Muslims over the years and and maybe we'll talk about that one of the things that I noticed is that the the Muslim ummah, in my opinion is growing.
They are growing intolerance.
When I say tolerant, I don't mean you, oh, man, it's okay, you can do what you want to do, you know, we should discussion we should have these discussions in a very in a very, very meaningful way. And let me just give you one example.
There, you know, because of where I came from, as a Christian, right, so I know what it's like being a Christian, so I can talk to Christians. I make my one of my greatest day as a die. He came at Texas State University, I think, in 2005. And the students, the Muslim students gave me the topic. What did Jesus really say? Right, this is this is the Bible Belt. And the audience was packed, bigger than this audience. Every seat was taken. People were sitting on the owl, people were on the stage with me. That's how crowded it was.
The people stood out in the back and the door was open, and people wander outside.
listening to my talk,
the professor who introduced me, said to me privately, he says, Imam, I'm gonna let you know, a lot of these students at a certain time are gonna leave, they got some class or something. So if people walk out, it's not they're not walking out against you. So he gave me the heads up like Hamdulillah.
I gave the lecture, not one person left.
And when we finish the lecture, I said that we have to make prayer. We're going to be about five minutes, we come back and finish and do a question and answer. I said, I know they're gonna go. Nobody left.
And when I had the question and answer period, there was one man, I never forget a young man 22 years old named
Dan Reiser. He was the president of the Christian Association on campus.
And if I ever thought, based on his questions, he wasn't like, he was questioned, like, getting like,
he went to no explanation.
And I said to myself, I really love this guy.
Even afterwards, he came to me asking me questions.
One month later,
I got a letter from his mother.
said Mr. Rojas, I want to let you know that you had a great impact on my son. He's a Christian.
And I found your contact in his wallet.
I'm Suraj was Baba bah bah bah.
I wanted to let you know that he died in a car crash.
If anyone ever thought the most
I'm good be him. This talk. I didn't I didn't use one verse from the Bible. Everything I said Quran and Sunnah.
this was right around close to Eastern.
Close to that Good Friday. And
what I did I changed the topic.
I told the people I didn't want to be disrespectful. I don't like that topic. What did Jesus say? is implying, you don't know what he said. Imam Suraj is going to tell you what he really said. So instead, I gave a talk what the Muslims say about Jesus peace and blessings be upon him.
The professor who introduced me said to the audience afterwards he said to everyone Imam Suraj the entire university should have heard what you said. So you get to the point you're not condescending looking down on on your you don't know about you? Um, let me tell you know, number one number two people like the Nation of Islam when I see them I don't like I don't hate them
even though we have different ideologies and I you know, reach out to them and I think shake this will we have to do one more one more point
there's some some brothers who I know who studied abroad
very harsh against Muslims who may not be on the level
I've lived to see that change.
He was a brother You know, I don't like like labels but do you mind me giving you a label just to give you some context? Here freeze it or whatever you want.
You're free to do whatever you want. Okay? I don't want you to get especially to him. I don't want him to get mad at me.
Know there used to be some brothers. That was a Salafi. For instance, right? And may Allah subhana wa Tada bless them for the film and the knowledge. Sometimes maybe they're a little bit
harsh and stuff like that. I've lived to see them change. Now. Some of the ones who condemned us speak at our Masjid now give classes and our Masjid brothers come from England. They come here messy to Taqwa. By the way. Can I tell you something about messy to talk with any Have you ever been to Masha Taqwa?
Where Masjid talk or first began 40 years ago,
there were 25 of us 100% African Americans. So Imam Suraj was the African American imam for African American Masjid. 25.
Fast forward forward before the pandemic, average Juma 1300 people.
Now, the percentage of black people in my Masjid African Americans, maybe 20 25% SubhanAllah. So I'm the African American Imam over the immigrant Muslim community. But my point is, is that Allah subhana wa Tada. I've learned to be patient. Over the years I'd be I'd be patient. I think that we I see I take the position of Imam Shafi Rahim Allah, I believe that I'm right,
with the possibility that I may be wrong.
I believe that you're wrong with the possibility you may be right. This is the this is the kind of attitude that I have in shake. This is the thing that I see. And I think because a lot of put me in a position, haven't been Christian, haven't been in the Nation of Islam, and then haven't been become a Muslim, then a more. I like to use the word tolerant of other people and willing to engage and have conversation you have to be willing to engage people in calm and conversation.
Chef, who would you say had the most impact on your life, especially in the formative years, 60s and 70s, which figures and personalities really you looked up to you benefited from and they moved into NGO Q first of all, Malcolm X.
My I, you know, my mother will tell you
in the house as a teenager.
15 when Malcolm X was assassinated.
But afterwards, I got all of his record albums.
And I will begin to house. Back during slavery. There were two kinds of slaves there was the field Negro and the house negro. So I would quote Malcolm, everybody knew that, quote mark had on as a Christian, as a Christian, yes, even as a Christian. And then and because you got to understand that there are a lot of African American Christians didn't join the Nation of Islam, but they respected people like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. So these great personalities so Mr. Lyons Muhammad was smart. He knew how to attract certain
People like a Minister Farrakhan, Malcolm X, a Muhammad Ali, and people like, like like that to give charismatic speakers and they were very good at that they were excellent speakers. But you know now when you grow up as a Muslim, you don't want to just say charismatic speaker you want to speak with who speaks the truth and there's nothing better no better truth and Quran and Sunnah.
How was your relationship with
Muhammad Ali? Oh girl, great. That was my guy. You know, Muhammad Ali. Muhammad. Muhammad Ali was a very funny guy. Yeah, he likes to tell jokes. Like he was on the he was on a plane one day and the flight attendant said, Mr. Muhammad Ali, please put on your seatbelt. He said Superman No need no seatbelt.
And she looked at him and said, Superbad only no plane.
So he put on the seatbelt.
We will end we will end. We are gone to the United Nations one day, and I was walking with Him.
You should have seen the people they stop. Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali. Police officers. And I'm gonna tell you something about Muhammad Ali that you probably don't know. You remember, he came like me from the Nation of Islam.
There was a brother in Chicago, I think his name I met Ali.
Muhammad Ali used to go to him and buy boxes of dollar material who was bonded. When everybody someone asked for his autograph. He will get one of these and sign it and give it to them. He was dying.
Also, he used to do like magic tricks. And it's other people listen, Muslims, Islam was against magic. Magic is not real. But this is a trick. And I was in the room with him one day and hotel room. And he he levitated. He showed me how he levitated. What's the trick? Okay, it's not, you know.
So I think
that sort of our whole point I'm making is that the attraction to black people was to a love of self, I give an example.
Life expectancy for the average American something like 78 years something somebody points something years, while the life expectancy of the average American is something like 78 point, the life expectancy of the average African American man is something like 7071.
And you find this disparity all over across the board. So when black people, you know, like Martin Luther King Jr. said he who gets behind in a race must forever remain behind or run faster than the men up front. So what you see right now is the ending of white nationalism. I'm just have to, I have to call it what it is. In the population of America is changing. By 2020 25. I think white people were a minority in this country, and they're scared to death. By the way, I'm gonna tell you something happened. I gave a lecture at
the University of Michigan.
And I think I mentioned it to you, I may have mentioned to you early. And
in the end, the topic was
is Islam a threat to America?
And I gave the talk and she said, Imam, you correct. I agree with you. But she said something really?
That made me think she said, If Muslims continue to grow in America, and they become the majority, would they then you know, vote, that the Sharia become the law of America.
This is a concern. The Muslims are growing from was afraid when Israel was grown in numbers. This is a real issue. For some people. The issue is black.
What's that guy name? He wrote a book called The death of the West.
I'm reading that book, right. By the way, I read the same books they read just for the record.
I record on every day, I read sun every day, and I read books that they read, and I read this book death of the West.
And sometimes you read a book, it's Mr. Chapter or paragraph or sentence that make you say, Wow,
he said, and I'm my son. My suggestion is that a lot of times people write and this sending signals
He said an old dying Christian West is trying to influence Muslims and third world countries to follow the West and contraceptions and abortions.
But why should they enter a suicide pact? When they are going to inherit this when we are gone?
were you going
At this at this same current pace? It is said that by
2050 60% of Italians will have no brothers no sisters, no cousins, no answer. No uncles. If you study what's going on in Europe, now people they start pepper babies in the Christian, the old the old Christians used to teach you know
that be fruitful multiply, they stopped doing that. Muslims, they have children. You know, my children I have take a guess.
Who said her? Stop it?
No, Allah bless me nine children nine and about a million grandchildren. A million. Not quite a million. But you know, you know what I mean? Right? So you have you have Muslims, that's that's having this happened children and other people does have children. And then a lot of other people stop having children. And so people are concerned now in the population change is shifting. Do you know that in England right now, since 1960 10,000 churches have closed in England. They said another 4000 is going to close them next. There are more messages in England than the Church of England.
And all over the world. You see the same thing churches, schools and down in Paterson, New Jersey.
Shake cotton and Mohammed kata nanny.
The largest Masjid in Paterson used to be a synagogue. You find Muslims all over buying churches, buying synagogues, turn them into masters don't think that they're not people looking at this. And they get nervous by and I'm gonna, I'm just being honest with you. But all we have to do and you know, the irony, by the way, the irony.
The Muslims are the ones in this country that helped make America better. That's the irony. And the Prophet, he said it like this. He said to people in the ship, good people and bad people. And the bad people begin to drill a hole in the ship. He said if you stop them, you save them and yourself. If you let them go, you destroy them and you destroy yourself.
tower, tower tower, we got to talk to the people. She's gonna have two more questions and then open up for for the audience. The first one is gonna be a little bit awkward, but I think this is the time to ask it. She has an out of all of the you know, Sunni Imams, the African American activists, there's no question that you have the strongest relationship with the nation and especially with Louis Farrakhan. Yes, you were a minister in the nation. You had a personal relationship with Elijah and then with the Farrakhan himself. Obviously, the nation is no longer the viable force. It used to be, but it's still a presence. And was it decade and a half ago, when the Million Man March took
place? It was none other than Farrakhan, who called it and acted as a leader for all African Americans, and hardly anybody still has that clout that he does.
What is now your analysis? And frankly, your relationship with photo Han and with the nation? And where do you see it going? And can we somehow push it to come mainstream? Let me tell you something was interested in how to make a decision. You mentioned a million Muslim watch. I don't know anyone, any Muslim anywhere, who get a million black people to come to Washington DC. Farrakhan has that kind of charisma. So when you talk about articulate charismatic speakers, you talk in my opinion, you talk on Malcolm, Martin Luther King and Farrakhan
that's my that's my opinion. Right? So the,
my relationship with Minister Farrakhan is very good. I talked to him from time to time.
He invited me to speak at the Million Man March.
My mindset at that time, I wasn't going to go, even some Imams that email me should go. I said no, because I didn't want to give him a platform, something like that. I know this is that was my thinking that at that particular time, so
fast forward. He sent a delegation of his top they call them laborers
to come to my office and Brooklyn to convince me to come to save his day. It's called save his day, the national holiday
to lead Juma prayer.
I said, Let me consult with the Imams bring them. We had about seven imams in my office and his top laborers. And so we decided that I would go
so I did a couple of years. I think it was a good move. Because here they're they're doing the doing the Joomla football now. So they you know, they're making some strides. And I was able to give a couple he didn't tell me what to say, but not to say.
So I try my best to keep communications open.
Every year during the month of Ramadan, they have what's called a prayer line.
So five o'clock in the morning during the month of Ramadan, they have a speaker come on.
The first speaker is always Minister Farrakhan. The second speaker is always Imam Suraj. Michelle, I have gotten Did you did you speak on it? If you didn't speak on them? So we make we make
it awkward. Let's see. Imam Zaid has been on Sheikh Hamza has been on and others I even Abdul Malik I try to encourage them to give talk. And again he never tells you you know what not to do. So it's a good relationship. I continue to reach out because this man I don't know anyone who who is more articulate than him. So it will be would be great if he comes in hamdulillah and teach this message Hamdulillah I pray that Allah azza wa jal uses you to guide his heart to Islam so that his people and the last remnants of the nation shall also joined mainstream Islam. My last question to Shanna before we open the floor for q&a is Hamdulillah. You have been active for over 50 years with
American Muslims. I mean, since 1969, you said 70. What can you tell us? I mean, I don't know how many eras you want to divide from 1970 to 2022 now, mashallah, mashallah, what can you tell us about the 70s 80s 90s 2000s 2010s? Like, there's five decades, what can you tell us are the pros and cons, the strengths and weaknesses? As you look back for the last 50 years with some of these phases, and especially we have in our audience, teenagers who inshallah have another 5060 years to go, they're hearing you and Inshallah, in 2071 of them is going to say I attended a mommy Suraj. Will Hodges lecture back in 2022, when I was 15 years old, and I heard him say such and such about the community
back in 1970. We're literally carrying the legacy down. I know, it's a very big question, but what can you summarize for us the strengths and weaknesses, the mistakes and the right tactics that 70s 80s 90s 2000s and beyond? I mean, I think in the early days, as I am reiterating that there was a kind of,
you know, lack of respect.
And especially among African Americans, this has been a big issue among African Americans, the relationship between,
you know, they call them immigrant Muslims. Right. But African Americans wasn't that great. Over the years, it has, it's gotten better. Our relationships now are much, much better than I used to be.
I think with people like Imam Zaid Shakir and others who, you know, now work with the other Muslim communities. And as you as you mentioned, fundraisers and things like that, conventions and things like that. So we've grown, I think, more tolerant.
But the thing that I'm a little bit nervous about in and I can't, I can't get the word dating, because I'm not sure. But apparently, some of our youth especially are leaving the fold of Islam. Their practice become very clear to me.
And, you know, going to listen, I'm an advocate of
higher education. We should, but then we got to be careful. Sheikh Did you know, I just found out recently Harvard, Harvard prestigious university, prestigious Harvard, you know who graduated?
You know who graduate Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg.
Michael Bloomberg is to be the mayor of New York City. Eight former presidents of the United States 150 Nobel Peace Prize winner, one is affiliated with Harvard.
And you know, they have they have what you call chaplains in Harvard. You
Now they have chaplains in in hospitals and police and etc right
now you want to say Imam Suraj you making it up?
I'm gonna tell you something right now you say ma'am Suraj stuff Allah you making it up because you're gonna think I'm making it up Sheikh Yasay gonna look on his thing and and he gonna fact check me.
It's true. I know, I saw you I know, I know how you wrote
the head Chaplain Harvard is an atheist.
We seemed like are you kidding me?
So a lot of times our youngsters go into the high education believers come out disbelievers. So this is a thing that I'm concerned about. I would like to see us develop more institutions. And we're doing that this is this is great to see this, a number of youth here is really good. And one of the things that we I have to address in my own community is lack of, you know, institutions like this. So that's our next phase and we plan to do some things now, in my own particular Masjid in my own in my own city, but I think that
we got more scholars than we had before, you know,
and brothers are going to our training and studying abroad. One One brother, very interesting. He was in a nation they Rodney 15. Next Staten Island. He went to Medina and stayed there. He graduated from University of Medina. Yeah. His name is Khalid. Khalid.
Khalid, something I'll tell you. I mean, Khalid never heard of him. Short brother. Yeah. So you have a number of people now going abroad to study that's good. Coming back. They used to come back. Very, you know, too much. Menachem de la, they've calmed down. And I think that the future, someone wanted once asked me, what will be the future of American Muslims answer. What do you want it to be?
And what are you willing to do to bring it about? Sub to us? Shall I say, it's up to you, people like you, Omar Suleiman and others, whom Allah has really blessed whom I have tremendous respect. This brother had tremendous respect, respect. I look him up once in a while. He'll tell you, he'll tell you he admitted that every once in a while, I'll text him and say shake. What do you think about Song Song Song? So yeah, he's saying no, but he means yes. He really means yes. Right. So my point is, is that this is the respect that we have for this scholarship. And we have to promote one another. And this would like to see I like to see us now
beginning to collaborate, Muslim communities with other communities. And, and I think that it would bode well for us inshallah. Inshallah, shall we have a number of questions, and the sisters is often asked, please send the questions forward. So shift, we have a question here. Do you think that the African American Muslim population is declining more? And if so, why, like the percentage that used to be from now? I don't know, I don't I don't have any any statistics.
I know that in our communities, indigenous African American communities, people taking shahada all the time.
So that's that that bodes well. And I don't know, if they're necessarily decline in the number of African Americans may be percentage wise in certain communities. But Allah knows best, I'm not sure. So we have a number of questions, quite a lot of questions about you, you you encourage Dawa. But how do you advise we give Dawa? How do we give Dawa to atheist? What advice to give to the MSH?
Let me tell you something.
I'm mad. Man. You know what I made? When I went to New York University.
Not one Muslim ever came to me, even to give me a pamphlet.
But the brothers on the Nation of Islam did.
They will come to the cafeteria. And they will say how you doing my black brother?
And then yeah, and then they will talk. The captain of the basketball team Jerry teknicks Nation of Islam. And we went to basketball games. I played basketball. He sat next to me. I remember the very day I joined the Nation of Islam. I know the very suit I wore
I had an afro, you know, Afro is shake, you know, I know whatever is most of the youth and Afro is like in the 60s, black people started making their hair long. My Afro was so big, it can land a helicopter on it.
Right? So So my point is, is that
simply showing a concern? I was on a plane one day, and by the way, I like people to sit next to me on a plane.
So one day, right, I'm reading the book. Now, I don't know if you like me, when I'm reading. I don't like people below my shoulder, do you?
But one day, the guy
next to me, I saw him read. Nobody showed that was reading the book about Islam. And I did like this.
gave him the opportunity to see you right. In order. He said, he said, Are you muslim? I said, Yes. I railed him in.
So we have to have an opportunity to talk people I think every day, we have three, four or five opportunities to give down a little bit. Let me give an example. I was writing a Muslim brother picked me up from the airport, took me to some program. And he had a djellaba white, European, American Muslim. And so we stopped at the toll booth. And the woman said, Oh, that's a real that's nice. What do you have on? He said, thank you and drove away. I said, Man, she was begging for Dawa. She, she could have said, like, give me some Dawa.
You know, he could have said, you know, you don't have to be a Muslim and Muslims, we just Song Song Song. So to say something a seed. I was on British Airways on my way to England.
And the flight attendant said, Would you like some wine? I said, I would love some wine. But I can't because I'm a Muslim.
So the guy next to me started talking to me about Islam. You understand? The thing is can I went to DoubleTree Hotel years ago. And in every room, there was a card that says that when you care? It shows, I would argue when you don't care, it shows. So there are people begging for Islam. And you don't have to be you know, just a little bit. Just a little bit. Let them acknowledge them. And I think that that's part of it. Now community shake we one year. We went on a Sunday. We took 100,000 pamphlets and went to the projects and gave 100,000 100,001 brother was with me brother from Pakistan, Sheikh Shamir, what's his name? She means Siddiqui. We call him the grandfather of that.
Well, he bought about five books about that one. He came with us, he was with me. We went to like 20 story. And we knocked on every door. What happened? We gave them flyers with our phone number on it, people called the phone number. Some of them came to the masjid. Some knocked on the door. They were Muslims.
So my point is, you can do it in your own way. hamdulillah now, some MSA, they have they have tables and they give out pamphlets. But you know, but the thing is, I love talking to people don't be afraid to talk to people. And I know most of us like oh, you know, do your own thing. And but you gotta remember we have a mandate to give Dawa. So please let us start thinking about giving Dawa inshallah sha Allah chef, somebody asks, What was your reaction? How did you feel when you found out that the Nation of Islam was not the real religion of Islam?
As that's a great question. I think it immediately most of us had some skepticism.
Day one, right or not? And I remember in Sheikh Yes, I may have told you this. My minister, Minister Farrakhan in New York. He was your minister, he was your minister. He was my minister. Right. So that day when Elijah Muhammad died, he died one day before our national holiday, which is a mercy from Allah subhanho wa taala. Because we all were on the way there and on the way that we learned that he lives my mother died. And I'm listening. I'm sitting front rostrum. Let's say that this will all the speakers are on here.
And so one by one, the speakers, they said we give our support for the son of Elijah Muhammad water 30 Muhammad to become the leader.
And I said to myself, I remember saying this, I don't care what they say. I'm waiting to hear from my minister Minister Farrakhan.
So Minister Farrakhan was the last speaker, and he said,
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was the will of Allah.
Minister Walter de Mohammed is the will of Allah. He was crying. And I said, Okay, so we accepted it. And he made changes.
Right away step by step by step by step. I remember the first Jim will cook by gave in my community. I was the Imam over Masjid Mohammed in Brooklyn. The first goodbye I gave the people my congregation was laughing at me.
I said, Okay, you laugh today, one day you won't be laughing
because it was noted as we never had Juma prayer. We never did that.
We never fast in Ramadan. We didn't do any of that all that was no. So to the credit of Imam one of the Muhammad able to do that, that fast to transform that nation, who had those deep beliefs
to do so fast. But after we accepted Hamdulillah we accepted it in a few months. We really accepted all the way of course. Hamdulillah we have a question from the sisters. You didn't mention the role of women. And what is your opinion about the role of women in America especially in promoting Islam and and Dawa? I think that's for everybody. The women,
the elderly Alhamdulillah we have a sister in my Masjid named sister
Rasheeda she was in our masjid for years and she moved to Trenton New Jersey. And one day she called me said Imam Suraj I got some good news. I said,
You got married.
She says Know What My Mum My mum took shahada.
94 years old
Mashallah. The role of women and my man she'd say, I don't know about this Masjid. I hope I don't get you in trouble.
Women play a prominent role in our Masjid. In the board on our board. We have women on our board here women on your board. Do we have women on board?
What? Where's the board? What
was good? He said come in. Not yet. Not yet. And I think the women you know, listen, we have sisters that do Dawa. In our community. We have sisters on the board. We have sisters, we respect them. Our youth directly. You have a youth director. Right? Do we have a youth director?
start messing with you.
So we have one of the best things we did shake. We got to you. We hired a youth director, full time youth director, every measure need a youth director, and Hamdulillah, our youth director as a system. So we systems play a very prominent role in our masjid, we were thinking about tearing our master down and build a 10 storey complex, this is the thing one of the things we're thinking about. And so we had a meeting with the leadership of our community and and a number of the system. Leaders, sisters, if you if you know, they don't they don't give footballs or anything like that. But they we do respect them. And I think that every every man should I'm shocked I was in England.
In this matches, don't even let sisters come into the message which is just mind boggling to me. You know, have our own man. You know what all kinds someone we've got all kinds of degrees. And we don't utilize them. So I think they should be utilized. Share a number of youth have asked similar questions like one of the youth is saying that, you know, we understand we're going to be carrying the torch of Islam for the next generation. You know, what advice do you give us and young youth saying he wants to be a dairy? You know, what advice do you give for that next generation? I think that I'm always pushing local communities that you should consult your your resident scholars, your
Imams and so forth and collaborate together what you doing? I remember you remember the native Dean right that group years ago they had a camp for for youth in Maryland.
And I came maybe the second day
in the counselors told me say Mr. Oz these guys are bad they don't listen.
You know what I did? I said listen, put the books away.
Come with me. Going on the basketball court. We can take care of business.
So was the counselors against the youth
I'll say what Muhammad Ali used to say.
If you dream about beating me you better wake up and apologize.
And he wouldn't say he beat somebody he woke them we woke them
never had a problem with them again.
No, that's true.
Now if I tried to do that now may not work. No shack. We're gonna have a basketball tournament. Oh, yeah.
Hey guys, are we gonna go after? You haven't seen our gym? Gym while you're gonna see it again but with the basketball this time we got some really good players don't we? I know you've heard that's why I'm not huh? We have a good team. We'll show you I know that I know I heard about it. Listen, I heard about you guys.
I know no
other handlers. Yeah, we just have a few minutes left inshallah. So, this is an interesting question. I'm going to ask it just to see your reaction. Okay. Um, for me, may I ask is polite. What is your acleda? And are you Hanafi Maliki Shafi are what?
Actually, honestly, None None of them. I don't I don't have madhhab. I know some of you believe you have to belong to method. I don't.
Three teachers that I had to have a profound effect on my life in Omokoroa. In 1978,
Sheikh Jaffa Sheikh Idris from Sudan shaping our show? Yes, okay. He taught us Arcada. And then Muhammad could the brother of side could Taurus Tao, my favorite teacher, Sheikh Hussein, Hassan Hamid, Allah, He taught us fic. In the thing that I learned from him, I didn't learn scholarship from him, I learned I learned the appreciation of scholarship.
Every question we asked him, his typical answer is we have three opinions. Imam Shafi, this is his opinion, and this is the evidence that he used Imam Malik has a different opinion, this his opinion, and this evidence he gave him and Abu Hanifa has a third opinion. And this is evidence, I think, such and such is the right opinion. So he taught us our respect, and I respect all of them. I don't there's no particular school, I'm just a Muslim, and a Muslim. That's as simple as that.
Mashallah, shall we have a lot of good questions, but we're gonna wrap up with one final one. Do you think in your own experiences that you have seen more Baraka more Allah's blessings in the earlier generations versus now? Or do you think there's more Baraka now than an earlier generation that the previous generation, I think more now, I think that and Allah on them that we are growing, and, and I do see this convergence of Muslims, you know,
it's not just me being invited to immigrant communities. But a lot of African Americans now and Imams being invited to other communities, other communities, and I'm asked you like I told you, you know, the demographics only 20% African Americans, so we always bring in different imams in and you gotta help me. I want to get shake. Yes, you have to give cookbook, Master taco. You think we can get him to do that? Can you help me? How many say yes? Hola, Chef. They don't want me here. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. So may Allah subhanho wa taala. Bless you. I have the pleasure of being here with you tonight for few moments.
I feel that we're going to be okay.
Someone asked the question.
How long would the building stand?
Answer? How strong is the foundation?
As long as we get the foundation, get that right and keep working with it. Now, I've said this before publicly. And I know some of you are going to think as hyperbole. If you gave me the choice between sending my child to a Muslim school
or have it, I would choose the Muslim school 100%. And I don't say this like to put down Harvard No, I'm not putting them down. They are them marvelous institution.
300 and something years, and with a budget of over $5 billion a year.
The math, but I don't want you to lose your Islam by going to these high institutions like too often they happen. And you have to help me get to statistics and find out what's what's going on. How many of our children are we losing in this in this in this particular society? So but I think the future bodes well. And the question is, what are we going to do? Sure, yes, sir. You continue to do the great work that you do. Not only speaking, writing, in all of that, may Allah subhanho wa Taala bless you and make make dua the last one water continue to bless you. You are so more well equipped than we were. See, we will just you know my way he said lacking Mala Bucha Jabba there's no real
wisdom without experience. So we will go more on our experience. We got a little education and our intention. I remember Mark Malcolm used to say so what
my credentials, my current credentials and my sincerity. So we just tried to be sincere. And because I know where I was, I know where I was. I get scared as a Subhan Allah, Allah saved me and guided me to Islam in 1975. So I'm very, very critical that we're gonna move to the gym but I've heard that there is a story revolving basketball that he mumps so Hey. So I was told to ask you this, you want to hear
Imam Suhaib Webb, may Allah bless him. I love him. We got it. In a conference in Connecticut.
And brothers told me that Imam Suhaib Webb, every talk he gave, he talked about what he gonna do the Imam Suraj on a basketball court as disrespect.
So I told the brothers we made a tape that they played in front of his his next talk. Imam Suraj challenging you
or he challenged me. I said, Okay, let's do it. He said meet me at the gym at 12 midnight, something like that. So I go there to a midnight and I'm waiting for him you don't show up?
Let's show up. So as I'm out here and come and I'm about to go in my room. Hey, come with a Boston Celtics uniform on as disrespect.
So I tell you what happened. I'll say this way.
What I did to him I had to make talbo to Allah.
Ask him you tell.
Raleigh, Charlotte Zach Kamala Katie Mama said You are our Imam you are the one of the Imams of North American Islam. We ask Allah azza wa jal to bless you for all that you have done for the Ummah, we ask Allah subhana wa Tada to give you a long life, a life full of Iman and Taqwa and good deeds. We ask Allah azza wa jal to bless you in all of your efforts and your community. We ask Allah subhana wa Taala to cause you to be a role model for all of us and to be a role model for the future of American Muslims. We ask Allah to forgive any sins that you might have done to exalt Your ranks, and to be resurrected with the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam and on behalf of all of us, we
are so humbled that you have come into our community Imam Suraj and you're always welcome here and I promise you insha Allah insha Allah will come to your community as well insha Allah is that Kamala Harris and I'm gonna go to LA but we're going to the gym for some for some shots
you can visit our I know I'm coming Mr. Shin How you doing man
gonna love it all
the love your
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what the guilt or? I don't know hula hoop