The Legend Himself Imam Siraj Wahhaj – Interview

Yasir Qadhi

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Lemon

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many Mina most naming Bismillah Al Rahman Rahim Al hamdu Lillahi Rabbil Alameen wa Salatu was Salam ala Sayidina Muhammad in while early he was a big mind and we are very, very honored and pleased and humbled to have as our guest today. None other than the legend himself. Imam Suraj wa Hodge coming to us live from Brooklyn, New York, correct? Shekinah you're in Brooklyn, right? Yes, sir. Alhamdulillah Santa Monica welcome, Sheikh for, for casual interview.

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To beloved, how you doing? Alhamdulillah Alhamdulillah chef, I feel humbled. Always in your presence, I feel

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in all that we're actually having a conversation from how to learn, people misunderstand that they think that we're somehow peers, when I have a conversation with you, they don't realize that back in the 80s, I was a teenager, you know, listening to your audio cassettes, you know, in Houston, Texas, you know, finding cassettes being transferred around and your hot buzz, your fiery hot buzz, I remember, you know, that used to give from from Brooklyn. And here we are Subhanallah, you know, 40 years later, and having spoken at conferences across the globe and hummed the land, you know, criss crossed and, you know, been together. But just because we speak on the same platform, nobody should

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think that there's any equivalency, you are our elder, our Senior, you pave the way for us, you know, you establish the foundations upon which Allah subhanaw taala facilitated us to to stand on, and your efforts at it are from a different era and different time. And she was one of the reasons why.

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Before? Yes, I've got to say something. Yes. Well to thank Allah for you. And now often they don't ask for you for all the good that you do. You can even imagine

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how many of your talks I've listened to, again, learn lessons from it. While we're on the same platform, or you're on another platform, I just want to thank you for the good that you do for the Muslims for the OMA and for the rest of humanity. And I'm saying keep on keep up the great work that you're doing. And may Allah subhanahu wa bless you in this life and the hereafter. And in terms of me, honestly, and I really see myself as, as the little man you know, the little guy. I don't think of myself as anything major, but grateful to Allah to make some kind of contribution for this great Omar, Mohammed delay, Sarah Wasserman Schultz, this is a humility that we expect from you, but our

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youngsters need to understand and this needs to be said very explicitly that it is a mistake to aggrandized those that come later, and neglect those that laid the foundations were it not for the fact that ALLAH SubhanA wa Tada paved the way but with pioneers like you, and facilitated, and again, sharing again, you are listening to me at this age, and I'm very humbled, but you have to understand as a young boy, there was nobody that resonated with me, as you know, as strongly as you did, because you're speaking, you know, as an American Muslim icon, right? So the inspiration that I'm getting and I'll never forget chicken I have 1516 years old, you know, and and listening to your

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husband's you know, on cassettes, the our next generation doesn't even know what those sets are the audio cassettes, right. And, you know, listening to him and in my car, going to university of Houston, and, you know, meeting you for the first time, like, you're one of the first, you know, starstruck icons I met as a teenager, you probably don't even remember, you know, you came to Houston, Texas, in 1991. And, you know, people don't understand that there was no Internet back then. And I hadn't seen you on video at that stage because I was still a teenager. 1516 years old. I hadn't seen a picture of you because I'm only listening to you at that stage. This is the first time

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we met. And I came early to the masjid This is Northwest zone, it is GH in Houston. Right. I came early because I wanted to get a peek at you before anybody else. You know, I got a ride with a friend. I didn't have a car back to them. And I'm waiting, waiting and I went and did will do and you were there doing will do and I didn't know who you were, you know, like, you know, brother you to do? What do you know, Imam Suraj when he's gonna come

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as the 16 year olds like and you're like, I knew like Effie. I mean, I'm Suraj was like what you already must.

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So, so I'm never gonna forget so that little incident right? The it's just it the impression that you had on me the friendliness you know, I'm the

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The warmth that you generated Chicana you cannot underestimate that those types of small things, they actually connected us with our faith. And, you know, you went along with all the other teachers that I had back then that's what inspired me to go further and to, to to leave my engineering and going and study overseas. It was people like you, that really inspired me and made me proud to be a Muslim in this land. So I think our next generation needs to know this, ya know, that was very important that your contributions are totally different. They're not, you can't compare with the amenities that we now have and the communications, you know, you accepted Islam back in the 60s or

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70s. So we're going to discuss inshallah today, and the struggles that you underwent and everything. So, one of the main reasons why I wanted to interview you is that we wanted to get into in depth detail from the heart and I want the people to know this is unscripted. Imam Suraj doesn't know the questions. And frankly, I don't even know how the questions, it's going to be a raw interview, and I want to go back, you know, all the way to the beginning. shiksa Imam Suraj tell us about the young boy Suraj well, you're obviously your name was something else tell us about that young boy, and his vision, his America that he saw the America of, I would assume, coming from a different background,

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different, you know, era, the difficulties, the aspirations and the religiosity of that young boy. Let me tell you something, a couple of things, you know, and I want to go visit my mother recently. And the last she just celebrated her 88th birthday. And I said,

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Mom, do you remember when I was seven, seven years old, Sunday morning, about to go to church? And me and my brother, he's one year older than me. And I was getting dressed. And I said, Mom, while we have to go to church anyway. And, and, and I said, Mom, you took your belt, and you hit me a few times, and asked me Now do you understand why you got to go to church? I said, Yes, ma'am. But I didn't understand. So I asked my mother. I said, Mom, you remember that? She said, No, I don't remember that. So I want to say first, I want to give them credit to my mother, may Allah bless her for keeping me and my brother.

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Being religious, she made sure we go to church. She told me the other days, that son even though I didn't, she didn't go to church. But she thought it was important that me and my brother had a foundation of church and me and my brother got an award from the Church for 100% attendance. So we just Sunday we taught in Sunday school. That's the first thing. Then I want to I asked her I said, Mom, I noticed when I became a Muslim. You never told me how you felt. You never told me how you felt? How did you feel when I when I became a Muslim. I was in college, I was a freshman in college. She said, Son, I remember the very day you came home. I know exactly what I was doing. I was cooking

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dinner. And you came in said Mama, I'm thinking about becoming a muslim. And and she said I said to you and so she had no problem with me becoming Muslim Alhamdulillah. I began in 1969. As a student at New York University, and joining the Nation of Islam, I remember the very day it was a Wednesday. I know the very suit I was wearing. And I had in those days, yourself a big afro my show, you know, the afro was right course.

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So that was a big effort. All right. So I joined the nation, a Wednesday night I never forget that night I joined the Nation of Islam. And later on, we're going to talk about that. So two major impacts on my life number one as a Christian, and the Prophet peace and blessings be upon them said in the m&r Regional Base, to me I'm gonna be follow our journey, whether believes in Jesus and then believe in Me will have a double reward. And I can tell you, my profound love for Jesus, as as a Christian, unbelievable, have a heart for Jesus. And then number two, joining the Nation of Islam. I know what prompted me to join the Nation of Islam. I was a deep believer in Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I thought he was the real guide for black people. But when he was assassinated, I remember that was a turning point in my life. And I said, I'm going to either be a black Muslim, or I'm going to become a black panther. Because now I'm beginning to be militant, and reading books about Malcolm X, reading books about the Nation of Islam. So 1969 I officially joined the Nation of Islam. Those are the two things in my life that really motivated me. So chef, let's go back to 1969 you

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already are thinking about the Nation of Islam. How did you hear about the nation in 1969? And what was the impression? What was the street impression? You are a Christian, you're going to earn something as a Baptist church, you're going to Baptist, I'm assuming, yeah. So you're going to a Baptist church. But you've already heard of the Nation of Islam. You've already heard about Malcolm X. So explain to us the mindset of a young, you know, African American in the 60s, who's in a Christian church, going to the Baptist Church, and yet, there's a deep impression, a positive impression of an exotic faith, the strange sounding Nation of Islam, and Malcolm X, what did you

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know about them back then, when you start thinking, I got every record album, Malcolm X, you got to remember this. Yeah, I said, Malcolm was the man. Malcolm X was the man and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both of them, I will listen to their speeches become motivated. In fact, when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, that was my beginning to now change. I said, No, no, for the liberation of black people, we need some more militancy. So I heard about the Nation of Islam through Malcolm. And then

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Farrakhan. He came to New York University gave a speech. And I think the power of black men standing up to the white man, it was it was that that really touched us and, and there were a lot of African American friends like myself or going to college, who joined the Nation of Islam. Because at that point, we say enough is enough. We saw enough discrimination and of racism. And we said, No, we gotta do something. We got to do something about it. Now, Martin Luther King, Jr. is dead.

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And alternative now.

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Malcolm M, the Nation of Islam shift. So obviously, Malcolm passed away, early 1964 You were still just a teenager. 55 You didn't meet 65 Yet, you didn't meet?

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Malcolm X Did you know it was was funny, you want to hear something I was in.

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I was in England. And some brothers had picked me up from the airport. I'm going to give a speech about Malcolm X. And they said, you know, imams know Do you know Malcolm X, right? And I laughed so hard. Yes. I'm telling you, I left. I said I was 15 years old when he was assassinated. So I never met him. But I met his wife. And Dr. Betty Shabazz. We spent many, many times together. I remember the first day I met her, I was giving a lecture at Medgar Evers college. And after a lecture, this woman came to me and said, You know, I was always wanted a Muslim to come to, to the, to the school, and she worked there. And she said, when you get a chance, can you come to my office? I said, well,

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where's your office? Second floor? We're on the second floor. She didn't know that. I didn't know she was she was a Malcolm X widow. That's

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the first day we met. Yes, sir. I'm telling you, we spoke over four hours Subhanallah over four hours, you know, speaking about her husband, she had a profound She never remarried. She had a profound love about a full her husband. And so there I learned about Malcolm X. And but that but that time I'm in the I'm in the Nation of Islam. So again, a lot of my friends, we will talk about getting more politically aware. And we wanted to do something because you gotta remember, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Now we're going to look at many people, not just myself, but many people did join the Nation of Islam. So it is true to say that the primary motivation in the late

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60s For you to embrace the nation was its its message of liberation. Its message of basically empowerment, not the theology, obviously. 100% right, you know, and not only that, you know, I'm gonna tell you this, I don't know. If you've ever seen any movies ever in your life? I don't know. I'm not that essential.

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You know, Spike Lee said, Spike Lee said, someone asked him what makes a great movie. He said, a great movie have three things. Number one, it has to be educational. Number two, it has to be entertaining. And number three, into inspiration. So when you look at that, you know, educational, the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. All of them were inspiration. And, and that that moved us but there's one thing I'm gonna say yesterday that maybe a lot of black people don't understand. 1968 There was a song that was in in the in the black community. It was number one in the church for about eight weeks. And the name of that song. Say it loud.

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I'm black, and I'm proud. This was an important this was a very important social revolution and the time of black people. You notice the thing again, now 6060 68 Now I got an afro. Why is that?

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If you go back to the movie, Malcolm X, Denzel Washington will played Malcolm had content process here, fried here. And that was the way black people want. Why? Why would a black man have

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content here? Because we will imitating white people. Why? Because we hated ourselves. So that song in 1968 said loud, I'm black, and I'm proud. It was a it was a social revolution. If you look at black women now, I guess you will notice something different. The hairstyle. The hairstyle is so unique. It's not imitating white people anymore. In 1968, black people started changing their name, African names, Muslim names. We started wearing dashikis I remember when the Dutch were in dashiki. So no longer imitating white man. Charles gallop said that imitation is the sincerest of flattery, and the Prophet peace and blessings be upon us and mentorship at the Talmud for a minimum of

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imitates that people have them. So black people Stop imitating white people, and they want it to be themselves. And that was the thing that the Nation of Islam did. They taught black people to love themselves. That's a critical point.

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So there's one other point

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there's a tape, I wish you can play for your audience. Muhammad Ali,

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talking about us, he's been interviewed. And he was saying, How come everything negative is black? Yeah. You don't have one? I've seen it. Yeah. It's great. It's really great. People need to listen to that over and over again.

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Okay, Inshallah, we'll see if we can get that in or at least good. Google it. It's a very famous interview that's online. Yeah. Yeah, I remember seeing that. Yeah. So Shekinah you joined the nation? 1969. Can you tell us a little bit about those years in the nation? What, what impressed you what?

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What did you see from them that is positive and the negatives as well. And also your interactions with Elijah Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan as a member of the nation. Yeah, the I never met Elijah Muhammad personally. But Minister Farrakhan was my minister in New York City. I was in his class, you know, so I interact with him every day. The one thing you notice about the nation discipline. You know, my first trip to Mecca I'll never forget this. I was shocked. After I became Muslim. I come to LA Allah bless me to make Hajj. And I think it was 1978 When I first went to Mecca. And the thing that shocked me when I saw Muslims smoking cigarettes, stuff, but Allah stuff in the Nation of

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Islam, you can't you get put out, you get put out the nation for smoking cigarettes. So So I was on a bus one day, and like 20 people smoking cigarettes, and I said, What are you doing? You smoking cigarettes? I'm a young guy, now. We're smoking the cigarettes and I said, Be quiet. So I'm not going to be quiet. It's we're going to call the police. So the police came. And so you know, but I was so disappointed. So the discipline in the Nation of Islam, you find there were a lot of issues in the black community, but the Nation of Islam, very discipline, very clean, married. And so I think we were attracted to that. Also, we trained martial arts, with some of the greatest martial

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artists, a man named Moses Powell. He was very well known in the martial art martial arts. So we trained, we discipline ourselves, and, and people in our community had a respect for us. Yesterday, let me tell you something, what inner Tarlac told me once he said he lived in Harlem, he mentored them, Abdullah, she, you know, of course, yes. That's right. So he says that they were to two young men following a woman with a hoodie on.

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So she started walking faster. And they started walking faster.

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And she turned around in a hoodie came off. And she was they found out she was Muslim. Fully hijab.

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And they said, they stop. Sister Oh, we saw him. We saw he says the Winslow was you and they went away. So a lot of stories like that. See one thing? The people in the neighborhood they call it pred, which means credibility. Yeah, so one thing that the Nation of Islam had they had credibility in the street.

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Respect respected the head, the brothers from the nation. Let me tell you something about about Dawa. You know, we talked about Dawa as Muslims inviting people to Islam. That's all the Nation of Islam did. I used to go to people's houses I used to sell Muhammad speaks newspapers. Would you like to guess how many Muhammad speaks newspapers are sold on one week? We'd like to take the guess. 50 Very good. 1000 I saw the 1000 1000. Muhammad speaks newspaper a week. And you know, I sold it. Yes, sir. I went door to door. I went to people's houses. And I want you to imagine going into a housing project. Right. 25 storeys high, by myself, going to the top floor, knocking on every day, every

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door selling Muhammad speaks newspaper, and I got 1000 customers. So every week I will go to the houses and you know, something, they will invite me to their weddings, to the funerals to the graduations. I was like, oh brother Jeffrey L. Jeffrey 12x, which means I was at 12. Jeffrey in New York to join the Nation of Islam to Jeffrey. Yes, Malcolm X was the first Malcolm in Detroit. So he was Malcolm X, the person came after him, Malcolm X, Malcolm 3x, etc, right? We had something like rabbit 254x, which means the left city, you had that many rabbits who joined the Nation of Islam. So what happened is that every week, I was bringing people to the temple every week, that's what I do.

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I will go to the house and they say, Oh, brother, Jeffrey, come on in. And I will invite them I wasn't driving in those days, I used to take a cab, take them to the temple. So we call it instead of calling the dowel, we call it fishing, fishing, golfing, you got to go and bring the fish in. So that's what that was my training in the Nation of Islam, and the absolute love for black people. So Imam Suraj again, so this is a very awkward question. But it needs to be asked here. So yeah, when our generation when our generation hears about the theology of the nation, write about UFOs and Japanese, you know, things and you know, the, you know, the cults and the Shabbat and all this, they

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find it difficult to understand how anybody could believe in that type of mythology. Right. So can you explain and excellent question, let me tell you how I see it.

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I think we bypass that we look past that. And we were so impressed with the knowledge of self that Elijah Muhammad called the knowledge of self that the love of black people and, and strength and discipline, that the theology be honest with you.

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We weren't really much that much into the theology. We were more into nation building. And that was the thing that that impressed us. And that's why, in 1975, when Mr. Elijah Muhammad died, and his son, one of the Dean Muhammad came, something, something happened. Unbelievably, within one year, he transformed that whole nation of Islam to orthodox Islam. He said, My father is not a prophet.

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You know, Prophet Muhammad is the last messenger. And he started teaching us he taught us to make salad I remember the first goodbye, gave I was the imam in the masjid and Brooklyn, Masjid Muhammad.

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And I used to be Assistant Minister in the Nation of Islam. I became an imam in that Masjid. I remember the first football game I remember today. So I gave the football and the brothers and sisters and my community started laughing at me while I was given the cookbook, because it's a strange what is what is what is what's this? Right. So we used to we used to have meetings on Wednesday and Fridays and Sundays. So we didn't get we didn't give footballs No, we gave we gave sermons. We gave lectures. But we didn't make. We didn't make a lot. So I told them when I said you know what? You laughing at me today, one day, you won't be laughing. So hamdulillah

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Subhan Allah. So from 1969 to 1975, you were involved with the nation. And your main motivation really was empowerment for the people seeing the oppression going on. And just and wanting to build as you said, a nation your civilization. The goal was I mean, if I remember correctly, my read has been a while since I've read. But Elijah Muhammad wanted independence for African Americans. He wanted fine and he wanted a different state. He wanted to move to another land or something is not the case. He said that he wanted the government to give us some land so the black people can do for self. You don't love us. You hate us. They give us some land. I don't think he ever really expected

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that.

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It was something to keep us going right. And I think to be honest with you, yes, you the theology. A lot of us in the Nation of Islam really wasn't into the theology, you know, saying that wasn't a thing that motivated us. What motivated us, motivated us was doing for self economic independence and things like that. But you see Imam Suraj when 1975 the change happens, and why did the incomes and he's he's reorganizing everything, there must have been something in your heart that caught you and pushed you forward, right? There must have been something in there. Let me tell you what's critical. The fact that he was Elijah Muhammad son, made all the difference. Subhan Allah and now

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theology, Elijah Muhammad always said that this son, he was the seventh child, this son would help me. So already had that, you know, that that myth, if you would, so that we look to Him, we expected him. So let me tell you something interesting. I remember the day when Elijah Muhammad died.

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It was, I think, a Saturday, the next day was our national holiday. They call it save his day. And we supposed to go to Chicago. I was there in Chicago, the fact that he died the day before our national holiday. So that all of us were there in Chicago, to choose a new leader.

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And I never forget, because I'm sitting in what they call a front row

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on details security, and I'm listening to all the speeches and people saying, well, wireless Mohamed is going to be the leader. Because we what was always thought thought that Elijah Muhammad would live for, you know, hundreds of years, you know, and and then I said, I'm still I still want to wait to see what Minister Farrakhan is gonna say. And I never forget, Minister Farrakhan was crying and he said, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was the will of Allah. Minister Wallace, Muhammad was became one of the Muhammad is the word of Allah. And he accepted it. And slowly he began to unravel the mythology in the Nation of Islam. You see how easy it was? I mean, really, he started soon,

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unraveling it, so that the faith couldn't be that deep. That's why the real the real,

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poor pool of the nation wasn't the theology.

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But it was due for self black black pride. Now, Imam Suraj. There is a theory that

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Elijah Muhammad intentionally chose Wallerstein knowing that Wallace would Sunni eyes or at least mainstream the movement. And that's because Wallace, as you know, was a secret Muslim at the time. And Malcolm knew this right. Malcolm gave him that well, before the death of Elijah Muhammad wasn't even a secret open.

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He got kicked out of the Nation of Islam at least twice, because he didn't agree with his father. So the fact that Elijah Muhammad is choosing Wallace knowing that he's a Muslim, and none of the other kids are basically orthodox Muslim, what is your analysis of that? There were two of them, not just him, but his brother Akbar, Akbar. Yeah, the one who went to Al Azhar. Yes. So Right. Right. So both of them, and Akbar wanted nothing to do with the nation. So in order to do Muhammad, he will come in and out to come in and out. And I think that there is a thinking like that. And really, Allah knows best. You know, yesterday, what I tried to do, I try not to talk about the intention of people. I

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believe that what Allah subhanaw taala, but I will talk about the results. As a result of that, you know, and sometimes, Elijah Muhammad praised his son.

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You know, what, for the Mohammed, sometimes he scolded him. So only Allah knows, I leave that with him, it would be a wonderful thing. If he intentionally did that. It will be a wonderful thing. But I think that those who are still in the Nation of Islam, the leadership should bring their people over 100% to Islam as follows the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings.

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So no, no, good. Okay. Good. Good. I will finish with Tasha. No, no, I've done my job. Yes, sir. I'm speaking to a number of ministers in the Nation of Islam. We have, we have talks, we have debates. I've sat down with Minister Farrakhan many times, having discussions, honest discussions, and we have remained a friendship. But I tell him, I tell him how I feel. And I told him, You know, I make recommendations to him.

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But but the speakers in the Nation of Islam, very powerful speakers, all of them having confidence, you know, if you're charismatic and things like that, and so when they're transformed by this some imams in a nation

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Who now Sunni Muslims. I knew them in a nation of Islam. And I look and I said, subhanAllah look what they have become. So many people didn't know about Imam Suraj. But they don't know about hundreds of other Imams. Now, in the Nation of Islam who were in the Nation of Islam or Imams, no. So now we will want to 1975 and a new chapter begins in your life. So you embraced Islam, mainstream Islam, on this question Shekinah was it a really pivotal change? Or you're like, Okay, you're going with the flow at the time.

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Gribble major, let me tell you something. I'm one of my teachers. I 1978. I was I was blessed to go to study in Okara. University at the time, King Abdullah Jes Aziz university, at three teachers. One of them Sheikh Hussein Hamid, Hassan, from Egypt. We call them Vic Fick. He took a big,

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big fit. That's the day we gave a big six is, I mean, really, my love my favorite teacher ever. And, and Sheikh Hussein, Hamid, Hassan, he began every class the same way. And I'm going to begin how he began to be cleansed. Subhanak Allah Elena Elena elimite alum tonight in Atlanta, Alamo hacking, glory be to to you, oh, Allah, we have no knowledge except for what you have given to us. You are the known and the wives. We would ask him a question. And this was his typical answer. He said, we have three and we have three opinions. Sheikh admitted the Campbell, this is his opinion. And this is the evidence that he used. Even Abu Hanifa has a different opinion. This is his opinion. And this

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is his evidence that he used you know, Malik has a third opinion. This is his opinion, and this evidence to us, I think that this is the best

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opinion. And let me tell you why. That's how he taught us. So we didn't become scholars like him, but at least we learn to appreciate scholarship. And that's number one. Number two.

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He died by the way a couple of months ago, but two or three months ago

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in his 90s So second one was Egyptian or Sudan Isha Egyptian, Egyptian Okay, Egyptian Yeah. Jaffa shaker Geez from Sudan share so all of our shoe is all of our teachers. Like my teacher, your teacher, all of our teachers days. Oh, I remember what a you know, what a tremendous what what a great gift. So we I will speak at a conference right? And he always be sitting in the audience there after the talk. He says Suraj come and then he'll he'll critique my talk or or add something and had a tremendous respect for him and and he's still alive Hamdulillah I think he's in control now. My third teacher was Mohammed Mohammed put them the brother said good to Masha Allah, Masha Allah, He

00:32:57--> 00:33:03

taught us Dawa. And he he wrote a book, Islam the misunderstood religion.

00:33:05--> 00:33:11

And so he died about about four or five years ago. Also Egyptian. So he spoke English if Muhammad

00:33:13--> 00:33:13

Muhammad could

00:33:14--> 00:33:34

cite cooktops brother, okay, I did not know that he spoke English Okay, Mashallah. Okay. Oh, no, no, very good. Very, very, very good. I'm the law. So those are my three teachers. And so that impact that I have there yesterday will lie it changed my life. Right. So you talking about three years after the death of Elijah Muhammad.

00:33:36--> 00:33:54

The most important thing in my life is when I became a Muslim in 1979 when I I'm sorry, 1975 When I became a full Muslim, and then the second time is 78. When we went to this training, we began in Nate Naperville, Illinois.

00:33:55--> 00:34:03

During the month of Ramadan, 100 Imams with this Imam training authority from the

00:34:04--> 00:34:19

chef question This 1978 training in Makkah, ha tell us about that because this is interesting. Now how how is this happening? I mean, you are the contacts between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic scene as an America are non existent.

00:34:20--> 00:34:25

How was it was the wisdom of Imam Muhammad number one.

00:34:27--> 00:34:59

They were 100 Imams that were trained by some organization gotta Iftar something in Mecca 50 of the members of Imam Wofford the Mohammed community in 50 other Sunni Muslims. Of the 105 of them were chosen to continue to study in Mecca. I was blessed to be one of the five Alhamdulillah Alhamdulillah so and so long gone to Mecca. It was life changing to sit there I told you this scholars right to sit under them

00:35:00--> 00:35:11

All of this nor all of this light. And that was a major change in my life. So that was 1978. How long were you in Makkah for 1978? It wasn't it wasn't even a whole year.

00:35:12--> 00:35:50

Okay, wasn't even a whole. But you started learning basic Arabic over there as well. Let me tell you something about that is interesting, right? So when I went there asked them, they were going to teach us Arabic. I said, Are you going to teach us conversational Arabic or grammar? They said conversational, and said, I'm not interested in conversational. I want to study grammar. I want to read the Quran and understand it. I want to read Hadith and understand it. I said, Would you mind I bought some books, I had about 10 books on how to learn Arabic. I said when you have the classes do you mind if I will study my Arabic and said no problem. So when the course was over, I know grammar,

00:35:51--> 00:36:13

but didn't know conversation. They knew conversation, the others but they didn't know grammar. And I got what I wasn't interested in to be able to speak to an air handler. That was my interest. So what Imam Muhammad did is he exposed us, he bought some some some teachers in our community. Sunni Muslims, Sheikh Jaffa juice was one of them.

00:36:14--> 00:36:19

Another brother from Nigeria, and another brother used to be the president of Islam.

00:36:21--> 00:36:30

I can think of his name. I think it was named later on Muhammad years ago. So anyway, that wasn't major change Muhammad nor

00:36:31--> 00:36:43

Muhammad nor is that yes, Shere Khan of Sudan is Yes. Our teacher Medina graduate. Yeah, yeah. Medina graduate. Yasha. Muhammad north. Yeah. Okay. So Shekinah so this is a very important point that

00:36:45--> 00:37:27

many of us in the second generation you know, the immigrant community, we really don't appreciate the efforts of Imam why to thin and how, how phenomenal. I mean, truly it is, we are in our I am with the more I read, I am in awe of how ALLAH blessed the African American community, one person, one person by Allah's blessings, an entire revolution Shekinah Can you please make sure from your own eyes and in your own legacy? Can you explain to us for the next generation so that this is preserved? In your words, your impressions of Imam Why did then and your memories of Imam Why did then and what you'd like us to know about him? Tremendous person even wants to do Mohammed I

00:37:27--> 00:37:51

remember when he came very humble. I remember the very shoes he used to wear. were humble shoes. You know, his father had a mansion in Chicago. Imam Muhammad refused to live there. He lived in a very humble home. He drove drove a very humble car, he drove his own car. And I had become, you know, very, very respectful of him.

00:37:52--> 00:37:54

You know, at first

00:37:56--> 00:38:35

I think what happened when he was talking about the teachings of WD Mohammed, I think maybe I became a little bit impatient. And once I got hold of the of the Quran, do you know what my nickname used to be? When I was in the, what email Muhammad called the world community of Islam in the West, they said, Suraj Rojas, to Sunni Muslim in the world community of Islam in the West. Because I had that that love I learned I love the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him. So I was one of the first in his community to really have that, you know, Muhammad, Imam Muhammad was going on his own pace. He's a very wise man. And I appreciate it later on,

00:38:36--> 00:38:44

to his wisdom to bring, bring us along slowly. So my thinking at that time, I said, I don't want to do that again. I did it with your father. I don't wanna do that again.

00:38:46--> 00:39:04

So now I'm reading the Quran and reading the sources now, and again, maybe a little bit impatient, but that's what I want. I fell in love with the Quran. I fell in love with the Sunnah. I fell in love with Hadith. I fell in love with Prophet Muhammad salah, and the rest is history. But he's a great man.

00:39:05--> 00:39:11

I love him. I respect him. I think that he's been a man overlooked by a lot of people.

00:39:12--> 00:39:15

But he he's really did a fantastic job.

00:39:17--> 00:39:50

So in the late 60s, you embrace a message of black nationalism. And then in the late 70s, you embrace that new theology right. Now, how did that impact the black nationalism? Again, a very frank question, Shannon, when we understand what's going on here is great. You know what happened yesterday? I think what happened? Think about Malcolm, let's go back to Malcolm for a minute. So Malcolm, left the Nation of Islam, march 1964. Right. You got to think about 63 November. You know,

00:39:52--> 00:39:52

President

00:39:54--> 00:39:55

Kennedy is assassinated.

00:39:57--> 00:39:59

I'll make some statements about Kennedy.

00:40:00--> 00:40:01

chickens coming home to roost.

00:40:02--> 00:40:04

Elijah Muhammad sits him down.

00:40:06--> 00:40:07

But never bring him back.

00:40:09--> 00:40:30

64 Malcolm resigned from the Nation of Islam. And he began to learn more about orthodox Islam. You go to Mecca, he goes to African country go to Mecca, he makes pilgrimage, and there's a transformation. So, but Malcolm when he came back, never forgot his people.

00:40:31--> 00:41:15

never forgot his people. So he incorporated, he had the masjid on one hand, and then you have the political organizations to deal with both issues. Many of us the Sunni Muslims, we first became Sunni Muslim. I think, honestly, speaking, honestly, we kind of abandon the black struggle for a minute. We did. I think we got so involved in Islam, that we forgot to struggle in somewhere along the line, or Hamdulillah, Allah blessed us, we picked it back up, because it wasn't an emphasis on black anymore. Because we think that Mr. Elijah Muhammad used that, because black people were so oppressed, and so hated themselves. So we had to give another theology that kind of give us

00:41:15--> 00:42:00

confidence. So but after a while, people like myself in ze check it in talab, begin to see the need to go back to go after our people. Yeah, you know, so now we got the right balance. We get it now. So we're not going to overdo it. But to show you know, I love and appreciation what we did yesterday, at one one day in my masjid, we got those pamphlets about who is Muhammad. And we went into the projects. And we gave out 100,000 of those little pamphlets about about Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon me tell you something about Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali, may Allah subhanaw taala blessing, we will friends. And a couple of times I got a chance to travel with him. And you

00:42:00--> 00:42:12

know, Muhammad Ali, he was he was very, very human, his brother, right? He's very, very, very funny. Brother. Let me give you one example. I'm giving two examples, right. One day he was on a plane.

00:42:13--> 00:42:14

And then the

00:42:15--> 00:42:21

and the flight attendant said, Mr. Muhammad Ali, please bring your seatbelt. He said Superman, not Nino suit.

00:42:23--> 00:42:26

And she told him, Superman only no plane.

00:42:28--> 00:42:29

He put on a seatbelt.

00:42:30--> 00:42:40

In the second thing, he said something really interesting. Again, he was he was funny. He knew he was funny. He said that. If you even dream about beating me.

00:42:41--> 00:42:42

You better wake up and apologize.

00:42:44--> 00:43:23

That's the way he was. He was you know, but what he did people didn't know that there was a brother in Chicago, named his name was Ali. He was from Pakistan. He used to make these Dawa pamphlets. And Muhammad Ali would buy boxes of those. Like, who was Muhammad, when someone else was autograph? He was signing his name and give him that pamphlet. That Dawa pamphlet. That's when that's why Muhammad Ali was. So I think there was a resurgence among the Sunni Muslims, African Americans to get back to to deal with our people. Well, for a moment, I think we will absolutely be honest with you.

00:43:25--> 00:44:09

So she's gonna take us back to again, the 70s. Now from the 75 to 80 timeframe. Tell us about the Muslim demographic. So you're not with the worldwide community of Ali salaam, which is the word of the community at the time. Your your your temples are now converted to messages or mosques, right. So the temples of additional mosques now explain to us the demographics in terms of African American in terms of immigrant back in the 70s when you're an orthodox Muslim? What is the relationship between the immigrant community and the African American community? You know, yes, is an interesting question. If you ask me personally, my personal relationship with them was great. But I don't want

00:44:09--> 00:44:25

them to, you know, to look at me as different, right? Well, that's Imam Suraj. I'm gonna give an example. One day I moved from Brooklyn to Queens. And we got a house there. And I went to a local Masjid the machine wasn't that far from us, maybe 10 blocks. So I went there.

00:44:26--> 00:44:46

And maybe was Isha prayer. And that x the Imam there, I said, in this immigrant community, I said, Imam, what time What time was Fudger I want to come to the masjid for Fajr and he blew me off. He said, just just just come to the masjid. So there was somebody there who recognized me.

00:44:47--> 00:44:49

And they said to him, I saying I'm Suraj

00:44:51--> 00:44:59

Sassaman Suraj. So then he came to me. I said, Oh, yeah, you know, you know, Salas this time? I don't want him to do because I'm him. I'm sorry.

00:45:00--> 00:45:00

I

00:45:01--> 00:45:32

want him to do it because I'm a Muslim brother, asking you a simple question, but time is fungible. So there are some issues. You know, when people looked at Michael Jordan, when white people looked at Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan wasn't a regular black man. He was celebrity. So there was some issues. I must admit, there was some issues on both sides. With the immigrant community, African American community, there was some issues, maybe a little bit, maybe a little bit of racism, Allah knows best.

00:45:33--> 00:45:47

What it was, was it chilly, kind of, you know, development and relationship. And I think that it comes based on something that I've read in the Quran, which is interest and it's something that we did as Muslims.

00:45:49--> 00:46:21

Allah mentioned Quran Yohannes in the Halacha document, dacron ontology, Anna from Schumacher, balita. So major to nations and tribes to know one another. Yesterday, I swear about law when we became Muslim. We had as African Americans a love for our Muslim brothers and sisters. I give an example. I remember we had demonstrations to help the muscles in Palestine. We were there. I remember we had a demonstration of 42nd Street for the Muslims.

00:46:23--> 00:46:24

And what's the name of that?

00:46:26--> 00:46:28

The white Muslims

00:46:30--> 00:46:31

in

00:46:33--> 00:46:35

they were pressed years ago, I

00:46:37--> 00:46:40

just can't think of the name. I think of the name and the moment moment.

00:46:42--> 00:46:57

Anyway, in which country outside America outside America or inside America, in Europe? Oh the Bosnians. The Bosnians, right? So the Bosnians, and we were there. Remember, we've had a number of, you know, protests,

00:46:58--> 00:47:26

the Rohingya Muslims, Kashmir, any issue, any issue, because the Muslims now we are brothers, and this is what we learned. So from our part, as Muslims in general, I think there was like, Lyndon a hand, but I think it wasn't reciprocal as much. But then from the law we started to have dialogue we started it is much better now. By the way, it's better now and all because

00:47:28--> 00:47:32

I was in a third grade yesterday and I learned the song would you like me to sing it for you? No, of course

00:47:35--> 00:47:35

not.

00:47:37--> 00:48:11

But the song was something like this. Getting to know you. Getting to know all about you. Get into like you get into hope you like me, when the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him said, I didn't want me No. Muslim Muslim is a brother to Muslim. We really believe that. And you don't go to genuine to you believe and you don't believe until you love one another. So we begin honestly to love one another. And I can honestly say, for me, there's no difference between black or white. Let me tell you something interesting. We started our Masjid 40 years ago. 100% African Americans

00:48:12--> 00:48:19

now measure the top Well, you know, the percentage of African Americans may be 20%. Somehow maybe 20 of

00:48:20--> 00:48:21

the rest of immigrants.

00:48:22--> 00:49:02

We have brothers and sisters from from Bangladesh, African countries. We have white European American, we have Latino Americans. So we have a real mixture. So Imam Suraj Rojas is the African American imam of an immigrant community. Mashallah, Mashallah. Shekinah I know this is this is awkward, but I could sense even in your voice the pain of incidents that took place with the broader Muslim community and I know, you know, we just want to move on with those painful experiences but see, it's those experiences and those those awkward memories that need to be preserved so that they're never repeated. Those

00:49:03--> 00:49:40

subtle racisms that you're talking about and this disconnected divide and the innocence that that you you had that you want to reach out and you're not you're not getting the other hand, do you know to shake your hand metaphorically speaking Shahana I know this is awkward, but that's really especially as we move on from the past. So then, so then I need you to okay, yes, this one that's exactly what we need to hear. shufflers Mila go for it. Okay. What I learned people buy community they say ma'am, Suraj you trust everybody? You know, we have we have a system of community. Nobody ever give him money. I always give him money. She always asks for money. I always give him money.

00:49:40--> 00:49:59

You see ma'am to crackhead you know she but my point is yesterday one of the things that Allah put in my heart, a love for the people. Really, I love the people it doesn't matter where they from their ethnicity, their color or anything like that. So what happened people tell me that Imam right

00:50:00--> 00:50:44

Don't you the act a certain way, when when you're not around their true color come out? I can't say I can't say that's the truth. But I know enough people have told me it's work. Yes, it's work. It's a no Martin Luther King Jr. said he who gets behind in a race must forever remain behind a run faster than the man in front. So Black people are so far behind in so many things that, you know, even this racism found its way even among the Muslims. It did. It did. And they had the sickness. And it was funny. Let me tell you something about one of the greatest Americans, I have a tremendous respect for. You ever study, Thomas Jefferson.

00:50:46--> 00:51:30

Only back in the university days though. Thomas Jefferson, brilliant man. He was the second vice president of the United States, the third president, governor of the state of Virginia, he founded a university. He is the the author of the Declaration of Independence. He was Secretary of State, he knew six languages. So this might in fact, in fact, he was so patriotic, you'd have any idea the day that he died, you can guess you can guess that's a picture out of kids guess just just the day that he died? Fourth of July? 4 of July.

00:51:31--> 00:51:44

The Fourth of July, right? Yeah. And yet he said something yesterday, I'll never forget. He said, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just and that is justice cannot remain asleep forever.

00:51:45--> 00:52:00

What's he talking about? What does he know about our country that he trembles when he realized that God is just and so this man was? So it's, it's like this? Yeah, see this, I see it.

00:52:01--> 00:52:03

I forgive

00:52:04--> 00:52:50

all of my Muslim brothers and sisters who've had, you know, some traces of Jehovah as Prophet, peace and blessings be upon us and Abu Bakr, you still have some trade chases traces of Jehovah in you. So I forgive them. And you know, as you know, I've always believed that when people know better, they do better, they learn better understand. And I think that what's happening in America right now is waking up a lot of people have no appreciation, or better appreciation for for African Americans, black people, black lives matter in all of that. So there's a transformation happening in America. For us as Muslims, it's easy. Allah said it, Allah and His messenger say, That's it. You know? Let's

00:52:50--> 00:53:24

get the call agenda. Hata took me know, let me know who you don't believe until you love one another. So I asked Allah to help me to love and I love the Muslims. Honestly, I love them. I have a tremendous love. And again, those who know me that are WE LOVE YOU Imam Suraj but I want you to love my people also, don't just don't just love the celebrity don't just love him as a check here. And in Taliban, you know, a few celebrities. But it's getting better. Yes, it in my in my humble opinion is getting much, much better. So

00:53:26--> 00:53:34

it has to be to wait on you know, I think that we That's why I was saying how much we began to learn and I started to learn about

00:53:36--> 00:54:21

I was in a program once they did about the Muslims in Yemen. And I swear yes, there I was crying. When I was learning how they were being treated, how they lived, how the Palestinians were living, I like was crying. So I think Lee to artificial to know one another. That's the key and realize that that really in the economical? Tonkin the best of you in the most the you know, the most honorable of you those who fail a lot the most. You want to be better than someone be better than someone with tap one. Tender in Allah Allah Allah Yun rue de la Sammy como la isla Swati come. Well, I can yell through Allah Kulu Malika Monica, look at your bodies know your forms. You're going to look your

00:54:21--> 00:54:35

heart and your deeds. Let me tell you something about me. I said that you didn't know you probably know that I played basketball, right? Yes, I know that here. Very that you heard how good I was. Uh, you didn't hear that. I heard it from you, Chef. Yes. You you you mentioned

00:54:38--> 00:54:49

you know, I love sports. Right? We grew up. I played basketball, football, baseball. So I love sports. So one day I'm watching a game

00:54:50--> 00:54:59

on TV. The Mets you know, you heard about the Mets New York Mets. I know the New York Mets. Yes. All right. So don't make fun of me. Okay, because I know you want to say something smarter about the next

00:55:00--> 00:55:03

Anyway, I'm watching on TV.

00:55:05--> 00:55:06

And I'm saying, wait a minute.

00:55:08--> 00:55:52

Everybody on the Mets have a win the same number. And you win numbers on your back to identify you, they're all gonna have different they have different numbers, right? Then I looked at the other team in order, the other team had the same number. And the you know, the number was 42. And, and found out that the number of 42 with Jackie Robinson, Jackie Robinson was the first black man to allow to play baseball. That was 1947. They've been playing baseball since 1800s. But they find it at a black man play and his numbers 42. When he retired, they retired his number so that nobody ever can wear number 42 Again, but every year.

00:55:53--> 00:56:32

And I think this April, I like to say April 14, maybe is the anniversary when he when he when he became a full time baseball player. So everybody in honor of him were the number 42. There is a story like that in basketball in football, the first African Americans, the first African American to do that. Obama, the first African American president. So things are changing. And by the way, let me tell you something. And I think that as some discussion, maybe not necessarily now, I think we need to talk about white supremacy, white nationalism, and what's going on now.

00:56:33--> 00:56:38

70 How do you how do you explain 74 million people voted for Donald Trump?

00:56:39--> 00:56:56

When you know about people, you say that that doesn't make sense. But when you understand what's going on, do you know that in 2045, white people be a minority in this country? Yep. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So so so they are the lot of

00:56:57--> 00:57:00

freight? Let me read something to you. Yes.

00:57:01--> 00:57:29

Um, there's a book called Death of the West. Pat Buchanan. And sometimes when you read a book, it might be one chapter. It may be a paragraph or a few sentences that make you say what? So I wrote it down. I want you to I want you to listen to this. Pat Buchanan. Pat Buchanan, very famous ran for president a number of times, I've worked in four or five administration's, yes. Protective conservative Americanism? Yes. Well, no.

00:57:30--> 00:57:33

Listen to what he said. And when I when I when I read it.

00:57:34--> 00:57:56

I said, Are you kidding me? Listen to what he said, page 48. The irony of ironies. Today, in aging, dying, Christian West, is pressing the Third World and the Islamic world to accept contraceptions, abortion and sterilization as the West has done.

00:57:57--> 00:58:09

Listen to this. But why should they enter a suicide pact with us? When they stand to inherit the earth? When we all gone?

00:58:12--> 00:58:23

Let me call something else for you. I think it's I think it's important to my, you know, USA, I love to read my idea of a vacation, give me some books in a corner, and I'm happy man.

00:58:26--> 00:58:28

CMEP, Huntington wrote a book called,

00:58:29--> 00:58:48

What was the name of his book, clash of civilizations, classes, civilizations, listen to what he said. And this is like, again, one of those things you said? Did you hear what he just said? He said the West won the world, not because of the superiority of his ideas, or his values, or his religion,

00:58:49--> 00:58:56

but rather by its superiority and applying organized violence.

00:58:57--> 00:59:14

Westerners often forget this fact. Non Westerners never do never follow exactly the famous quote of his Yeah, yeah. So my point is this right? Something is going on in this country right now that they are people who hate black people so much.

00:59:16--> 00:59:24

They hate him so much, that you take a man like Trump, who's obviously obviously not well educated.

00:59:25--> 00:59:52

And people accept what he said. Because some people still have that loss in it in their heart. Not all of them, not all of them at all. But there's still a sickness that that exists. So Muslims have to get rid of the internal contradictions that we find in ourselves. One of my one of my great desires, yes here in a few people close to me know it. I would like all of the Muslims in New York's city, all those who have businesses

00:59:53--> 00:59:59

to stop selling alcohol and pork. This is the this is one I'm working. That's one of my projects right now.

01:00:00--> 01:00:10

because it's the sort of contradiction as a Muslim, and we sell an alcohol and we sell and talk to people that we know is no good and is in this haram.

01:00:11--> 01:00:49

So, so we got to get rid of those internal contradictions. So Shekinah, you have been traveling around 1015 minutes left, I have to wind down, unfortunately. So you have been active, obviously, as an imam as a as a chef for 45 years. Can you? Can you summarize for us some of the changes that you've seen both positive and negative, some of the good that no longer is here, and some of the bad things that have happened that are that we have now overcome? And so you see the positive so 40 years change from early 70s to you know, or even 75 When you became orthodox Muslim to now

01:00:50--> 01:01:16

there are some some organizations will some organizations that I absolutely love, one of them is mass, Muslim American society, they are so together Yes, they have their soul soul together. And not only do they work within the organization, but they work with others, they work they do a good job work and African Americans ignite Islamic circle of North America, another great organization, I love them.

01:01:17--> 01:01:25

You know, many of them now doing organizations working with African Americans, Islam care.

01:01:26--> 01:01:33

And some of these all other organizations you see now us working together, that's the most positive thing but I can I can say,

01:01:34--> 01:01:36

then, African Americans are

01:01:37--> 01:01:41

kind of working together on the manner of Imam Zaid Shakir is now present.

01:01:43--> 01:02:00

Most of the lines in North America. And, you know, again, we're doing things working together, trying to get our program together. So it's, it's it's good. it bodes well. The future looks good. And I must admit that

01:02:02--> 01:02:03

it's

01:02:04--> 01:02:35

I'm happy Alhamdulillah Alhamdulillah. That's so good that you're optimistic chef Hamdulillah. Chef, you are in your 70s you have as 40 years with the community. What are your good, your optimistic chef? What are your concerns, though? What are your worries that you want to leave with us that? What are the what are the what are the danger signs that you're seeing? I told you is to get rid of the internal contradictions. That's my, this would like to see, I would like to see, I don't want you to come into.

01:02:36--> 01:02:41

I don't want a Muslim immigrant come into a black community, and sell them inferior products.

01:02:44--> 01:02:46

I don't want you to do that. I don't want you to come in

01:02:47--> 01:02:50

a black community and take advantage of young girls

01:02:52--> 01:03:10

in all kinds of things. You know, you must have heard me say this before. Yes, one day. This is a Muslim store that I go to get my newspapers. In one day, I went in to a store and saw a sign that I never saw before. And it said alcohol not sold here.

01:03:11--> 01:03:21

That's her low at bar. This is what I'm talking about. And then I read it carefully. It says alcohol not sold here on Sundays

01:03:24--> 01:03:25

before 2pm

01:03:28--> 01:04:00

So don't do that. Don't Don't Don't do that. That's what I'm saying. This is a this is a big thing with me. You know, I don't know. I know. You make money people they make money. I understand that right? But we want to be held to a higher standard. What's the difference from the person saying you know, I'm gonna get paid I'm gonna sell me so I'm gonna sell some drugs. In the in Allah, Tala or Ebola. Yeah. Lulu Tibor. Allah is good only except that which is good. So I don't want Muslims will think that you can come into the inner city.

01:04:02--> 01:04:14

neighborhood. And so inferior products and products that are haram. So that's why I'm trying to put together now in the program to try to make an effort, you know, to leave that legacy behind.

01:04:15--> 01:04:36

And who would like to see us in terms of African American community? I want to see as more economic development similar to what the Nation of Islam did. There's a masjid in in Dallas, you have to know the message of Islam. Yes, of course. We know they might very well. Yes. He was here recently as well. Yeah. Okay, good. Right. So, you know, for years.

01:04:37--> 01:04:59

And they still do, they, they they feed the people on weekends, and they give clothing, right. And there was a man that I met there who used to go there every week. He said I depended on them to go every week, and he went to jail. Instead he was homeless for 10 years. He went to jail, and someone in jail told him to go to the mass

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Did he went to the masjid and at Hamdulillah he took shahada

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Ismail Ismail he's he's on the He's on the board now right so it's my ALLAH blessed him you know to get into a business where he clean clean stores so he got a business that he cleaned Walmart's he had a contract for 50. Walmart's right. And he had 15 Brothers working for him a contract of $1,700,000 Mashallah, mashallah, this is what I want to see, I want to see like right now we're planning on Channel, mash it down building from the from the ground up, maybe make a 10 story building. So we want to see economic development, we want to see better schools, we want to do we want to do better. So economic development for the African Americans. And for the immigrant

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community again, and the African American community working together, collaborating on things together. I see now

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we work in, in the political arena. 10 years ago, yes. Muslims, were asking the question, is it permissible to vote? They're not asking that question anymore. You know, so that's the era I came of age in, in the 90s. That was the big debate, you

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know, can we even get involved or not? Yep. That was the big debates when I was a teenager.

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And we learned now, you know, yesterday, we learned now the how you have to get involved now you make a difference. Think about that. Think about making a difference for the person, like like a Donald Trump. I'm not I'm not, you know, dumping on him. But you have to make you have to make decisions that's in the best of your interests. They say, you know, they are, they may be as many as 1,300,000 Muslims in New York City.

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1,300,000, the very least number that you hear 600,000. So 600,000 1,300,000 is anywhere between, we can make a difference, who was the mayor of the New York City is and so we have a number of Muslims who, who are into into politics. So I would like to see us more working more together, getting stronger politically, and economic development. Okay, final question to you, inshallah. Tada.

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And it's a it's a difficult one, maybe we shouldn't conclude on this, but it needs to be asked as well. Shekinah one of the issues we're having is some of our youth are concerned about getting involved with

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these types of social justice movements, because we might be involved for the right causes, but our allies are many of the people that are allied, are talking about gender stuff and sexuality stuff. And it's like one big conglomeration as you're well aware. Right. So some some thoughts because you're firstly old school Shekinah. So that's really good to, to you were there before all these other, you know, other isms and other, you know, the pluses and whatnot came along, right. So, explain to us now, because what we have is a lot of of the younger, you know, more orthodox or more, you know, committed to the faith. They're dismissive of the entire enterprise, not because of its

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particular cause, but because of its loyalties and associations. Right. Do you get my drift? And so, some thoughts about I know, it's a difficult question to end, but it's nice to know, it's a fair question. Let me tell you something. Yes.

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Recently, a good friend of mine died last week, imam in Philadelphia. We were roommates together 1978.

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With one of those shakes that I told you about. His name is Abdullah Wolf, Sally Abdullah off, right. And he's been to my mash and I've been to his masjid. And when we first paired us together, I want you to think about this. He's a Sunni Muslim imam. I'm going to Imam Imam, Muhammad's community. So there was some some clash a little bit, right. So we learned to really love or respect each other. His he just died last week. And it's funny the day that he died, I was on a zoom with his uncle. His uncle is a very famous Reverend, and Brooklyn, Reverend Herbert Daughtry reason that I mentioned her would have a dodging is that years ago, I was involved not many African American

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Imams I was involved in a black struggle, you know, we would go on you know, these demonstrations and things, things like that. So I think that every Muslim has to make a determination for himself to what degree that you go you know, I may not join a particular organization, but I may I may work I learned a lesson from Abraham Russell even Russell, is the he was the would the the ambassador said our good friend of mine his stuff Africa, right, right.

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And he taught me lessons, right? About relationships are relationships, sometimes you can have, you know, you know, you know, you can meet with people, you can do something on a particular cause, like maybe Floyd, George Floyd. He said, You know what? It's, it's crazy what they did, let's have a demonstration to get justice for him. You can make like that, right? Or, or, you know, or you can get together fight against apartheid. When Nelson Mandela when he became the president, he had he had Muslims in his in his cabinet, because they work together for common cause. So you have to make a determination how far you're gonna go. I don't have a problem with some saying, No, I can't go

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with you on that. I can deal with some limited Alliance. I can deal with some cooperation on some particular issues. But we don't have to be ashamed. And I tell you right now, there's a you made a no. Do you know that Oklahoma, there's a Muslim Congress person? Yes. Yes.

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What's the agenda? I am aware. Yes. Unclassified. Yeah. But I'm saying right. So you, you have to ask yourself, how far you go. And, and I know that black lives matter, there's some some some issues in terms of organizations, somebody strategy, so everybody makes a determination. I don't make a blanket. You shouldn't get involved. Don't get Don't be with them. I don't I don't, I don't feel that way. I think that we have to pick and choose how far we're going to go. So is it fair to say then she says that every person needs to be just aware that they have to answer to Allah. And you know, they have to take a conscience. Their conscience has to be clear. And whatever they decide to

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do, we should have a personal one. And you know, you can advise them, obviously, but in the end of the day, yeah, there's, there's going to be a little bit of a compromise or else there's nothing going to get done. Is that can i Is that a summary of what you're basically trying to say? Yeah, and you know, something, I learned this about Allah

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and the messenger. No matter what you do, Allah will always ask the question, Why did you do it?

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Why did you do it? Don't ask you the question because you don't know the answer. I'm giving an example. There's a man is very, very famous Hadith. And he got his sons together. And he said, When I die, I want you to make me a promise that you burn my body until it become ashes, and then you throw it in the ocean.

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That Okay, he died and they burned his body and they threw it in the ocean. Allah brought it together and asked the question, What made you do it? He said, Mr. sciatica. Yeah, Rob from Fairview Oh Allah. Allah forgave him. He will always ask the question why? Let me give you another example Abu Bakr Have you ever known Abu Bakr to disobey the Prophet, peace and blessings knows you. You don't have to know your mind won't go there. But let me give you one time when he disobeyed the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him. The Prophet alayhi salat wa salam was late coming to Salah.

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So I'm about to lead this Allah wa he's praying, here come the Messenger of Allah, Allah Azza sounds are people, they start clapping and Abacha looked around, and behold, it's the Messenger of Allah. And so the Prophet did him to continue.

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But he didn't, he didn't hear back in the ring. So when the Prophet went to pray, it was over the Prophet say, What's this crap? What is that? What is that, then it's Abu Bakr, what made you when I ordered you to? I ordered you to continue? What made you he said it not fitting for me to lead you.

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Allah will always ask you why. And I can make a lot of examples, right? So I'm saying that we may make a mistake. We make mistakes all the time. You know, what we don't mean that we make a mistake in our intention. We try our best. You know, we ask people we ask people like yourself and you know, give us the ruling. We ask people like big fix, and others, you know, but in the end, Sheikh, you do what you think is best and ask ALLAH SubhanA wa to bless you. And you know, give baraka for the widow and give us you know, thank you No, thank Allah for our intention. By the way, you know, let me say let me say when you said something about a movie, let me recommend um, I don't usually

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recommend movies to see people every once in a while see a movie, but there's one movie that I saw that I recommend that Muslims look at

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you know, it came out last year.

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It's called

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justice What was that name of that movie? Are you talking about the 13th?

01:14:36--> 01:14:37

Hmm, no the third

01:14:39--> 01:14:45

the documentary about African Americans the 13th No amendment or no no, no. Joe

01:14:47--> 01:15:00

Soto I can't think of I think about later but something do justice. Really great movie because you learn about history is really is a history lesson. No, no negative stuff.

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Have it Just Mercy. Just Mercy. Is that justice on trial? I'm just

01:15:07--> 01:15:10

Jessica mercy. Okay. Just Mercy.

01:15:11--> 01:15:19

Yeah. Okay. No, again, I know you don't, but have you ever? Yeah, I don't know the movie okay. If you're recommending an imam Suraj then

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I'll make a point. Inshallah. Inshallah So Imam Suraj our time is up mashallah we can talk many, many hours in sha Allah we will have you back again inshallah she said, but I just wanted to finish off by saying that once again will lay it is an honor and a privilege to interview and be in your company and I really wish that our new generation fully understood the struggles and we have a lot more to discuss Inshallah, but the difficulties of giving that with the difficulties of establishing we didn't even get to have a question about your message. All of this was not there you know, the effects of cleaning up the drugs on your entire in your entire neighborhood being awarded, you know,

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medals of wonderful all of that all of this inshallah we'll talk about in part two inshallah of our talk, but Imam Suraj May Allah azza wa jal continue to use you for there is this Deen? We are blessed in North America to have the quality of leadership and dedication and sincerity. The decades long that you have served the Muslim community and we ask Allah azza wa jal to prolong your life and to fill it with baraka and to grant all of us a class and Iman and Taqwa and to keep our hearts united upon this rotten mustard team.

01:16:36--> 01:16:36

Last

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month last year, I tell you, I love you.

01:16:43--> 01:16:50

You ever remember me saying I love you? You said it in the text message when I when I texted you about this interview?

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I really love you Well, I bless you. I mean, we all love your chef. We all love you. You are our teacher you are our mentor and listen to me I'm the little guy man of the little guy you gotta share you might be little in your eyes but you are great in all of our eyes you pave the way for our generations Yeah, I think again people don't understand how it was pre Internet era and you know pre people do not understand how difficult it was especially show when I was growing up there was no daddy that spoke fluent English other than you that's what people don't understand. You know? Like I couldn't understand My Joomla what was in the 80s That's one of the reasons why I went to study in

01:17:30--> 01:18:08

Medina people don't understand how the world has changed right? You remember those those horrible this and Egyptian accents I'm sorry to be so blunt. Those like I didn't know what language they're speaking you know, it's a it's so so to hear you speak Czech and a few others of your generation you know my mom Gemma Gemma, by the way as well. I mean Eliza prolong his life and you know, those were the the people that I listened to. My first Islamic knowledge came from, you know, your bachelor Hunter, right? So that's what I think our our, our viewership doesn't really understand how the world was, you know, back in the 70s and 80s in my first home that I attended again back in their

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late 70s, early 80s. You're not connected to the masjid. You really aren't. So it's your cassettes and you know, Imam Jamal who extra Malibu's and others that that impact me as a 12 1314 year old for the first time, you hear the religion, you know, in a confident manner, you hear the religion in a way that's mesmerizing, like oh my god, and so there's a desire to to emulate to see and that sort of thing. The first time I saw you, I was starstruck, you know, a 16 year old teenager, you know, and, and northwest Houston and again, so don't trivialize yourself. Shekinah Of course, we're all you know, in our own lives, we have to of course, you know, be humble, but I have to tell the next

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generation that your generation and the contributions, they are incalculable, immeasurable, it's like a different time and place and, and anyway, inshallah we'll continue in our next conversation, but may Allah azza wa jal bless and accept from you and may all of the Hassanal that you generated from your efforts, may Allah azza wa jal magnify them on your skills on the date on the Day of Judgment. So Giacomo, Lakota, Shoshana and inshallah Tada we will have a part two in sha Allah so inshallah

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Inshallah, like was set out what has allowed

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