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QUESTION: Imam (Earl Abdulmalik) Mohammed, thank you for responding to my question about the President. It is very helpful to me. Again, I know that Imam W. Deen Mohammed would have answered it very similarly with the same tact and wisdom that you have and the same insights. You are a special leader. No doubt about it. This is why I do respect you and also depend on you to share your thoughts for all to benefit from even ones who do not see you as their leader. I have another question if you will. I notice that you have been sharply critical, even harsh, with other leaders. I might be overstating this. I think asking the question gives you an opportunity to explain your opinion about other leaders who say they are with Imam W. Deen Mohammed. Can you explain why you have been so critical?

IMAM EARL ABDULMALIK MOHAMMED: I welcome your question under the circumstances, and trying to understand what your intentions are, I want to believe you are well-meaning. However, I am not completely comfortable with the wording of your question. Harshness implies that an injustice is being done, even if the word itself may not be defined in this way. It implies, in my mind, that someone is being treated or spoken to in a way that is undeserved. Or, that the manner or spirit toward the person, or in this case persons or leaders, is not just. I would say that just actions may not always please or satisfy a delicate sensitivity, but it is always necessary and always relevant.

There is much in nature that we may see and experience that might make us cringe. Childbirth comes to my mind. It is painful and difficult for the mother and the child. A quiet, meek lady might yell out something in that process that would raise some eyebrows. To witness it, aside from the bigger picture of the beauty of what is taking place, is not necessarily the most pleasant visual experience. But we don't think or characterize the childbirth experience as an injustice to the mother. We don't think of the mother being treated harshly. We understand it to be a necessary process, and from that process comes something beautiful and pure that represents a new hope and possibility.

There is a verse in the Holy Qur'an where it is given that Moses says in his crying out to G'd that he cannot answer anymore for his people, that he can only answer for himself and his brother. And in response G'd says that He will deny those people and distract them because of their vexing Moses, and that He will distinguish Moses and his brother from them in their selfishness, and their ignorance, and their rebelliousness. I am sure those people who were denied and distracted by Allah's punishment on them that they may have thought they were being treated harshly or being criticized too severely by Moses, that they had been through so much that they deserved some considerations from Moses. That they were entitled to more understanding and respect from Moses. But Moses' prayer was an indication that their interests were either too small or had been corrupted.

Recently, I have had to cut my associations with some persons who had been working closely with me, and who I depended on to represent me. They are my friends and I love them. I cannot ever see a time when I wouldn't love them. But, what they were looking at as a destiny for my responsibility as leader in the continuity of our tradition of leadership was too small, and they were trying to squeeze me into their small picture, and wanting me to feel blame or guilt because I would not make my concerns smaller for them and acquiesce to their will and work harder to squeeze myself into their small picture. It may have seemed harsh to them that I had to separate from them because of what they perceived as their strong help and support to me.

But what would have been unjust would have been for me to accept their small view of the importance of what I have been charged with as a responsibility. They were thinking of my relationship to them more in terms of their local interests and personal needs and relationships, and they lost sight of, or perhaps they didn't fully understand, why they were supporting me in the first place. If they didn't understand it before, I am sure they understand better now, that I am not interested in winning a popularity competition or a name-recognition, celebrity contest, and I don't make any requirement of anyone to stand with me against their own conscience or what they want for themselves. I am devoted to where we must go as a People under Allah's Authority. In my opinion they were erecting an un-natural and un-real picture of what our Islamic life is, and an unclear representation of my leadership, and no leader under the authority of Islamic faith would accept it. Imam W. Deen Mohammed separated himself from individuals and groups over the years of his leadership. Some of them were lost forever. Some were able to fix their hearts and minds and become productive members again. He did not flinch in separating himself when necessary, and those brothers will tell you that I did not flinch in my decision to separate from them.

This is also the principle upon which I find support in justly identifying the weaknesses of our leaders and the danger they pose to our People. My criticism of them is based on nothing different than the same principle I applied to my close friends. It is not easy to separate from people you love, or to criticize them. It requires faith and strength. If anything I have said is untrue, unjust, misguided, or in conflict with our religion then I would be in the wrong. But, that has not been the case. That is why they don't speak to me about what I say. They use innocent people like you to do it for them. I know that someone put you up to asking me these questions. But, it is in Allah's Plan. Their strategy is to question my character, and they use my prison sentence as a justification.

The obvious answer to them is that only a man of faith and character who has the support of Allah could produce from prison what I have produced. But, in the interest of what is necessary to satisfy the requirement of Allah's Command of what should be our focus and emphasis as a People, the true issue is why I cannot accept for myself or any of our leaders any less than what is known to be Imam W. Deen Mohammed's teaching and understanding. We have a responsibility to uphold this not only in memory of his name or some pleasant nostalgic feeling that we may want back, but in sincere faith, workable knowledge, and in acceptance of responsibility and preparation to advance it. That obligation is not only on me, but the truth is that I have done more to advance it from prison than they have done as free men, and you and they know it well. The fact is that their lack of faith, effort, and preparation is a betrayal. And I do believe this is why Allah has preserved me and strengthened me.

But Imam W. Deen Mohammed predicted this. He gave many clear indications that I was his choice for the future leader of this community and for representation of his thinking. If I were any less committed, or was hesitant or fearful of yours or any other's criticism, or for that matter any other person's ill-will, then I would not be fit for leadership, because any force could run me over with intimidations or threats or some inferior, faulty presentation of our Islamic life and determinations in America. It is my responsibility as leader in this tradition to distinguish who we are from who we are not. There are many who claim to be with Imam W. Deen Mohammed, but your own words, they are "completely different" from me. I think I have given quite a bit of evidence and a clear explanation of why that is.