QUESTION: Brother Imam, it seems that our world is increasingly being shaped by influences from social media. Among our people, an increasing number of imams are using these platforms. Some of them actively promote language that classifies them as worldwide leaders, which would contradict their original assertion that "leadership is local." How should we approach these powerful tools when it comes to our life and leadership as a human community?
IMAM EARL ABDULMALIK MOHAMMED: We have discussed that our leadership is not entertainment or celebrity. It is to make a needed contribution, and to present our perspective, which if we are not doing it, it would not be done. Or, as has been the case, it will be misrepresented, incorrect, or irresponsibly and inadequately presented. This has been the case on all of these social media platforms from the many Imam So and So's said to be associated with us, until I accepted the public responsibility Imam W. Deen Mohammed gave me and prepared me for. The public mandate he gave me to lead his people after him, and that he openly prepped our People to see and accept. We do not need to be overly concerned with inferior presentations, but we should acknowledge and act on the weight and importance of our understanding and perspective.
Our voice and leadership is vital. It is needed. It is necessary. It may never be popular in the moment, but neither was our late leader's message or his father's message popular in their moment. Their leadership and message was loved and respected, but it was never popularly embraced. It reached and impacted lives. And because of their sincere and innocent faith in G'd, their committed drive, and their bold determinations and insistence that it continue in spite of opposition and negativity to it, countless lives were positively changed. This society was changed. The world has been changed by us and our tradition.
The rappers, hip-hop artists, entertainers and the black rights movements and civil rights leadership, they don't deserve the credit we have earned. They misappropriate their insight and importance to the black people of America. Much they say they have done, they have not done. They deserve the credits due to them. But, they do not deserve credit that belongs to us. They take it anyway. They are able to take it because those we are looking at as our responsible leadership are in such an awful, embarrassing predicament of selfishness and ignorance, they have no ability or internal strength to claim any respected place in the leadership of this society. This is why it has been necessary for me to appear. This single void has been what has requisitioned the need for my voice and my strength and my faith and my knowledge at this moment. Before and without the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Imam W. Deen Mohammed there would be no Muslim-American identity or perspective or knowledge. Without Imam Earl Abdulmalik Mohammed there would be no proper representation in the world's public spaces of that tradition of faith and knowledge.
Our People, on the whole, may never acknowledge me with their mouths. But, their souls cannot deny me. You can show me the many Imam So and So's from whatever city, and all you would be showing me is a weakened and incomplete leadership picture, a misuse of precious spiritual resources, and a vinegarization of Imam W. Deen Mohammed's body of knowledge. Their reach is a house reach only. And the house they reach is weak and vulnerable. They intoxicate and embalm our people's spirit. They do not feed. They do not nourish. They trade in props, and their devotions are not to the Lord of all the Systems of Knowledge. They are devoted only to the preservation of their Order, and whatever false sciences they can conjure to make it appear that they are legitimate.
What I represent is without comparison with any other, because what I represent are the essential building blocks of our knowledge tradition that secure and maintain the integrity of our community and its tradition. We defend it with our own lives, and we promote it with the best of our resources. This is our sacred oath to each other with Allah as the Witness. I say now without trepidation or hesitation that I am the true leader of the community that began as the Temples of Islam under Mr. W.D. Fard, the Nation of Islam under the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and that was elevated to become a native Muslim people of America governed under the leadership and teaching of Imam W. Deen Mohammed. I am Imam W. Deen Mohammed's successor and there is no other. Faith and knowledge verify me in this role, truth exonerates me from false accusations, and we will responsibly and aggressively use the social media platforms available to us to build a responsible presence for our continuing message of Islamic faith, life, and the culture of universal human civility, decency, and morality in this country and this world.