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QUESTION: As-Salaam Alaikum & Ramadan Mubarak. Brother Imam, among our people, I have observed an increased emphasis on performing the dhikir prayer or salatul-tasbih in congregation. Since I cannot recall Imam W. Deen Mohammed placing any emphasis on the performance of this prayer or even making significant mention of it, I am curious as to where this influence is coming from. Can you provide some insight on this matter?

IMAM EARL ABDULMALIK MOHAMMED: It is not our way. It is not our interpretation of an Islamic life. Imam W. Deen Mohammed's emphasis was not anything that would take us out of the responsibilty of correcting what happened to us as a people in this world, that is, what happened to separate us from understanding the necessity to address all of the needs of our human community existence. Our prayers as faithful Muslims are recitation of the Guidance. If we lose this quality of understanding and the conviction to turn to our Lord-Creator for answers and establishment, then we have lost our human life.

Any spiritual practice must strengthen our understanding and commitment for an established human community existence. We are not to seek any spiritual intoxicants. Intoxicants are forbidden. If we are drunk then we are not conscious. A man was brought to the Prophet who was devoted to prayers and fasting in this way you are describing, and the Prophet asked "who feeds him?" Those who brought him said "we do." The Prophet said "you are better than he is."

We respect and accept everything that our Prophet Muhammed demonstrated of Islamic life. We love and take it all for ourselves in the manner the Prophet showed us. But, we also want to understand it and how it fits into our life. We don't only mimic the practices, we find their best meaning and apply that meaning in its proper place so we don't become a people out of balance. Having a spiritual existence with no material body. This kind of people does not belong in this world except in some isolated region where their monastic life can be guarded and watched over by men and women who understand the balance of the spiritual and material destiny for man. This group can be perfect but never complete. This group cannot effectively address poverty of the spirit or the body because their picture of what Allah has created them for has been intimidated and reduced to ritual practices instead of obedience to Allah as He completes man through Muhammed in community. This is our teaching. This is our understanding. This is the lighted path upon which our minds and hearts have been formed by Imam W. Deen Mohammed. This is a lesson in the school of Imam W. Deen Mohammed from the leader he authorized to teach it after him.