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Question: Every year at this time there is a discussion and sometimes a debate over what is the proper method to determine the beginning and end of the month of Ramadan. Can you explain how Imam W. Deen Mohammed approached this concern?

Imam Earl Abdulmalik Mohammed: Thank you for this question. We will miss the importance of these matters as they pertain to protecting and advancing our human and our Muslim life. It is a very important concern you are asking about, and its importance does not only pertain to how we determine the simple beginning or ending of a month. There are people who say they are Muslims but they want us to be removed from these processes to have, or to get the benefits or enjoyments out of the human life Allah created for us and planned for us. It is speaking to how we perceive our human existence, and if we are perceiving that existence correctly.

Looking or searching for the moon is the activity of an enlightened person, or an enlightened soul. We are shown Abraham, peace be on him, as one searching the skies, the night sky and the day sky. The Qur'an gives us this picture and story of Abraham searching for meaning for himself, meaning for his humanity, meaning for his human existence in society, by searching the sky. He wants an answer for how he should estimate his own existence, how he should value himself. He knows that the sun rises and sets. He doesn't strive to calculate that. His question is not in the calculation of the moon's possible visibility. He wants to see the moon for its reality in his understanding and development as a living human body. How does the moon and the sun and the distant star figure as a message to my mind for how I should regulate myself, or orient myself in this human existence. This was his concern. This was his question. His vision encounters these heavenly bodies and he comes to a reasoning about his own life by the logic he associates with the paths of these heavenly bodies. He gets help for his life on this earth from watching these great bodies in the night and day sky. And we are of the order of Abraham, according to the Qur'an.

The Qur'an says we have been named Muslims, and that it is the 'millati' or path of our father Ibrahim. Abraham came to the conclusion that he had been caused to stand up in his own good nature to ask the question "How should I live?" He understood that the question was natural to ask. And he had to go beyond his physical self to find the answer, because he reasoned that he was not responsible for this nature in himself or his own physical creation.

We have our created human life that G'd created for us. It has an inherent drive in it that causes us to stand up. So, we stand up by nature, but how are we to live in that nature? He created our nature with properties in it for us to strive to become aware of how we are to enjoy it. He created our life for us to derive benefits from it. In other words, He created our human life, and from living in that life, we can determine its direction or purpose. So Abraham is wanting to situate himself in his own human existence properly within the perfect pattern of everything around him. He is looking for the balance of life. He is standing on the horizontal of his nature, and he is seeking the vertical for his path in the world. He knows by nature how to stand, now he wants to walk upon the excellence and beauty of that nature. We have the Muslim nature by inheritance, but we must also have the Muslim existence if we are to be an Islamic community. And Allah says in the Holy Qur'an, "So set your face for religion as one upright by nature (hanif), the pattern determined by Allah upon which He has patterned mankind."

So, Prophet Muhammed, the prayers and peace be on him, said the month of fasting begins with the sighting of the new moon and it ends with sighting of the new moon, and if it is cloudy then calculate the time. Who is it that wants us to calculate the time and cancel out the sighting? It is the one who wants to take the power of our nature and what that leads to for our own productivity as a human community, out of our hands. If they do it in the name of Islamic authority then that is what they are after. They are after the authority over Muslim life. And they will employ secretive means to impose their scheme on you. You will think, "Oh, the brothers have determined that the start of the month is so and so date." And you follow that without considering that an entire process has been employed without you being any part of it. Before long they will be suggesting to you corrections for Islamic understanding in other areas of your life. And pretty soon you will be a complete slave to their order. You will have cancelled your ability to stand or walk, as an individual, and as a community.

This is the teaching of Imam W. Deen Mohammed. I would advise that you who say you are with him, to stand and walk with his successor -the one he said that Allah would show you to support by the use of his understanding and language.