Altaf Husain: The last time we visited you had shared some thoughts with the students about raising the level of their struggle. I thought we could pick up there.
IJ: Looking at the Islamic movement, remember, you cannot guide (direct) anything if it is not moving. Allah (swt) has stirred the Islamic movement in this country. He (swt) has conferred His blessings upon Muslims. Islam is the only alternative to jahiliyyah (those who reject faith).
Young people always have a dominant role to play in the movement. At the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the young people, like 'Ali, Ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with all of them), carried out the message. Young people are the ones upon whom the movement is built. We understand that Allah (swt) blesses young people with energy and a lack of fear so that you work with determination and a sense of purpose. Your drive and commitment is a sign of the blessing that Allah (swt) has conferred upon us. It is a sign of good health for Islam in this country.
This country has a role to play in the overall Islamic struggle. Look back at the Ansars, the helpers. They brought new signs of determination, working together without divisions or divisiveness. We have a major role to play in bringing about the healing of the Ummah. We must study the seerah (life story) of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The salvation of humanity rests upon our implementation of Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) has told us about the people in the boat. It is narrated in Sahih Al-Bukhari that, "The example of the person abiding by Allah's order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them is like the example of those persons who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the upper part, and the others in the lower. When the latter needed water, they had to go up to bring water (and that troubled the others), so they said, 'Let us make a hole in our share of the ship (and get water) saving those who are above us from troubling them. So, if the people in the upper part left the others do what they had suggested, all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both parties would be safe."
We see a kind of freelancing with technology and experimentation with mad science. Any time you separate the church and the state, that's not from Allah (swt). People bring upon themselves the calamities as a result of our being misguided. Islam takes us beyond this. We have to go beyond just being a professional by their standards. Being a doctor, engineer, whatever professional - we have to take it to the next level by adding spirituality in all aspects of our lives.
AH: Jazakallah khair. That is powerful. Imam, lately, we students have been struggling hard to unite, to transcend the barriers to unity that plague our Ummah. In these divisive times, how do you suggest we give meaning to our efforts to unite?
IJ: I am repeating a slogan that is often repeated in the secular world, "heighten the contradiction." Allah (swt) has created man in kabad, in struggle. I mentioned in our last visit, how we have to raise the level of our struggle. Look at the new born baby. It struggles to breathe, after living in the womb. And yet, growth comes as a result of struggle. Even when we talk about jihad. We need to attach consciousness to struggle. This struggle has to be both individual and collective. The jamaa (collective) is more important. We cannot be by ourselves. Congregational daily prayer, the salaatul eid (eid prayer), all these obligations are collective. We don't give zakaat (alms) to ourselves. It is a collective obligation. The language of sura Al-Fatiha (the opening chapter of the Qur'an) is plural: we pray to Allah (swt) to show "us" the straight path. Islam develops group consciousness. And that is why we need to raise the level of our struggle in the real world. We need to take off our rose colored glasses and see the real thing. The real world deals with Allah's reality. Allah (swt) never leaves the throne of authority. Human rights, civil rights--only Allah (swt) gives us rights, and it is upto us to fulfil our duties to Him. Our only right is to fight, to struggle for Allah (swt). We have to develop brotherhood.
Various concepts of negativism have caused us to look at ourselves as inferior. Attack those concepts such as "third world." Think about it. If we look at it in terms of numbers, then people of color are the majority in this world. We should be the "first world". After world war II, the world was divided into the communist countries and the so-called democratic countries. So if you accept this third world title, then you are accepting a position of inferiority. In reality, we Muslims have a much more superior way of life. We cannot acquiesce to negativistic, inferior definitions of us. Aggressively attack those definitions that they have attached to us. This deals with the psychological, spiritual, indeed all aspects of our existence. Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) changed the whole language of discourse by accentuating the positive. Language has everything to do with elevating ourselves.
Alhamdulillah, you students are competent, learned, skilled in reading and writing. The pen is mightier than the sword. Develop a war of words at the psychological and philosophical level. Our jihad at this level should deal with everything. There is chess, and there is "chess". World chess is a mental process where we have to take on our opponent, make him stumble and question his own reality. Even if you win a physical war, what do you rule by? Islam of course!
AH: Insha'allah, in the time we have left I wanted you to comment on some of the motions granted at the hearing yesterday.
IJ: Juma Salaat (Friday Prayer). This is a major victory for us. The judge has granted, and the Sheriff's department has agreed, to allow a collective Juma salaat for all inmates to be held on one floor, with one khatib, one message. Before the hearing, each floor held its own juma salaat, with its own khatib.
AH: Will you give khutbahs (sermons)?
IJ: You do not have to always lead from the front; I am taking a break. The inmates, all 100 Muslim inmates, did circulate a petition demanding I be allowed to give the khutbah or they would close down the jail! Alhamdulillah.
AH: Could you please comment on the gag order? What was that motion about?
IJ: They had put a gag order on me that was lifted. Well, my attitude about the gag order is like this. As the time for the trial comes around, when I get ready to speak, I will speak. What are they going to do to me? Put me in jail? Think about it, putting a gag order on a defendant. Not letting him say he is innocent. What's that all about? Our motion tested the system to show how out of line they are when it comes to dealing with Muslims. Those rights they always talk about, those rights are selective. It is not Justice. No. It is actually, Just Us. Rights for Just Us white folks.
AH: Imam, when will the trial actually be?
IJ: They want the trial by October, 2001. I am really pushing for July, 2001.
(announcement comes that visitation time is over)
AH: Alhamdulillah. I know yesterday, they showed the beginning of your hearing on the evening news. What exactly did you say in your plea, which they broadcast but we could not catch the whole thing?
IJ: I began with Audhu billahi min ash-shaytani ir rajim. Bismillahi ir rahman ir rahim. That startled them. They moved to cut it off. I declared publicly my innocence. And testified that Allah (swt) is my Lord, He who accomplishes what He wills. And He will bring the good from this situation.
AH: We are making du'a for you insha'allah. Forgive us for not doing more for you. Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
IJ: Are you sure you do not need anything? Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
AH: No, alhamdulillah; we should be asking you if you need anything.
IJ: You all better go ahead. Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
AH: Wa assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wabarakatuh.