Monday, May 11, 2009

On charity, Lessons from a Mother of The Faithful

It is said there are Five Pillars of Islam: Shahada, the profession of belief in the One God (Allah) and His Messenger (Muhammad); Salah, prayer; Zakat, charity; Fasting during Ramadan; and Hajj, the Pilgrimage to Mecca.
When I accepted the Teaching of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, we had a wonderful Secretary at Muhammad Mosque No. 26 in San Francisco.
Brother Harold 2X would always teach us on Charity. “Charity is second only to Prayer,” Brother Harold would say again and again. Charity is second only to Prayer.
That means that Charity is a very important part of being a true Muslim and that the only thing more important than charity to a Muslim believer, is prayer.
Years later, I met a very special woman in Islam, first in Chicago at Saviour’s Day, and then I got to visit her with a mutual friend in her home in Boston, and finally I got to know how wonderful and wise she was in the home of her son in Chicago.
She was Mother Maryam Farrakhan, the beloved Mother of the Nation of Islam leader, and deservedly, a “Mother of The Faithful” in the Nation of Islam.
Mother Farrakhan taught me that we all can always find something to give in charity no matter how modest may be our means. She said she had once been on welfare. After her youngest son (the Minister) graduated from high school, she said she went down to the Welfare Office and told them to take her name off the roll. “I can take it from here,” she said.
But while she was on welfare, she said, she took in laundry—washing and ironing. With her meager earnings from doing the laundry of others, she paid for music lessons—piano for Alvan and violin for Louis—for her sons, saved a few pennies, and managed to give something to the church offering.
“No matter how little you get,” she would say, “you can always put a little something aside.”
Be a cheerful giver.
Charity in Islam is second only to Prayer.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cheney v. Powell: Chicken Hawk v. War Hero

Well, I guess the future of the Republican Party has now been forever sealed. Chicken Hawk Dick “Lord Darth Vader” Cheney says he'd rather follow pill-popping broadcaster Rush “I Hope (Obama) Fails” Limbaugh over a cliff into an abyss rather than decorated combat veteran and former Joint Chiefs chairman Colin Powell if he has to march into political battle over the future of the Republican Party.
So this, with Mr. Limbaugh’s body slam of Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele, followed by Mr. Steele’s two apologies—one just for even being born, the other for questioning the Corpulent Radio Commentator—makes the score: Rabid-Nutty-Right-Wing Republicans 2 vs. Black Republicans -2 (would be Zero except for the apologia).
“If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I'd go with Rush Limbaugh. My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican,” Shoot-Friend-in-the-Face-on-Friendly-Hunting-Trip; Tell-Pat-Leahy-to-go-F***-Yourself-on-the-Senate-Floor Darth said, when asked about the verbal fisticuffs between the “Brown Bomber” and the “Pillsbury Dough Boy” on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”
Mr. Powell—secretary of state under President George W. (for Worst in History) Bush and the nation’s top soldier under his father, President George H.W. Bush—endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president last year. Nonetheless, since the election he has described himself as a Republican and a right-of-center conservative, though “not as right as others would like.”
Mr. Powell’s remarks seem more “correct” than they are purely “right.”

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Justice like Thurgood Marshall

Now that Justice David Souter has announced his retirement from the Supreme Court, I’ve been thinking about the retirement announcement 18-years ago, of Justice Thurgood Marshall. He was salty, and he took no prisoners that day. Me, the “Race Man” in attendance, I was a little put-off by his brusque, almost bitter comments about race.
“My dad told me way back that you can't use race,” Justice Marshall snapped when pressed as to whether or not his successor should be Black. “For example, there's no difference between a white snake and a black snake. They'll both bite. So I don't want to use race as an excuse.” Ouch.
And he was right. Look what we got when President George H.W. Bush scraped the barrel to find a confirmable Black candidate who was compatible with his conservative agenda.
So now, I’d like President Barack Obama to nominate a Black woman, who exemplifies some of Justice Marshall’s finer qualities.
He was a successful trial lawyer, arguing 32 cases himself, before the Supreme Court. His side prevailed in 29 of them! He fought on the side of the downtrodden and dispossessed. I applaud that.
He went to Howard University Law School, not Harvard University Law or the other federal “judicial monastery” Yale Law School!
Because of racism in his home state of Maryland, “The Free State’s” policy when young Thurgood came along, was to pay the tuition for qualified Black students to attend any law school in the world, so long as they did not go to the University of Maryland Law School. At Howard, young Marshall fell into the clutches of a dean who was a cum laude graduate, Harvard Law Review (the “Original Barack Obama”) trained and an Amherst valedictorian—Charles Hamilton Houston. So much for Jim Crow laws.
Current University of Maryland Law School professor and—like Justice Marshall—civil rights lawyer, Sherrilyn Ifill lists a number of other excellent qualities Justice Marshall possessed when he was named to the court in a commentary on CNN.
I still long to see a “real” Black person on The Court. This time, how about a woman who reflects Thurgood Marshall’s principles and ideals?