1-25-02 to 2-1-02 Muslim Journal
"...And Follow The Best Thereof"
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Imam W. Deen Mohammed gave the following address at the University of North Carolina A and T on Nov. 6, 2001. It is here given in excerpts.))
We praise G-d, the One and Only as it is said in our Holy Book, The Qur'an: "Your G-d and our G-d is One and The Same." That is said to those we call in our Islamic language "The People of The Book." These are the Christians, Jews and other people called Sabiens in the Middle East.
People of The Book
I once thought "Sabien" was a religion gone from the earth, but there are still followers of that religion. The People of The Book is speaking to any with a genuine or legitimate religion. That is, they recognize G-d as the Supreme Power over all things, and they feel accountable to that G-d. They feel that their behavior will have to please that G-d, if they expect to have a good life and life hereafter or life eternally, as many Christians and Muslims and some others believe.
I want to acknowledge the support we have gotten from this area, from Imam Dr. Nuriddin. All of you are doing a very excellent job here in North Carolina, and we are certainly proud of your work.
I also just attended on the northwest side of Chicago one of the most impressive mosques in the Midwest area. The person over that mosque is a civil engineer, who designed the mosque and oversaw its construction and approved every detail of it. You would never know that man had that kind of spiritual. His whole life is for G-d and in obeying G-d.
I met him at my father's house with about 21 young Muslim men who had come to the United States from Islamic countries to get education from the fine universities here in our country. They wanted to meet with my father to find out why his religion was called Islam, when it was so different from what they knew to be Islam.
They came out of that meeting happy. My father knew how to talk to people, and they had faith that my father's intentions were good and that he was leading what my father called a "Baby Nation of Islam in America." That this nation would one day not be a baby, but be grown up. They were believing my father and hoping to see one day his following join the worldwide following of Muhammed the Prophet, prayers and peace be upon the Prophet. And that has happened.
We had this interfaith meeting at the Villa Park Mosque in that suburb of Chicago, IL. It was arranged by Dr. Robert H. Schuller and my office. Dr. Schuller has the Hour of Power television ministry. Dr. Schuller spoke on this program that was intended to put into the air and to give to the press the facts backed up by our scriptures that terrorism is not accepted by Christianity and it is not accepted by Islam.
We joined each other Dr. Schuller and Imam W. Deen Mohammed, along with a few other religious leaders were present. A few Rabbis were present too to make that statement.
Min. Farrakhan also was invited and made a statement. I have known him long before his powerful image as "Minister Farrakhan." I grew up as a young student minister at the same time Min. Farrakhan was growing up as a young student minister. When we became ministers, we were young associates and friends. I would visit his home as a friend, and he has visited my home as a friend.
So I think of him, firstly, as a person I have a personal acquaintance with as a friend. When he finished his speech that night, I came up after Dr. Schuller and said: If you (Min. Farrakhan) keep talking like that, I will be your follower. That is how much I was impressed. Nothing he said caused any discomfort to me and was very good.
He said some things that perhaps I wouldn't say myself, warning the powers that be that we all are answerable to The G-d of Justice. Although I didn't have that kind of concern in my notes, I appreciated what he said. As a young Muslim man in Chicago often says: "It's all good, brother."
I understand that there are some persons in this area whom I feel very strong friendship with, one being Dr. Vincent Harding. If anyone can, please get to him my very warm ' brotherly greetings and my love. Also Dr. Naim Akbar, I'm told, is in the area. I have the same kind of awareness and friendship with him, too. So please give to Dr. Naim Akbar my greetings and let him know I did get his greetings also.
The Peace is The Name of G-d
The religion of Islam, by its own language, is the religion of peace, and the Muslim is a person of peace. The Arabic name for Islam comes from the word that means to give peace, and the word Muslim comes from the same Arabic word. Our greetings that we Muslims give all the time come from the same word meaning peace As-Salaam-Alaikum. And the Name of our G-d is also The Peace As-Salaam is G-d's Name.
When we say "As-Salaam-Alaikum," you are not only saying peace be on you, you are also saying the Name of G-d. One of G-d's Names in Islam is As-Salaam, The Peace.
In Islam, we have to appreciate G-d's creation, the natural world that He made. We have to appreciate the fact that the natural world that He made feeds the human person He made. That natural world feeds us with beauty, with intelligence and with life. The natural world is more beautiful than ugly, more peaceful than disturbed, more supportive of intelligent life than it is not.
G-d's Creation: "And It Is Good"
Islam begins with our recognition that The Creator of the heavens and earth made the world good. I'm a student of the Bible; I've read and studied the Bible from cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation, more than once. And I appreciate seeing in the Bible where G-d says He did so much on the first day, where He was creating this world, and on the second day, third day, fourth day, fifth day, sixth day and seventh day on which He completed it. After each day of work completed, G-d said: "And it was good."
G-d is saying that what He did was good. He completed the world and it was good even on the sixth day. According to scripture, He created man on the sixth day and Satan came in and got into the business of man and brought on man's downfall. But G-d does not say that the sixth day was bad in the Bible's Genesis. After the sixth day, He also said: "And it is good." All of G-d's Work is good.
Prophet Muhammed said: "Surely, G-d is good, and He does not accept any but good." That is to say that you can't give G-d a billion dollars from drug sales. He won't accept it. He rejects your money from illegal business, and He rejects hypocrisy and He rejects deceit. No matter how much you do for religion or for G-d, if you offer G-d something bad, He rejects it. He only accepts good. He is as Muhammed the Prophet said.
Now, a suicide bomber is going to give G-d his life, but look at what he is doing. He is taking his own life, which is a major sin in our religion as it is for Christians. And he is also taking the lives of innocent men, women and children. Applying the same logic that Muhammed gave us and that scripture gave us, his life will not be accepted. He is giving his life in vain.
G d also says in. our Holy Book: "There are those who work feverishly and diligently building a great thing in their name, to find in the hereafter before G-d in the Judgment that all of their work that they thought to be a contribution to G-d will be rejected, and they will find themselves in hell." We have to be aware of these things that are taught in our religion.
The Universal Prayer
In the beginning of the Qur'an, in the first chapter of the Book, is a prayer a universal prayer of all Muslims for all occasions and for the most formal occasions. Today, we said that prayer. It is called The Opening, Al-Fatihah. That prayer is a universal prayer that recognized the G-d of all people.
It says: "Praise be to G-d, the Lord of all the Worlds." If you understand "Lord," it is not meant in the political sense, like the Lords of London. "Lord" in Qur'an comes from the word that means "to take that that is helpless and needs help, until it can manage for itself." It is like the mother who takes the baby and accepts responsibility to care for that baby, until that baby is able to stand on its own feet and manage for itself in the world.
As the parent, especially the mother, takes care of her baby, G-d takes care of all the worlds. And we who think we are grown up should know that we are nothing but little babies in the Presence of G-d. He is taking care of all of us, even our presidents, our kings and others over the nations of the world. He is the Lord of all the Worlds.
The Opening Chapter, Al-Fatihah, says: "Guide us on the right path." It is the path of righteousness. Later on it says: "Not the way or the path of those who incur G-d's Wrath and not the way of those who go astray." This is our prayer and is a universal prayer. It has been accepted on the Senate floor of these United States and at many other similar occasions. This prayer has been accepted , from our chaplains, from our ' Imams and from myself.
Prophets of Judaism, Christianity Also Prophets of Islam
Islam cannot be seen as a religion separate from Christianity and Judaism. The Prophets of Judaism are also our Prophets. The Prophets of Christianity are also our Prophets.
Also the behavior demanded of us by our " religions is, firstly, in our Holy Book; secondly in the life example of our Prophet of Islam, Muhammed, prayers and peace be on him, and thirdly in the model life of Muslims whom we have known to be recorded in the history and tradition of Islam. We know that Muhammed the Prophet obligated us also to follow their examples.
It says: "Follow the Prophet, and also those who follow in the excellence prescribed by Islam." We are not only obligated to follow Muhammed the Prophet. We also have to follow those who follow in the excellence prescribed by Islam, those who follow Muhammed in that excellence.
G-d says in our scripture something that as a student studying this, it really touched me and held me for a long time because of the experience I had of trying to find light in the dark, to find harmony and consistency of what I was given as a boy and as a young man as religion. G-d says: "And follow the best thereof." That is in the Qur'an and is exactly what G-d says.
Allah has revealed the whole Book to mankind through Muhammed the Prophet, and Allah says of His Book, to those who will follow it, "follow the best thereof." Is there something in the Book that can get me in trouble, G-d? I am to search Your Book and follow that and to avoid something else? "Yes!"
Like the Bible, the Qur'an is also history. And you might be reading something that is condemned by G-d and you are thinking that it is part of the Qur'an that you should follow. But it will be the history of those who deviated, of those who missed the mark, of those who went astray or the history of enemies of mankind. Then you will take something out of context and follow it, and it will lead you to the hellfire.
G-d says: "And take the best thereof." This also applies to the whole Book. There are some things in the Qur'an that are good and for us to accept, but there are allowances made for people who are weak, who are sick and who can't do better. Allah permits them to do that little bit as their religion. He makes an exception for those.
For example, we have the month of Ramadan, and there are allowances made for the fasting person. If you are sick, you don't have to fast. G-d says He does not want difficulty for us, but He wants that we be purified. Allah G-d makes excuses for us, Himself. He says that if you can't fast, then give in charity and feed so many poor people for the number of days you missed. These are allowances.
What about the man who wants to give into his weaknesses or to find excuse, someone who will say: "Hell, I've had this headache all day and I am sick!" The Book says: "And follow the best thereof." I can give other examples where G-d excused certain persons because of their condition; He excused them of their obligation.
G-d says that pork is strictly forbidden in Islam, as Muslims know. But G-d even says that if you are forced by starvation and there is nothing to eat but pork, eat it but disliking that you have to eat it and just enough of it to survive.
These are allowances made. Now the weak person will look for excuses, so G-d says "and follow the best thereof."
A real man does not want to go into any weak training program, he wants a strong training program. That is the real man who is feeling his "cheerios," it will be an insult to give him a weak program. It is in human nature. And women are like that, too, to want to follow the best thereof.
I have heard a youngster say: "Is that all? That is too easy. Give me a stronger test than that." Your own self respect and appreciation for your own ability won't let you have a challenge that is weak; you want a challenge that is strong.
G-d says: "And follow the best thereof." We should all have this mind when we are reading the Qur'an, and when we are in the public showing our life and living our life out in the public that includes mostly Christians and Jews and Buddhists and others in this great country of plurality and ethnic diversity. You should be presenting the best that you can possibly present.
Isn't that what our country mothers and fathers told us? "OK boy, you are going out there, so do your best. Be on your best behavior. Don't you disgrace this family." That is in human nature. If all of us strove for the best excellence that G-d has created and caused us to inherit from the best of human beings who went before us and passed away, we will have a beautiful and wonderful world.
I sit down with Christian leaders and Jewish leaders and Buddhists and others, and after discussing the issues put on the table for a while, the participants forget that we are Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Christians and others. We forget that; it vanishes. All you are aware of is that you are the same people working on the same issues. Then you forget and hug a person who is supposed to be your enemy.
Allah has made us good, and when we act from that goodness we touch the person who is made just like us for goodness. I used to say as a minister for the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, "I know in the audience are some criminals and killers. But I know you better than you know yourself. You have a good person inside of you who is the true you who wants to live and be free."
Islam is not a religion made by man. Islam is a religion revealed by G-d. Islam is not a religion that conflicts with the best of human standards. The best human standards in this world, Islam is not in opposition to. G-d does not only say follow the way of Islam, G-d also says respect the standards of excellence for mankind all over the world.
It says: "Give orders and instructions with the respect for the highest standards of mankind." Not just Islam, but for the highest known standards for the people of earth. This is Islam the universal religion. No Muslim can go against his good human nature and be obeying G-d and His religion.
If you start to do something and something inside you won't feel comfortable with that and you know it is bad, then if you do it you are going against G-d and against your religion. I am sure that no matter how much indoctrination the suicide bombers had, I am sure that something came up in their souls and said "this is wrong." But their commanders had more power over them than their own soul.
Peace be unto you.