Reprinted from the Muslim Journal (2-4-05 to 2-11-05)
"Building Bridges of Peace and Justice"
By Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Imam W. Deen Mohammed gave this address at the Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., on April 29, 2003.)
We praise G-d, The Lord, Cherisher of the Worlds. And we give the traditional salute to Muhammed who received the Holy Book of the Muslims, our Qur'an, the prayers and the peace be upon him.
Islam, the religion of peace, wants peace for the whole world of mankind, for the human family. We are to promote peace, not only for ourselves but peace for the world.
The religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism are not unconnected; they are connected. If these religions are connected, then certainly the adherents to these religions and who believe in them are also connected.
We are connected by faith in the same G-d and faith in the Plan for mankind that our Creator gave us when He created us. Then He sent inspired men to guide us when we were deviating from that Plan. We have faith in the life of mankind that G-d chose for us when He created us.
When we look at Islam in its most important features, we see that Islam is very much like the Christian ideas and very much like the Jewish ideas. G-d says to us in our Holy Book: "You will find among those who call themselves Christians those who believe in G-d and promote justice and fair dealings." It says the same of the Jews.
G-d says to us Muslims in our Holy Book, "Be a people for justice and promoting fair dealings." So Islam wants peace, justice and fairness for all people. When we look at our religion in its most important features, we also see that Islam is a religion of unity for all people.
We believe this unity comes from G-d, that G-d in creating the world is He, Himself, a Unit. We say in Islam, "Say, G-d is Only One." We believe the expression in Islam called Tauheed or this Oneness that comes from G-d is reflected in the oneness of matter, that this whole system of material things called the heavens or skies and earth is one unit also.
Being a lover of science myself, I know that science believes in the unity of matter. That all of these material things, including the skies, are beyond our ability to reach the ends of it. But we know something about it.
We know its nature and it is one system of matter. We receive from that base or premise to accept that life is one and also that human life is one.
G-d tells us in our religion, as He told the Christians and Jews who had the ideas before us, that we all came from one soul. G-d says He made one soul, male and female, and that He produced from the two all the men and women on the earth.
We look at the Sacred House that we turn to in prayer and also make pilgrimage to once a year, those who can afford to make the trip if their health and finances will permit them to do it. It is called the First House built for all people.
It is the Most Ancient of the houses built for all people. It didn't say "built for G-d." We know this House is built for us to know how to have our life down here on this earth under G-d and pleasing before G-d.
When we look at Muhammed, the Messenger of G-d, to whom the Qu'ran was revealed, G-d shows him to us. We firstly have to see him as G-d presents him. And G-d says, "He is a human person, just like you." It means that whatever is in Muhammed the Prophet, G-d put it in all human beings.
Muhammed the Prophet was the one who kept, as others before him whom we can name — Christ Jesus was certainly one of them, upon them be peace — were able to keep their good human life....
And not let the environment that was in opposition or threatening that life take it out of the form that G-d created it to be in.
It is said of Muhammed the Prophet of G-d that "he has already lived a lifetime among you." That is to say that Muhammed had lived for 40 years before G-d called him, before he knew anything about revelation. He was not familiar with Christianity or Judaism or any other revealed religion.
Dr. Izzeiddin of Egypt and a few others have called them "Heavenly Religions." There are Christians and Jews who also refer to these of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as Heavenly Religions. I understand that to mean that they were revealed or descended down to man as Communication from G-d.
Islam is the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of unity. Islam is the religion
that presents us a man, Muhammed, a human being like ourselves and wants us to have faith in that man.
G-d says, "Believe in G-d and believe in His Messenger." And I think we miss what is most important, that is most Muslims, these simple concepts and simple points in our religion that are very important to the understanding of our religion. We miss the main message.
G-d is saying to us that human life is good enough, strong enough to support the responsibilities that G-d created us for. The responsibilities not only for ourselves as individuals and for our families and neighborhoods, but for the whole life of mankind on this planet and in the world.
G-d is saying that He created the human being good enough and strong enough to represent that life, to guide that life and to serve that life. In each of us is this power, this goodness. But in G-d's Plan, He selects just a few to establish them as examples for the rest.
I see Jesus Christ in the picture of the Nativity, Peace be upon Christ Jesus, as a baby among animals. And I see Muhammed, the Prophet, an orphan or a baby among people who worshipped idols and who had no system of government that they all respected, that would protect their lives and permit them to have civilized progress.
They were separate tribes in competition with one another, threatening one another at times, and G-d chose Muhammed the Prophet at the age of 40 to be His Servant and His Messenger. When you read of the life of Muhammed the Prophet, he never worshipped idols. He was never seen in bad character. He was always in the most excellent character.
He didn't just befriend those who thought or believed like him. He was kind to everybody. This is Muhammed the Prophet. He was kind to children. He had patience with children. He loved children.
He was a humble man. He was never proud, to think of himself above others. When there was a job to do, he was seen sweeping the floor of the house for his wife. He was seen in the market, even after he became the great leader, going to buy groceries for his family.
These are qualities of human excellence that G-d is telling us that He created all of us for. Then G-d gave Muhammed the Message for Qur'an. The Qur'an is a Book of Mercy, Compassion. Every chapter, except one, opens with the words, "With G-d's Name, The Merciful" it is Merciful twice.
But when you look at Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, both come from the root rahma, meaning mercy and compassion. We understand that it means that G-d is Merciful and so Generous in giving us all that we need to support our life and to benefit us in this wonderful creation.
There is a Chapter in Qur'an called Ar-Rahman. In that Chapter, G-d reminds us of all of the wonderful resources that He made for human beings to benefit from:
The oceans filled with so many useful and beautiful things. The land, how He has given us life abundant in so many wonderful and beautiful things.
Then He brings us also to revelation that is His Greatest Gift, from where the most and greatest help comes to us. That is Divine Guidance. He then mentions the Qur'an, that He taught man the Qur'an and created the human person.