Mujeddid Wallace Deen Muhammad Addresses Jewish Congregation
(Editor's note: Mujeddid Wallace Deen Muhammad's recent address on "Prophethood and Brotherhood" delivered at the K.A.M. Isaiah Israel Congregational Temple in Chicago Dec. 17, 1978 is one more example of the worldwide focus of civilized peoples accentuating commonalities and brotherhood rather than racial bias, prejudice and ideological differences. Following is the text of that address.)
Thank you, Rabbi Perelmuter. It is indeed a great pleasure and privilege for me and my congregation to be invited to this great Jewish synagogue to address you in the spirit of brotherhood.
Among Christians, Jews and Muslims can be found today, an effort to accentuate, and emphasize our religious commonalities. I was very pleased while watching a program on television recently. I listened to the words of the Rabbis encouraging the spirit of brotherhood, the spirit of peace and unity, through the recognition of this commonality that we all share as Muslims, Jews and Christians. It is in this spirit that I address this great congregation.
Perhaps we can see prophethood as a social genetic blood tying our great religious worlds together in the universal process of civilized enlightenment and cultural evolution.
We reject with the Christians the idea of genetic evolution from the apes and the monkeys or the lower species. But with the words of the Bible and with the language of our Holy Book, we accept that man must evolve as a social creature.
Stretching our image again, perhaps we can see the nature of our innermost feelings and the elements of mystery in this combination as one language that we share.
I know of no one who has to learn how to laugh in Italian, or cry in Yiddish. This one nature is tying us together in one spiritual blood in spite of the natural necrosis of race consciousness and in spite of our moaning and groaning pages of history — history of the political strife, social strife of our minorities.
We orphaned, suffering and blessed minorities should always be attentive enough to this innermost spiritual nature that we never have to hold back quiet thoughts that say to us, "Flesh has mercy coming to it and every living soul has a Deliverer."
I find it very easy for me to say to you, the Jewish community, that you are a giant of a people. Your ancestors survived the dirty flood waters that destroyed mighty nations and cultures. By way of the great Divine revelations, the world was cultivated. The working tools and seeds of new harvests were safe, by Divine grace, in the hands of your great ancestors.
It would be anti-Semitic for us not to appreciate the Bible heroes' contributions to the survival, rebirth, and growth of refined culture and humane civilization.
I must add that many of those Biblical heroes were not of white skin and many of them were not of black skin, but we have to acknowledge the fact that it was your people who introduced the great civilized methods of facing God, and the dignity of man to the European, Western world.
We all must be grateful forever to the Almighty who is our common Benefactor and who cares deeply for us all.
Our religious order is after the order of the great patriarch, Ibrahim — or Abraham as we so commonly refer to him. Muslims have strong religious and historical ties with Christians and with Jews. One prophethood should eventually bring all of us or at least the majority of us into the spirit of one brotherhood.
Allah, God, says to Muslims in the Quran that whether one be Jewish, Christian or other, if they have faith in God and believe in practicing good deeds, they have their reward with God; there should be no fear on them nor grief.
Again, the Almighty says to us through the revelation revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, the Universal Messenger of God, that had God not raised up one people to repel the evil aggressions of another people, then tumult and oppression would have spread all over the land.
So, we are grateful for those great religious heroes of the Jewish people who checked corruption and evil and made their great contributions for preserving humane society on this Earth.
Again, Almighty God says to us in the Quran that we, Muslims, are to guard the sanctity of synagogues, churches and mosques in which the Name of Allah is pronounced. Whether it be our own mosque, a Jewish synagogue or a church, we respect the sanctity of the religious house and as Muslims we have to use our tongue, use our influence, and if we must, we have to use our hands to protect the sacredness of this Jewish synagogue.
This is the spirit of brotherhood in Al- Islam that I embrace and those who follow me in our community, embrace.
Again, Almighty God says to us in the Quran that had he intended that this world be one religious community, He would have made it so. God has the power to make all of us whatever He wants us to be. He could have made us all animals, governed by animal instincts, but he freed the minds so that we could find a way to earn dignity for ourselves.
We don't expect the world to become all Muslim, we don't expect for it to become all Jewish, but we do expect for us to find with our own human intelligence, the common bond between us and live in peace. And, that peace should grow until we realize we are our brother's helper, if not our brother's keeper.
Dear beloved people, there are many things that I would like to express today but I understand that there will be a question period and I hope to allow enough time to satisfy your questions.
Today, I see many problems for peace and brotherhood. But none of them is strong an influence, and none of them can block the ways of peace and brotherhood. I believe that all of our differences can be resolved or overlooked.
As Muslims, we believe in faith in Almighty God and good works. And we don't believe that faith and good works can come without the heart first being right.
We believe, like the Christians, in the purity or the innocence of the human heart and we believe that if we strive for purity of intentions, there is hope for all of us.
I would ask Muslims and Jews who are influenced politically, who are influenced by bitterness in their histories, to search their conscience, respecting their faith, and struggle for purity of intentions.
A few years ago, our ghettos in Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia. Los Angeles and in all the big cities were so burdened, troubled, and confused that I felt this world was about to be destroyed. Not with physical fire, but with the fire of spiritual drunkenness, with the fire of racial hatred and ignorance.
I thank Almighty God for bringing relief to our community and turning the minds and changing the attitudes of the people and law enforcement. The people now have a good spirit, a spirit of humanness, a moral spirit is stirring in the people. There is also moral influence and moral willpower given to us from the top of the country in the great President Carter whom I respect and love very dearly.
We thank Allah, for this great change in this country, the change of spirit and return to moral consciousness. I myself, have experienced a relief on the South Side, a relief from subtle mischief making of the police department and criminal gangs.
We are very grateful for the change in this country and I hope that Jews and Muslims, if you can't unite with all Muslims you can unite with us. I hope that we all can get together and promote this healthy change and spread the good spirit so all of us can live and not die in our passions.
I would like to conclude by saying I appreciate very much the struggle of the Jewish people to come up with a blueprint or a strategy for preserving human excellence and human growth in the society.
I am happy to know that as Muslims we are very much like the Jews in this respect: Muslims don't believe in a spiritual life without rational plans for developing that life to its full manifestation or to its full development. We believe in the fulfillment of human life and we don't think it can be fulfilled in the cold regions of the sky; it has to unite with the ground and go up properly.
On this note I say I am very happy to be invited here to address you and to work with you. In the future I hope to promote this same spirit until it spreads and embraces many more Muslims and Jews.