By Imam W. Deen Mohammed
With the Name Allah (In the Name of God), the Gracious, the Compassionate. As-Salaam-Alaikum
According to the Quran and the Bible, our origin and survival is in moral life. In many places in scripture, moral life is called "water." Water is the beginning of life.
The sperm of a man and the ovum of a woman unite to form a growth. The growth becomes a baby. During the period of waiting the necessary term for birth, the baby grows in water. Nature creates a protective bag in the mother who is carrying a baby. When the water bag breaks, it is a clear sign that the baby will soon come into this world. A poetic sign that human life is born of moral awakening.
In scripture, water symbolizes morality. When John the Baptist began his religious mission, he started by baptizing in the River Jordan. Baptism is a Christian practice that is symbolic of spiritual regeneration. Even today, persons and babies are immersed or sprinkled with water to symbolize cleansing and purity and a new life. Water in this sense means clean moral teachings.
Jesus is identified as the one who came after John. It is taught that Jesus would baptize in fire. Jesus baptized in fire, but it doesn't mean that fire and water have to be different in this particular sense. Elijah told the people to wet the altar with barrels of water and they did. Elijah then prayed and the water blazed up as fire. This shows us that in scriptural language, water can be converted to fire. Bringing fire out of water is shown by correct interpretation of the rational sense that is in the moral teaching.
Moral life is the beginning of religious community development. Once we leave the moral life as human beings, we die. With low morals or no morals, we may continue to be able to walk about, but if we look "into" ourselves squarely, we know we are dead. Where there is no water (morality), there is no conscience. Where there is no conscience, there is no sound morality. Once the "fish" of moral thought is taken out of his natural environment, he dies. Once we human beings leave moral conscience and become dry in the winds of worldly passions, we die.
Originally, the fish was the sign of the Christian people. The cross was adopted much later. To early Christians, the fish meant life of morality and moral strength. Jesus told his disciples, "Come, and I will make you fishermen of men.- Jesus mission began in water and he meant that he wanted his disciples to pull moral people out of polluted morality. The moral consciousness of the people that Jesus was dealing with in those days had become polluted, poisoned, and unfit. Jesus had to literally fish those people out of the "water" and place them on land where they could breathe the air of healthy passions. Once Jesus fished the people out of the immoral base, he preached spiritual doctrine and converted them from an immoral mind to a compassionate mind. Jesus guided them from immorality into a spiritual, compassionate mind that submitted to the Will of God. Jesus did not establish the morals, he questioned the morals. He questioned hypocrites who condemned the prostitute. Jesus brought the people into a healthy spiritual life so that they could then come anew into the proper moral life.
In all life we must have a moral base, but even before the moral base, we must have spirit. We cannot, however, build a practical society, a practical world on spirit. Community life must be constructed in a moral base. People can be contained in a society in spirit. But a society cannot be built on spirit alone. You have to have a moral base to build on, not only for religion but for any order of society. The Bible tells you that Abraham went about digging wells. Abraham wasn’t digging physical wells. Abraham's digging of wells symbolizes tapping the moral strength in the nature of the people in order to increase in them the water of moral life so that the society around him would improve morally and thereby live. The origin of the good human life is in water or in moral makeup. God tells us that water or moral makeup is the basic element on which to build family or community life.
Human beings first come to know the baby language of moral growth: "Good, bad; right, wrong; hot, cold; sweet, etc."
Clean healthy morals are the life blood of individuals, families, and communities. Moral intelligence, with the compassion generated by it, is the life-feeding element needed to birth and to advance all human excellence. By symbolic interpretation, one who stands or walks upon the "water" is one who is on the highest level of moral consciousness.
Your brother in service to Allah, Wallace D. Muhammad