On Anwar Al Sadat
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
We regret the loss of Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat.
He was a leader for many people who are Muslims in Egypt We appreciated him for his courage to speak out in the interest of the peaceful settlement of the problems in the Middle East caused by the presence of Menachem Begin and his fanatical defiance.
I refer now to the late President's willingness to deaf rationally with the political reality of the international world. I admire him for that courage, especially as a leader of perhaps the most populous Arab nation. Speaking out without fear, or perhaps with fear but with courage that was greater than his fear, against radicalism and encouraging democratic process, while pleading to his brothers and to the West for sincere, cooperation in the efforts to bring about peace in the Middle East.
All of this touched me and our community, especially the Council of Imams, Many of our leading Imams in this community were touched by that sober demonstration of courage.
On the other hand, however, there is bad feeling, also, and here I express my personal thoughts. I was strongly dissatisfied with the recent decision by President Sadat to take control of the mosques, the many mosques in Egypt. Some people might call me a religious fanatic if they hear some of the statements I've made expressing my complete faith in the power and will of God.
It hurt me to hear that the President regarded the religious movement of his people against him in Egypt as the movement of a fanatical people. Fanatics always have their part in anything of real consequences in the public's eye. I suspect, however, that many, many Muslims of Egypt had differences with President Sadat—simply because, as a Muslim, I too had differences with his leadership.
I wouldn't care to, at this time, voice those differences because I think his strong courageous appeal for peace and his willingness to sit at the table with the opposition merits respect. These other developments in him that we are displeased with do not seem very important in the light of what he did achieve to influence a more sober approach to the problem facing Muslims because of the presence of the irrational leader, Menachem Begin.