Imam W. Deen Mohammed Speaks on the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, Min. Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam: Part 3
An Interview by Bro. Nathaniel Omar
NO: There has been a lot of fascination with the Year 2000. People have used the word Millennium in just about everything. How should we as Muslims view this period? Are we to expect any special benefit?
IWDM: Yes, there is a caution and then there is also a spiritual embrace with the Christians in their or The New Millennium. The caution is this, that this is not our New Millennium, it is the Christian's Calendar. But I think we should embrace the Christians in their spirit of celebration, because there has been an Islamic revival going on for at least 60 years and perhaps longer.
There was the late Maulana Maududi from Pakistan and there have been other Islamic reform leaders from Africa and other places.
The Hon. Elijah Muhammad who was confused and difficult to understand, had a spirit to contribute to the revival of Islam in the world. From him and his son, Imam W. Deen Mohammad - my leader, and because of these people's contributions, we have a renewal of Islamic spirit and life in these United States.
The Jews also have been experiencing difficulty in holding their children, keeping their children at home, from being effected by the corrupt culture of public life. All of us have been effected by that Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims. So you will see that there are leaders among them, too, who are taking a second look at how they have perceived their religion and how they have been living their religion.
There is a kind of revival going on everywhere. It is a general revival, a world revival. It is a revival of the spirit and purity of religion in the "Faith Communities of the World." That is what we are experiencing. I don't think it is just a Christian Jubilee. It just so happens that they (Christians) are calling this the Third Millennium. But this time period is a celebration for all of us.
We are coming into new minds, better minds and we are coming to grips with this; we should have come to grips a long time ago, like with justice in Islam. We have not respected justice in Islam, for instance justice for our poor people, justice for the suffering people of the world.
To address the tyrants, there is a recent author of a book called "Opposition" named Professor Basool. He dedicated his book to one of the Khalifs, Khalif Omar (may G-d be pleased with him). The author questioned the recent history of Modern Islamic leaders, how they have neglected to address the tyrants who deny the Muslim public the right to live their lives as Muslims, without their life being dictated to by oppressors.
We have many oppressors in the Islamic world and dictators who do not see themselves as oppressors, but there are many dictators in the Islamic world. The rule of consensus and the rule of shura do not exist. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "The hand of G-d is on the majority." This means the Rule of G-d is over the people and the leaders should respect that it is G-d's Rule over the people. And the people should be free to see what is G-d's way for them and live that way.
The ruler should support that, whether it is the Imam, Minister or religious leader or not, he can be strictly political or strictly government. The ruler should guarantee the people the right to follow the Qur'an and Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). They are not doing that. So we are living in a time in the Bible for the whole world. Muslims have serious need for reform in Islamic communities and the world.
NO: In your recent travels abroad, to Rome, Israel and Jerusalem, you didn't go alone. You took a sizable delegation of Muslim American Society members with you. Will you share with our readers the benefit of taking a large delegation and how different it was from going with a few aids.
IWDM: Rome, Jerusalem, Israel, Jordan and Damascus, Syria. These were opportunities that opened up to us. We did not plan this. We only wanted to embrace good people. They invited us to join them. So it happened.
With the Focolare people, we embraced them. They are good Christians in character and in purpose. Their purpose and their mission is very clean and very powerful. They call it the Principle of Christ's Love. They live it; they don't just say it. They live it. They practice sharing with each other. They practice helping with the family and include people of other religions into their movement, which is a moral movement, conceived early during World War II by their leader Chiara Lubich.
So we've gotten to know that movement and have a personal acquaintance with their leader Chiara Lubich. My sincere embrace is in what they stand for has bought me to be accepted in many cities where they have offices and followers. So Rome was a visit that was not all together owing to the Focolare movement or their officials.
It was also because of the Archbishop of Baltimore, Cardinal Keeler. I met with him, too, and I spoke to him openly and shared with him very serious thoughts of mine.
And he appreciated that openness and that seriousness, and he wanted to arrange a visit to the Vatican for me. So it was the Archbishop of Baltimore and the Focolare people. It was their combined support of me and my desire to have a visit to The Vatican and to have an audience with His Holiness Pope John Paul II, a man whom I have admired ever since he became leader.
Once again that is a leader not just for the Catholics; he is a leader for humanity. I think any sincere leader in religion should respect such a leader and recognize their contributions and should not let any differences in religion cause us to withhold support from people like that. Because they are making great contributions to the betterment of this whole world. So I wanted an audience with him, and I got it.
And I have returned to The Vatican, as you know, with leaders representing different faiths of the world, hosted by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, We were honored to have been present there and to be one of the presenters.
The trip to Israel came because of their knowledge of my invitation to be at the World Conference on Religion and Peace, the international gathering there, for their seventh annual anniversary in Amman, Jordan, and hosted by the King and the Prince of Jordan.
So the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Israel invited me also to be his guest to attend an interfaith gathering, dialoguing on religious peace, resolving conflict, etc. In Israel, one of the persons contributing to that meeting is a friend of mine and president of the same organization that I am affiliated with, the Conference on World Peace. He is Rabbi David Rosen. When I heard he was involved, I was anxious to get an invitation.
So I got an invitation to Israel, and I visited Israel with Imam Abdul Karim Hasan. He took great pictures and gave a good report on that trip. We had a great conference at the World Conference on Peace. The Israel official took me by bus to the Interfaith Dinner in Amman, Jordan, from Israel.
It was a wonderful trip. I saw the Sea of Galilee. I know we have read about it in the Bible. I saw a lot over there. I saw the place where King Saul fought with his men to test them. This is in the Qur'an and Bible. He wanted to see who was as strong as he was and who was not. He said whoever takes the water in his hand and drink of it continually like a horse is not of him (King Saul). Whoever takes a little in his hand would be of his supporters. I saw the pool of water there, and it comes from a source that is very clear. I said: "This water looks clear enough to drink." The Israeli host told me, "Yes, it is very clean and fit for drinking."
So this experience to me I can hardly describe to you. We have been reading about these things in the Bible, the ancient times and reading the stories in Qur'an. And now I am at the pool! You know, it really was a great experience. But it was a great experience for i because I represent a strong following of Muslims in America who have great and special history of our very special life and very special plight and peculiar circumstances. That made living very difficult for us in this world, and I am the leader of these people.
Now Islam has just simplified everything for us. We don't have any more confusion for our life. We don't have identity problems any more. We don't have a hang up with the past anymore. So I represent a great victory in this country for African-American people who followed the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, and that's how I saw myself. So I took the advantage to mention the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. I said I thought he would share with me this occasion, if he had been alive.