On Muslims, Christians and Jews
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: Following are excerpts from Imam Warith Deen Muhammad's appearance on "Hotline," a Chicago call-in program heard on radio station WVON and hosted by Renee Pruit, The program was aired Jan. 28, 1981.)
MUSLIMS, CHRISTIANS AND JEWS
The three religious bodies were formed under the same influence of revelation. Revelation has always been progressing or extending all the time since Adam, the first man, or the first prophet as many of us see him in the religion of Al-lslam.
The Quran speaks of Jews as being people who were favored to be chosen as God's people to present the life that God approves for the human family.
They failed their responsibility—some of them being just and honorable, living good lives and others being hypocritical and dishonest—so the favor was passed on to the family of Imran. Jesus Christ (PBUH) descended from the family of Imran.
The blessing, then, was bestowed upon the Christian people, they were the chosen. And we understand that the Christians strayed away from the main course of the faith and began to represent a kind of one-sided religion that put strong emphasis on spirituality but neglected to give the people insight on the full development of life and how God wants that life to blossom in society.
So the blessing, in accord with God's scheme, was passed to the Muslims through Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
We are to see these great religions in progress, and that scheme was being fulfilled step-by-step, or stage-by-stage up to Prophet Muhammad. At that point the whole scheme was revealed and the full life was established for the believers in religion.
This is how Muslims see it. We are not to see Jews as our enemies, or Christians as our enemies. In fact, the Quran tells us you will find that among the people of scripture, the nearest to you will be the Christians; and it's because of the closeness of their sincerity. They have the same kind of sincerity we have in our religion.
True Muslims have a very strong love for Almighty God and the whole of life. This behavior is decided on the strength of our faith in God and love for God, and this is the Christian attitude in religion too.
The Quran says, you will find the Christians will be nearest to you, but at the same time we are not to see the Jew as being so far from us that he is not to be considered as a religious person doing good work and trying to please God.
The Quran says, whoever believes in God and does good work should have no fear and no grief, meaning, God is with them.
The Muslims are not to take a narrow view or self-righteous position in their religion, where they think they are the only good people. No. That's not true.
We all are good if we believe in God and if we believe in doing good toward ourselves and toward others.
THE HONORABLE ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
I understand the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his mission to have been fulfilled and completed in his own lifetime.
I understand that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad pointed us in a direction away from his own teachings, but we couldn't understand it at that time because we were so caught up in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's teachings and so infatuated by his own personality as a "Messenger of God" as we saw him.
But the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said on many occasions, that "after me there will be another, but he won't give you what we have now.” He said that it will be something new and different.
"I am not teaching you religion, as such," he would say, which I understood to be religion per se, but he was encouraging a religious attitude. He was trying to bring about a social reform that would give us a new sense of identity and a culture of our own. He was trying to bring about a new people with a new mind and a new cultural life.
He said that the one who comes behind me may accept something of what we have and then he might not accept anything of what we have.
I think the problem for most of the followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is that his statement seemed to have been addressing the far distant future and they were not prepared for such changes this soon.
I think the statement in their minds was so far in the future that they thought it was something they should not even be concerned with. So they never really gave it serious thought.
In the last two addresses the Honorable Elijah Muhammad gave—the annual national addresses—he said things that caused many of his people almost to be disappointed with him.
Many of them were wondering what he was saying. He encouraged respect for the white man in a way that he had never encouraged it before. He pointed to the white man on the platform and said, he is a Muslim, he is our brother, and the message seemed to have been pretty clear.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad criticized his own following for "looking holy," but not necessarily having the holy content that he wanted in them.
Statements he made, made it easy for me to come in an hour of disappointment, so to speak, and tell them that the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad were simply a strategy and that he never said that he was teaching religion as it is understood by Christians and as it is understood by Muslims of the world.