''Victimization Of The Innocent," The "Conduct Of War" And The Error Of "Seeking World Dominance" Part 1
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
As-Salaam Alaikum; Shalom-Alaikum.
We thank God for this day, this occasion. We ask His guidance and His blessings on our efforts. We ask that He increase this desire in us for this meeting and for future meetings and bring us closer together as religious communities, Muslims and Jews. Amen.
We begin with Bismllah Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem; with God's Name, The Merciful Benefactor, The Merciful Redeemer. We salute the last Prophet of Islam, Muhammed to whom the Qur'an was revealed with the traditional salute, the prayers and peace be upon him and what follows that traditional salute.
It is a great honor to us, to my community, to myself and my family to be with you on this occasion as your speaker along with the Honorable Rabbi Alexander Schindler and the other distinguished persons who have joined us here from both the Jewish community and the Muslim community. Many that I know personally from the Muslim community are very honorable and distinguished people — members of my particular association, mostly African American, although we have some non-African Americans among us. But there are those who have come to the United States from abroad from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and have distinguished themselves here as scholars in Islam. It is a great pleasure to see the Imams of our community joining us here for this occasion.
Islam is first the religion of peace. God says to us in our Holy Book that God prefers the religion of Islam. Let it be our religion, Islam for us is the blueprint for our whole life. Islam is a way of life; Islam is also our guidance. God says He gave the Qur'an to us for guidance, for the God fearing or the regardful. We also know that Muhammed the Prophet of Islam is the model leader for us. He has been described by hi s wife, the Lady A'isha (May God be pleased with her) as the Qur'an living among us, our Bible our Holy Book living among us.
God Most High, in saying that He has preferred the religion Islam for us and also giving the description to the religion Islam as the "religion of guidance," this tells me that Islam is our leader. Muhammed and the Qur'an are the focus for that leadership. The Qur'an is the most valid and the most forceful leader in our life. Second to the Qur'an is our Prophet. Without him, we would not know how to do our prayers. We would not know many things in our religion. It is only through him that we were able to know that. God made him our leader and our example to show us how to practice Islam and how to live Islam.
Our Prophet is pictured by different authors, non-Muslims and also some Muslims in facets of h is total life or his total character. This m9y cause us to mistake him for the wrong kind of person or the wrong kind of leader. If we focus on the Prophet as a military leader responsible for the army of Islam during his lifetime (May God grant him all the blessings, prayers and peace be on him), if we focus on that particular role we may miss the real Muhammed. If we focus on him as a man trying to regulate the material interest of his people, again we may miss the total man.
It is said of him, our Prophet, and he himself has said that he was sent to us expressly to guide us to good character. We believe, the followers of the Prophet, that he is the model of excellence in terms of human character for all of us. Not only that, we believe that ho is the total person, the complete man. A family man, a preacher of the religion, responsible for the government, a businessman, he is seen in all the important roles for man in his society. God says that he is the most excellent model for any who believe in God and the Last Day.
I want to go to a concern that has been with me since I have matured enough in my mind to understand some of what was happening in the political world. That is the issue of recognition for the state of Israel or homeland for the Jews. In my opinion, studying the Qur'an and the life of the Prophet Muhammed, this was never an issue with our Prophet. Jews lived in Medina, the city of our Prophet; it is also called the city of enlightenment. They were protected as citizens of Medina with the same protection, the full protection that was accorded other citizens of Medina. The Prophet mandated that the Jews of Medina, under the new government of Islam, would continue to practice their religion as they had practiced it before the establishment of the new government of Islam.
We know that that good relationship that obviously that mandate intended to serve did not continue. Problems occurred that we may say were of a financial nature and political nature, rather than of a religious nature. It was such problems that caused that good relationship with the Jews of Medina to be lost. I'm not at all suggesting that because there was not an issue at that time, we don't have anything to stand upon to address this issue. Rather, it is right for Muslims to support a homeland in their midst for the Jewish people.
We are aware of the history of the Jews and the meaning of the territory to you. But I would rather point to something in the history and the language of Islam that I think should be given attention. That is, first of all our religion doesn't recognize any human being as the owner of any part of the earth, only as trustees under God. We believe that God is always the owner of every bit of the earth. God is the Absolute Owner and our possession is temporary. In Islam we can lose possession of our land, if we don't respect it, if we neglect it. In Islamic Law, we can lose possession of our land. The law recognizes your right to have temporary possession of it and to utilize it for your needs according to Islamic law, as long as you respect the land.
I believe that Islam has recognized something here that civilized man has always known or has always stood upon. We know that the civilized will go in and take property and land from the savaged who are ignorant and don't know how to develop the land or who don't know how to make it useful for themselves or for humanity. And we have tolerated that. We haven't condemned man from taking over territories to better a situation for the lot of mankind.
This is not to say that we don't have sympathy for those who are removed from their land, those who are crushed to the ground or defeated miserably. Certainly we have sympathy and we have love in our hearts for them. But if we would just let anybody and everybody have any land and as much land as they want, that wouldn't be serving the purpose for which God has created the world and us.
I'm not to question the right of the Palestinians to their land. That is to be discussed by the Palestinians and by the Israelis, the main parties in the conflict and the main parties to resolve the conflict. We are happy to see that progress is being made. We know that many Muslims are still dissatisfied with the peace agreement so far. Many Muslim scholars, many Muslim Imams are not very pleased with what has been done so far. We are happy to see that more sincere effort is being made on both sides to have a better situation for the Israelis and for the Palestinians in the area. And it is also for us, because we suffer when they suffer. All of us of the world suffer when they suffer.
Religion has been revealed to men of God. It requires of man that he order his life and that he has a sense of government. It is intended to be for man a portable government. I take my Islam with me. I know the rules of my religion that apply to my life as; a person, as a follower. It governs my life. I take it with me to my home and my family accepts it. We have an Islamic government in our home. As much as we can, we have an Islamic government in our congregation, the Mosque that we attend. We encourage the members of the congregation to carry Islamic government with them wherever they go, and as much as they can to exercise Islamic government and support Islamic government in their lives wherever they are. I believe that Judaism is no different. You don't necessarily have to have a particular geography for an Israeli government. For me, that's not a justification for Israel to be where it is.
For me the only justification is what transpired from day one for the Palestinian problem and for the Israeli problem. And if those people were not doing anything with their land and were neglecting their land, then God removed them from their land not you (the Jews). Now that they age waking up to their responsibility, I would beg you and them to go to your most powerful sources, most authentic-sources of guidance. For the Jews it is the Torah, and for the Palestinians it is the Qur'an, and conform to the best of your books. That's what will make it possible for Palestinians and Jews to live in peace in that area, to recognize each other's rights in that area, and to build up that area for the good of themselves, their close neighbors and the whole humanity of this earth.
I support that with all my heart and soul. I do believe that it's possible. I pray for it. If I can in any way do any act for it, then I will do that too. I have said something that may be disturbing some of my friends, but I want to be open. I want to be clear, and that's where I am regarding the issue of a homeland for the Jews. There's much I would like to say beyond that point. But I'd like to say it in Israel as a guest of the government of Israel. I would like to say it in the ears of the Palestinian leaders, if they would hear it.
(To be continued)