Imam W. Deen Muhammad's Address In Denver, Colorado
As-Salaam-Alaikum, and that is peace be unto you. We give praise to the One Lord and Creator, Whose name in the Muslim world and in our Holy Book is Allah. We ask that peace and blessings be upon the last Messenger of God, Muhammad the Prophet.
Thank you, Brother Imam Bashir Rahman. And it is indeed a great pleasure, and I am humbled to be in the presence of such people that are sitting here at the head table and in the audience from the community of Denver and the area here. This occasion deserves our sup-port, and I come really to just support the occasion.
I will speak very briefly on the regard for education that we have as Muslims and that all of us should have. For Muslims knowledge is a sacred property. And we believe that this universe is one and is created by One Lord, and it bears the design of that One Lord. Also that there are authorities that we should first be aware of, and that is the authority of God and then the authority of God's Law operating in His creation. And there is also the authority of man, that has dedicated himself to respect that Law and to serve that Law for the good of humanity.
With us the first authority is that Lord, Allah. The second authority is the rule of nature created by God. And the third authority 111 mention is exemplified in Muhammad, the Prophet, that we hope to model ourselves after or at least model our Muslim behavior after. For us in education this is very important, because it gives us a sense of place in the universe and a sense of purpose, when man acknowledges the Lord Creator, Who is responsible for everything that we have in existence. As the Arabs say, "Lam fiqh-tu wa-ji-ha," the creation does not exist by itself.
Now when we accept that kind of idea, and have that kind of respect for Allah, for the Lord Creator and for the creation, then it works in our favor and eases the way for our intellect to grasp and understand the simple, the very complex, and the very difficult knowledge that is needed for man in his life and for the life of society. I truly believe in my heart that the biggest problem we have in education — and I am not trying to pass myself off tonight as a scholar or as an educator. My formal education just goes to high school, from which I graduated. I also have three hours of credit in English 101. Therefore, I do not want to pass myself off tonight as a scholar or as an educator.
But I thank God that I have had the curiosity and have taken the time to study many books. And I don't feel shy around many of you who consider yourselves to be educators and scholars. It is because there are some very simple fundamentals working in the universe. And when you understand those simple fundamentals, then you really are on the same basis with everybody else who has knowledge.
Now, I do believe that the trouble with the world of education, that is its main trouble, is that we forget how knowledge begins. We forget the focus for the progress and the development of material sciences and of the human sciences. It all began with men thinking on and observing the workings of the universe and in the world around them, and in the society around them — those things as they operate in creation, and then in finding a unity and in finding a purpose and in believing that something is behind all of this. That is where it all began. It is also in respecting the design that is working within creation for the unity and function of the total universe and also for the unity and correct function of man, himself, as an individual, as a person, and also as a society.
So when we lose that, then we should teach it even if we are not religious. We should make sure that our schools and our children have some good knowledge of how knowledge, itself, came in the world in man and advanced and progressed. Today when we think about knowledge, we think about it in fragments. I think that in Christianity, and I will say that I know Christianity also, for I have studied the Bible. In Al-Islam and in Christianity and in Judaism and in other great world religions — all of these religions preserved for man that respect for the beginning of knowledge and the unity of knowledge. As the creation is one, then knowledge is one. We should respect that and keep that before us, and keep that in our focus. Let us make sure that the children in the schools have a respect for that.
Now I want to try to change the focus here and come to our religion. For Muslims, as I said in the beginning of this brief address, the sciences and true knowledge is sacred property. Our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said that real or true knowledge, that is the sciences is the lost property of the faithful in the religion or the believers. It is the "lost property of the faithful in the religion."
That is to say that God Who created this universe, though He is merciful and all of those things, will allow the bad people to enjoy the good things in this creation up to a limit. He will also allow them to have access to the great tools that man needs for himself and the society. But He did not intend it for the bad people. He intended those great blessings for the good people. He intended it for those people who love Him and devote themselves to the worship of Him and who try to serve His Will and His Purpose. He intended those great tools of knowledge, of science, etcetera, to be our possession. They are our inheritance, according to the Holy Book and to the teachings of the Prophet. Again, they are our inheritance.
It is important that we know that the Prophet also made it an obligation on the Muslim community to respect knowledge, to work hard to advance knowledge, and to work hard to educate those without knowledge, that is, the masses of people. Long before Western civilization recognized the rights for all members of society or for all citizens to education, our Prophet preached and demonstrated support for that right by making it an obligation on those who had knowledge to share that knowledge and to pass that knowledge on to the illiterate and ignorant people in the society.
Prophet Muhammad, himself, was a prophet and a teacher. He taught and educated people, and he preached the message. He did both. In fact, he was an all around man. He was the head of the state. He was the regulator of the economy of the state. He was in all of the roles. He was a soldier on the battlefield and a general for the army. He was all of these things and the complete man. But that precious man took the time to teach an uneducated person to read a few letters, to read a line. And he made it an obligation on those who knew to teach others.
One of the names of the Book that he brought is "that which is to be read." And that is the name by which we identify the Book by right now, "Qur'an." It is from "qara'a," which means to read. "Qur'an" means that which should be read and recited.
Lastly, it was our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be on him, who brought the community of men to recognize the right of women to have an equal share in education. The Prophet gave an incentive to men when he said, "if any father will spend on two daughters to see that they are educated, he will be given the Paradise by God. God will admit him into the Paradise."
There is much to be said, but the evening has been spent well. And in the words of Ms. Wallace which were so good and so satisfying to my heart, I right away just cancelled out about two-thirds of what I was going to say. Thank you very much.