We Must The True Image Of Al-Islam: Part 3
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: The following is excerpted from the Muslim convention address Imam Muhammad delivered July 20. 1986 at Cobo Hall in Detroit: In'sha Allah, Muslim Journal will print the entire address. This is the third installment.)
This is not a religion of a special race, or class of Black people; this is a religion for all people on this earth. Its appeal is not limited to ex-convicts or poor Blacks disappointed with Christianity. Its appeal has gone out to all people, classes and ranks. Doctors, lawyers, government leaders, statesmen, rulers and scientists, embraced this religion hundred of years ago — a thousand years ago — and they embrace it today. The people of Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and the Philippines, have embraced Al-Islam. The membership of Muslims is growing fast in Spain, Germany, England and other parts of Europe. In Japan, Al-Islam is spreading fast; more than 50 percent of the people on the continent of Africa, our native homeland, are Muslims. Al-Islam is the most popular religion on the continent of Africa. And the Muslims there are not people from criminal backgrounds but rather the highest people in the society of those countries. This is truth that our enemies hate to hear.
We have to come out as citizens of this country. Our sacrifice and contribution to this country goes back as far as it does for any other ethnic group, whether they come from England, Spain, Germany, Yugoslavia, Arabia, Cuba or from Haiti; no matter where they came from, our roots go back as far as theirs, or farther. We are the native people of this country.
Our citizenship didn't need any government legislation. And it's embarrassing to know that we had to have a Civil Rights movement to get citizenship. It's embarrassing to know that.
So who is best qualified to tell the truth about Al-Islam? It is us. We are the best qualified to tell the truth about our religion.
The immigrants might fear deportation. They have a cause to fear greater than ours. We are in a better situation to defend our right to this religion, which has its right on the law books. So we now have to tell the truth, and make sure that this religion gets the right presentation. We are Muslims, and I speak for myself and the sincere Muslims. We have accepted this religion for eternity. We didn't accept this religion as a fad. It's not a passing thing for us. I have had enough time in my life to seriously think about and weigh the merits of this religion. And I'm not a fool.
I haven't stopped seeking knowledge or searching for knowledge and I can read in about three languages. I have had plenty of time to read books on other religions. I did a thorough study of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I wasn't satisfied with one complete reading, I did another. There's nothing you can tell me new about the Bible, if you're an African-American Christian. And I doubt if the Pope can tell me something new about it.
Not only that, but I have some of the best books put out by scholars of Judaism. I have read and studied them. I wanted to be in a position to know the strength of my religion and be in a position to really be confident in promoting my product, Al-Islam. I'm the kind of man who will put down the weaker product and pick up a better product if I find it, but in my search to find which was the better product, I never thought, not once, to put down the Qur'an, Al-Islam or Muhammad, the universal prophet, peace be upon him, what happened to me was more faith and determination to hold on to Al-Islam and promote that because it's the best product!
And if anyone in his or her decent, moral, intelligent mind would study our religion and study the other religions, his or her choice will be Al-Islam! Our God asks in our Holy Book, the Qur'an, who would make a free choice and choose a religion other than Al-Islam, but he who wants to make himself foolish.
Don't expect the national networks — ABC, NBC or CBS to help us. They are praying and are in uninterrupted meditation, that we don't be successful.
We have to understand that our religion made a kind gesture toward Christianity and even towards Judaism, and that the hand of friendship was knocked back very rudely.
Our Prophet, peace and the blessings be upon him, in establishing the first independent Muslim community or society in Medina, wrote into the charter protection of the rights of the Christians, Jews and Sabians. The Sabians were another legitimate religious group, existing in those days, to practice their religion without persecution or anyone troubling them. It is written into the Qur'an that has been preserved until today, that no church would be harmed, and that Muslims are obligated to defend the sacred houses of Christians and the Jews against any heathen or low-life person who would come against the religious establishments.
Even before the independence of the Muslim community in Medina, the Prophet looked toward the Christian government of Ethiopia. He sent his persecuted followers there to find a haven or an asylum for the new community of Muslims.