The Muslim Journal
Justice In Islam: How Close Are We Muslims To Western Democracy? :Part 5
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Imam W. Deen Mohammed gave the following address on June 16, 2001, in Detroit, Mich., at Orchestra Hall.)
Martin Luther, the great church reform leader, had paved the way for our democracy. None of this could exist without these great leaders I am mentioning. We couldn't have this great society, if it were not for them. And the first reform had to take place in the church. After the reform in the church, then we had the political movement for this great democracy.
The first understanding that I had of the word "Islam" was "freedom, justice and equality." That meaning lives today in the hearts and minds of many of us, whose first acquaintance with Muslims and Islam began right here in this city of Detroit, the Motor City, with the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and his teacher, W. Fard Muhammad.
I recall words being painted on the blackboard. I was a boy, younger than my 11-year-old son. I would be sitting in my seat in the Temple with the men and other children, and there was a blackboard there with paint on it. It said: "Islam - Freedom -Justice - Equality."
We could see it as soon as we entered the seating area where the lecture or preaching would be given. The first thing to hit your eyes was that blackboard. Islam was the staff with Freedom, Justice and Equality going out from Islam.
The teacher of my father had a master plan for helping our people with their cause. He was a Muslim; his religion was Islam. But he did not come to us to give us Islam right away. He came to help us with our cause -right away! He hoped that we would have Islam by-and-by.
Jesus points to the Good Samaritan and condemns the order that was in place at that time. He says that there was a religious person, a person of establishment who walked the road and saw the man in the road needing help, and he passed him by. Another crossed the road, so he would not have to get too close to him and it wouldn't bother his conscience as much.
Along came the Good Samaritan who saw him and gave him assistance and took him to where he could get help. What is Jesus saying? That you don't come to people suffering and try to convert them to a religion first. You help them in their condition first. Once you help them in their condition, then they will be free of the agony that is living with them in every moment of their lives, and they will be in a better situation to listen to you talk about religion.
When I studied the greatest masters, the greatest teachers of religion, I find that they were just like Jesus and Muhammed. Muhammed lived among people as a kind man, as a good man, and they recognized him as such. They called him The Trustworthy One, El-Amin, the Honest One. And they called him As-Saadiq, The Truthful One. He had already earned respect from them and their love and admiration.
They saw Muhammed as a person who cared about them and wouldn't deceive them, who would not guide them in the wrong way, They saw Muhammed as a man who would assist them in everything that was good for them. They knew him as that person. Then he came to them and said; "La ilaha illallah"; None of these gods are real except One. He did not even say "Muhammedar rasullullah." All he said to them was "La ilaha illallah."
He said that because their problems were caused by the worship of many gods. That was their biggest problem. It was not that they were drunks. They had too many gods and those gods divided them. They had tribal gods.
(To be continued)