The Middle East Situation Is Confused
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: On June 24, 1985, Imam W. Deen Muhammad of Masjid Elijah Muhammad in Chicago was interviewed on ''Islam in America," a New York radio program, hosted by Imam Abdul-Haq Muhammad of the Bronx, N.Y. One of the questions Imam Muhammad was asked concerned Muslims in the U.S. and the anxiety some feel when the United States is in conflict with Muslims in the Middle East. Below is what Imam Muhammad said on the issue.)
WE ARE Muslims, and we feel that we should support Muslims; we are Americans, and we feel we should support our nation. So here we are caught in something — we are caught in a situation, but it almost forces us to choose between Muslims and our nation.
What I would like to say with this opportunity is that, that's not the decision. Although the first impulse is to say Muslims and Americans are against each other, now I have to choose — who am I going to support, Muslims or Americans? That's not the case.
Certainly Muslims are involved, and America's interest is there, too — America is involved, and American soldiers are citizens of America. Some have lost their lives, Many Muslims have lost their lives, too. Certainly that is the situation, but that doesn't make it a situation where we have to choose between America and Muslims. No — we should look at it as a very confused situation, and that's what it is.
THE MIDDLE EAST situation is a very confused situation, and the biggest trouble is coming from, I would say, hurt and bitterness in the Jews, and hurt and bitterness in the displaced Palestinians — the Arabs who have been uprooted and moved from their homes and put in camps or left at the mercy of the world society, without a home, without a nation.
The Jews who were persecuted under Hitler, under the Nazis, and who lost many millions of lives in a very horrible way carry that hurt. So we have two very sensitive people, and they are carrying a great hurt and great bitterness — both of them are carrying it.
I BELIEVE that what is happening is that there is a great blindness on both sides. There is a blindness in the Jewish people, who are Zionist, strongly Zionist, and strongly for occupying and dominating that territory (Palestine).
Now, there is that same kind of blindness in the Palestinians, who respond from sentiment, to a great extent, rather than from intelligent strategy.
Many Muslims say that Israel is not legitimate as a nation there. Well. I don't want to get into that, I would just like to say that my sympathy goes out first to the Muslims who have suffered this invasion of their homeland and their lives.
WHETHER IT'S justified on some promise that God made to the Jews or not, we can't tell a man (a Palestinian) who says this is my home, and my mother and my grandparents lived here; this is my land, I farmed it, for all of these years (and it was) passed down to me from my father and my mother, my grandfathers and my forefathers -you can't say to him that these people (the Jews) have got a scroll, an ancient scroll, that says God gave them this land (Palestine) 2,000 or 3.000 years ago; you can't say that to that man.
So first, my sympathy goes out to the Palestinians — to the Muslims and to the Palestinians.
But also I believe that we shouldn't look at every Jew who's in Israel as a devil, because they are not; many of them are the same kind of hurt, confused people that we find in all suffering nations who can't find peace for themselves, or can't get their rights. They are people, too, who are suffering the same kind of situation.
I WISH THAT there were a way for the Jewish people and the Palestinians, the Muslims (Arabs) of that place, to come together and resolve their problems, resolve the matter in a very intelligent way, to follow what is practical and sensible.
I wish the Jews could put away all that stuff about God giving them some land — can you bring God into court? — and just talk about what is right, what is justice, and if possible to do it without the involvement of the United Nations and anybody like that. The parties themselves should come together and follow an intelligent course, and bring justice to that area.
IT MAY COME, but what we have now are superpowers — they have an interest too.
right? Not just America, but Russia, too. When you have big powers coming in influencing what's happening in the life of little people, that complicates the matter even more. I think that's what it is, just a big confusion.
It's best for Muslims to say — DO matter what a Muslim is involved in in the world, or what a Muslim nation is involved in, in the world — I'm not going to make decisions until I consult Qur'an and the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him).