REVELATION AND ITS INFLUENCE ON CULTURE
REVELATION AND ITS INFLUENCE ON CULTURE
(The following address by Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Muslim American Society Leader, was given in Norfolk, Va., at Booker T. Washington High School, on June 23, 2000)
Our greeting is Peace be unto you. As Salaam-Alaikum We thank G-d for our life in this time of the conclusion of things, when the world is becoming one again. We witness that G-d is One and cares about all of His creation and especially all of His human creation.
And we witness that Muhammed of the Qur'an, the Holy Book of Islam, is the Last and Seal of the Prophets, one coming to promote freedom of religion and freedom from all forms of slavery. Not just the physical slavery or slavery to physical things, but also slavery to non-physical things slavery to falsehood, slavery to ignorance, slavery to corruption. People are often made slaves to those things that are not physical.
Islam wants a good life for us, and that is what we want to focus on for this time to address you here in this beautiful and lovely city with a lot of possibilities for us to develop and grow together - Muslims with our neighbors, the Christians.
All the people of the great religions have been informed by their scriptures of a time coming that is going to require of each of us to respect a relationship with our fellow man that enables us to work together for a world of peace and a world of prosperity. Islam promises us a good life. G-d says in our Holy Book that He will give us a good life and good establishment.
The picture of the beginning of man in a Garden of Eden in a beautiful environment is really a picture of the world to come, more so that a picture of what the world was. It is a picture of the world to come. G-d is telling us how He began the creation of human beings, so that we will focus on the future and know that the multiplying of the people, the generations, the nations is going to burden governments, families and individuals. Relief will come for the government, families and individuals, when we accept the conclusion of things as predicted in scripture. The People of the Book, we call them Jews and Christians and also now Muslims. Our scriptures tell us of the conclusion of things. That we are going to have to accept the Plan of G-d, as it was in the beginning. He made us one family. He created us as one human family, and one day we will have to be conscious of that oneness of the human family and work together for a beautiful life of peace and prosperity.
When prophet Muhammed of Arabia declared the worship of G-d. he used the term in Arabic language, because that was his language and G-d revealed to him the message in the language that he spoke. When he declared belief in G-d, he was saying to the Arab people: "G-d is One."
They were believing in that time, 14 centuries ago, in many gods. The history on the beginning of Islam in the land of the Arabs, Arabia, tells us that those people before Islam believed in about 369 different gods And those gods were given physical shapes, made into idols.
When Muhammed the Prophet told them that "G-d is One," they had to make a drastic change from seeing G-d in many shapes, in many forms, in many figures and deities, little gods, medium size gods and big gods to believe in One G-d that they couldn't see with their physical eyes. They had to see that G-d with their hearts, with their souls and with a logic.
This was a big change for them, but within 20 years that whole countryside of the Arabs had changed from idol worshippers to the worshippers of The One G-d. That is the way Muhammed put it, "The One G-d." G-d revealed this to Muhammed. This world was already populated by Christians and Jews and by the people mentioned in the Quran as Sabiens, who believed in that concept of G-d.
Muhammed was told by G-d in the Qur'an, say to them Christians and Jews and Sabiens, those people who share this belief in The creator, The One G-d, The Invisible G-d, but nevertheless The Manifest G-d, The G-d that we do know - "Your G-d and our G-d is One and the same G-d." Muhammed was preparing then a people who had worshipped 369 or more gods to join the effort of the people of The Book, to make this world a world to accommodate all people as one family of mankind or as one human family. This is very important to know.
The people fought Muhammed, although he did not want to fight. They tried to kill him and tried to kill his followers. They tried to stop the spread of the religion of Islam, and the Prophet was told to fight them in the defense of the religion until religion is free for G-d.
Here is a Prophet remembered in history as a prophet who had to go to war. He was a prophet who took up arms. Many of the reports present him as the prophet who spread the religion by the sword. When the fact of history is that he only picked up the sword to defend the religion and the followers of that religion against idol worshipers, who wanted that religion to be put away and never seen again This is the truth of it.
If you listen to the language of Islam, it tells you what Islam is all about. It tells you what we want. The first language is given to us in the Call to Worship. It is called The Adhan in Islamic terminology. Adhan means that which gets your ear; it is derived from the Arabic word for ear. Or it means that which gets you attention. We are given a Call to Worship that is intended to get our attention.
The first words of the Call to Worship is; God is Greater. Many translations say: G-d is the Greatest. That is true, but that language in Arabic says: G-d is Greater.
I was watching a program of an evangelist on television once, and they began to sing a beautiful song. It went like this: "G-d is Greater. G-d is Greater." I said to myself: They are saying what we say: "'Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar." I was fascinated and listening and found myself chanting with them. We have this in common, and it begins with "G-d is Greater."
Muhammed (PBUH) come to establish a belief in One G-d, so that mankind can have unity on this earth as a human family and work together for better conditions for all people. This is the main interest, to accept that G-d is the Authority over my life. And that is what it means, when we say G-d is Greater. It means that nothing is more important or bigger or greater than G-d as an influence in your life.
Acceptance of G-d's Influence
The call to prayer, Adhan, is for us to accept that. Accept that nothing is greater or bigger or more important as an influence in your life than G-d. Who created you and the world that you must live in and upon. That is the first requirement.
It goes on to say in the call: I witness that there is nothing worthy of my worship except The One G-d. That is to free us from slavery slavery to other gods, false gods - so that we can have the unity of the human family under The One G-d. We believe, as a logic, that the Belief of One G-d is necessary if man is going to become one united family. And we have to become one united family.
It does not mean that we have to lose our distinctions. It does not mean that our race is going to become less important. It is going to become more important, when we are all working together for the beauty and betterment of our lives. It is going to become more important.
It doesn't mean that my own culture is going to be wiped away by this oneness. No. It means that my culture is going to be free. I will be free to live my culture and to develop my couture in an atmosphere of peace, where we are accepting each other as brothers and sisters. Where we are accepting each other's aspirations as inherent rights upon the idea that G-d created us all.
Respect a People's Culture
He made us different, and He made us the same. He made us the same as a human creation, but he made us different in our regional life and in our cultural aspirations. Muhammed the Prophet made it clear to his followers that they should not try to undermine or uproot or impose a culture upon people and take away their culture.
Muhammed the Prophet said: "See that when you go to a people, you do not take away their culture." Islam came as Christianity did to refine, to bring beauty and more purity and more logic to the culture of the people.
Let's continue with the Adhan, for the Adhan tells us what Islam wants of us. It continues: "And I witness that Muhammed is the Messenger of G-d." If we are going to make Muhammed a god, then we are going to cause big problems for the unity of mankind and for the good peace of the world - for a condition that would allow us to work together for the best common aspirations of al the people. That will be hurt, if we make Muhammed a god.
Muhammed is an Arab. The human family is not Arab. The human family is made up of Arabs and many, many others. So the words came to Muhammed, saying: "Let us not raise from among ourselves human being and lift them up as a god, a lord. Let us come to common terms as to what we worship. That we worship One G-d, and The G-d is not anyone of us."
It said, do not raise up gods from among yourselves. This is very necessary for us to have peace. Without driving this particular point to its conclusion, I do want to say to you that Islam wants for the human family the best human conditions. And Islam sees human beings as inheritors by the very fact of their own creation by my nature and how I am made.
I am an inheritor of life, freedom and the opportunity to establish my life in a beautiful and excellent shape. And no one should interfere with that, but welcome it and cooperate, so that each of us individuals and as nations and also as cultures have the freedom and the approval from the others to go ahead and do that. They are do it in the Name of One G-d and for the betterment of the human family.