The Idea of Freedom in Al-Islam Part 1
The Idea of Freedom in Al-Islam Part 1
(The following address was given by Imam W. Deen Mohammed as the opening address to an interview for the TV program, W. Deen Mohammed and Guest, on Nov. 10, 2006.)
With G-d's Name, The Merciful Benefactor, The Merciful Redeemer. We greet you with the Greetings of Peace, of all Muslims in Al-Islam, As-Salaam-Alaikum. We are very pleased to be addressing the topic of Freedom in Al-Islam.
First of all, the Prophet of Islam, the last Prophet, Muhammed - upon him be the Prayers and the Peace -is reported to have said: "Everyone of you is entitled to his or her opinion." So I start here with the idea of freedom in Islam.
Human beings are prided in Islam for human intelligence. Muhammed the Prophet said of the human brain, that G-d made nothing more resourceful, nothing having more or better use than the human brain.
When we look at man's influence in the natural environment, we see that no other life presents itself as human life presents itself. No other life has changed the natural environment as humans have changed the natural environment.
I think it is very inspiring, really, to see how impressive some of G-d's small creatures, much beneath man in evolution and developmental growth over the history of their life, have contributed to their environment.
Bees, for one, build their nests or honey combs and have a very impressive community. There are the ants. There are the beavers and how they work and cut wood to build them a house on the water. They are very impressive.
But nothing compares in any way with man's imprint on the natural environment. Man has altered the natural environment greatly, so much so that the animals and plants and everything have been changed somewhat, have increased or decreased, have improved or not improved - because of man taking over and dominating the environment.
I am not looking at the problems for the environment right now. I am just looking, and hope you are looking with me, at the great power and usefulness of the human brain. Man use to live in the wilds like animals, but his brain would not let him stay like that. His brain produced for him ideas and plans for changing his environment.
Today, we live in the human environment, and it almost shuts out the natural environment. There are so many constructions built by man - roads, buildings, transportation. They are built by man for man.
So you walk out of your house or private quarters and most of the time, there is no attraction to pull you away from what man has established - unless it is raining or storming; then you will look up at the sky. Or if it is hot and very bright, you might look up at the sky.
So our attention is drawn to the works of man. And because man has been given the freedom in this creation, in the material world, to think and act upon his thoughts, we see man as being very, very special in the creation of all the things that we know in the material existence or material world -in the universe.
Because of this very, very special endowment - G-d has endowed the man with this brain and intellect and freedom to think and then act upon his thoughts - to alter his creation and to alter his own life for the better, hopefully always. It is a precious gift, a precious freedom that we have.
That is where freedom should really start, with the most useful part of human life. It is useful in terms of serving human betterment and also in terms of the betterment of the natural environment.
When we think of our freedom in the United States of America, we see that freedom started with freedom of the intellect. In fact, our great leaders of our society would trace the great history of freedom to the philosophers, the thinkers, men of deep thought. One of the great philosophers said, "I think, therefore I am (therefore, I exists)."
For human identity, we have to start with the human mind. The human mind is where we see the true human identity. If we were not free thinkers, if we could not think independent of our circumstances, if we were created and formed in the earth like an animal or plant, we would be governed by habit.
The bird builds a nest; it is instinct, habit over a long period of time. It has become habit for the bird to build the nest.
We could take any other living creature in creation and look at its life and history, and we will see the same picture - that they are not changing the way that man has changed.
They have not changed the way they live over long periods of time, the stretch of their lifeline or existence, except when you look at the progress for their biology.
Science says that many of these creatures, the way they look now, they did not look
like that originally. But they were not formed yet, so are not really talking about those creatures. If you are talking about something biological or some germ for a dog and it is not looking like or having the picture of a dog, then we are not talking about a dog.
It is the same thing for humans. If you are talking about some form of life that existed but didn't take on this design and this picture that we have, then you are not really talking about humans.
You are talking about some existence of life. But once that life takes a life form then we can say we are talking about human life.
When you look at man and look at other creatures, we can say that man is much more superior to all other living things. Man has taken pride in his superiority, the superiority of his intellect, intelligence and superior of his brain.
The brain serves community. The brain serves family. The brain serves the human heart. The heart tells me, "Oh, this is a burden on my heart to look at these conditions the way they are."
(To be continued)