The First Presbyterian Church Leadership Luncheon
The First Presbyterian Church Leadership Luncheon
By Imam W. Deen Mohammed
As Muslims greet you, As-Salaam-Alaikum.
I would like to introduce ourselves to you who know us and to you who don't know us, in the way that we want to be received. We understand our religion, when we study it as students of religion, to be a compliment to our original creation that G-d gave the first parent, Adam, before he lost it to the invitation of the serpent or to the invitation of Satan, Shaitan in our religion. I understand that G-d wants for Muslims unity with all good people. Our religion says we are one family, just as your Christian religion says we are one family human beings are one family in humanity. Just like Christians know, the human that G-d created us to be is not necessarily the human that we are. So we have a model of the human being that G-d created us to be. It is mystified in Christianity, but it is more openly given or expressed or communicated in Islam. Muhammed, the Last Prophet in Islam, we think of him as the last Prophet, didn't come to interrupt or to disagree with the line of prophecy and scripture that was before Muhammed, the prayers and the peace be on him, and before Islam in the world. G-d says to us in our Holy Book that the community of man was originally one community. This again is referring to the scriptural picture of the beginning of man as a family on this planet earth. I am a student of the Bible also, and it says, "As it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end." I believe that has reference to many great ideas and concerns in religion. But I think it has, more importantly, a reference to the beginning of the human community that we began as one family and in the end we shall be one family. And I believe there is no time in the history of religion better than this present time for us to address that need for us to be one family of human beings on this planet earth. Those who are with me in my association are not here in America to convert good people from their life that they are already established in. We want good people to stay in the life that they are in. We don't want to disturb you, because disturbing you may make you a worse human being than you would be if we didn't disturb you. Muhammed the Prophet, the prayers and the peace be upon him and the servants of G-d, took the same position. And we follow his tradition. We follow what he did. He did not come to bring good Christians away from Christianity or good Jews away from Judaism. The proof of that is the presence of Orthodox Christianity right now in places like Egypt and Turkey and other places, where Muslims are in great majorities and in control of the government. Those churches have survived until now and will never be bothered or disturbed by Muslims. On the contrary, Prophet Muhammed insisted that Muslim societies, if they had Christian churches there that we are obligated to protect those churches from deranged people or people who just don't respect sacred things. He obligated Muslims to protect those places and their sacredness from those who would disrespect that sacredness. Also in America, we take the same position that churches and mosques should live peacefully beside each other and befriend each other.
And I am happy to say to you that with the incident of Sept. 11, 2001, many of our Imams got calls from African American Christian leaders saying, "We know what has happened, and we want you to know that we are your friends. And if you need anything, call on us." We are one people in humanity, and G-d has not sent Islam to do away with Christianity. Although many of the scholars in Islam, because of the damage to their psyche by the Crusades, for centuries of what they made to be the conflict between the cross and the crescent, would disagree. Muhammed the Prophet did not even know of the crescent. Centuries later, they introduced the crescent to say that this was our symbol against the cross. That was a deviation from what Muhammed the Prophet and Islam really wanted for us. I also think that many of our scholars are realizing that and are trying to correct the picture of Muslims' relationship with Christianity and what our good relationship should be with the good Christian societies of the world. We also want to communicate to our African Christian brothers and sisters, who are our immediate neighbors, that what you base your dignity upon is the same thing that we base our dignity upon and the same thing that the Founding Fathers of this great Nation based their dignity upon. I can give you the words: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." And government cannot take away those rights or give us our dignity. Government supports it. Thank you.
QUESTION and ANSWER Session:
Q: Can you comment on how government can give more support to faith based communities?
Imam Mohammed: I don't know if you knew this, but I am a conservative. I vote as a Democrat, but I'm a conservative. And I don't like too much involvement of government in our life, no more than what is necessary. I think government should know that whether you are rich or poor, you are the same man that G-d created and you want the same dignity, the same respect and the same freedom. We don't want hand outs, we don't want welfare. We want human dignity. And to give us that, we have to have more support for full employment of people. More money has to be invested in industry, in business, to make more opportunities for all of us who want employment to have employment. We must work with business and government to better our community life, to improve life for our poor and for our image as a community. We have exceptional individuals who have gotten rich in this country from among African American people. But when they come to the neighborhood where they were born to visit their families, we are not so happy to see the conditions of their neighborhoods. This is where we all can partner and do a lot of good for our common interest.