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With The Name Allah, The Merciful Benefactor, The Merciful Redeemer

"ISLAM WANTS THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE COMMUNITY TO HAVE PEACE IN THE SOUL AND PEACE ESTABLISHED IN THE COMMUNITY"

Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore
In Association With The Leadership of Imam W. Deen Mohammed
Imam
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Introduction
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By Imam W. D. Mohammed
At Duke University, February 5, 2002


"G-d in the Qur'an asks us to search the scripture with our spiritual curiosity and our rational curiosity. G-d does not want dumb believers; G-d wants intelligent, informed, educated believers with enough knowledge of their lives to manage their lives successfully in community with others, who may not identify with them in the same faith or in the same life.

The builders of the Nation of Islam, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, didn't know the Qur'an or how to read the Arabic; he mostly read the Bible to motivate his people, his African American following to inspire them and give them a sense of the fear of G-d, a sense of the need or obligation to obey G-d.

But he had a belief that the Qur'an was the right book revealed by G-d, and that Islam was the right religion for his people and for all people and that Muhammad was the Prophet or Messenger of G-d.

He often said to us, in fact I don't know any meaning of Islam that I received when I was a follower in that organization-the Nation of Islam-than the one he would give: "Islam is freedom, justice and equality." I always loved that message, because I identified myself with the suffering African Americans, who suffered during our enslavement in this hemisphere and who suffered after our emancipation from the slavery of the South, who suffered discrimination and social rejection and lived with two separate laws-one limiting our lives and one giving full freedom to the lives of White folks.

I appreciated that message of "freedom", because we needed to be freed. It said "justice", because we needed justice. And "equality", because we needed equal protection under the law. I identify strongly with the Nation of Islam and its message of Islam, that was a call to embrace and believe in "freedom, justice and equality."

Islam is the religion of peace, yes. But when I became more and more acquainted with G-d's attention to our own lives as human beings and how G-d describes His Own creation, the path of excellence and the path of ignorance and self-destruction, I came to know and appreciate myself as a human creation much more than I had appreciated myself before becoming acquainted with the Qur'an.

The more and more I read the Qur'an, the more and more I saw myself in a higher picture and in a richer picture and in a more attractive and valuable picture. My perception of myself improved so much, as I became more acquainted with how G-d pictured me, or humans, in His Holy Book.

I would like to not really bring trouble to the audience, but some things have to be said, if we are to really make progress, so that we all can have peace together on this earth.

Palestinians are victims. Palestinians are in prison. The whole people we call Palestinians are in virtual prison, and the hardened Israeli government has the key to let them out and the key to lock them in.

We have to look at the suffering of innocent people, all innocent people, and we have to look at the cruelties of people, all cruel people. I have been to Israel and I have been to the Palestinian quarters. I was welcomed into the homes of some of the finest human beings I have ever met-Jews in Israel. I had dinner with one Jew at his home on Sabbath Day. In fact, I participated in the Sabbath and ate the Sabbath meal with them. You couldn't find a warmer person or more genuine human being I don't think anywhere.

I experienced the same as a guest of President Arafat and his people. I heard from his people and him: "We don't hate Jews. Jews are our friends and Jews are our neighbors, and it has been that way all the time." They mean before Israel was created in 1947. They had lived with Jews and had no intention to stop living with Jews as friends and neighbors.

One statement I read in the papers recently said: "The professionals need to be called out of the Middle East situation and leave the people alone, and they will find their own peace." Maybe that would happen, but I doubt it.

It is more complicated than that, but we need our professionals to be open and have the moral courage and faith in humanity - if not in G-d - to listen to the complaints of all victims and do justice by all victims.

When I think of the Holocaust, my heart cries for the Jews, the victims of Holocaust. Also, when I look at some of the rigid rulers, leaders now, in Israel, I see a creation of Hitler. You can become yourself so scarred by trouble in your life as a people or by trouble in your personal life, that you will become unhealthy and unfit to do justice by other human beings."

I conclude my talk. Thank you for the opportunity. Peace.
As-Salaam Alaikum.
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