by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful
I am exceedingly happy to be here with my Christian and Muslim family because we are one family. In my talk with my beloved pastor and friend, the Rev. Willie Wilson, before coming out, I asked him what subject he would like me to talk on. He said he taught this morning on the subject, “A challenge to change.” I hope you won’t mind if I continue the subject of my brother, my pastor and my fellow struggler for the cause of the liberation of our people.
We cannot change of ourselves; we always need help to change. We started as sperm mixed with ovum, but we changed. We then became a clot, and we changed. We then became an embryo, and we changed. We became a fetus; we changed. Then we came forth from the womb of our mothers knowing nothing—a helpless baby, complete yet incomplete. But through the nurturing of our parents, we grew; we changed.
All growth is change, and that pattern of growth and change is dictated and directed by the evolutionary law of God that exists in nature and in all of His creation. We call Him, in English, The Lord. In Arabic the word for Lord is Rabb. From that you get Rabbi, or teacher, nurturer. Rabb means, as an attribute of God, one who nourishes a thing, making it attain stage after stage until it reaches its eventual perfection. But it is the Lord Who set that law into motion. That law is in existence for all living things; and we live in a universe of life that is constantly undergoing change.
Why is there a challenge to change? Eighteen months ago, by the Grace of God, I was on my deathbed. But God brought me back from that, and in it was produced in me a change. Sometimes the challenge to change is a painful experience because pain is the mother of growth; pain is the mother of change. When you know you’ve done something that brought pain, that pain is to tell you that it is time to change.
I wondered, why did I get cancer? I tried to live right, eat the right foods, think the right thoughts. All of us go through things in life where we ask the question, “why?” When there is tragedy in our lives, misfortune in our lives, loss in our lives that we can’t comprehend, we ask the question, “why, Lord?” And sometimes if the pain is too great and the loss is too great or the misfortune is too great, we get broken in spirit and we begin to wonder whether God is really good; whether God is really in power; whether God really cares about me because if He cared about me, then why would He bring this into my life? And sometimes when we raise questions like that and we don’t find a satisfactory answer, we leave the church, we leave the mosque, we leave faith in God. We say, “I’ll just make it on my own.” And that produces even more pain that gives you a real challenge to change.
Shortly after I left Howard University Hospital, I was at a little farm in Michigan trying to recuperate and my lawyer, Lewis Myers, came to see me because of a certain problem that he needed to discuss with me. And when he came he kept excusing himself to go to the bathroom. Later, he told me that I looked so pitiful the he would just excuse himself and go to the bathroom and cry, wipe his eyes and come back because I looked so bad that it looked like maybe I wouldn’t make it. And my daughter (who was at his bedside at a time when he was three-minutes from death) began to tell me some of the things that I was saying in that most faithful moment. She said I was thanking God for the excruciating pain that I was under. I was thanking Him for whatever He brought into my life. I was thanking Him for allowing me that time that He gave me to behold the majesty of His creation. I never asked Him to allow me to live. I just thanked Him for giving me life; and if it was my time, I thank Him for just allowing me the time that He gave me.
When my daughter began saying some of the things that I was saying at that moment, the tears fell from my eyes. Neither she nor my lawyer knew why I was weeping, but I was weeping because in that moment I knew that I was what I thought myself to be. Most of us think ourselves to be what we think ourselves to be. But you don’t really know who you are until you have been tried.
In the Holy Qur’an, Surah 29, called “The Spider”, it reads: “I, Allah, am the best Knower. Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, We believe, and will not be tried? And indeed We tried those before them, so Allah will certainly know those who are true and He will know the liars.” As I looked at that verse, I noticed that Allah introduces Himself to us in the Qur’an in these words. “Alif, lam, mim.” The scholars say these letters mean, “I, Allah, am the Best Knower.” We know that God knows best. We know that He’s the all eye seeing, the omnipotent. So why would the Qur’an say, “so Allah will certainly know those who are true and He will know the liars.” He already knows, but it is that part of God within us that does not know.
All of us want to be right, but the god within you has to certify you, to validate you as what you think you are. So God brings difficulty—one trial after another trial. And as you pass these tests, the god within certifies you, qualifies you to say that you are who you thought you are.
A death bed confession is worth a lot in a court of law. Therefore, I am certain that I put my trust completely in God. And that is why as a servant of God, I can never bow to the temporary powers of the world no matter how powerful they appear to be. The real Power, the eternal Power, is with God. You must come to know God, not from my experience, but from your own life experiences as He delivers you from one difficulty after another, one trial after another. Then you become certain, and from that point on there is a change in you. And that change is brought about by a painful experience that showed you your true relationship with God.
Change will always be with us. Why then is there a challenge attached to change? In the Bible, God said that in the beginning He created the heavens and the earth and that darkness was upon the face of the deep. He said, let there be light. Later on the first day, everything He did He said was good. He was appreciating His work. On the second day He created some more. Again He said, that’s good. On the third day, fourth day, fifth day, He said, that’s good. Then He said, let Us make man. However, He didn’t say after He made the made man, that it is good. But it is implied that it is good because it came from God. He didn’t state emphatically that this is good because the man that He made would have to undergo change in order to be good. Good was in him, but it was going to take circumstances, pain, struggle and growth to bring it out so that one day God could say, this is good.
God gave Adam all the trees to eat from except one. But there is something in nature that, when you tell me I can do all of this but don’t do that, then my curiosity is aroused. And because of my curious nature, I look at all the trees that He gave me but my fascination is with that one that He told me to leave alone. Adam’s disobedience led to his being cast out of the garden. And from that moment to this, the human being has really had problems in the family; problems in the tribe; problems in the nation.
If you march through the Bible, God becomes displeased with our conduct because we are following the lower self. We have neglected the higher values, the higher calling. God says in the Bible, “My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not your thoughts. I am from above while you are from beneath.” God is showing us how far the gap is between Him and us. Yet, He said that He made us in His image and after His likeness. But Satan’s intervention has caused us to live on a plane that is so far beneath God’s thoughts and God’s ways, and we are so deceived in our lifestyle. The Bible says that there is a way that seemeth right unto the man but the ends thereof are the ways of death. In God’s love of Himself and respect for Himself and respect for the higher ideals that He created us to live in accordance with, He challenges us in our wickedness to change.
He said He would raise one up from among your brethren so that you won’t tell Him that it’s too hard to live the life that He will challenge us to live. He gave the people Noah to look at, to listen to. And in Noah’s presence is a challenge to the people to change. The Bible says that every imagination of their hearts was continually to do evil, so Noah challenged them: If you want to live, then please change. It’s not hard. Obey God and follow my example. God told Noah to build an ark. He didn’t know what God had in mind but he did just what he was told to do. The people came by and saw this thing looking like a boat on dry land. They laughed and said Noah was a fool. And one day it started to rain. They didn’t accept the challenge to change, so God destroyed them all.
Then the Bible says, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man.” God sent Lot into a society that was doing something that was never done before. The question we must ask is, if what we do gives us pleasure, does it mean that what is pleasurable is necessarily right? The problem is that we equate righteousness with pleasure. Lot stood up among the men and showed them an example of what God wanted men to be like. He said to them, accept the challenge to change. No matter what you are doing that gives you pleasure, if it is not pleasing in the sight of God then He has a right as your Creator and as the Sovereign of the universe to ask you and me to change. And He gives us time to get it together.
But the people in that day didn’t want to accept the challenge. In fact, the men came to Lot’s house to have sex with him. Lot told them he had two beautiful daughters, but they told him they didn’t want his daughters. They wanted him.
When God told Abraham that He (God) was going to send angels down to Lot to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham was upset. He asked God was He going to destroy the righteous right along with the wicked? He was challenging God’s judgement. God told Abraham to find 50 people who were righteous and He would spare the town. Abraham couldn’t find 50; he couldn’t find 40; he couldn’t find 30, 20 or 10. God said, go back and if you can bring one, excluding Lot, then He would spare the town. When Abraham said, “Lord, I couldn’t find one,” the Bible says, on that same day fire and brimstone fell on Sodom and Gomorrah.
And it is written, “As it was in the days of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man.” He’s a man coming from a man, but he’s an example. And he, in his example, is the challenge to change.
[To be continued.]