by The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

[Editor’s Note: The following text is excerpted from a speech delivered by Minister Louis Farrakhan
during October 16, 2001 observance of the Holy Day of Atonement celebrating the 6th anniversary
of the Million Man March. The event was held at Christ Universal temple in Chicago.]

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

Our subject tonight is “Atonement: The Road to Peace.” In the Book of Ezekiel in the 3rd chapter, it reads, “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet, if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”

In the Qur’an in the 5th Surah, or chapter, it reads“O Messenger, deliver that which has been revealed to thee from thy Lord; and if thou do (it) not, thou has not delivered His message. And Allah will protect thee from men. Surely Allah guides not the disbelieving people.”

We have arrived at a very critical hour when the ministers of Allah (God) who are watchmen on the wall have to not only hear the word of Allah (God) from the mouth of Allah (God), but, we have a responsibility in an hour like this to warn the wicked of their wicked ways. We should not fear what the wicked may say or do; we should only fear what Allah (God) will do if we fail to deliver the message. I know that every preacher worthy of his or her calling does not want the blood of the people on our hands by preaching a milquetoast gospel that tickles the ears of the people but does not tell the people, “Thus sayeth the Lord.”

The Bible teaches that the watchmen fell asleep and they became drunk. What made them drunk? It was the cares of the world. They wanted honor from men rather than honor from Allah (God). They wanted wealth from the wicked who were in power. So, to ingratiate themselves to those in power they softened the truth; they mixed truth with falsehood. That kind of religious message is acceptable to the wicked because we are not calling the wicked to repent.

What we have in America today, in the world of Christianity, in the world of Islam, in the world of Judaism, are men and women who have heard the word, who say they believe the word, but are afraid to preach the word for fear that if they condemn the wicked practices of the people and call the people to repentance, it will weaken the donations [to the church].

America is at war. The president is telling the American people that this campaign will take years and that the American people should get used to the idea of the loss of life to accomplish the goal of ridding the earth of terrorists. Most of those who will die if the war continues are Black and Brown and poor White.

At this moment the United Nations is struggling to find a definition for terrorism and terrorist that all would agree with, for one nation’s terrorist is another nation’s freedom fighter. We have to discern whether the governments of the world are repressive of the legitimate aspirations of their citizens. And if that is so, and a person rises up within that government to seek redress to alter that government or to replace that government, then are they terrorists or are they the liberators of their people from oppression? This question has been quite difficult for the United Nations to determine: What is the correct standard by which a person or a nation will be judged as terrorist and their actions judged as terrorism?

Something terrible happened on September 11 and we have not gotten definitive answers as to why people hate America to that degree. A feeling of fear has gripped the American people and the question persists, why? People don’t sacrifice their lives and take the lives of others for nothing. For the first time Islam is being talked about day and night. You can’t go to the library and get a book on Islam for all the books on Islam have been loaned out to the American people. They want to know what is this religion? What is it that makes these people like this?

There is a law of cause and effect. What we are experiencing in the world is the effect of a cause that we may not see right now. But only when the root of the conflict is exposed to the light can the tree of the conflict die.

I remember the Stamp Act in American history. And I know you remember some of the laws that the British imposed on the colonies that led to the Boston Tea Party where they dumped all the tea in the water. They were terrorists to the crown, but they were freedom fighters to the early colonies. Paul Revere was a terrorist to the British, but, he was a freedom fighter to those in the colonies. The Minute Men that fought at Lexington and Concord, they were terrorists to the British. But, if it were not for Paul Revere, if it were not for the Minute Men, if it were not for Crispus Attucks, if it were not for those that loved freedom more than comfort, we wouldn’t be saying God bless America today.

The Declaration of Independence is divided into four parts. The first part is called the Preamble. The second is a Declaration of Rights. The third is a Bill of Indictment. And the fourth is a Statement of Independence. I want to show us today how far we have gone away from principles that this nation was established upon.

The preamble says: “When in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political bands which connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the Separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitled them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.” When there is a “decent respect of the opinions of mankind” you should tell mankind why you want to be separated from the crown. They had to make this known worldwide. That’s how the French got involved.

It goes on to say, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” This is talking about human rights. Thomas Jefferson was rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ even though he didn’t necessarily apply it to the slaves. Those Founding Fathers of this nation were God-fearing men [who would be displeased] if they could come back today and see that the children can’t utter a prayer in school, that this nation has put God out and relegated God and religion to some back seat, when without God you have no government.

The president of the United States, the commander and chief of the armed forces of the world’s greatest and only super power, carries enormous weight in the decision that he makes to send the youth of America into harms way in the name of defeating terrorists. I would humbly ask our president, is there a better way to defeat terrorists? Must countless hundreds of thousands of innocent lives be lost and the cause of terror never be addressed?

What then is our motive for a war against terrorism if we do not look at the cause of it and eliminate the cause? This is why the Day of Atonement among Jewish people as their holiest day is a celebration that all humanity needs to be a part of. Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It does not belong alone to Jewish people.

Christ came as an atonement. When you put a cross around your neck you are recognizing that cross as the instrument of his atonement for sin. But the beauty of Jesus is that he said, “if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” That means that we become a part of the atonement process.

Great empires existed but no great nation of yesterday exists today. Why? There are immutable principles that contribute to our rise and the violation of these principles produce our fall. If America would adopt the process of atonement, it would keep America strong hundreds of years into the future. Look at the words: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)

The weapons of war have never kept any great empire of yesterday from falling. And the great weapons of war that America has amassed cannot keep America from falling. If she violates the principle that led or leads to perpetuity, then, America will go the way of ancient Rome, Babylon, Egypt, Sodom and Gomorrah. She cannot escape that history with her power because there is no power greater than the power of Allah (God) and the law of justice that follows our every action.

In order to save our nation from a destructive fall, there must arise always out of the citizens those who would be willing to speak truth to power. There are persons of enormous patriotism, courage, and love of God, truth, and their nation who will speak to power. These are the real patriots for they are willing to pay the price to point out the wrong that might lead to correction of a practice that is against our principle. A patriot is not one who waves a flag. A patriot is one who upholds the principles that the flag represents. When the patriot calls the leaders back to the principles, the leaders have a tendency to attack the patriot and label the patriot as unpatriotic, thereby calling down on that individual the wrath of the patriots who think they are being patriotic in following leadership that has become corrupt.

President Bush said this is not a war against Arabs or Islam. This is war against terrorists. Is this a statement of fact? The president spoke from a mosque and stated that Islam is the religion of peace. I don’t think President Bush is qualified to represent our religion. But you as a Muslim have to be careful because most immigrant Muslims want acceptance more than you want the path of Allah (God) and Muhammad (PBUH). President Bush, by saying that our religion is the religion of peace, he is right, but those who studied the religion should not allow our religion to be misrepresented to fit into a scheme that wants to paint the religion of Islam as non-violent. Islam is not non-violent. Neither is Christianity. There is a principle that a Christian should be allowed to fight what is called a just war.


If the war that is raging now in Afghanistan is a just war, and if the colonists wanted to be separated from England and it was a just cause, then, they had a responsibility to mankind to show mankind the reasons that justified their call for separation. If Mr. Bush wants the world to join them in the war, then prove to the world that Osama bin Laden is responsible for this heinous crime.

I heard the President say that it isn’t about this one man. Well, what is it about then? He said he had overwhelming evidence. Have you seen it? Aren’t you the American people? Is this a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? Then bring the evidence and show it to the American people. Don’t hide behind “national security.” The nation would be more secure if you give the American people the reason to fight.

You say we trust our government officials. I wouldn’t be so foolish if I were you because they have lied before. And there is no guarantee that they are not lying now. Paul said, “Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good and that which is truth.” There is nothing wrong with you asking your government to show you the proof before they send us to war.


The prophets of Allah (God) have never been unpatriotic because they rebuked kings and rulers. The prophets of Allah (God) were a part of a society or a nation that was endangered by the practice of their leadership against righteous principles that give perpetuity. The prophets had to stand and say to the leaders, “Thus sayeth the Lord.”

Dear pastors, we have to do better even if we have to pay a price. There is nothing in this world more precious than truth. Truth was here when we got here. Truth will be here when we are gone. The Qur’an teaches that the heavens and the earth were created in truth. Falsehood has created nothing. So, my life, if it is spent in the cause of truth, I can never die as long as the truth lives. That’s why Jesus came offering eternal life, because there is no death in him.