BY THE HONORABLE MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN | LAST UPDATED: FEB 2, 2007 – 12:50:00 PM
[Editor’s Note: The following text was excerpted from a speech delivered by Minister Louis Farrakhan during the historic Parliament of the World’s Religions on Sept. 3, 1993, at the Palmer House in Chicago, Illinois.]
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
To the Reverend, Dr. Finney and the Reverend, Dr. Addie Wyatt and the Members of the African American Host Committee, to the Leaders of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, I am grateful to you, my dear brother and sister for your courage and for your love in inviting me to participate in this great conference of spiritual and religious leaders. I thank Dr. Ramage and those with him for allowing the host committee to honor their own commitment to their community by permitting one to speak who may not necessarily be loved by all, but if given a chance to explain our position maybe, just maybe, you will think differently about Bro. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam after you hear what we have to say.
This is a great gathering of men and women, who desire to see a change in the atmosphere on this earth, from conflict and confusion to peace and harmony. This is a group of men and women who would like to see human beings transcend race and color, transcend sex and transcend our national origins and ethnicity, to form a world community of human beings committed to transcendent values and principles. We also share that hope.
This evening, we want to talk about family. We want to talk about faith. We want to talk about healing the wounds of humanity by unifying people who believe in higher values and righteous principles. Names have divided us. Names that we don’t understand have caused us to look a stance at one another because of the name of our faith, as opposed to the name of somebody else’s faith. Color has divided us. Race has divided us, sex has divided us and we live in a world that is so sick, that if spiritual men and women and religious men and women do not rise to accept the challenge of our times, to defeat racism, to defeat sexism, to defeat nationalism and all of the forms that disallow human beings to enter and evolve into the human community and realize from our humanity our divinity, then if we don’t accept that challenge, this conference is meaningless. The world in which we live is doomed to other destructions.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that we don’t judge the commonness of religion by names. We judge the commonness of religion by examining the principles that under gird every spiritual community, and if we can put the names of our faith on the side for a moment and look at principles, we will find a common thread running through all religious expressions.
Number one, every religion represented at the World Parliament of Religions believes in a transcendent being who is creator of all. We, in Islam, call him the One True God, Allah. You may have a different name for that One Creator, but the name represents his attributes; and so all of those names together are good names, and we should not be confused of whom we speak. We speak of that Mighty Being who has created all that we see and the unseen and the world in which we live and all of us who live in it. He is our sovereign and is recognized as the One God. We all believe in truth. None of us wishes to be an exponent of falsehood. False ideas or false concepts, but all of us believe that in his own way God reveals, from time to time, knowledge of the truth of things hidden, and the knowledge of Himself that we could not know, except that He reveals it.
All of us believe in the power of good over evil, and all of us believe that justice will one day be done. All of us, even if we have not thought about it, believe that ultimately there is a law working in our universe that brings balance; and ultimately every individual, every community, every nation, every race, whenever our evil preponderates over our good, this universe will move to get rid of that injustice that will not right itself. Now, the world in which we live, with all of these religions, has gone mad. I am a Muslim. What does that mean? One who submits to do the will of God, that is my belief and my practice, but I feel that I am also Christian. What? To be a Christian is to be crystallized into Oneness with God, following the example of Jesus Christ; to be a Muslim means to be one with God, following the example of Prophet Muhammad. But I am also a Hebrew. What? To be a Hebrew, that word means one who has crossed over from darkness into light, from weakness into strength, from unrighteousness to righteousness. I cannot be a Muslim unless I believe in Abraham, then Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets of Israel, and believe in the scriptures that they taught.
But my Brother who is a Buddhist today, describes Buddha as meaning an enlightened one. Well, I think I am a Buddhist. Not that I have attained to enlightenment, but I am on a path that seeks enlightenment, aren’t you? So if you look at those of us whose faiths are named after enlightened ones, Buddha, Tao, Zorasterism, Shinto, these faiths are named for the founder or teacher, good. Each one of these teachers taught principles that we all practice. We may practice the principles differently, but we all practice, number one, prayer. There is no religious community that does not pray. Your manner of prayer may be different from mine, but prayer is the number one principle of practice in every religious community, and this is what shows you that Buddha and Muhammad and Jesus and Moses and Zoraster, all of these came from one source. What is the next principle?
There is not one religion that does not preach charity and love of the brotherhood. If I make a mistake, tell me. Your religion teaches that and there is no religion represented in this community that preaches that we should not love one another and love righteousness; is that right?
Third, every religion preaches not only love and charity and the giving of alms and the giving of oneself to the building of righteousness, but every religion teaches something about fasting as a principle. And every religion teaches that we should struggle against the forces of evil within ourselves and the force of evil against ourselves. And every religion may not call it Hajj or pilgrimage, but every religion talks about a meeting of devotees with the one whom he or she has devoted his or her life to; and that journey from where we are to a meeting with the divine beings spoken of in all religious scripture is in Islam called Hajj or pilgrimage.
So now, since all of these enlightened ones taught all of us such good principles, how did we get so messed up? How did the world get so destroyed with so many enlightened ones who taught in different parts of the earth and every one of our races, every one of our communities have had an enlightened one to teach us? Where then is the enlightenment? The world is sunk into darkness today to such a degree that it looks as though Jesus never walked among us; Moses never walked among us; Muhammad never walked among us; Buddha and Confucius and no holy man ever walked among us, when you look at the condition of the people of the world; and the condition of the people of the world is a witness against religions, as religion is being taught and practiced. Now I want you to listen. Don’t be angry with me. I want you to reason with me.
The poverty, the hunger, the nakedness, the squalor, the disease, the violence, the hatred, the racism, the materialism, the nationalism, the idea of greed and lust and immorality and vice that is sweeping, not just America, but the whole world, says that our religions, all of them, have failed in the duty imposed upon religions and spiritual people to inculcate. The core religion, is these principles and righteous values. Where is it?
The house of Islam has broken into pieces. The house of Christianity is broken into pieces. The house of Buddhism, the house of religion is broken into pieces. Where is the enlightenment? If these brought enlightenment and we are steeped now in vice and immorality and corruption, then somebody needs to come today and give us some much needed guidance; and that is why in religion you are looking for the Messiah; and there is no Christian who is not looking for Christ; and there is no Muslim who is not looking for the coming of Mahdi; and even among the Native Americans in their prophesy, they are looking for some enlightened one to come, to do what?
If an enlightened one were to come, I don’t think that enlightened one would like us as we are. I think the enlightened one would call on all of us to make some changes and it is our resistence to change that might cause us to do to the enlightened one today, what was done to the enlightened ones of the past, because many of us, steeped in our traditions and in our faiths, aggregate to ourselves the kingdom of God only for those of our faith. God will never be as narrow as we would like to make Him. The symbol of this great parliament looks like to me the sun in the center, with tradition of light in every direction of 360 degree circle. What does that mean?
The sun and nine planets that revolve around her, all are participants in the light of that sun and move to the power contained in that light. So there is in this great universe of diversity, a unity at the root of all of this diversity. There is no planet of the same color. They all manifest different colors, but they all revolve at the same rate of speed. They all function from one law. So the near planet Mercury, that is all but lost in the sun, does not rotate any faster than the far planet, Platoon or Pluto, which is 4 billion 600 million miles from the sun. All of them revolve at the speed of 1,037 1/3 miles per hour and what lesson are we to learn from this?
Those of us who think we are so close to God and those who look at others as so far removed from God, and those of us that think we are better than others because of some privilege, but the law that governs this universe renders all equal under its law. Too bad we couldn’t live like that, but the enlightened ones taught us to live just like that. Isn’t it interesting that when a baby comes into the world, it doesn’t cry in Spanish or English, or Chinese or Arabic or Hebrew? All babies speak a universal language and every mother, no matter what her color is, when she hears the baby crying, she knows the need of that child. And isn’t that something that we come into the world with a universal sound and at the end of our time on this earth, we go out making a universal sound. But all in between, it’s the Tower of Babel, confusion in life. This is not the way the enlightened one wanted us to live.
Isn’t it something that we give names, but faith is natural to every human being? You may call your faith Islam, I may call my faith something else, but faith is faith. The way you demonstrate it may be different, but faith is faith. Paul said, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” Does an infant child have faith? I think so if that definition of Paul can be accepted. You put the baby on the mother’s breast and watch what the baby does. What are you doing, baby? I am pulling. What are you pulling for? I’ve got faith that if I keep pulling, my faith will be rewarded with substance, and every baby that pulls on the mother’s breast is rewarded with substance.