By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS
Every year in the month of January I am reminded of the powerful persona and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was such a deep and prolific speaker that the gist of his speeches is still being felt today. The â€œI Have a Dreamâ€ speech with its powerful message of hope, is so imbedded in our minds that for many of us, it the only speech we remember that he made. Those of us who have faith and belief in ALLAH are constantly amazed at His revelations of His works.
On the eve of the assassination of Dr. King, he made a speech at a Baptist church in Memphis, Tennessee that many people believe foretold his eminent death. He talked a lot about death that night. He started with the story of the plane that bought him to Memphis and how the pilot delayed the flight because Dr. King was on it so it could be checked for bombs.
He also talked about a brush with death he had in New York when a crazed woman stabbed him with some sort of ice pick. That assault brought the womanâ€™s weapon dangerously close to Dr. Kingâ€™s aorta (main blood vessel). The doctor at the hospital told him the knife was so close that if Dr. King had sneezed he would have died because the pick would have pricked his aorta and he would have drowned in his own blood. He used this incident to tell about a little white girl that wrote to him expressing her sorrow at his unfortunate incident. She said she admired him so much and was so happy that he didnâ€™t sneeze.
Then he said he wasnâ€™t afraid of death now because he had been to the mountain top. He said God had allowed him to go up to the mountain top and he looked over, and saw the â€œPromised Land.â€ He said he might not get there with us be he wanted us to know that we as a people would get to the Promised Land. He said his eyes had seen the glory of the coming of the lord.
This became very personal to me in 1991 when I made the pilgrimage to Mecca. I was on the plains of Mt. Arafat when I decided to climb the mountain. When I reached the top, the only thing going through my mind was Dr. Martin Luther King and him telling us that he had been to the mountain top.
As I stood on my mountain top I look out over the plains of Arafat and saw the Promised Land. I say the Promised Land because Dr. King, in his most famous speech, said he dreamed of a land where his four little children would live in a land where they were judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. That is the vision I saw on Arafat where people of every ethnicity, every culture, every color; men, women, and children, were gathered in unity to worship the One God of us all.
I believed then, and I believe now that the mountain top Martin Luther King saw was Mt Arafat. Islam is the only religion that has more true brotherhood and sisterhood than any other group of people whether it is a religion, a fraternity, or whatever.
Sure, there is bigotry and racism among Muslims but there is less of it than any other religion. If you travel to any part of the world and you see a Muslim, there is instant recognition and greeting. No one else can make that claim. This is something we must hold on to and nurture. It is one of the things that make this religion the greatest religion in the world.
More of Dr. Kings philosophy needs to be adapted by Muslims the world over. Muslims must take the bold step necessary to shift world sympathy to our side. Currently, we are looked on as aggressive barbarians and we get no sympathy from anybody. However, people will stand up with us and protect us if they donâ€™t look like weak fools for doing so.
The legacy of Dr. King is so important to future generations, and especially important to future generations of Muslims. We can, and must win the battle by mental and spiritual strength – not by physical meansâ€¦.because we canâ€™t.
As Salaam alaikum
(Al Hajj) Imam Abdullah El-Amin