Alan Dean Artist
Q42:13 The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah--the which We have sent by inspiration to thee Mohammed and that which We en-joined on Abraham Moses and Jesus: Namely that ye should remain steadfast in religion and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than God hard is the (way) to which thou call them. God chooses to Himself those whom He pleases and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him). Q6:159 As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least: their affair is with God: He will, in the end, tell them the truth of all that they did. Q3:189 And remember God took a Covenant from the People of the Book ( the people who had the book before you ) to make it known and clear to mankind and not to hide it; but they threw it away behind their backs and purchased with it some miserable gain! and vile was the bargain they made! I follow the Holy Quran, and I make five prayers a day like most Muslims, but I do not call myself or consider myself to be a Muslim. My religion is the submission of my will to God, the faith of Abraham. And, I believe to call my religion by its Arabic translation will misrepresent its true meaning and purpose. According to the paragraphs from the Quran above Q3:189, God commands the believers not to break their religion into sects. In paragraph 42:13, God is also telling the believers that they must consider all the prophets of God and their followers to be one religion. In paragraph 42, verse 13, God says that the same religion that He gave to Noah is the same religion that He gave to Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. I don’t believe that God gave the words Islam and Muslims to Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus as their religion because they spoke different languages other than Arabic. I believe God commanded His prophets and their followers to submit their will to God as their religion. I think the only title that can unite all who believe in God into one religion with no sects, divisions or hatred between each other is the title, submission of our will to God. In the Holy Quran, God tells the people who believe in Him that the number one duty of a believer is to make His message clear to the people and not to hide it. I think the title Islam and Muslims hide the clear message of God from the world behind Arabic words and greetings. For example, if I would go out and ask one million people who are not in the Islamic religion whether they have heard the words Muslim or Islam before, I believe they all would probably look at me as if I am crazy. However, if I asked the same one million people to tell me the meaning of these two words, I don’t believe that one of them would give me the correct definition. If I ask another million people and then another, I believe the results would be the same. Think about it, if people would have heard the full meanings of these words, Islam and Muslims, I believe most people would have realized that the Holy Quran is talking to everyone who submits their will to God no matter what they called themselves. If I called myself a Muslim, then I believe this would separate me from those outsides of the Muslim faith that also submit their will to God. My people are all who submit their will to God, no matter what they call themselves. When I or anyone else say that my religion is the submission of my will to God, we are saying that we are the same as anyone else who also submit their will to God. And that it doesn’t matter if we speak different languages or call God, our race or community by different names. Also, anyone can submit their will to God and that everyone should. I believe this is what God intended for us when He told Prophet Mohammad and his followers that their religion is the submission of their will to God. I am sure that God wanted to break down the differences that were dividing those who believed so that they could end the enmity and hatred between them. But when I hear people say that they are Muslims today, I don’t hear that they submit their will to God. And if this is what they want me to hear, then they should say it for me, and others can understand. When I hear people say that they are Muslims, what I hear them saying is that they are separate, different, and better than everyone else. I believe this practice encourages animosity between the faiths. In the Quran, God tells the believers that their community is the best evolved for humanity. But God also said let there arise from you a band of people that join in doing good and forbid each other from that which is wrong. I believe when God was talking about the community that represented the best of humanity, He was only talking about the people that did good deeds while forbidden each other from doing wrong, not just because they call themselves Muslims. I believe the word Islam and Muslims separates them from the Christians and Jews as the concept Shia and Sunni divide the Muslims into sects that, in most cases, despise each other. For this reason, I can’t invite people to become a Muslim Jew or Christian, and if I do, I believe I will be asking them to disobey God and to separate themselves into sects against each other. Two things divided God’s religion into factions in the past, and in the Quran, God gave two commands to stop His new believers from making the same mistake as those who came before them. The first command is not to break the religion of Abraham into sects. And, the second command is not to make any distinctions between any of God's prophets which I talked about at the beginning of this chapter. If you don’t understand why these two commands are so crucial for the salvation of humanity, I am going to do my best to explain it to you. The purpose of the religion of Abraham and the Holy Quran is to lead humanity out of the depth of darkness back into the light. In this perspective, the depth of darkness represents misery caused by moral ignorance and enmity and hatred between one another. And the light represents ethical awareness, happiness, and the path that God created for humanity to get to know one another in peace. In the story of Adam and Eve, when they disobeyed God, humanity was condemned to live on earth with enmity and hatred between one another as a punishment. However, our world today is not being punished by God because of Adam and Eve disobedience to God but our own. The story of Adam and Eve warns us that we have an enemy amongst us that will do anything to deceive humanity into losing its blessings from God by disobeying Him. Because we have allowed Satan to also trick us into disobeying God, we are now morally ignorant, causing evil things to happen to each other. Satan, the enemy of humanity, will use everything that divides us and our differences to instigate people into enmity and hatred against each other. But, the only power that God gave Satan over humanity is to call us to do wrong and disobey Him. So, you can’t use it as an excuse that the devil made me do it. Satan only called you to harm yourself and others, but you had a choice not to answer. The religion of Abraham and the Holy Quran comes to humanity as a mercy from God to bring those who are now ready to obey God out of this madness. But, the only way God is willing to bless the believers to come out of this madness is that we leave the disbelievers and our sects behind. And, we must also accept that all good is from God and that all bad is from ourselves. But if humanity continues to divide themselves into sects against each other in defiance to God’s commands, according to the Quran, God will continue to give you a taste of each other's vengeance. And eventually, God will destroy this world. The end may come in a year, a hundred years or tomorrow, only God knows. Is art and drawing images our 21st-century pagan gods? Almost, at the same time that Wallace Deen Muhammad was telling his new community that Fard Muhammad was not a God, the Arab Muslims were beginning to come to his new Masjids introducing their customs and superstitions to his community. For example, most African American Muslims today who claim to follow W Deen Mohammed’s teachings believe that art and drawing images are against the teachings of the Quran, as the Arabs. However, W Deen Mohammed did not introduce this belief to his community. I know this because I am an artist, and W Deen Mohammed has a copy of a drawing that I did of him, Malcolm X, and his father. When I met and talked with W Deen Mohammed in the late 1990s and showed him the sketch, he insisted on buying a copy. But, I thought that I would be honoring him more by giving it to him as a gift. However, what I believe I know now that I wish that I understood then was that W Deen Mohammed wanted to pay for the picture to make a statement to his community and me. I believe that he wants his community to know that he didn’t share the Arab Muslims superstitions about art and images. If WD Mohammed didn’t think that drawing images is wrong, then I believe that anyone who follows his leadership should feel the same. However, I know that most Muslims that say they are following WD Mohammed’s teachings believe as Arab Muslims about images today. Many African American Masjids in the United States are following the Arabs interpretation of the Holy Quran, customs, and superstitions. But, W Deen Mohammed insisted to his community that we can’t look outside of ourselves for understanding and guidance. That we should trust in God and the leadership that He sends us from us. I don’t believe that God reviewed the Holy Quran to be a book that is owned by one group of people or religion, where everyone else in the world must follow just their interpretation of it. I believe that God created the Holy Quran to bring about religious freedom where each different people can read it and decide for themselves what is the truth from God for them. For example, the three major sects of Islam, Sunni, Shia, and Sufis did not exist during the life of Prophet Mohammed. If this is true, then all three of these concepts are someone else’s interpretation of the Holy Quran, not Prophet Mohammed’s. Additionally, we must also take into consideration that most of the people in these three sects of Islam believe as they do because they were born into them. Or, the faction that they are practicing is the first one introduced to them. Art and drawing images are not our 21st-century pagan Gods today. We look back into our history at what we consider to be ancient times at those who worshiped idol gods and say to ourselves, now how dumb can some people be? How could those people carve images out of stone or wood and then start worshiping these things as their gods? We built the television and the commercial media of today, but now we are worshiping the very things that we made. And this is the same thing that the ancient people did with their stone or wood. In ancient times the people only had rocks and wood to work with to build their pagan gods. But, we here in the 21st century have a lot more to work with to create our pagan gods. The commercial media, the television, cable, movies, and even the radio have become our 21st-century pagan gods that we have created and are now worshiping. The technology itself is not evil, but how it is encouraging the people to fall victim to their weaknesses is. We see new technology being introduced into the marketplace every year and believe that we are going forward culturally. However, the truth is we are going back into an idol and pagan worship society. That which we created is now dictating to us who we must be to serve it. The commercial media have remodeled the purpose of the human being into something that has no other reason for living but to feed it. Most people claim to worship God, but I think that most people worship popularity as their God. And the commercial media of today has the power to make whatever it wants popular in the world. Whoever is in control of the power of impression of the man is also in control of education and man’s growth and development. The commercial media, television, cable, movies, and the radio of today have the enormous power to impress the people and reshape man’s mold that has ever been created by man. The commercial media should be helping to educate and uplift our society. But, instead, they are encouraging the people to fall victim to their weaknesses to make more money and rule over us as our god.
A portion from Chapter 3 Understanding the Holy Quran from Alan Dean Shariff’s book Climbing the Stairway to Culture, All good is from God and all bad is from ourselves
Emam W. Deen Mohammed
God’s Messengers In the Holy Quran, God promised to raise from each people a witness to testify to the truth. Also, to give anyone that believed in Him, the last day and work righteous deeds their light of understanding to walk in their own path. God tells the believer in the Holy Quran that it is not their duty to call anyone to account for their false worship or evil deeds. But, that the believers must make God’s message clear to the people and be a witness to the truth. In the Holy Quran, when God is speaking about the messenger in most cases, I think He is talking about Prophet Mohammed. However, since all believers are giving the duty to make God’s message clear to the people, I believe in many cases, God is also talking to and about whoever is delivering His clear message. Q57: 28-29 O ye that believes! Fear God, and believe in His Messenger, and He will bestow on you a double portion of His Mercy: He will provide for you a light by which ye shall walk straight in your path, and He will forgive you your past: for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. That the People of the Book (the people who had the book before you) may know that they have no power whatever over the Grace of God, that His Grace is entirely in His Hand, to bestow it on whomsoever He wills. For God is the Lord of Grace abounding.