Presented at the Interfaith meeting at the Presbyterian Church by Paul-Mehdi
Martin Luther King was a man of rare courage – a man who was willing to live and die for his dream of human dignity – for those without power, for those without a voice, for those without hope.
Part of his legacy was his courage to fight American racism. This was a battle fought as much for whites as for blacks. As he said “If physical death is the price I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.”
This battle against racism is largely won. Today modern genetics teaches us that none of us are black or white – we are a million shades of brown. The presidency of this country may soon by held by a black man – a change that Martin Luther King would not have imagined likely in a single generation. And for those of you who have spent time with the “text messaging generation”, you know that they are colorblind. Racism, they just don’t get it.
But there was more to Martin Luther King than the courage to fight racism. He wanted all men to sit down at the table of brotherhood. If he were alive today, he would fight for the powerless and against those with power. Given the global and technologic changes in the past half century, his stage would not be just America, but would be with the world.
He would be upset that we continue to let our religions divide us – just as we previously let the color of our skin divide us. Protestants and Catholics killing each other in Ireland. Sunni & Shia killing each other in Iraq. Jews and Muslims in the Middle East. Each worshiping the one God: the God of Abraham (AS) The God of Jesus (AS), The God of Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and each believing the other to be ungodly.
We come to our religions from many paths. Some are born into their faith. Some search and find it. Others like me stumble upon it. Martin Luther King was a man devoted to his Christian faith and he stands as a beacon of what that faith can do to transform a man into a hero – a hero who understood that man is one. That God is one. Though we pray in a million ways, in a million tongues, all faiths at their essence unite in the oneness of God.
You have heard the crowds on the TV news chanting: “Allah o Akbar! Allah ho Akbar!” – God is great. “La illaha illallah” – there is one and only one God. These are your brothers.
Allah Subhanawataala says in the Quran:
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).
Quran 49:13 English translation by YUSUF ALI