Religion and Reconciliation,
Part I

Jude Wanniski
July 23, 1998

 

Memo To: Seth Lipsky, publisher of the Forward
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: A Farrakhan Sermon

Last April 19 in Chicago, at the Northwestern University chapel, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan discussed religion and reconciliation before an audience of Muslims, Christians and Jews. The occasion was a celebration honoring the Rev. Dr. Heisel B. Taylor, Jr., pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Chicago. A popular clergyman in the city, the Rev. Taylor had invited four rabbis who he's known over the years, but they declined when they learned that Min. Farrakhan would be the featured speaker. Several weeks ago, I heard a tape of the talk, and thought it quite extraordinary. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone could hear this message and still believe he is anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, bigoted or racist. He spoke without a text, so I had it transcribed, for presentation here in two parts, due to its length. You know I continue to pursue this matter in the belief that if there is to be a bridging of the racial divide in our country, it will have to begin with a reconciliation of the Nation of Islam and the Jewish community ~ which Farrakhan has sought for 14 years, and the Jewish community has rejected. I don't expect a public reaction from you, Seth, but as an important opinion leader in the Jewish community, I at least hope you will read this and find your heart softening, even if only a little.

* * *

In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful, we give Him praise and thanks for His goodness and His mercy to the human family. The greatest of His goodness and the most magnificent of His mercy is His guidance that He sends to the human family through the mouths and example of His prophets and His messengers of God. We thank him for Moses and the Torah. We thank him for Jesus and the Gospel. We thank him for Muhammad and the Qur 'an. Peace be upon these worthy servants of God and all of those messengers and prophets that God has sent to every nation and every people, bringing to them His guidance....

I greet all of you my dear brothers and sisters with the greeting words of peace: We say it in Hebrew, Shalom aleichem. We say it in Arabic assalaam aleykum. We say it in English, peace be unto you. To my dear brother, the Rev. Dr. Heisel B. Taylor, Jr., [long list of those present] Jews, Christians, Muslims, I am very glad to be here to help to celebrate your 62 years on this blessed earth and your 26 years as senior pastor of Second Baptist Church....

I recently was invited to share the 75th Anniversary of Time Magazine. Everyone that has been on the cover of Time in the last 75 years who is yet alive was invited to attend. President Clinton was the main speaker that evening along with the former President Gorbachev and so many dignitaries were there. I was invited to attend and I decided maybe I'll come out and see what the world is like and I was pleasantly surprised at how honored I was among the great men and women of all races and creeds. But I noticed that everyone had to pass through a security check on coming in because the President was present and because so many dignitaries were present and because there's so much insanity in the world....

So Dr. Taylor I am happy to share this moment, this day with you...thankful to Almighty God that we are sharing time and space at the same time on this earth. That we and you, if we rightly understand our purpose for life, can actually make a difference. For we are nothing more than a link in the chain of life and this is our time yours and mine. This is our space yours and mine.

If we study the wisdom of God then we in our lives, you and I, we in our space in our time can reverse the madness that was passed on to us by previous generations. We do not have to continue the madness. We can change reality because we are OF God; we are FROM God; and God moves in EVERY link of the chain. He was in the beginning: He is Alpha. He is Omega. And in every generation God moves with us if we move with God and surrender our will to do His will. Then this could be the generation and the time that we turn the world around and prepare for our children and our grandchildren and our great grandchildren, a better future because we in our time, in this space, on this earth, decided that we would take charge of our lives and of this time.

As I honor our beloved Pastor, brother and friend, on his 62nd birthday, I looked in the Qur'an, which is the book of scripture of the Muslims, and the 62nd chapter of the Qur'an is called "Al Juma." It comes from an Arabic root which means to gather. It is a day when Muslims are to gather for the worship of God. And you, Dr. Taylor...have always wanted to gather human beings together to challenge human beings to rise above their diversity, especially those who claim belief in the oneness of God. So it seems to me...you are one of those souls that God has in this time period to help gather God's people in God's way.

And since this is your 26th year as Senior Pastor of Second Baptist Church, I looked in the Qur'an again to Chapter 26, and it's called "The Poet." I don't think this is an accident, that he is such a profound poet, brilliant scholar, theologian, pastor, nurturer of our people, and yet would have the courage to invite his brother in this beautiful place on this tremendous campus of great scholarship in the midst of those who may see me as other than what I am; in the midst of those who see me as anti-white or anti-Semitic or racist or a bigot. Yet you had the courage to invite me into this holy place, that I might share your anniversary with you, but more importantly, share my spirit with you. That you may know me beyond a sound bite on television. That you may know me from the heart.

I don't have a prepared text. God prepares my texts for me. I was told just to go and stand up and speak. I had some thoughts, but I'm going to let God have His way and I'm not going to keep you long.

Muslims, Christians and Jews are present here today. I hope that some of the members of the rabbinical class are here, as well as members of the clergy, as well as Muslim imams, as well as Jews, Christians and Muslims. Because it is important that we sit together as people of intelligence. Paul said: "Come let us reason together." That is the power of the human being. We have the ability to reason. If our minds are clouded with emotion, then emotion stops the process of reasoning. It can alter the power of reasoning. But when the power of reasoning is exalted above our emotion, our prejudices, then reasoning can make us see what we couldn't see through the eye of emotion. Paul had a job because he was talking to Jews and gentiles, and was trying to reconcile those Jews and gentiles to the Word of Jesus Christ. The Rev. Doctor Taylor brought me here for the purpose of reconciliation. He wanted you to meet with me; me to meet with you. He invited rabbis, members of the clergy of the Christian faith, he invited Muslims. For what purpose? That we may sit and reason together so that we can reconcile differences and in the process of reconciliation find the common denominator.

One of our accountants is here today. She is always reconciling the checkbook. When you reconcile a checkbook, you make sure that what is in the bank and what is paid out by checks agree so that the balance is right. In other words, you come to a point of agreement, accord. Agreement and accord make you satisfied. Whenever there is an imbalance, and you cannot reconcile what is in the bank and what went out, then there is not peace, not satisfaction, until reconciliation can take place. When two human beings say they love each other and then get into difficulty, when an argument comes up between people in the same family, people in the same fraternity, people in the same church, people who claim to love each other, that level of argument produces dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction begins to drive people who have common aims, common interests, common purpose, apart from each other. It is only when there is reconciliation of conflict that the heart can rest; the soul becomes satisfied because that which was in discord has come into accord and there is harmony, there is peace, there is unity.

I have to admit that there is discord among Christians, among Christians discord. Why? Is Christ divided? No. Christ is one. Well why aren't Christians one? Well, you see, MY denomination is ... hush, hush, hush. Once you start talking denomination, you are coming down from Christ. But if you are going to come up to Christ, you can't talk denomination, you have to talk about the oneness of God, the oneness of Jesus Christ and the oneness of the body of Christ. So Christians Catholics and Protestants; Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics all the different denominations of Christianity have to find reconciliation because Christ is not pleased with the Church as it is. Farrakhan, how dare you speak for Jesus Christ! I think I can very well speak for Jesus Christ. I am telling you, as Christians, He is displeased. And none of you want to be around when He comes as you are because He already told you what He will accept and what He will reject.

This confusion among the Muslims, many different sects, many different parties each one arguing I'm better, I'm this, I'm that. The Holy Qur'an says they didn't become divided until after revelation came to them. Splitting their religion up into sects and parties, each one rejoicing in its own due to envy. There's discord among the Jews. Yet we all claim one God. If you are a mother or a father, do you find joy when your children are fighting each other? Isn't that one of the most upsetting things about being a parent - to see your children tearing at each other with hatred in their eyes and heart for one another? When a father and a mother have to break that up, then you go into your room and close the door, tears stream down your face because you wonder what has put such hatred in the heart of your own children for one another. Well, if you as a common parent feel this way, what do you think God is thinking when he sees Jews, Christians and Muslims all claiming one God but can't sit down in a room together and come to agreement and reconcile their differences.

I believe by whatever name we call Him, that He is grieved at the condition of His children. We claim Him in our various faith traditions: The Jews in the beauty of their worship, the Christians in the beauty of their worship, the Muslims in the beauty of their worship and each sect of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, having their own particular way of doing this as opposed to that. They use this as opposed to that to divide this from that!

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher taught me that fractions have to be reconciled to a whole number. And she taught me that the only way you can bring fractions to a whole is you must find the least common denominator. When you can find the least common denominator you can take fractions and make them whole. They taught me that there is an axiom in geometry, that the whole is equal to the sum of its parts. You have to belong TO in order to be a part OF. They tell me that an integer is a whole number. So the word integrate comes from the word integer which means you are trying to make that which is diverse different and apart, you're trying to produce a whole. I'm sorry America, the way you're going you will never produce a whole out of the cultural and racial diversity in America. There is nothing taught at Northwestern that will bring about that wholeness. It is not in the limited scholarship of a Harvard or a Yale or a Oxford because with all that you know with all of your doctorate degrees, the society is sick and you have no power to heal it. So where is the real doctor? Will the REAL doctor please stand up! You have a doctorate in psychology and all the sick minds in society. You have a doctorate in economics and you can't balance the budget our country is over a trillion, several trillion dollars in debt. Go ahead doctor of economics, balance the budget. You have your doctorate in all of these disciplines but you heal nothing. Christ was a healer. Muhammad was a healer. This book Qur'an is called Al shiffa, The Healing. The Gospel is a healing. It is a balm for sin-sick souls.

The question is: Where are the doctors because it is evident that the people are sick. Let's see if we can find out what the cause of this sickness is and let's see if we can apply some medicine so that perhaps we can walk out of here as one although we came in as many it would be a blessing if we could walk out of here tonight, feeling like we are a part of something bigger than our denomination, bigger than our faith tradition, but that we are a part of God. Now, all these great religions, Judaisim, Christianity and Islam call Abraham the Father. If Abraham is the root, let's not deal with branch knowledge. I think we ought to go to the root of this and let's take a look at Father Abraham. Abraham was called the friend of God. I don't know about anybody else, but I would really like to be a friend of God. I would like to have God as my friend, especially in a world like this.

These three great faith traditions have just come through a great celebration of three great principles of their religious faith. The Jews have just celebrated Passover, the Christians have just celebrated Easter, and the Muslims have just celebrated the Eid ul Adha. I want to take those three celebrations, if you will, and let's look at what we're talking about. As a Jew we're celebrating Passover. A great thing, pass over, Passover. Here was Moses telling Pharaoh, "Look, let the children of Israel go. God has something that He wants them to do in His service. He doesn't want them serving you anymore, Pharaoh. Either you let them go or God is going to plague you." Pharaoh didn't pay Moses too much attention so the tenth plague was the plague of death. But all of the children of Israel who believed in Moses were told to do something so that the death angel, when it came, would pass over them. What did He tell them to do? Go dip in the blood of a lamb and make an X mark on your gatepost and when the death angel rides tonight and sees the right sign on your door, he will pass over you. Beloved, members of the Jewish family, that is a glorious thing to celebrate what happened four thousand years ago to prove that God, Jehovah, was with you, that the death angel struck the firstborn out of every house in Egypt that did not have that sign dipped in the blood of a lamb.

My Christian family can't celebrate at Easter. The Cardinal O'Connor, I read today, is very upset because the baseball team didn't honor Good Friday, especially between the hours of ten in the morning and three in the afternoon the hours of His passion. And because they didn't honor Good Friday, he says "I'm not going to a baseball game for the rest of the year." He says he doesn't care who is playing. "Even Wall Street closes down on Good Friday."

Who of you would see your son hanging on a cross with nails in his hands, nails in his feet, and a crown of thorns on his head on a Friday and then call it a Good Friday. The act of crucifying Jesus was not good. But out of the most negative circumstances, God brought good out of evil. So when you look back on it, it was a Good Friday because out of the passion of Christ came the Resurrection which leads to the Redemption of the whole human family. So because of the cross, we celebrate the Resurrection, the Easter, although I think we do a lot of foolishness with it that really needs to be cut out. We have mixed a lot of paganism in with the true celebration. We need to expunge or cleanse the worship both of the birth of Jesus Christ and the Resurrection of Jesus; you must cleanse paganism out of it so that your worship will be accepted by God.

As a Christian we celebrate His rise out of a terrible torment and passion and trial where He was falsely accused and bitterly denounced. A trial when His friends and disciples turned their backs on Him. A trial when He was betrayed into the hands of His enemies by one of His disciples. Yet it became a good thing because it led to what you sang about today He's alive. Then in Him there is no death. But you have to be in Him. You can't be about Him because about is on the periphery but to be IN Christ and to be OF Christ is not to see death, if we understand it...

You say, "Farrakhan I didn't expect this kind of talk from you." You don't know what to expect from me! Because you really don't know me. If you knew me you'd know what to expect from me. You know about. I'm going to invite you in.

The Muslims celebrate the Eid ul Adha which is a feast of sacrifice coming with the pilgrimage that they make to Mecca where the pilgrims take off their garments their national dress and put on two pieces of a seamless garment that the rich and the poor all wear the same. You can't wear any jewelry or anything that would distinguish you from your brother to make you think that you're better than your brother because you have this as opposed to that. All of that is removed. You are denied the right of access to your wife. You are denied argument and you endure an arduous ten days and the crowning of it is to be in the plain of Arafat where the sun could be 120 burning the sand under your feet and the mountains of rocks that surround you so that it's like you're in an oven. It's only a sign of something. Then at the end of this, they run between the hills, imitating the run of Hagar you sang it I will look unto the hills. That was Hagar's promise. She was looking unto the hills
the way that's written in the "Book of Psalms." I really believe it should go like this: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. Period. Then a question: From whence cometh my help?

Your help is not coming from the hills. My help cometh from the Lord. Now listen, people are always looking for help. And they're looking for help from the big chief or the big cheese or the big brother - the one that you think has got money and influence - these are like hills and you always get disappointed because the hills don't have an answer. But your real help comes from the Lord. In Mecca when you make the pilgrimage, at a certain point you have to kill an animal, usually a lamb, a ram, a camel, and the meat is given away to the poor. But the idea of a day of slaughter, sacrifice, is like a ritual that says in order for us to come to God we have to make a sacrifice. In the old days it was a burnt offering a sacrifice of a sheep or a ram or an animal but today the example of Christ and the example of the Prophet is that you must sacrifice the animal existence in order ascend to where Christ is. You can't be a dog and go with God.

My beloved family, we are all going to have to sacrifice animal passion, animal instinct, animal flesh-life to ascend into the spiritual life that makes us one with God. As an animal, you know, you see the sheep with the sheep, you see the cows with the cows, you see the fox with the foxes, the hound with the hounds, but in that day the lamb will lie down with the lion. What kind of stuff is this? If a lamb will lie down with a lion and not get eaten, somebody has interfered with the nature of those things. Your natural inclination is to be with your own kind that's your natural inclination ~ to see those who are Asian as your family, those who are African as your family, those who are European as your family, those who are Native American as your family. That's the natural inclination. The natural inclination is Jew with Jew, Christian with Christian, Muslim with Muslim. But when God asks you to sacrifice your animalistic passions, the lower self to come up into the spiritual mind of God on that level where there is joy, there is peace, there is accord because man has reconciled his differences with God. Then when man has reconciled his differences with God it becomes easy to reconcile our differences with each other.

(End of part I)