Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem (In the name of God the All Compassionate the All Merciful).
Alhamdulillahi Rabbil ‘Alameen Wassalatu Wassalamu Ala Sayidna Muhammad Wa ‘ala Aalihi Wasahbihi wa Anbiya’illahi Ajma’een.
(My thanks and gratitude belong to God the Lord of all, I ask God to bless and bestow peace on all His prophets and messengers, their families, followers and supporters and all who traverse their path).
Allahumma Ishrah Li Sadry Wayassir Li Amry Wahlul ‘Uqdatan Min Lisany yafqahu Qawly.
(Lord God, I ask you to expand my breast, make my task easy, undo the knot in my tongue so that my speech will become comprehensible) (Moses’ prayer).
Your eminence, distinguished guests, your grace, Mr. Chair, fellow speakers, ladies and Gentlemen Brothers and Sisters.
Thank you all for taking the time to be here tonight, thank you for choosing to be with us rather than the movies or the football, we truly appreciate your sharing this wonderful evening with us.
It is an honour for me to be the final speaker tonight, not because I want to have the final say, far be it for me to claim that, as we all know, the last word is with the chairperson.
My friends, what does it mean to be a Muslim? The Arabic dictionary tells us that this word carries three meanings, it refers to a person who seeks to live life in accordance with the will of God, a person who seeks to promote peace and goodwill to all and, according to the Mukhtar Al Sihah dictionary, a person who is saved.
In Essence, the literal meaning of the word Muslim is a person of peace, who has received salvation and who believes in God. In this light, does a Christian not believe that he is seeking the will of the Father in Heaven, promoting peace and that he or she has received salvation? Is this not the very belief and life pursuit of every devout Christian, every devout Jew, every devout Hindu and every devout Buddhist? This leads me to feel safe in saying that any person of any faith who seeks to live life according to God’s will and seeks to spread peace on earth fits the literal description of a Muslim. This is significant to non Muslims, especially those who have been misinformed about Islam, because this reassures you that my faith teaches me to love and respect you also.
Therefore, what is the difference between Muslims, Christians and Jews? Certainly, the difference is not one of word definition, I have already shown that the word Muslim can apply to any peace loving person who believes in God. The difference is based on a theological understanding. The difference between Christians and Jews revolves around the mission of Christ peace be upon him. It arose because those wonderful disciples decided to think with their hearts and minds and to believe in Christ, at that time, they were referred to as Judao-Christians, that is Jews who have accepted Christ as their teacher.
The difference between Muslims and people of other faiths revolves on the mission of Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him. It is interesting as we label this as a difference, we find that as we study the teachings of these great people, we find that essentially, Moses, Christ and Muhammad (peace be upon them) taught the same values, the same principles and the same morals. They all taught the same rules, they all taught us the values of love, compassion and peace. Above all, they all taught us how to love God with all our hearts.
These greats were all brothers in their service to God. As I read the account of the life of Moses in the Qur`an, I feel such a deep sense of love for Moses that I automatically revere him as a role model for me. As I read about Christ in the Qur`an, I also humble myself in respect and love before this great personality, I learn about these greats through reading my own holy book which is full with messages of love, respect and reverence for these great people, we have a common shared reverence for these great icons of human civilization.
This takes us back to the difference, the difference is the final role model for humanity, the man who for the first forty years of his life, was nicknamed the honest, trustworthy one. A man who was respected by his community until he brought his message of reform, his message of equality, his message of justice and equity.
The man of our distinction is the very man who unites us in the love for Christ and Moses and for every good soul who sought to bring about goodness to this world. The very man who taught us to respect every one of God’s children, this final messenger from God is known as Muhammad peace and blessings upon him. The man that insisted that we are Muslims and not Muhammadans, the man who like his predecessors, Christ and Moses was blessed in the heavens as he was praised in the earth. A man who combined in his personality, the perseverance of Noah, the faith of Abraham, the forebearance of Ismael, the beauty of Joseph, the patience of Job, the fortitude and resolve of Moses, the wisdom of Solomon, the love, compassion and humility of Christ. He taught his Muslim followers how to live in devotion to God like these greats, including how to be Christ-like.
He taught us how to love our fellow human beings saying: “You will not be true believers until you love one another, the way to love one another is to establish peace.” He taught us that if we truly love God, we should follow his model and God’s love will be all over us.
My friends, my brothers my sisters, as a Muslim, when I am good, I am like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ and Muhammad, how can I not be, for Allah has told me so much about them in the Noble Qur`an that He in His wisdom has instructed me to model aspects of my life on each and everyone of them. What this means is that if I am in a situation that requires great perseverance, I should remember Noah my role model in perseverance, if I am in a situation that requires unimpeachable faith, I should remember the trials of Abraham and his great faith, if I am tempted, I should remember how Joseph would not succumb to temptation, if I am in a situation that requires fortitude and resolve, I should remember the great Moses, if I am in a situation that requires patience, I should remember the patience of Job, if I am in a situation that requires love, compassion and humility, I should remember Christ and his magnanimity. If I am to live life as a true devoted servant of God, I should remember Muhammad whose point of pride was his position of servitude and devotion to the Great Master in Heaven.
My dear friends, tonight’s program is nothing other than an expression of love, I pray that you have enjoyed your time so far and I pray that after we conclude the speeches, that you will take the opportunity to stay back a little longer and get to know one another in God’s name. I will now try to apply a lesson from one of my great role models, Prophet Muhammad, who was the master of eloquent concise discourses.
Thank you all.