United Nations Conference
Earth Summit, June 1992
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful.
O People of Faith. This address is a continuation of a long history of dialogue among the people of revealed religions. Allah has favored them with His service and granted them guidance with the light of His remembrance, thus uniting them into a brotherhood and spreading through them all good and mercy.
Though there were prophets before Abraham, it was the will of Allah that the later generation of prophets be his offspring. For that reason Abraham became the friend of Allah and a spiritual symbol around whom the people of faith flocked. The great succession of these prophets after Abraham called for the message of Allah, each paving the way for the next one, in accordance with Allah's divine decree. Thus, at each stage of human history no group of people were left without divine instruction.
Prophet Muhammad explained his mission in the following words: The comparison between me and the preceding prophets is similar to a group of people who took part in building a house and completed it but for an empty space for one block or brick. Onlookers admired it and said in astonishment: 'What a beautiful mansion, if it were not for the place of the missing brick' I have been this brick and I am the last or the seal of prophets. Sahih Bukhari P. 18. Muhammad then said: I am one brick of it.
In this analogy the Prophet does not refer to himself as the whole house but as a part of this structure of prophethood. Thus, he draws the attention of his nation and the followers of previous prophets that the true glory of the people of faith is only through cooperation and integration.
As if to confirm this, Allah says in the Quran:
Verily, this Brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher. Therefore serve Me, (and no other) T.Q., Sura 21, The Prophets, verse 92.
Islam does not identify itself with a single person or race, rather it is the recognition and submission to Allah. Thus, the mere faith in Muhammad does not suffice. Islam demands the belief in the great caravan of prophets of which Abraham is the vanguard. His offspring includes Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). They are the teachers and examples to mankind whose stations were solely assigned by Allah. Thus, to attribute sinful behavior to any of them, which even ordinary people would be ashamed of committing, would be to question the wisdom of Allah in choosing such people. Hence, Islam emphatically maintains the high moral and ethical status of such men. Furthermore, to deny or reject any of the prophets would be the abandonment of faith. Hence, preserving the integrity of the prophethood and its lineage paves the way for cooperation of the people of faith.
The Quran says:
Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds. T.Q., Sura 1, The Opening, verse 1.
Thus, Allah does not identify Himself solely with the Muslims, the Arabs, or the Semitic tribes. He is the Lord of the worlds. Therefore, whoever turns to Allah in love and worship understands that there are other people of faith with whom he has to cooperate in order to fulfill the objectives of Allah and abide by His commands. In this connection, Allah not only counsels man about his good behavior regarding others, but cautions him as well:
Say to My servants that they should (only) say those things that are best: for Satan does sow dissensions among them: for Satan is to man an avowed enemy. T.Q., Sura 17, The Children of Israel, verse 53.
Muslim scholars of the Quran give the meaning of the name of Abraham as 'a compassionate father'. This corresponds with the meaning found in most of the Semitic languages at that time. There is undoubtedly a direct relationship between his name and the great message for which Abraham was chosen: the responsibility for the universal call to Allah. For his part, Prophet Muhammad is ordered in the Quran:
Say: 'Verily, My Lord has guided me to a straight path, to an upright religion, to the faith of saintly Abraham who was no idolater. T.Q., Sura 6, The Cattle, verse 161.
It is very wise that the children of Abraham should call each other to an encounter. In doing so, it brings them together and creates mutual love and affection within their hearts. Together they form the majority of the inhabitants on the earth and so the harmony caused by such a union creates the nucleus for global harmony.
The children of Abraham are joined by the belief in the Oneness of God. Although the direction faced in prayer may differ between Abrahamic religions, this remains but a physical demarcation, the essential direction of the heart remains one, the direction towards Allah. The Holy Quran says that Abraham, after destroying the stone idols of his people in Babylon, said:
For me, I have set my face towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah. T.Q., Sura 6, The Cattle, verse 79.
This very same supplication is repeated by the Muslims each time they pray. They also acknowledge the two great commandments given in Matthew: Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love thy Lord, thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22, verse 37-40.
The children of Abraham also believe in the same prophets, whose lives are examples to follow. The Quran stresses this when it says:
We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the prophets after him: We sent inspiration to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms. Of some apostles We have already told thee, the story of others we have not; and to Moses God spoke directly). T.Q., Sura 4, The Women, verses 163-164.
Also in the possession of the children of Abraham are Books given to them by Allah for the guidance of their people. These revealed Books enjoin the same virtues and ban the same vices. The Quran says:
It was We who revealed the Law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standards have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to God's Will, by the Rabbis and the Doctors of Law. T.Q., Sura 5, The Table Spread, verse 44.
The Quran also says:
Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. T.Q., Sura 5, The Table Spread, verse 47.
The children of Abraham hold various tenets in common: they believe in Allah, His angels, books and messengers. They also believe in the Day of Judgment. The Quran says:
Those who believe (in The Quran), and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabaeans, whoever believe in God and the Last Day and does what is right shall be rewarded by their Lord; they have nothing to fear or to regret. T.Q., Sura 2, The Cow, verse 62.
The children of Abraham are joined together on one long historical struggle in defense of the Oneness of God and launching all campaigns against corruption, vice, sinfulness and standing against all acts of injustice. Moses fought long against the tyranny of Pharaoh, and Jesus against the evils of the Romans and the exploiters of religion. Muhammad also struggled against the malicious paganism of his time. Thus they all emanate from one source and have the same goal.
Muhammad was always commanded to follow the example of Abraham and the line of prophets who were his descendants:
Therefore patiently persevere as did (all) messengers of inflexible purpose. T.Q., Sura 46, The Winding Sand-tracts, verse 35.
And who are these messengers but Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, Son of Mary?
This brief outline of the common roots of the Abrahamic religions puts us face to face with contemporary issues. As you know, the world has witnessed two futile wars in which millions of people were killed. After this, the world faced the oppression of the cold war for forty years. At the recent demise of this atheistic philosophy, left in its wake are evil remnants which have poisoned the world. Statistics tell us of widespread perversion, crimes, sinfulness, drug addiction, gambling, etc.
Adultery, fornication and homosexuality are forbidden by all revealed religions and, as such, incur the wrath of Allah. Homelessness is a social plague and the use of illegal drugs has become another plague, responsible for the spread of virulent contagious diseases that now threatens the possible extinction of human life on the planet. What have the children of Abraham done to combat such vices?
The true enemy of faith today are the vices left by the cold war and the spread of atheism. Religious stagnation and fanaticism can also take its share of the blame. The People of the Torah, the Gospel and the Quran should launch fierce battles against all of these diseases that threaten the continued existence of mankind and keep him from his proper relationship with his Creator.
Human history is full of numerous instances of religious wars, which resulted from misunderstanding between peoples. Only with hindsight were the people of wisdom able to distinguish true and sincere causes from the malicious ambitious designs of men who used religion as a screen, for their evil ends.
If Moses were to meet Jesus, and if both of them were to meet Muhammad (peace be upon them all), it would undoubtedly be a meeting of dutiful brothers under the umbrella of their forefather Abraham. Moses repeatedly brought glad tidings of the Savior to come after him, and Jesus of the Prophet to follow him. Finally, when Muhammad came, he confirmed the truth of all the missions before him with admirable love and compassion. If humanity were to reflect on and understand the missions of such men, it would relieve itself from the diseases from which it suffers today. In addressing the Children of Abraham, The Quran urges them to unite in their efforts and cooperate when it says:
Say: we believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us; we believe in what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes; to Moses and Jesus and the other prophets, We make no distinction between any of them, and to God we have surrendered ourselves. T.Q., Sura 2, The Cow, verse 136. i.e. in full submission and obedience.
O People of Faith, Allah has made us brothers under the banner of Abraham. He has shown us our various rites and rituals and guided us on the right path. He has laid upon our shoulders the responsibility for human brotherhood and social reform. He has urged us to exert our best efforts for the establishment of peace, compassion and universal humanness:
Congratulations be to the peacemakers, for they are called the children of God.
I conclude my speech with this verse from the Holy Quran in which Allah says:
Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it. And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it. T.Q., Sura 99, The Convulsion, verses 7-8.
Peace be upon you.