***Brother Omar Abdul-Malik will by joining my this Saturday, October 10 to discuss his sermon and many other related issues on The American Muslim Radio Show live @ 11:00am ET***
Short Sermon Delivered by Omar Abdul-Malik @Harvard’s Memorial Chapel on Friday September 18, 2009
This Mornings Scripture is from the Holy Koran Chapter 103 entitled Al-Asr or the Time
Bismi Allahi alrrahmani alrraheemi
2. Inna al-insana lafee khusrin
3. Illa allatheena amanoo waAAamiloo alssalihati watawasaw bialhaqqi watawasaw bialssabri
1. By the Time
2. Surely Man is in Loss
3. Except those who believe and do good works and recommend each other in the way of truth
Here ends the lesson
One of the great debates within theology is the question the relationship between man and God. That is, is God a shapeless omnipresent Geist or Spirit that has the ability to be everywhere at once or a Supreme Being or like Superman who has a human form yet possesses powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men?
This topic becomes especially heated when applied to the polemics within Abrahamic Monotheism whether Islam, Christianity or Judaism.
During my research of Islamic movements in America, I found that several of the early American Muslim movements took the position that God and Man were the same or had equal potential.
The Moorish Science Temple movement led by Noble Drew Ali stated that man was mind and that mind is God. He reasoned that Man was formed by God and filled with Divine Breath or Spirit which represent the mind of God.
The Ahmadiyah Muslim movement stated that man had the potential thru focused prayer and works to become a spiritual being known as an Ahsan Kamal …a human who is one with God.
The Nation of Islam puts forth the idea that Man is a collective God and that revelation comes through an elevated individual who is “God in the person”.
Of course, these late 19th and 20th century exegeses of Islamic scripture are seen as Heterodoxy by Scholars and Authorities who insist that God is unseen and unknowable.
In Islamic history a 10th century Scholar and mystic known as Mansor Al-Hallaj declared in a heightened state of spirituality , “Ana Al-Haqq!”, “God is in me, I am God!”. Unfortunately, for Al-Hallaj, the Abbasid rulers of the time did not appreciate his sense of rapture and promptly tortured and crucified him.
Jesus/Isa speaking to the Pharisees in John chapter 10, states “Is it not written that you are Gods?” He follows this with a statement similar to that of Al-Hallaj…declaring “God is in me, and I am in God!”…with similar results.
According to the Biblical scholar Gordon Kaufman, Yahweh of the Hebrew Bible, starts off as a “hands on” deity without the overwhelming remote power that we envision God having today. In the Old Testament, God comes and goes in and out of the Garden of Eden. In the book of Genesis when God returns he is required to call out to Adam and Eve in order to determine their location. He is directly responsible for the plantings in the Garden and personally designed the couple’s Post-Apple ensemble. In the Holy Koran, chapter 15:28 speaks of Allah creating man from Hamaain Salsaalin or Black mud with the assistance of other Beings. The Bible says …We made man in our image and likeness also indicating that some other beings took part in the process. Who were those other guys?
Further, after Adam, Eve and the Serpent are dressed down and expelled from the Garden, God mentions to his assistants that since the First Couple have eaten of the forbidden fruit of knowledge, that, “man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and from the tree of life and eat and live forever”.
Guards are posted at the tree of life, thus depriving man of the sacred space between humans and the divine… the absence of death or the fear thereof…Although thwarted here, there is the hint that man has a potential that has not yet been realized.
It is not my intention here to be a passionate critic of Orthodoxy or Fundamentalism, but only to raise questions that are posed by scripture itself. The meaning of life and the nature of God are important subjects today and people are seeking answers where ever they can be found. Hence the growing interest in so-called Eastern religions and alternative forms of worship.
Our own Harvey Cox has made the observation that today people of faith are ignoring dogma and barriers between different religions with a heightened sense of spirituality replacing fundamental orthodoxy.
I would add to this spirit of optimism by suggesting that just as the barriers between the secular and sacred have become thinner, the walls between the mankind and the source of creation will dwindle as well. Mankind is destined to pursue and embrace the creator within. Not so much to become Supreme Beings but to become Supreme Doers of Good.
Let Us Pray
Al-Fatiha and Lord’s Prayer