The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. On the 50th anniversary of that solemn day, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee held a special gathering of remembrance at All Saints’ Cathedral.
The program was led by the Very Reverend Kevin Carroll, and explored Dr. King’s legacy and the work yet to be done to fulfill his dream. The audience of nearly two hundred people in attendance represented various faith groups in Milwaukee. They joined together, listening to stories of hope and repeated calls for direct and personal action by each individual.
“Continuing Dr. King’s Call: An Interfaith Gathering,” featured reflections on the life and work of the slain Civil Rights leader from the perspective of a Christian pastor, a Jewish rabbi, and a Muslim Imam.
The speakers included Elana Kahn, Jewish Community Relations Council – Milwaukee Jewish Federation; Rabbi Noah Chertkoff, Congregation Shalom; Imam Yaseen Domineck, Masjid Ar-Rahman / Milwaukee Islamic Da’wah Center; Reverend Dr. John Walton, Calvary Baptist Church; Rhonda Hill, Interfaith Dialogue Program; and Tom Heinen, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.
The audio of Imam Domineck’s public address was recorded live at the interfaith gathering, and the photos share highlights from the event. Also included is a condensed written version of Imam Yaseen’s remarks.
On this occasion marking the 50th year since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we gather because of the mission of a man that had a wonderful dream. A man that spent his life working tirelessly for social justice until he was assassinated for that Noble cause.
We are here today because of that mission, that wonderful dream of social justice, equality and freedom from oppression. But while we have worked to make that dream a reality, we have still not reached it yet. Yes indeed, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a calling. He had a calling that echoed across the globe. And wonderful people are still working to make his dream a reality. We must all join together to do so. And it must start from within ourselves, by being true to ourselves, and true to our Creator, then we can be true to each other.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was certainly not the first man to stand up and call the people to social justice, point out inequality, and demand freedom from oppression. Many men before him also had the call, and many of those men were prophets and messengers of GOD.
Islam has many lessons illustrating the importance of social justice, equality among men, and freedom from oppression.
Islam addresses the issue of racial equality by reminding us of our humble beginnings, that we are all created from Adam and Hawwa, known as Eve. In the final revelation of GOD, the Noble Quran that was sent to mankind, he says “Oh mankind, indeed I have created you from one male and one female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you will be able to recognize and get to know one another. Indeed, the most honorable of you in front of GOD is the one who is more conscious of HIM.”
And in the statement of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, he said “People, all of you are children of Adam, peace be upon him, and Adam was created from dirt.”
So this verse from the Quran and this narration of Prophet Muhammad, as well as many others show that we are all equal no matter what color we are, what language we speak, or land we come from. And what is important is our duty to be conscious of our LORD.
Islam also addresses the issue of being just to everyone. It says in the Noble Quran, “Oh you that have believed, stand up persistently for justice and equality and be witnesses for Allah. Even if it is against your own selves, or your parents, or your relatives whether they be rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of them. Do not follow your inclinations, your personal desires, least you become unjust and distort justice, or refuse to be just. Know that Allah is aware of everything that you do.”
The Prophet Muhammad said, “The best struggle is stating the truth, and speaking a just word in front of an oppressive leader.” And he asked, “How will Allah purify a nation when the oppressed are not given their rights from those that are not oppressed?”
In these statements we see Islam addressing the importance of establishing justice, with the success and stability of a nation depending on the weak being given their rights.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, gave a clear statement of his position on what breeds social justice and equality. He said, “He is not from us who calls to racism, he is not from us who fights for racism, he is not from us who dies upon racism.”
We believe that the prophets and messengers, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, David, Solomon, Jesus, and Muhammad, spoke the truth and were united in their call, beginning with Adam and ending with Muhammad, peace be upon them all.
“Worship Allah and stay away from false gods” is a lasting call to guide us away from the evils that lead to racism.
– Imam Yaseen
Wisconsin Muslim Journal