Al-Jazeera’s Abderrahim Foukara Interviews the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
[Editor’s note: The following article contains excerpts of an interview which took place on September 10, 2010 at the National House in Chicago, Illinois.]
In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
Abderrahim Foukara (AF): Minister, the situation of Muslims in this country: Of late, there’s been a wave of “Islamophobia” in light of the project to erect the Islamic Center in New York; the United States is on the verge of mid-term election. In all these circumstances, how do you see the conditions of Muslims in the United States today?
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (HMLF): Since 9/11, Muslims in America have been the victims of FBI watching Muslims, arresting Muslims, breaking into Muslim homes. Muslims have suffered in the airports; being stopped because of their names. Searched once, searched twice; and sometimes even if they spoke Arabic, something would come up that might even deny them a flight.
Since 9/11, the way the government has acted toward Muslims, many Islamic scholars who would come to the United States to lecture, have found it difficult. And some, even now, do not wish to come because of what they have to go through to enter the United States. So the climate is getting increasingly more difficult.
AF: You said the “so-called Muslims” in reference to the people who are supposed to have carried out those attacks. Does that mean you don’t believe that 9/11 [was] carried out by Muslims? Or, does that simply mean that they think that you’re Muslims, but you, personally, Minister Louis Farrakhan, don’t think that they are the right kind of Muslim?
HMLF: I’m not here to be a judge of Muslims.
September 11th was very, very strange: 19 Muslims were put before the American public and the world two days after this heinous attack. Qur’ans were found, but before this, the Neo-Cons that were surrounding President Bush, who were the architects of something called a “Project For The New American Century,” said that America needed something like “Pearl Harbor”–9/11 was America’s new Pearl Harbor. To summon the American people in their anger and horror over what happened; now there are too many strange things that we question.
Five of the 19 so-called terrorists are alive and well in Saudi [Arabia]. Tell me: If airplanes crashed into the building, scientists have said that the amount of heat from the fuel in the planes could never melt steel. It would take something else. Those buildings fell in free-fall, like you see implosions that are controlled demolition. The Second Tower fell; there was no plane that attacked the third tower, but it, too, fell, heh? Something is wrong with that picture.
The American people, I believe, are being deceived by a government that was absolutely afraid of the growth of Islam in America. And they needed something to gather the American people, and under Zionist influence, stop the spread of Islam; stop funding for legitimate Islamic projects, and frighten the immigrant Muslims in America so that they would not speak up.
Lastly, I want to say, sir: There has to be in the future some real independent investigation of 9/11. Why do you say that, Farrakhan? Hitler blew up The Reichstag to gain power both militarily and politically over the German people. After 9/11 was done, the Patriot Act was passed; many of the American civil liberties were being curtailed. And so, Mr. [Larry] Silverstein, a few years before, bought the World Trade Center for a little over $3 billion. That building was filled with asbestos. It was not safe for dwelling.
He had in a clause in the contract that should a terrorist attack take place, he would be paid. So he made a fortune from that event. People had put-options on American Airlines, on United Airlines. For what? See, these are things that make me suspicious that this never was Osama Bin Laden, but it was something designed; and 3,000 deaths mean nothing to a political agenda that wishes to deceive the American people, and stop the spread of Islam in America.
AF: Minister, many people in the Arab world, in the Muslim world, believe in the things that you have said just now. But there are also a lot of other people who think that this is “conspiracy theory,” and that no matter how un-democratic the American political system may seem to be: For the government of the United States to commit such crimes as you said against its own people, in the kind of society and system that Americans live in, would be total lunacy.
And therefore, what you’re saying may seem to compound the problems that Muslims have not just in the Muslim world, but particularly here in the United States.
HMLF: If truth, and the search for truth, will compound the problem, then Allah Himself is the truth. And the Qur’an teaches if what is done is the weight of an atom, and hidden in the earth yet will Allah bring it forth. The Bible says the same thing. You cannot deceive the people forever!
America, the government: How did we get control of Cuba? Was it not a government plot to attack a ship called the “USS Maine” in the Cuban harbor, and claim that it was the Cubans, or the Spanish, who did this, so that they could go to war with Spain and take Spanish territories? This is a fact! Lyndon Johnson lied to the American people about an incident in the Gulf of Tonkin, and it sent American children to war in Vietnam. And thousands of lives were lost on the basis of a lie!
Now, you are a Muslim! And I am a Muslim! I believe in the Qur’an! Satan is not an accident. He’s real. Satan is at the head of conspiracies against The Righteous. The Christians also believe that there’s such a thing as a “devil,” and a “devil” will work with others to deceive the people!
The people of America and the people of the world, are being deceived, and have been deceived. And it’s only somebody that has been taught of God; that believes in God and will stand up for the truth, that will reveal that truth even if it costs his life.
AF: Minister Farrakhan, as you know, a lot of the Families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks will hear what you’re saying, and they will obviously be totally outraged. A lot of people in the Muslim world will hear what you’re saying, and they will say, as long as we don’t have ultimate evidence to support what you’re saying, “Minister Louis Farrakhan is trying to mislead us.”
HMLF: You’ve already been misled!
AF: What you could say to them to help them deal with that question?
HMLF: Well, let’s look at facts. Let’s call together an independent group of scientists and scholars to examine the evidence if so many people believe what I am saying, both in America and in the Muslim world. And there is some government commission that has done their so-called work, and they said, “Yes. It was these terrorists,” but let’s have a commission of inquiry! What is wrong with that? If so many people believe it, you can’t dismiss it, and say, “Well, these are just ‘conspiracy theories.’” No!
When this thing came up in New York, it came out in the New York Times in December. This is eight, nine months later. Why didn’t this “hue and cry” come up after it was announced in December? So now you have 70-something percent of the American people not in favor of that mosque. Why?
Why is it that we could send aid to Haiti, aid to other places? Pakistan is suffering! Pakistanis are dying–but the aid is not there! Why? Is it because we’re tired of sacrificing for the destruction of human life? Or, is it because they are Muslims, and our government is presently sending drones in to bomb areas of Pakistan? I think, as a Muslim, that we need to open our eyes. There’s nothing wrong with questioning government decrees–that’s the blessing of living in America. I’m not being irresponsible for what I am saying. I’m asking for answers! And we, the American people, deserve answers!
It wasn’t only those few White families that died in that attack! It was Muslims, it was Christians, it was Jews, it was Hindus, it was Buddhists, it was people from all over the world! How, then, would single out Muslims and say, “You are too close to this. This is hallowed ground.”
What makes it “hallowed,” see? Is this your determination, that it’s now “holy ground”? What about all of the lives that were lost in World War I; the lives that were lost in the Civil War? The soil of America is soaked with blood! All of this should be hallowed ground against war and violence!
AF: The issue of the Islamic Center in New York: Is the problem in Americans who are opposed to having the center at such close proximity to the site of the 9/11 attacks? Or is the problem actually in the Muslims themselves, who should have had their finger on the pulse of the American people, so that they would know and think and act strategically?
HMLF: I cannot blame the Muslims for believing in the Constitution of the United States of America, that guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of assembly. So if they believed in that supreme law of the United States, they could not foresee the anger, the vitriol that would build as a result of their desire to build that cultural center in which, they say, would be a place of worship for Muslims, Christians and Jews; a place of fellowship. I think it’s a wonderful idea.
And I thought Imam [Feisal Abdul] Rauf handled himself on CNN the other night in a magnificent way; and when they asked him, “If you knew that it would bring about this, would you have done it?” And I think after thought, he said, “No. I would not have done it.” It’s not his fault for believing in America more than America believes in its Constitution. But, now that the hue and the cry has arisen, the next step, of course, is his. I liked what he said; he didn’t want to embolden “radicals.”
The lady on television that lost a member of her family: She’s not a “radical.” You could listen to her; she’s not an “extremist.” She’s a good American woman. But there are others that take the sentiment, the emotion, the hurt, the pain of the American people, and raise it to a level where, now, having a mosque there is like quote-unquote a sign said, “Spitting on the grave of those who lost their lives that day.”
So, I don’t blame the Muslims for not seeing what they could not see; what they did not expect. Nor do I blame the innocent Americans who have been ill-affected by anti-Islamic propaganda.
AF: What is the state of bridges between African American Muslims and Muslims of Arab descent, or of Asian descent?
HMLF: Well first, my dear brother, we have to understand what has happened to Black people in America. Many of us who came to this country in the hulls of ships: We did not come seeking the “American Dream.” We were slaves. But, we were slaves not in the sense that the Qur’an speaks of “slavery”; or, that slavery existed in other parts of the world.
We were chattel slaves; we came with Islamic names, and African names; Islamic culture, African culture; Islamic history, African history, and all of that was stripped from us, so that out of all of these Black people in America, none of us speak our original language, none of us wear our original names. None of us worship the God that we worshiped before we came, or were brought, to America. So now, we are in a state, if you don’t mind my saying, of jahiliyya: abominable ignorance.
I know we have an African American president, many brilliant Black men and women in government. They are not the “norm.” They are out of the norm. It’s the masses of Black people that are suffering. So, the masses of us in ignorance really need Islam. We need a civilizing message.
Unfortunately, there are Palestinians, who are Christians; Palestinians who are Muslims: Some of them come in our community, they set up their business. They sell liquor, they sell pork, they abuse our women. This is not the way of Allah, and Islam. So in many cases, the Blacks in the ghettoes don’t have a favorable opinion of Arabs. And, Black people have been fed that Arabs were involved in the slave trade. That Arabs misused Africans. That Arabs abused, and have this superior thought over Black people. So, the bridge-building is difficult. But it is being built.
An Arab came to us from Mecca: Fard Muhammad. We love that Man with a pure, unadulterated love, because He came and offered us not only Islam, but a methodology to raise us from a savage state. We thank Allah for Him.
I am a Muslim! I thank Allah for the Arabs, because of all the people that have received divine revelation, the Arab has kept the Qur’an pure. So, for me, there is a bridge; and we will continue to work on building that bridge. But there also is a racist poison that exists in the Arab mind that was seen in the time of the prophet: When Bilal accepted Islam, he was persecuted by the early Muslims. So this sense that we are “inferior,” that we are “less than” White Arabs, or, other Arabs, or Muslims–that feeling will be done away with as we rise into civilized Islamic behavior and culture.
So I am hopeful. In fact, I know that a bridge will be built between us and the Arab world; us, and the Islamic world, because Allah has said it. And Allah speaks the truth.
AF: Do you subscribe to the notion held by some Muslims who say that when they look at the ills that plague Muslim societies today, in the Muslim world; and they compare them with some of the problems that Muslims face in this country, they have greater hope for the future of Muslims in this country than they do for the future of Muslims in the Muslim world?
HMLF: Well, I can understand that. The constitutional guarantees of this country are superior to the nationalistic constitutions that are in the Arab and Islamic world.
There are many wonderful things in our world of Islam that the West could learn from. And there are many wonderful things in the West that our Islamic world can learn from. So Allah says He’s the Lord of the East and the West; and in Surah , “The Bee”: We take the best out of this world, and the best out of our world, and produce a healing.
So, you know, the hope of Islam is that every race, every ethnicity, every people that are on this Earth will one day live under a Universal Government of Peace, where all of us can exist as brothers and sisters. That’s the hope of Jesus Christ. That’s the hope of Prophet Muhammad. And that is the reason for the Coming of Mahdi: To master the Day of Religion, that all of these divisions that have created so much hatred, that these divisions will be obliterated by The Presence of a Supreme Truth.
And the Qur’an says, “When truth comes, falsehood vanishes. And falsehood is forever a vanishing thing.”
AF: When you’re talking about the inflamed situation in the Muslim world with regard to the way that [there’s] Islamophobia in the United States, how do you rate President Barack Obama’s handling of the Terry Jones issue?
HMLF: First, during Iftar at the White House, when President Obama said that these Muslims should be able to build a mosque or center wherever they would desire, Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg agreed; Rabbi [Marc] Schneier, and others that are with Rabbi Schneier, agreed.
There are many Christians and Jews, and members of other faith traditions that felt that he should be free to build that mosque. But the more they said that, the greater the “anti-feeling” developed.
Reverend Jones, who admitted he never read the Qur’an; he doesn’t know that in the Qur’an we believe that Jesus, the son of Mary, is The Messiah. He doesn’t know of our respect and honor for Jesus and the Christians. And, Allah’s respect and honor for them that is seen in the Holy Book. However, that poor young man, or, older man who wished to burn the Qur’an, has inflamed the world.
How did it inflame the world? Here’s a man in some non-descript part of Florida, with a very small congregation, and the media blew him up, and the incident. If we paid him no attention, even if he burned 100 Qur’ans, he would not have affected the world. But such an act of disrespect of Islam, and a billion, six hundred million Muslims: Once it becomes viral, then the whole world sees it; it inflames. … And you know, people act out of what they think they know or believe. That man was acting out of a state of ignorance about this book, Qur’an, and about what Islam is.
So when people act out of their ignorance, the thing that disturbed me more than Rev. Jones, was the fact that somebody like Franklin Graham didn’t weigh in on this. Or, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club didn’t weigh in. The Pope, all the way from the Vatican weighs in, but strong religious leaders in America didn’t say anything–the strongest. And it’s like they’re encouraging this. So thanks be to God! I pray that he will not burn the Qur’an.
But in closing our discourse: This is not new. When the Americans occupied Iraq, what happened at Abu Ghraib? Were not Qur’ans flushed in toilets, and urinated on? Not only there, but in Guantanamo Bay, under American supervision? Were not Iraqi women raped, and men forced into homosexual acts in Abu Ghraib? So much so that the president refused to release the pictures that they have of what happened, because he knew that if he released those pictures, it would bring about terrible results within the American society, not just with Muslims.
So there’s a hatred that’s building. And it didn’t start with Rev. Jones. His idea of burning the Qur’an–we have to go back to eight, nine, 10 years ago with the horror of 9/11; and all of the propaganda that came up about Islam and Muslims.
I am not sure that I heard everything that President Obama said. But if he spoke to the issue, you know, he’s the highest elected official in the land.
Naturally, to bring him out to speak against this–General Petraeus, [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates: These are people that know something about the Islamic world; they know something about the Islamic zeal for the Qur’an, the Islamic zeal for Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. So when you do things to stimulate that–and American interests are all over the world!–you’re stirring up something that could be disastrous.
And so to say that “fear”–someone on CNN was saying they’re trying to stoke fear in the American people. Look: If you’re intelligent, you don’t jump into a lion’s den, and say, “I’m not afraid!” Well, you won’t be in there long. So the idea is intelligent people fear consequences of their actions!
This is very unintelligent; and the whole world of intelligence spoke against it! So if it happens, I pray that the Muslim world will see it like this: This is a man whose hatred of Islam drove him to disobey the guidance of all those who advised him.
And the Islamic world should not feel that if he burns this Qur’an, that that is the consensus of all Americans. Take the consensus from the Pope, the president, the European rulers and leaders who have Muslims throughout their nations: They don’t wanna see anything like that.
And neither do the masses of the American people.
AF: Minister, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
HMLF: No, I appreciate you and your questions.