[Editor’s Note: This article was previously published online on April 21, 2003.]
” …Allah invites to the abode of peace, and guides whom He pleases to the right path. For those who do good is good (reward) and more (than this). …These are the owners of the Garden; therein they will abide. –Holy Qur’an 10:25, 26
On November 5, 1994, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered a speech in which he opened with a clear and beautiful explanation of the significance of the greetings: As-Salaam-Alaikum. Here are his words, slightly edited.
“I should like to start with the greetings. ‘As-Salaam-Alaikum.’ Peace be unto you. What a wonderful way Allah and His Christ have taught us to greet one another: ‘Peace be unto you.’
“This is not a slogan. It’s not a password. It is the greeting word of the righteous, who have been civilized into the way of Allah. Allah’s way is peace. He is the Author of peace. He leads to the abode of peace. Therefore, it is fitting that when the righteous meet one another that we say, not in a slogan, not as a cheap password, but as a humble petition to Allah–‘Peace be unto you.’
“Well, let’s just take the words and see just what we’re saying. Are we in harmony with what we’re saying? It is only hypocrisy if we are not in harmony with what we’re saying. It is only hypocrisy if we offer something to someone and we really don’t desire it for that person.
“I offer you peace.’ And you said to me, ‘And unto you be peace.’ Well, since peace is really the nature of Allah and it is the gift of Allah, it is more precious than silver and gold. It is more valued and more desired than all material possessions.
“There are some in this room who can boast that they live in fine homes and drive fine automobiles and wear the best of clothing. But nothing of material wealth can give you peace. Though we want nice things and we deserve nice things and we should have and we will have the best that Allah has to offer–for you are the best and you deserve the best, [but] striving to get the best and falling short in your quest for material things [can] lead to disappointment. Even when you’re blessed to get the car that you sought, the job that you sought, the furniture that you sought, the home that you sought, none of that can give you peace.
“There are people today who are richer than all of us in this room combined and [they] would give it all up if they could just have a moment of peace. What we don’t understand about peace is that the person that has peace and contentment of mind has the power in that peace to heal the diseases of the body.
“Disease, dis-ease, starts from the lack of peace. So, the most diseased community is the community that has the least peace, and the most healthy and happy community is the community that has the most peace.
“This peace that we offer to one another is not a word alone. It is an action that is a sphere of law, or that it encompasses a sphere of law; a code of behavior; a way of thinking and a path of action.
“Islam leads to peace. Well, what is Islam? It’s called the religion of peace. But peace then can only be obtained–real peace–by total and complete submission to do the will of Allah. That’s wonderful.
“So when you say, ‘As-Salaam Alaikum,’ you’re saying alot. Each one of us, as Muslims, must think about what we’re saying, lest we be charged with hypocrisy. Nobody, nobody wants to be a hypocrite. No body. That is the ugliest kind of human being–the person that says from his or her mouth what is not in his or her heart.
“I offer you peace. You offered me peace. That’s good. That means–if we mean it–there’s peace between us. But the peace between us means nothing unless there’s peace between each one who is a member of the house and the Nation of peace.
“So, you offer me peace, but did you offer it sincerely to one another? ‘Well no. I didn’t offer no peace to that so-and-so over there. See, I don’t–he ain’t right and I didn’t offer him peace. In fact, when they give me the greetings, I turn my head like I don’t see them.’
“If you did not offer peace to one another, the peace that you offer me is suspect.”
(Then Minister Farrakhan made a very significant point, concerning the treatment of the ‘least Believer and that Believer’s value’ that he stated he would later prove. We’ll also bring it up later in this series, Allah willing.)
“Peace be unto you.
“When I offer you peace, what I am saying is: I am striving to bring my entire being into subjection to the will of God. That means that every member of this body, must be in subjection to the will of Allah that I have learned and have in the forefront of my mind, so that as David said, ‘The law of God is a lamp unto my feet and I meditate on it night and day.’
“So the law of God, which is the embodiment of His will, which gives us the limits within which, we as His people can function. Anything that approaches the limits approaches and encroaches upon peace. When I exceed the limits, I am then breaking somebody’s peace. When I break somebody’s peace, I have already broken my own.
“Let’s look at the beauty of the faith that Allah gave us and the nature that He gave us and look at the mockery that we make of such beauty because we really don’t understand. We are not a bad people. We just don’t understand. But the question is, if you’re made to understand will you do better?
“Let’s see how we offer each other peace. Let’s talk about what this peace is now. Peace cannot be based on falsehood, dishonesty. Peace is based on truth and our actions, in accord with truth, brings justice. Justice preserves peace. Injustice provokes disorder.
“Peace be unto you.
“When you say it, and Allah says it, does it mean the same thing? When God offers you peace, He offers each one of us security, for the very word Muslim means, ‘one who has been made secure and by that security has entered into peace.’
“I am safe, therefore, I am at peace. When I am not safe, I don’t feel secure. I feel encroached upon. I feel threatened. How, then, can I be at peace in an atmosphere when I feel threatened? How can I?
“When Allah offers you peace, He offers you a way to be made safe and secure. Therefore, He’s not just Merciful, but He’s Beneficent. He’s the grantor of security. He is the Sufficer of all needs.
“You have needs; I have needs. We all have needs that need to be sufficed. So, Allah says in the Qur’an that for the Messenger, Allah is sufficient for him. If Allah is sufficient for you, as an individual, then you are made secure in your relationship to God.
“That is the first step in making peace.”
More next issue, Allah willing.