I was driving when NPR announced the death of Nelson Mandela.
My instant response was to recite a verse from Quran 2:156 in Arabic, “(إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ) Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.” It simply means, we belong to God and to God we shall return. I pulled over in the shopping strip, closed my eyes, and prayed. May God bless his soul and grace him with his eternal love. Mandela is with Allah now, Amen!
Then the second thought shook me up from my prayers. How would Muslims receive my response? It took me back to a severe situation I had encountered in April 2003. Prophet Muhammad’s and Buddha’s birthday fell in the same week, and on my Radio shows “Wisdom of religion, all the beautiful religions” I wished Peace be upon Buddha and Peace be upon Prophet Muhammad as I do with all the spiritual masters.
All hell broke loose, I was told to apologize for mixing the two individuals, and that I cannot say Peace to them in the same breath. A fatwa was in my face making my marriage null and void per some technicality. This is an age old technique employed by clergy in all religions, to frighten and to ex-communicate, thank God for the guts he has blessed me with. After considerable exchange of words, I concluded, go ahead and make my day, and no one has made my day yet, except the death threats I receive when I am on Hannity show.
As a Muslim committed to nurturing the pluralistic values embedded in Quran in building cohesive societies where no human has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. I am driven to express the sentiments of a majority of Muslims, who have prayed for Nelson Mandela, the man of peace in their own hearts.
God says (Quran, Bhagvad Gita and Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the holy book of Bahá’ís) that whenever the societies goes in disarray, someone from among them will restore the righteousness. God assures that he loves us all and sends a man of peace to every community. Indeed, blessed are the peace makers (Jesus).
Nelson Mandela was one of the righteous individuals; he was committed to freedom, liberty and justice of his people, by extension all people. The Bhagvad Gita says, the whole world is one family, i.e., Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum.
Quran 49:13, “O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant.” Indeed, Mandela in the sight of God is the most righteous one.
God does not discriminate between Muslim, Jews, Christians and others, Quran [2:62] “Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians or anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day (accountability of one’s actions), and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
So as a Muslim, I prayed for Nelson Mandela, and it is time we all become like God and honor every human regardless of his belief. May God keep his wisdom and the flame of freedom alive! Praying for him in essence is rekindling the spirit of freedom within us.
He is one of my heroes, and I am influenced by his unselfishness and his larger embrace of humanity.
I can never forget the Sunday of February 11, 1990, it was an emotionally charged day for me, I was glued to the TV to watch the historic event happening in my life time; the release of Nelson Mandela from the South African Prison. I choked, and I cried.
Freedom is the most cherished value for me, and to see freedom at last for a man in an apartheid nation was worth crying. A new tone of democracy was going to be set in the world for the first time in the predominantly Black African Nation.
Can you imagine the power Mandela held? He shook the empire, they could have easily killed or poisoned him, but they did not have the guts to do that.
What made Gandhi, Mandela, and MLK successful?
None of them had anything to gain, all they wanted was justice and harmony in the society, and that was their drive, when you become unselfish, you can do a lot of good to the world. It begins with learning to respect the otherness of other and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Nelson Mandela is one of my mentors. Some of the other joy-teary moments that I can recall are – release of Mandela, fall of the Berlin wall, Obama’s election night, Peace treaty between Israeli and Egypt, Peace between Ireland and England, Aung San Su Kyii’s release and Freedom at last for the Egyptian people, and now his departure. This is my way of honoring him.
What made these men and women unique and powerful? They were free from the pettiness and were all embracing and affectionate like the spiritual Masters of all religions. Several things were common to them; among them are:
1) No wall between them and another soul
2) No religious and political boundaries for them
3) No preference when it came to serving another human
4) The good they did, benefited larger humanity than self
5) Justness was a paramount value for them
6) No bone of prejudice in them.
7) Their world is the same size as God’s world.
God bless Mandela, Amen!
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and
offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day atwww.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest onSean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.