The Unified Principles of Our Faith

On Sunday morning, January 8th, UUS:E was honored to welcome Imam Kashif Abdul-Karim, resident Imam of the Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford, into its pulpit. The text to his khutbah (sermon) is below. We were also blessed to welcome Mr. Bashir Labanga, who offered a traditional Muslim call to prayer. You can listen here:

Bashir Labanga, Call to Prayer, UUS:E, 1-8-12

Video here.

Imam Kashif Abdul-Karim

The Unified Principles of Our Faith

Islam is a religion that many people believe has its origins in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. But true students of Islam know that the religion of Islam has its origins in the establishment of the creation. Muslims believe there are only two things that exist: The Creator and the creation. We believe the creator is God and the creation is Muslim. God is not in any part of the creation but the supreme creator over creation. We also believe that the creation itself is Muslim. This means the stars, the moon, the trees, human beings, all that exist is Muslim. Regardless of what we may call ourselves, be it Christian, Jew, or other, we are all Muslim. We believe this to be true because Muslim means one who submits to the will of God.

The Arabic term gets in the way. If I asked you if you are one who submits to the will of God you would say yes. But if I asked the same question using an Arabic term–are you Muslim?–many of you would say no. We are told in the Quran, the holy book of the Muslim, that everything is Muslim. “Everything submits willingly or unwillingly to God.” We believe it is in our universal nature, and in our universal origin to do so. So through this basic understanding we see a shared guiding principle. We have a universal brotherhood with all of mankind, and also a universal relationship with creation and with God. In Islam this concept is called “tawheed”. It is the basic understanding of the oneness of God and the oneness of creation. This means we must also respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We must respect the inherent good that God has placed in the “fitrah” nature of all of creation, this nature of excellence. We do not believe that man is inherently evil, but that he is inherently good. We do not believe in original sin or in sin that is transferable from one soul to the next. We believe no soul bears the burden of another. However we do believe we are our brother’s keepers. So we believe we should protect the inherent worth that God has established in human beings.

We must stand for justice and equity and have true compassion for one another. In Islam we believe this is an inherent right that God has established for not only human beings but for all of creation. The body has rights over us, just as the soul has rights over us. The whole of creation has rights as well. We should be environmentalist. God has established rights for water, trees, and the environment at large. We are told that we should not waste, not do anything in excess, such as cutting down trees beyond our needs, or running water wastefully.  To be reminded of these concepts, God has named himself after these attributes. We call him by 99 Names from the Quran. God is named The Just, The Compassionate, The Equitable, and The Source of Peace. These attributes are attributes that we as Muslims are told to strive towards.  The goal of God as stated in your principles and ours, are for a world community of peace, liberty, and justice for all.


In Al-Islam we are told in our holy book that we will all be judged by our books. Unlike many of our brothers and sisters in the Abrahamic faith we believe there is a variety of doors to God. We believe in God’s openness and diversity in faith.

God says in the Quran in Sura 2:Ayat 62:

(Y. Ali) Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

God goes further in Sura 5, Ayat 48 (Y. Ali) to stress the universal brotherhood of the prophets and the continuity of revelation:

5:48 To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah. it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute.

As we examine this brotherhood in scripture and in prophecy we should see the need to accept one another and encourage each other’s spiritual growth, for it brings us closer to finding the higher truths that God has established for mankind. It should also instill in us a respect for the interdependent web of God’s full creation.

I was born a Muslim by nature but I was raised as a Southern Baptist. My mother introduced me to Christianity in Rockingham, North Carolina. This is my answer when people tell me I should go back where I came from.

As a college student I had an innate passion for African American History and Social justice. I was president of the African American Cultural Center and president of the Black Student Association at UConn. All my research and courses I attached to “my people” and to social change. When I researched my history I found that my ancestors had come from the west coast of Africa. This is true for most African Americans. The most interesting finding in my research was that the slaves who came to America came to America as Muslims. This was a great surprise; I had to find why this was kept out of the general African American history books. What were the Secrets in The Quran and in The Religion that were hidden so well? I concluded it was the aspects of freedom, justice and equality that Islam taught. I found that Islam offered me a way to address social justice and to serve God. This is the essence of my faith and I’m sure aspects of my faith resonate with your faith as well.

The question then arises, if what I have said is true, why do we see so much oppression in the world from Muslims. Why do we see shariah laws that are oppressing people around the world and even Muslims? The simplest answer is illiteracy, cultural baggage being promoted over religion and the political agendas of countries being denied there humanity, having these agendas of the suffering forced upon religious leadership.

Illiteracy is as high as 70 percent in some Muslim countries. It is higher in parts of Africa and among Women. Many Muslims are unable to understand the Quran in their own languages. They can recite the Arabic by memory but many are unable to translate the meaning into a language they can understand. Many Muslims are therefore dependent on scholars and sheiks to tell them what the Quran means. So words like jihad that mean internal struggle between good and evil can come to mean “Holy wars against the infidels”. The word jihad is never used in the Quran for war. It is used to deal with internal spiritual conflict. It is used for holy wars by the prophet only during times of self defense, not aggression. A Muslim is told that he can only engage in war when he is being denied the freedom of his religion or in periods of oppression. The same founding principles were hailed by Patrick Henry when he said “Give me liberty or give me death.” These are the same basic elements found in the US Constitution that we as Americans value and for which we have sacrificed.

As Muslims we have a democratic process that was in place 1400 years ago. It is called Shura. It is a process that supports elections and voting, a process that gave women the right to inheritance, council, divorce and a voice in community life. This did not occur in America until the 1940s. The concept of democracy is a deeply entrenched Islamic principle but it is based on limited freedoms. We are free to engage in good and support good but immoral things we are not free to engage in or support. The majority is not always right in Islam, if the final vote is unjust. We see this evident in our congress and in our senate. Look at what the house has voted for in terms of healthcare, and the detainment of US citizens without due process. The majority wins but the outcomes are not just and not Islamic.

Muslims lean on Shariah law for direction. Shariah is what all people of faith lean on for guidance whether they are Muslim, Jewish or Christian. As the issue of shariah is being addressed in this country its implications impact Jews as well as Muslims. This is a common concern that Muslims and Jews could deal with together. Shariah literally means the path to the water hole. When we consider the importance of a well-trodden path to a source of water for man and beast in the dry desert environment, we can appreciate why this term could have become a metaphor for a whole way of life ordained by God. Shariah law, like all laws, is based on interpretation. When good men interpret the law it produces good. When evil men interpret the law it can produce evil. This is true in the American judicial system as well. Muslims need to understand that the application of Shariah law may have different applications in America than other places. Shariah is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. This is similar to the Jews obeying the Torah and the instructions of Moses. To deny Muslims the shariah is to deny the Muslims the Quran and the prophet.

Muslims have been part of the American fabric for 500 years. Muslims have been on the plantations of the south, merged into Native American culture, fought in the civil war, excelled in sports, entertainment and many fields of science. However, negative reaction to the flux of immigrants, racism, and the horrid pictures of 911 continue to distort the good picture of the American people and what we stand for. Terrorist will win if we stop being the America we are proud of. If we lose our morality, our element of freedom, and our appreciation for diversity the terrorists will win. Their goal was to make America a lie. We the faithful must keep the morality of the just in front. So it is our prayer that God strengthens us and empowers us to move towards his good. We ask all the people supporting the spirit of truth to help us in this work. Let us begin by asking the people to say: