“I just need to know what do you really believe Pastor Brown? Do you support the Nation of Islam and Minister Louis Farrakhan?”
This was the question that hit my Facebook inbox when I posted that I would be going to support the Fruit of Islam (FOI) – the name for the Black Muslim’s Men’s Ministry.
Recently, the FOI began a campaign of outreach across the country where Muslim Men head into communities plagued by violence to try and persuade people to be more peaceful. I was so inspired by this that I shared that I would be joining them. Some Christians who follow me on Facebook couldn’t believe that I as a Christian pastor would do such a thing.
In an editorial entitled Our Work Is In The Streets, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan described their motives. “We desire for the World to know that we do not do these things for money nor were we offered any money from any municipality to come out into the streets to try to stem the rising tide of violence. We came into the streets, and by the Grace of Allah (God) will stay in the streets out of the love that we have for our people and our desire to serve them.” The Minister continued, “It is written in the New Testament, “Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your Father which art in Heaven.” If it is the Will of Allah (God), we will be going into the streets en masse every Monday…”
I know it might be puzzling to some, but my decision to support was based on a few factors. For one, if there was a group of organized, disciplined Christian Men who were in the streets on a regular basis, I would be with them, but Christian Men generally speaking are not doing this. This may be one of the reasons why it is believed that more Black men attend the Mosque than the Church! At least that’s what one gathers from readings like Adam! Where are you? Why Black Men don’t go to church by Jawanza Kunjufu.Instead of criticizing these brothers for doing the work that’s needed in terms of outreach to the community, Christians should be inspired by them and pray for the many Bishops and religious leaders of churches in America of considerable influence. No doubt, the Black Church in particular has national figures that could easily popularize and emphasize this level of sustained, organized, and disciplined outreach by Christian Men.
Second, I’ve learned that supporting other religious groups in areas where there is agreement and common interest creates a bridge for meaningful relationships. I agree with the Muslims that we need less violence in our community and safer neighborhoods benefit everyone. Why wouldn’t I support that? I want my family to be safe like any others – no matter the religious identity.
I am committed to religious cooperation on areas of common interest. This is the kind of Beloved Community that I believe God would have us to strive toward.
The Fruit of Islam (FOI) should be commended for their outreach in communities across the United States including here in Baltimore. Their witness is inspiring and it sends an important signal that as far as Faith-based organizations are concerned – something beyond the ordinary is needed to engage the unique challenges of our time.