The Words of the al Faruqi Family

The Living Reality of Faith - Unificationist Muslim Dialogue

Ismall R. al Faruqi
December 1980

Dr. al Faruqi and Dr. Young Oon Kim, with Mrs. al Faruqi (back row), Andrew Wilson and Shirley Bowers.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful. Praise belongs to Allah, Lord of the Universe; and may His peace and blessing be upon our Prophet Muhammad, last of the prophets, the first of the Messengers, and upon his companions.

Dear brothers and sisters:

Muslims of the world who have come to know a little about the Unification Church are full of admiration for the Unificationists as people who have faith in God. It is not fashionable these days to have faith in God. Our world is full of materialism and secularism; people are proud of rejecting faith in God as an old superstition. They think that it is scientific and modern to believe in a world in which God does not exist. They are committed to atheism. So in this age, for the Unificationists to stand with chest out and chin up -- whether in Seoul, Tokyo, Chicago or New York City -- and say, "I believe in God," is an act of tremendous intellectual bravery which we Muslims appreciate very, very deeply.

Faith in God

Faith that Allah, may He be praised and glorified, is indeed Allah -- that God is indeed God, the Creator and Maker of the Universe, the Power that makes everything happen that does happen -- requires tremendous insight. There are those who believe in a God of the philosophers -- a kind of retired God, or deus otiosus as philosophers of religion like to call Him -- who having once done His duty of creation has since then been twiddling His thumbs, doing nothing. But to see God as the one and only ultimate reality and to see the whole of nature as the creation of God and the effect of His sustenance is an act of supreme intellectual vision and abstraction. To breathe and to know that Allah is the cause of your breathing, to see trees and to recognize Allah as the cause of the growth of every branch and leaf, to feel the rain falling on your face and to know with absolute certainty that it is Allah who sends it down -- in short, to believe in Allah as Islam requires -- is to be possessed by God and to live in an enchanted world.

For people brought up in an atmosphere of atheism, to convert to this faith is an act of tremendous bravery. The Unificationists are such people. Being all of one generation, most or all Unificationists must have once belonged to the atheistic culture of modern times. All the more worthy, therefore, is their rejection of that culture and their return to the life of faith. Such a return to God could not have come by accident. Its genuineness and intensity are evidenced in the Unificationists' discipline and action and in their proud and public assertion of their faith.

Such faith is indeed the work of God Himself. Beholding His divine work in this movement of faith, we Muslims bow in praise to Allah, for having stimulated their hearts, bringing them to faith in Him.

This is the first and most important aspect of any dialogue that we Muslims may have with Unificationists. It is one which rehabilitates them in our eyes and gives them the greatest esteem, regardless of the rest of their philosophy. To theorize about God and the world is a human activity that is always liable to error and omission, to falsification and prejudice. But to have authentic faith in God, to proclaim that faith and to call men to it is to have a base in which differences may be harmonized. All disputes may be resolved by referring to such a principle. It will always win for Unificationists the Muslims' greatest possible esteem.

Challenging secularism

The second point is that the faithlessness, materialism and secularism which have come to envelop the world pose a tremendous threat to religion. Unificationists have resolved to go against the stream and to challenge faithlessness in its very land and capital. The Unificationist challenge has not only won the admiration of Muslims but has also made them both brother soldiers on the same front. Brother soldiers working on one and the same front have an appreciation and willingness to cooperate which knows no limits, as long as that faith in God remains pure and intact.

Recognizing the purposiveness of creation

Thirdly, the Unificationists' faith in God is not empty. It is not merely a theological doctrine but is alive and bristling with content; thus it relates to every day's events. The vision of reality as God-centered is a modern -- even supra-modern -- vision. Only very recently, perhaps not before the last two decades, have scientists begun to speak of the teleological relations among the things of nature, which constitute a system of purposes. To the investigation of this "new" teleological order of nature they gave the name of "ecology". The perception of the world as a system of purposes intricately linked together is identical to what religionists have called God's design for creation. Its individual threads, or nexus, cannot be ultimately explained except in terms of the overall system. This, in turn, is identical to the religionists' "unity of divine purpose." The purposes which God has implanted in every item of nature are linked together to form a system precisely because they are God's purposes. In other words, it is God who makes of the various teleological threads a system. If these relationships did not tend towards unity, there would be no system: furthermore, if they are to unite, their unity cannot result from mere chance, because that would destroy the teleology of the individual chains. Teleological unity in nature is indeed purposive unity. No better definition of Divine Intelligence exists than this teleological unity of creation. Thus, to see nature and human life as falling within a system in which everything works for God and realizes the Will of God is to give human life a great purpose and to apprehend in it a sense and meaning. What a great contrast to the colorless gray of utility, the senselessness of anonymity and the vanity of nihilism characteristic of our modern times!

The recent discovery by the atheistic scientists of a teleological system in nature is for us, the people of religion, something as old as religion itself. It is something we have grown up with, because the teleology of nature is the first lesson we learned as children. It is a pity that nature had to reach such a degree of pollution before Western societies awoke to any vision of ecological balance in the world. The Unificationists can give the inspiration and encouragement that the world needs for the salvation of nature. Threat to life and to the very existence of our planet results from industrial pollution. It devolves upon Unificationists and Muslims to teach mankind and to spread this salutary vision of creation.

Rejecting the stumbling blocks of Christianity

Muslims admire Unificationists for their courage in saying a deliberate no to the stumbling blocks (in Greek, skandalon) of Christian theology: the trinity, the incarnation, the crucifixion and death of God, redemption as an ontological fait accompli, the church as body of God, the Pope as God's vicar on earth, the magisterium of the church, sacramentalism, etc. We certainly admire the clarity, precision and rationality which Unificationists have rejected these skandalons of Christianity and opened wide the way for reason to work out a rational methodology in theology. Uncritical, irrational dogma in religion is always a curse, because any myth, prejudice or illusion can claim divine status and serve as the foundation for a religion. And if reason is utterly banished from the field of religion, then religion is lost, and the world is lost with it. So for Unificationists to reject once and for all these irrational dogmatic assertions of Christianity, reopening as it were the Councils of Nicea and Chalcedon, is an act of tremendous intellectual insight and bravery which Muslims admire and share. Muslims are extremely happy that the skantialons of Christianity have finally been outgrown -- especially by Christians.

Witnessing through reason and example

A fifth point of Muslim admiration and approbation of the Unification movement is mission. To be an Unificationist means to assume a commitment to the faith that requires calling other men to it with decorum, good manners and an open mind. They allow reason to do its work, letting the best argument win and feeling free to convince and to be convinced. Muslims admire anyone with the courage of his own convictions. They admire the Unificationists who call men to God not only on the intellectual level but also on the practical level, teaching and convincing by their good example. Unashamedly feeling that the best is something that ought to be shared and enjoyed by everyone, and calling other men to God through reason and good example, Unificationists are men and women after our own hearts.

Promoting true internationalism

Sixthly, Unificationists have finally outgrown all claims of racism and particularism, perhaps the two worst scourges of humanity today. Let it not be assumed that since the founding of the United Nations all racism and particularism have disappeared from human relations. All the governments of the world and most of their peoples are nationalistic and ethnocentric, and hence victims of contagion by that terrible European virus. Just ask your neighbor whether or not he would rejoice to have his own faith and nation shared immediately by a billion Chinese, or half a billion black Africans or three quarters of a billion Hindus. I think he would be horrified by the idea. Were this to happen to the genuine universalist, on the other hand, he would take it as the greatest conquest and the greatest victory ever that Allah might bestow upon him, his nation and the world. So, a true universalism sends missionaries around the world calling men to God, but without creating church compounds that isolate people from their communities and make them agents of a new kind of colonialism. To want the whole world to have faith in God and treat other men as one's equal, that is genuine universalism which Muslims share with Unificationists. If both groups compete with each other in this regard, that is truly the worthiest competition and the noblest endeavor.

Restoration ethics

Finally, Muslims are full of admiration for Unificationists in so far as the latter accept and practice "the ethics of restoration." This ethics of restoration works to achieve a return to God and an understanding of history and of life which is God-centered. Identical to Islamic views, the Unification Principle asserts that the family constitutes the highest purpose of God's creation and the highest form of human existence.

Both call for self-discipline, or submission of the instincts and the emotions to the vision of God, and for the unity of mind and body as Divine Principle proclaims. Islam and Unification agree on a world- affirming ethics which sees man as the center of the universe, seeking a mastery of the world so that he may lead it toward good ends, the noblest of which is making the will of God supreme. This "ethics of restoration" is a field in which Muslims and Unificationists can cooperate, because both believe themselves to be commissioned by God to make history, and both understand the making of history as the actualization of the Divine Will on earth.

The Muslims' admiration of the "ethics of restoration" stands without regard to the metaphysical constructions on which it is based or which are derived from it, as we read them in Divine Principle. These belong to theological or metaphysical speculation. We place importance instead on the living reality Thought always comes hobbling after living reality, and living reality is the most important, because, after all, it is reality. The reality in question here is the living reality of faith in God. Thus, the metaphysical embroidery of the Divine Principle may never be accepted by Muslims. But no Muslim will allow it to stand in the way of recognition of the living reality itself -- nor of cooperal ion with that living reality in the cause of God on earth. 

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