Imam’s Open Letter to Memphis

GUEST COLUMNIST

IMAM RASHAD SHARIF

When Dr . King delivered his Mountaintop address, speaking from Memphis on April 3, 1968, did he use the term “Promised Land” without thinking?

Why would he use “Promised Land” as a prediction of our future progress if the old lesson in the story of the Hebrew ex-slaves no longer has relevance? And why haven’t “we as a people” been led into the Promised Land after 49 years, or at least told how to get there, or at least told the milestones to look for, or at least told what transformation the Hebrews had to undergo in order to complete the journey up from slavery, into freedom in the wilderness, and finally into mastery in the Promised Land ?

We, as a people, would do well to recall some old scriptural lessons. One such lesson, given in the first few pages of scripture, is the clear statement that the human being’s divinely decreed destiny is to “have dominion” (Bible) or to be “khalifah” (Qur’an).

Another lesson is in the sequential progression of how a people exercised no dominion during prolonged captivity, wandered for years just being “free” and circumstantially dependent in the wild-erness, accepted commandments and dewild- ification, became masterful (dominion- ready), and then entered into the Promised Land as masters and civilizers cultivating a constructive and productive community life.

In a survey, 102 high school students in Memphis were asked to provide a word to complete the statement “The opposite of slavery is ____________.” Over 90 percent of these Memphis teenagers wrote “freedom”. Only one of the 102 wrote “master” or any similar concept.

We, as a people, need an expanded paradigm. And I would further suggest conceptually that L.A.N.D. = Life According to Natural Development and that every human being was created to be M.E.M. P.H.I.S. (Missioned and Empowered to Monitor and Perfect His/her Industrious Soul). Although acronyms may be relevant and useful, we as a people need thinkers of courage and confidence to help us shift to a Promised Land paradigm by whatever means are effective and faithful to the eternal wisdom of the old lesson that Dr King appreciated. “Free at last” was appropriate for the 1963 centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, but freedom is never last for those who move on into the Promised Land as Dr. King envisioned five years later.

As Dr. King said “I just want to do God’s will.”

This open letter is a call for any and all who accept to work to expand the paradigm for our people as Dr. King’s paradigm progressed from 1963 to 1968.

Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal | Page A06