I have just concluded a 10-week seminar course on Unification Thought, and wanted to share some of the insights I acquired from that course, especially with regard to the providence for Moslem countries.
As a Moslem myself, ever since I joined the Unification Movement I have been looking for appropriate ways to share the truth of the Principle with Moslems. As we know, the lack of communication, mutual trust and tolerance among the followers of the three major religions (the people of the Book, that is, the Jews, Christians and Moslems) has created fear, resentment and mutual rejection among them. We have only to look at the news to see how tragic this situation has become in recent years. We know what the solution to these problems is: The people of the Book must unite centering on the Unification Movement.
But in the Unification Movement we also have a holy book Divine Principle which is based on the Bible. When Moslems begin to study the Principle, it is not easy for them to relate to all the biblical citations contained in it, because at first it seems the Principle was written for Christians only. We know, however, that the Principle is meant to be accepted by all humankind, including Moslems.
A Path For Moslems
But then, how to bring Moslems to the Principle, or how to bring the Principle to Moslems? Should we teach Divine Principle as it is, with all its biblical quotes, or should we put the biblical quotes aside and replace them with Koranic verses? At first, I thought that was the way; but then I realized that Divine Principle without a strong biblical support would lose its original and spiritual power. Through prayer and meditation, I have found out that actually the Koran encourages Moslems to study the books of the Bible and to learn lessons from their teachings, as in Sura 20, Verse 133: "...Has not a clear sign come to them of all that was in the former books of revelation?"
This verse means that the Koran assumes the Moslems have been studying the former books of revelation (i.e., the Old and New Testaments) in order to learn from them.
Still, it is hard to convince Moslems to study the Bible as a holy book inspired and revealed by God. So, when I heard Unification Thought lectures for the first time, it became immediately apparent to me that Unification Thought was the most appropriate way to approach Moslems. Unification Thought, which is a philosophical systematization of Father Moon's thought based on the Divine Principle, can help Moslems to acquire a good grasp of the truth. That is why I decided to study it deeply in order to be able to teach it to Moslems; for I came to realize that, after teaching Unification Thought to Moslems, we could then teach them Divine Principle, which will give them rebirth.
Therefore, to those who are involved in ecumenical work or inter- religious dialogue, and to those who simply want to share Father Moon's teachings with Moslems, I recommend Unification Thought as the most appropriate way and the most secure step to reach those goals.
The Unification Thought Seminar
As I mentioned before, I have just graduated from a ten-week seminar on Unification Thought, which was sponsored by Pres. Dr. David S. C. Kim of the Unification Theological Seminary and jointly taught by instructors of the Unification Theological Seminary and the Unification Thought Institute of America. This seminar was the first of its kind in New York City, and it is the same as the one offered at UTS in Barrytown. It was superbly organized by Dr. Theodore Shimmyo and Mr. Paul J. Perry, who will continue to offer such seminars on a regular basis. I enrolled in that course with the hope of preparing myself to teach Unification Thought to Moslems. I was a bit hesitant at first, in view of my limited knowledge of philosophy; but with the support of the spirit world and the patience and high qualifications of our lectures (Dr. T. Shimmyo, Mr. P. J. Perry, Dr. J. Tanabe and Dr. D. Carlson), I as well as the other participants went through this seminar without any problems and learned a lot about Father Moon's thought.
Unification Thought And The Koran
Let me share some specific details about how Unification Thought can help us reach Moslems. For Moslems, anything that is not directly contained in the Koran is very difficult to accept on faith. Unification Thought, however, has a good way of presenting arguments based on reason, since it is a philosophical system. Therefore, Moslems feel very comfortable with Unification Thought and can easily accept its teachings. Once they do that, they can more easily deal with Divine Principle. A few examples will help us see this point: Divine Principle strongly states that certain central figures in the history of restoration failed their mission or did not complete it in its entirety (e.g., Eve's failure, Abraham's failure, Moses' failure). The concept of failure on the part of biblical figures is very difficult for Moslems to accept at first. In part, this difficulty results from the fact that they are not so clear about what the original standard is. It is difficult to say that someone has failed if you do not know exactly what they were meant to achieve in the first place.
In contrast, Unification Thought places little emphasis on failure and great emphasis on the original ideal: the original way of life, the ideal family life, the ideal standard of relationships, and so forth. These teachings are nothing but the Principle of Creation itself, developed in greater detail and Moslems accept them very easily. And once they have a good grasp of the original ideal of creation, they can more easily understand why certain central figures did not fully accomplish their mission. This is just one example of how Unification Thought can help Moslems understand Divine Principle.
There is yet another problem for Moslems when they study the Divine Principle. I am referring to the fact that Islam is hardly ever mentioned in Divine Principle. Therefore, it is difficult for Moslems to see just how they fit in the history of restoration.
In Unification Thought, such problem is minimized, since the important teachings of Unification Thought apply equally to everyone, regardless of race or religion. This is so because Unification Thought teaches primarily about God's original ideal. For example, the Theory of the Original Human Nature discusses what human life would be like if the human fall had not occurred. This means that all human beings are meant to live as brothers and sisters under the parenthood of God. Guided by a clear vision about God's original plan and ideal, Moslems can more easily understand the role of all religions (including Islam), namely, that of providing a path for fallen people to return from the fallen world back to the original world. Once we reach the original world, all of us will live together as God's sons and daughters. Dual Purpose And Dual Characteristics
To show how powerful Unification Thought can be for the Moslems, consider our teaching regarding the dual purpose of creation and the dual characteristics. This teaching is, of course, in the Divine Principle; but Unification Thought expands it and applies it to all areas of life, including art, ethics and even logic. The dual purpose is very much in agreement with the teaching of the Koran, and it strikes a cord in the hearts of Moslems. Actually, if we were to summarize the Koran in a nutshell, we could say that there are two major points:
1. Allah teaches us to appreciate the goodness we have received from Heaven: the gifts of life, abundance, prosperity, good health, and so forth. As Heaven has been generous with us, we must likewise be generous with others. As Heaven has multiplied goodness on us, we must multiply goodness on others. Also, we must refrain from multiplying evil. In doing so, we will use our material blessings to build merit in Heaven.
2. Allah also teaches that, in seeking spiritual riches, we must not disregard, forsake or ignore the things of this world. In other words, we are to enjoy, appreciate and take good care of materials things.
In essence, then, the Koran teaches us this: While enjoying our material blessings, we must not forget to build merit in Heaven; and while building merit in Heaven, we must not disregard the material world. The spirit of these two point is best demonstrated in Sura 28, Verse 77, which some Moslem scholars believe to be the very essence of the Koran: "But seek with that which Allah has given to you the life of hereafter, and do not forsake that which is rightly yours in this world...."
As we can see, this teaching of the Koran corresponds to the dual purpose of creation and the dual characteristics of all things, which are essential points of the Principle. These are but a few examples of how well Unification Thought can be harmonized with the true heart of Moslems. I am grateful to Father Moon for having made so much effort to give us such a wonderful teaching as Unification Thought.
Mr. Abdelkader Mesbah has been a member of the Unification Movement for seventeen years and was blessed in 1982 in Korea. For ten years he was an adviser on economic projects for the Unification Movement in Africa. He has participated as a staff member in many Moslem workshops in New York, and presently he is preparing to attend the Unification Theological Seminary.
To learn more about Unification Thought Seminars, Call the UTI Office at 212 947-1657.