†was one of the few people at Danbury who believed in God. I was the leader of the Muslim organization in the prison. I was called an imam. There were about ten or twelve inmates in our organization; sometimes even as many as twenty. Our religion has had similar propaganda to Rev. Sun Myung Moonís movement, and has been vilified by the press, so I could understand his circumstances very, very well.
I had seen how religious people, people such as Martin Luther King, Jr., were sent to prison. So I was looking at Rev. Moon from a different point of view from most people. I now had a chance to meet Rev. Moon face to face [when he arrived in Danbury prison in 1984 to serve an eighteen-month sentence on income-tax charges]. I knew that it was a magnificent opportunityóa great opportunity. I recognized that my being in Danbury was a blessing from God. My reason for being in prison started to unfold.
I saw Rev. Moon sitting there and I took the opportunity to go over to see him. No one was talking to him at the time. I heard that the night before a couple of people had come down to speak with him, mostly out of curiosity. But I think I was the first person to actually come over and sit down and talk with him. I asked Mr. Takeru Kamiyama [Rev. Moonís assistant, sentenced to prison together with him] what his name was. I said my name was Hafiz Farid, and that I was glad to meet him. Mr. Kamiyama is a very warm, personable individual. Not that Rev. Moon is not also that way, but Rev. Moon, like all religious people, has a certain firmness and strength.
One has to be very strong to be a true servant of God. One has to make sure in this world that one has high moral excellence, uncompromising standards, and no weakness. But on the other hand, he has a loving aspect, a compassionate aspect. Iím sure his pictures convey this. He is a very loving man, and a warm man, but he is also very stern, firm, and strong.
So Mr. Kamiyama and I started talking. I said I didnít know whether Rev. Moon spoke English at that time or how well. I had heard that Mr. Kamiyama was designated as his interpreter. I said Iíd like to ask Rev. Moon a question. And then he kind of turned to Rev. Moon, and Rev. Moon said, "Not now." He referred to the fact that the guards were watching very closely so that he didnít preach to the inmates. But I said I just wanted to know what the basic tenets of Rev. Moonís church were.
Having been told not to preach, Rev. Moon and Mr. Kamiyama didnít want to start talking. It was their first day in prison and they were trying to comply. But I said, "Well, weíre just talking."
Then I explained to him that I was the leader of a Muslim organization, and there was the immediate recognition. You know, religious people have a sort of affinity toward each other, a common bond that you just donít see among atheists. My saying that kind of struck a warm chord, so I sat down.
Rev. Moon answered my question very briefly. He said, "Unification. Oneness. All religions should come together to fight Satan." Then he asked me a question. He said, "Do you think God likes to see Muslims killing Christians, Christians killing Muslims, Jews killing Christians, or Jews killing Muslims? God does not like that."
I could find no reason not to accept that truth. It was basic to my own teachings and I think true of all religious teachings. In Islam, we believe there is one God, the father of all humanity. And the prophets are a line of messengers sent to preach to the people. The ultimate aim of all people is to return to God. So the historical and scriptural teachings of Islam are compatible with Unification thinking. So because of what I believe in, I was immediately impressed by what Rev. Moon said. I didnít see any way-out, cultish type of ideology in anything he had said thus far. I automatically could understand, because we were speaking from a universal plan of consciousness.
We continued to talk, and Rev. Moon said that he had recently sponsored a world tour for young people to visit all the religious centers of the world. I was amazed. In our religion, in Islam, for a man to sponsor a trip to send people on a religious pilgrimage around the world would be one of the greatest acts of charity that could be done. To go yourself would be a great act of obedience, but to send other people at your expense would be an act of devotion that would please God immensely. I just thought about the greatness of a man who would do that. I started to see the greatness of Rev. Moon and his relationship with God.
Every morning, Rev. Moon could be seen with Mr. Kamiyama sitting outside at about 5 oíclock, meditating and reading. I would be up going to work and I would see them. I wouldnít interrupt them at that time. We Muslims have prayer in the very early morning hours also.
Someone asked me once, one of his followers, "Is it true that Rev. Moon prays all the time and gets only two or three hours of sleep?" And so I said, "Well, I never watched Rev. Moon twenty-four hours a day. But I can tell you this: his entire lifestyle, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, from what I and other people have seen, is an act of submission to God."
Prayer is a ritual, and different religions have different rituals. But the real meaning of prayer is when you actually get up from the prayeróhow it reflects in your life, your will and your thoughts. In our attitude, we have to be bowing every day.
So his life is prayer. Iíve never seen him angry; Iíve never seen him complain. I never saw him speak harshly to another individual. I never saw him reject any individualís question, or refuse to answer him.
Rev. Moon was always reading. One thing that really impressed me about him was that he was a man of great knowledge and great wisdom. I knew that he had to have a lot of knowledge, to be able to speak about the subjects of God, theology and religion while withstanding the attack of scholars and scientists. And yet with all his wisdom, he was continually studying. And this made me understand that he is still open to new knowledge. He has not reached that point that some men reach where they think they know it all.
Iíll never forget the day I left. Danbury. I wanted to say goodbye to him. When I told him I was leaving that day he just smiled from ear to ear, with genuine happiness. Usually when someone is getting ready to leave you can feel the negative vibrations, the anger and jealousy among the other inmates. But I really felt Rev. Moonís warmth. He reached out and embraced me and he said, "We will connect on the outside." And then he said, "Farid, we have had many, many talks about doctrine and scripture."
He had given me some of his books while he was there and I had had my friends search and search through New York for a Qurían to give to him. First we found a Chinese Qurían, and then we finally found him a Korean Qurían.
He said, "Always remember one thing, Farid. Godís love is greater than Godís law." That very profound statement really kind of summed up all the conversations we had had. No matter what dogma you follow, no matter what particular faith you have, if you donít have loveóGodís love for humanity, for people and for creationóthen the law doesnít mean very much. Godís love is greater than Godís law.