“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” is the last sermon of Dr. MLK before his assassination delivered on April 3, 1968, at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Kings speech is so relevant as it was some 53 years ago and how it relates to the month of Ramadan and the revelations of the first verse of Quran.
Dr. King spoke beyond the subject of the injustices felt by city sanitation workers who were on strike to untimely death. At the end of the sermon, he prophesizes his death. He was assassinated next day. Yes, he was martyred!
He concludes the sermon:
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”.
The spiritual hymn that Dr. King evoked in his mountaintop sermon “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”.
So, did Prophet Muhammad on the mountain top cave where the Angel Gabriel brought down the message of hope, “Read: In the name of your Lord Who created.”
Month of Ramadan and the mountaintop invocation by Dr. King both awaken civic virtues as an outcome of struggle in pursuit of God’s pleasure. Working with sincerity only to please Lord the Almighty God.
Ramadan is a university to graduate from, a retreat and place of seclusion to get to the mountain top.
Dr. Kings sermon was meant to inspire the sanitary workers in spite of the immediate threat of death and prosecution.
The “mountaintop” was a symbol use by Dr. King of four civic virtues of struggle, hope, patient and submission to the will of God which is shared goal of Muslims in the month of Ramadan.
Dr. King was speaking from the point of a higher moral ground on death and journey to the promise land.
He invited participants to struggle through the trials and tribulations with him to transcend the doubts that clouded his final days on earth.
During this pandemic, Muslims all over the world face challenging times, but fasting and reciting Qur’an provides a safe refuge and peace in the words of God during the month of Ramadan.
Fasting in Ramadan is more than just a personal experience, and more than denying oneself of food, drink and carnal desires by day.
Muslims sincerely struggles to fast in the long hot days, reciting Quran, and tirelessly standing in late night and early morning prayers of Taraweeh and Salaatul layl at night respectively.
It is a struggle to pass through the valley of injustices to climb over the mountaintop. Given today’s difficulty times, it is important that we get to the mountaintop as one united community.
It’s Muslims tradition to recite Holy Quran, break the fast, and pray all in congregation and collectively. It is sad that this will be the second year Muslims will use Zoom forum to conduct the important tenants of Islam.
Ramadan provides a way to ascend to new spiritual heights just like the Prophet Muhammad who was able to ‘see the glory of the coming of the Lord’ and after thirteen years of torture, exile and death.
How does one get to the mountaintop in these times of racism, Islamophobia, fear and hate mongering?
My answer is none other than God’s response to the Prophet Muhammad read, recite and remembrance of death. Every day we move closer to death on our journey to our final destination.
Dr. King’s metaphor about going to the mountain top is significant indicator of his remembrance of death and the afterlife. Clearly these are the words of someone standing on the pulpit under the shadow of death.
The key to ascension to the mountaintop is unity and holding the rope of the prophet Muhammad and his family.
The key to ascension to the mountain top is collective struggle to fight racism, oppression poverty, and military industrial complex.
Speak Up! Silent No More! I’ve been to the mountaintop.