Muhammad Hatim, Ph.D., is Imam Warith Deen Muhammad Professor of African American Muslim Studies of the Graduate Theological Foundation. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was an Imam in New York City where he headed a Justice Ministry, UN Summer Internship Program in Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, and co-founded the Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X) Human Rights Institute. He sits on several interfaith committees and is a Chaplain with Disaster Chaplain Services in New York City. He observes that “the Church’s fortitude and consistency in dealing with the issues of religious freedom have meant freedom for all religions” in the United States and around the world.
My experience working with Scientologists has been very rewarding. I have found in some instances that they are very much interested in what’s happening in the community, in my experience especially in the black, the African American community—and that they have been very supportive of some of the efforts. And then, for instance, the literacy program, and the Scientologists I have met involved with that have been able to make a great contribution to the community. I find that the Scientologists are very much interested in the area of human rights.
Today Scientology stands as in some ways a new beginning, because not very many people in the world are as aware of Scientology as they are some of the other, say, religious traditions or cultural traditions. I think that Scientology is making its way known, especially with the work, for instance, of the Volunteer Ministers that were able to touch people in the 9/11 situation in New York City and help at a time when people needed the help the most. It was the right place, it was the right time, and it was the right technology for assisting people in the disaster relief and comfort. I think that was one of the major contributions. And I think that this kind of work, once the world knows about it, people will have a better understanding and appreciation for the work that the Church is doing and has done.
I remember the great challenges that the Church had in being recognized, and I am aware that some of the legislation that has been passed and some of the court battles that the Church has won have greatly increased the rights of religions, minority religions, and religious freedom in the United States. I am not sure that very many people are aware of that, but I know for a fact and have seen the documents and know how the Church’s fortitude and consistency in dealing with the issues of religious freedom have meant freedom for all religions in the United States.
The Church should be thanked for its fortitude, again, in the area of religious freedom—religious freedom not just for Scientologists, but because of the ground-shaking and foundational work, it has led the way for other religions around the world to be in a better position, whether that’s here in the United States or whether it’s in Europe, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and South Africa, wherever. I think that this is, again, a tremendous contribution and one of the things that I am most thankful to the Church and members for forwarding.
The Church is training people to fight in the proper causes that are out there for humankind. That’s very important that we can join together, irrespective of religious differences, political or ideological differences, that the Church is preparing people for the fight for human dignity and bettering the human condition. This is very important to me.
They are ready for the fight. They are geared with their technology and stay true to the cause. And I have found that to be very rewarding and very supportive in this mutual battle, struggle for justice and rightness and religious freedom and human freedom and human dignity. And I find that there is a special quality among the people I have met and worked with in the Church of Scientology. And I am very thankful to the Creator for them and I pray that they continue to work in that field and we can work together in the competition of doing good.