Dalilah Muhammad is a model of excellence in her own right, a source of inspiration for the youth, and in general a genuine person of faith. She is modest, kind and compassionate, possessing unbounded grace with steely determination.
While under the pressure and heat of competition, she is always cool, calm and collected with an unwavering spirit for victory as she presses forward toward the next competition.
Yet in the summer of 2019, at the U.S. Nationals held in Des Moines, Iowa, Dalilah came onto the track in the presence of thousands of spectators in her usual demure and unassuming manner.
Then what happens next shocked the whole track and field world. To everyone’s surprise, Dalilah shattered the 16-year old World Record in the women’s 400-Meter Hurdles in spectacular fashion.
The world record was previously set in 2003 by Russia’s Yuliya Pechonkina, where it stood at 52.34 seconds. Dalilah, in a brazen leap of faith in God and total trust in her fitness, broke out from among her peers and then shattered the world record, bringing it down to 52.20 seconds.
Then again for the second time, in the fall of 2019, Dalilah broke her own world record at the World Athletic Championships, bringing the time down to 52.16 seconds.
The world witnessed an epic battle and a phenomenal Middle Eastern victory at Khalifa Stadium in the City of Doha, Qatar. This event represented a rare moment in the annals of sports history.
Now at 29 years of age, Dalilah Muhammad reigns supreme in the women’s 400-Meter Hurdles. She is now the best in her craft and has run the fastest of any woman in this event. In the sports world, she is known internationally as an athlete par excellence.
However, some consider her athletic achievements a great symbol of a people who would overcome great odds in America and would be triumphant in overcoming even greater obstacles and hurdles.
Dalilah now shines bright like a diamond. Symbolically, the wise among the people say she represents her people; captured from their native lands and sold into slavery by a cruel and wicked taskmaster.
She is now looked upon as that symbol of the inevitable victory of her people as they prepare themselves to enter what Martin Luther King Jr. called the “Promised Land.”
As the rising “Star of Bethlehem” foreshadowed the birth of the Prince of Peace, so does Dalilah Muhammad’s Middle Eastern athletic victory and her meteoric rise into prominence foreshadow the rise of her people brought into a strange land to suffer and be afflicted for 400 years.
Those who consider the signs and the symbols of God see Dalilah Muhammad’s achievements and triumphs as representing the despised and the rejected.
Certainly, her athleticism will have its place among track and field events, but the symbolism of a people who have endured the cruelest form of slavery, suffering death by far transcends her gargantuan athletic sports achievements.
In August 1619, 20 Africans were captured from Angola, Africa, and put on a ship called the White Lion, which arrived in Jamestown Virginia, to commence a long and dreadful saga of African American history.
In October 2019, this beautiful, young, gifted and talented African American woman, born from the descendants of slaves, broke the world record in the women’s 400-Meter Hurdles, exactly 400 years later.
The sports announcer said, “Dalilah Muhammad, the World Record Holder, broke her own record, running 400 hundredths of a second faster than when she broke the record earlier in the same year.”
How amazing is this! Look, 400 Meters and 400 years of affliction!
According to the Biblical scripture, the Book of Genesis speaks of the veritable seed of Abraham that would become a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and they would be afflicted 400 years.
Now, the nation whom they would serve would be judged by God, and the afflicted would come out from their suffering with great substance. (Genesis 15:13-14)
In the Qur’an, the final revelation to all common humanity, God promises those who believe in the fulfillment and have honorable works on their record, God would establish them in the land and establish their way of life which God had ordained for all common humanity.
God would change their state of fear under which they lived to a state of peace, security, freedom and liberty. This is a solemn promise etched in the illustrious words of the final Book to the common people of the world. (Qur’an 24:55)
The brightness of Dalilah Muhammad’s light is a harbinger for great things to come for a despised, rejected and downtrodden people.
As the light of the morning star prefigures the coming of the light of the sun, so shall the great symbol that Dalilah Muhammad represents will become the harbinger for the greatness of a new people establishing themselves in the land; the land of their enslavement and captivity.
The women’s 400 Meter race took place on a 400 Meter track with 10 hurdles separated by a distance of 35 meters. Each runner had to stay in their own lane and clear 10 hurdles for this event.
This track and field event required discipline as well as skill. Dalilah Muhammad has been described as a tactical runner possessing both skill and discipline. She is a person with great character and strength. Her coach, Lawrence Johnson says that Dalilah is a coachable person who follows instructions and executes flawlessly.
The Ten Hurdles carry great symbolism for a people who have had to overcome hurdles in their pathway towards freedom, justice and equality. African American people have overcome slavery, discrimination, lynching, social injustices, racial segregation, Jim Crow laws, civil rights violations, human rights abuses, job and economic disempowerment, and educational disparity – 10 hurdles.
Each one of these 10 obstacles represents challenges experienced by African Americans as we continue to strive for human dignity and self-respect. We see the finish line which Dalilah Muhammad races toward as representing The Promised Land that the righteous are promised.
While there is still much to be desired among African America, we have seen a bright light, a star of piercing brightness and an undeniable sign from God that our victory is at hand. Dalilah Muhammad has borne the symbol of the rise of her people, and now her people must look over the mountain top and prepare for the inevitable victory that is before them.
As we consider the slave trade of the Europeans, the Africans were robbed of their culture, language, and their faith tradition. Some say most Africans had that old-time religion who were brought to North and South America and the Caribbean.
We dwelt in a strange land a new habitation while suffering the trauma of slavery and subjugation. Still today, there are remnants of oppression and discrimination.
The African American inner cities are policed as an occupation; there is anger in the streets and vexation. Crime in the community has dimmed perspicuity. Sin and immorality perpetuate promiscuity.
Traumatic events in the family have become a sure reality and the reduction of standards and values have become a social malady. Now confusion and disorder in the family are acceptable abnormalities.
With all that going on in our society today, yet we as a people will get to The Promised Land. The Promised Land is a place where all that is good for ourselves and our families can be experienced. It is a place wherein the rights of all citizens are treated fairly and equitably. People of all ethnicities will love one another, and there will be peace and harmony in society.
Let us consider the Signs of God as God used Dalilah Muhammad to become the symbol of victory for the aspirations, hopes and dreams of the oppressed people here in the wilderness of North America who are destined to enter The Promised Land.