Friday, April 04, 2008
My respected Brothers and Sisters,
Over the last weeks and months, we Muslims have again been the subject of intense media interest, mostly of the unwelcome kind. You can hardly pick up a newspaper or switch on the radio or TV, without finding your religion in the bad news department, again. So, what’s new? We’ve been here many times before. This will not be the first time, and certainly not the last time that Muslims are wrongly presented as a ‘problem’ and Islam is the target of vicious and sophisticated propaganda. Right from the earliest days Prophet Muhammad sws had to endure hatred and abuse from those who saw Islam as a threat.
During his time, it was the wealthy Quraish who welcomed pagan pilgrims to worship idols around the Kaaba. How did he deal with their lies and provocations? How did he deal with abuse and insult? Did he stamp his feet, burn flags and call for the death of his enemies? No, he did not. He was, after all, uswatul hasana, the most excellent role-model. He knew that his behaviour would set the pattern for devout Muslims not only during his own lifetime, but for all time to come.
In the face of extreme danger, he relied on his Lord. He carried on his good work of preaching, teaching and living the good example. He was never desperate, he never exceeded the wudood, the limits set by Allah. He endured all hardship with extraordinary dignity and forbearance. He relied completely on the Mercy of Allah. In time, his patience was rewarded when Allah gave him victory over those mighty forces that were thrust against him. Remember, no injustice endures forever. No hardship comes without relief. Here is a lesson for us all.
“Fa inna ma al usri yusra. Innama al usri yusra.” Says the Holy Quran [s.94v5]
“With every suffering, there comes relief. Truly, with every suffering there comes relief.”
This, my dear brothers and sisters, is a promise from Allah Himself.
My Brothers in Islam
Geert Wilders, the leader of the right-wing Freedom Party, on Thursday, March 27, posted a controversial anti-Qur'an documentary on a video-sharing website.
The 15-minute film, entitled "Fitna," an Arabic word for sedition or strife, starts with a Danish cartoon showing a man described as Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) with a ticking bomb in his turban.
It then shows a page from the Noble Qur'an on the right and a translation of one specific verse on the left.
In the following scene, the Qur'an page is replaced by a plane hitting the New York World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, while the verse remains on the left.
Similar segments follow the same pattern linking verses from the Qur'an to attacks such as the 2004 Madrid train bombing, the 2005 London bombing, the attack on US soldiers in Somalia a decade ago, the murder of Dutch director Theo van Gogh in 2004 and beheadings in Iraq.
Of course, we strongly disagree with what he did, but we should find the best way to show our disagreement. We should not throw childish temper tantrums. This is not the Islamic way to behave. This is not the way of Prophet Muhammad sws. We should not break the law of the land and call for the death of anyone who offends our beliefs. Sometimes these provocations are intended precisely to show that we Muslims are immature, unable to take criticism and prone to violence. Don’t help anyone who wants to prove that you are oversensitive, immature and violent. Knee-jerk reactions only play into their hands. Don’t misbehave in the way they want you to misbehave.
At the same time I must state very clearly that we Muslims should never, ever become defensive and adopt a ‘victim’ culture. We should not become victims and think and act like victims. We have nothing to hide. Our beliefs are clear and we have no hidden agenda. We have nothing to be ashamed of and certainly nothing to fear. This is simply a period of trial and tribulation for us. Allah is testing us to see what we’re made of. We shouldn’t be surprised, depressed or distressed. Those who read the Holy Quran will find this confirmed in Sura Al Baqara 2:214:
“Do you suppose that you would enter the Garden without first having suffered like those before you? They were afflicted by misfortune and hardship, and they were so shaken that even [their] Messenger and the believers with him cried: ‘When will God’s help arrive? Truly, God’s help is ever near.”
When our noble and illustrious Prophet and his companions were under attack at the battle of Uhud, they were warned: a huge army is waiting to destroy you! But instead of fear and panic, this only increased their faith: Their reply was,
Hasbunal-Laah, wa neya’mal wakeel. Neya’mal Mawlaa wa neya’mal naseer!
Allah is enough for us as our Protector and our Helper!
That’s what we have to say, now that we and our faith are under attack from all sides. Allah is enough for us, and He is our best Guardian. Furthermore, we must never be depressed or distressed. We must be stay calm, confident and be happy, like our Prophet was, even during the most difficult times. We must radiate a sense of inner peace and contentment, sakina that comes from the certain knowledge that Allah is always with us. He is firmly in control of everything. He carries the whole of His creation in the palm of His Hand.
“Blessed is Allah, in Whose Hand lies the control of everything, and to Him we shall all return.” This is the last verse of Sura Yasin. [sura 36]
We Muslims must realise that all our troubles will pass, and they are not a punishment. It’s only a test from Allah, a test of patience and endurance We must learn to trust Allah. When we entrust our affairs to Him and take Him to be an intimate friend, He will take us into His inner circle of intimate friends. And in His inner circle He promises to remove every trace of fear and anxiety…… In many places throughout the Holy Quran, he re-assures us in these words:
Behold, on the Friends of Allah, there is no fear, and no grief. [Sura 10:62 and many other places]
No fear and no grief. No anxiety. True Muslims are not a desperate people. When our hearts are filled with Allah awareness [taqwa], overflowing with kindness and generosity to our neighbours, we simply cannot become dangerous and desperate people no matter how great the provocation. Remember, even when others may plot and plan, Allah is still the best of planners. He urges us to think, to ponder and reflect. Why are we under attack? Why is Islam being presented as a threat? And how can we Muslims defuse the situation? How can we turn this problem into an opportunity, a blessing in disguise?
There are many reasons why some people fear and hate Islam. This khutbah is too short to go into the details.
Clearly, some people are deeply concerned that Islam is spreading so fast. In 1900 Muslims accounted for 12% of world population. Now, a century later it has more than doubled to 25% and continues to rise. The secular historians are confused. Every other empire has come and gone: The Pharaohs, the Greeks, the Romans. Even the last Muslim empire, the Ottoman, was dismantled in 1922. According to secular logic, we should all be atheists by now! Mosques should have become museums, the places where Muslims used to pray, but everywhere mosques and prayer rooms like this one are overflowing. And its not just about numbers.
More importantly, it’s about quality. More and more educated and privileged converts are entering Islam in Britain, Europe and North America. These new Muslims are the crème-de-la-crème, from the upper echelons of Western society. The secular world with its glossy TV ads promise much, but delivers very little lasting human happiness and fulfilment. Islam offers a way to complete happiness, not by indulging the human ego with selfishness and greed, but by taming the nafs and controlling it.
While others see the world as a place to be exploited, Muslims are told that everything belongs to Allah, and we are merely trustees, who are accountable for our trust. While others need a hierarchy of priests and bishops and archbishops to help them find salvation, nothing and no-one stands between a Muslim and his Lord. Allah is directly accessible, one to one,with no intermediaries.
“When my servant asks you about Me, I am near. I respond to those who call Me. Let them also respond to My call, so that they may be guided.” [Al Baqara 2:186]
Islam stands for pure monotheism. It is a clear and simple message that appeals directly to anyone seeking to live a balanced and meaningful life. Those who see their power and privileges threatened by Islam, will no doubt work hard to discredit its true message, sowing suspicion about Muslims’ motives and promoting fear and hatred. Like so many have done throughout the history of monotheism, defying and rejecting a whole line of Prophets like Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace on all of them, some people will try to extinguish Allah’s clear message, but their efforts will fail. We read in the Holy Quran ch.61 v8: “….. they try to blow out Allah’s light with their mouths, but Allah will perfect his light, even if they detest it…”
So, my dear Brothers, let’s be calm, let's be re-assured and reassuring to one another in these difficult times. Allah Himself will protect Islam. You and I must aspire to become living examples of virtue in a rather troubled world that has come to see virtue as vice and vice as virtue. Let Allah take care of the rest. Let us try to become Allah’s friends, so that we can live without fear and grief, and hold out a light to others.
Let us end our khutbah with that beautiful Quranic prayer,
“O my Lord, do not let our hearts to deviate, after we have been guided to the truth, and send us Mercy from Your very Presence, for You are the Grantor or Bounties without measure. Glory to our Lord, The Lord of Honour and Power! He is far above what they ascribe to Him! and Peace on the Messengers, and Praise to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds."