Freedom of Speech – The Importance of Community – Ayat al-Nur and Guidance – My Advice – Forgive Me
[In]al-hamdu Lillaahi [nahmaduhu wa] nasta’eenahu wa nastaghfiruhu, wa na’oodhu billaahi min shuroori anfusinaa [wa min sayi’aati a’maalinaa]. Man yahdih Illaahu falaa mudilla lahu wa man yudlil falaa haadiya lahu. Wa ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allaah [wahdahu la sharika lahu] wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu
[Verily] all praise is for Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls [and from our own bad actions]. Whomsoever Allah guides can none misguide, and whomsoever Allah misguides can none guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, [alone and without any partner] and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
“Yaa ayyuha’lladheena aamanu-ttaqu’Llaaha haqqa tuqaatihi wa laa tamootunna illaa wa antum muslimoon” [3:102]
“O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [3:102]
“Yaa ayyuha’n-naas uttaqu rabbakum alladhi khalaqakum min nafsin waahidatin wa khalaqa minhaa zawjahaa wa baththa minhumaa rijaalan katheeran wa nisaa’an wa’ttaqu-Llaah alladhi tasaa’aloona bihi wa’l-arhaama inna Allaaha kaana ‘alaykum raqeeban” [4:1]
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” [4:1]
“Yaa ayyahu’lladheena aamanu-ttaqu’Llaaha wa qooloo qawlan sadeedan. Yuslih Lakum ‘A’maalakum Wa Yaghfir Lakum Dhunoobakum Wa Man Yuti’i Allaaha Wa Rasoolahu Faqad Faaza Fawzaan ‘Azeemaan” [33:70-71]
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise).” [33:70-71]
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Asalam wa-alaikum beloved brother and respected sisters. So I am generally opposed to giving khutbahs with ulterior motives whether it be fundraising (“Just 5 billion more dollars akhi!”), political (#FeeltheBern #Jk #Bidenhistime2016), or personal, but today’s khutbah has a personal ulterior motive. I’ll be honest brothers and sisters; I don’t really have a cohesive topic for any of you. I essentially collected my favorite ayats or hadith or whatever and tried to string it along. Inshallah you benefit from it, but I accept the blame if you don’t.
So first thing’s first, I promised someone very close to me that I would publicly say this for them: This in-fighting in the Ummah has to stop. This Shia-Sunni divide, this business is killing us inside out. This person I am saying this for is actually Sunni but cannot defend her Shia friends from her Sunni friends and does not have a platform to voice her opinion. And the lesson here is twofold: one, the obvious, that we are one Ummah and in spite of our differences I still have a hard time imagining a Shia drawing Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) or desecrating the Qu’ran. Two, that alhamdullilah even in the land of free speech bordering hate speech there are still ways that important voices are suppressed. We are incredibly blessed that we live in environment where we are allowed to speak our minds. Also, to play of that, giving a khutbah is great way to voice an important voice. Brothers, all y’all slacking there have been like three main guys giving khutbahs, all of you guys need to start taking advantage of your opportunities. And sisters, again, you are an important voice in this community and we want to hear what you have to say. But digression aside, we are one ummah and any discrimination against your Shia brothers/sisters is as bad as a discrimination against your Sunni brothers/sisters.
A beautiful justification about the nature and importance of community comes from the oft-cited verse from the Surah al-Hajaraat:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا
أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ
Ya ayyuha alnnasu inna khalaqnakum min dhakarin wa-untha waja’alnakum shu’ooban waqabaila lita’arafoo inna akramakum inda Allahi atqakum inna Allaha A’aleemun khabeerun
O men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female,  and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another.  Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware.
“So that you may come to know one another.” What I love about this verse is that we weren’t made into nations and tribes to fight one another or celebrate one another or dominate one another, but to know one another. We were broken into nations as a point of reference to gain a deeper understanding of each other. So what does the Prophet say about knowledge?
“Seek knowledge, even if you must go to China”
And what do the Chinese say about knowledge?
“In the end, we preserve only what we love. We love, only what we understand. We understand only what we know and we know only what we are taught.”
By this logic, if know the nations and tribes and understand them, we will love them and if we love them, we will preserve them which probably agrees with you save-the-world types, not that this view is unsupported by the Qu’ran.
I was talking with a brother a couple of weeks ago and I was talking about some of my mathematics role models and I realized that almost all of them went insane and died alone. Something about the sincerity of throwing yourself at something with such conviction, some abstract Truth and just letting it consume you was always so inspiring to me. Gregor Cantor, George R Price, Kurt Godel, all just so doggedly pursued the Truth and were destroyed by it. But this is a very immature view of knowledge, one that doesn’t really hold too much value in Islam. Knowledge helps us become closer to Allah (S.W.T), which is pretty much the core reason to do anything in Islam. And thats all I have to say about that.
Aqoolo qawli hadha wastaghfirullaha li wa lakum
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Just Kidding! I of course have more. So we know right now that knowledge = love = preservation and that we are compelled to know one another. We also know there is a mature understanding of the knowledge we have that brings us closer to Allah and an immature understanding that can break us. The biggest source of mature, deep knowledge is of course the Qu’ran and if any of you we at the Suhaib Webb event you guys might remember his stress on a personal relationship to the Qu’ran. What does that mean, a personal relationship with the Qu’ran? I remember last year we had an MSA meeting where everyone spoke about their favorite ayah or favorite surah and I remember just drawing a blank. I think part of having a personal relationship with the Qu’ran is being able to say what is your favorite part. By the way, I figured out what my favorite ayah is:
مِصْبَاحٌ فِيهَا كَمِشْكَاةٍ نُورِهِ مَثَلُ وَالْأَرْضِالسَّمَاوَاتِ نُورُ اللَّهُ
مِن يُوقَدُ دُرِّيٌّ كَوْكَبٌ كَأَنَّهَا الزُّجَاجَةُ زُجَاجَةٍ فِي الْمِصْبَاحُ
يَكَادُ غَرْبِيَّةٍ وَلَا شَرْقِيَّةٍ لَّا زَيْتُونِةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ شَجَرَةٍ
اللَّهُ يَهْدِي نُورٍ عَلَى نُّورٌ نَارٌ تَمْسَسْهُ لَمْ وَلَوْ يُضِيءُ زَيْتُهَا
بِكُلِّ وَاللَّهُ لِلنَّاسِ الْأَمْثَالَ اللَّهُ وَيَضْرِبُ يَشَاء مَن لِنُورِهِ
Allahu nooru alssamawati waalardi mathalu noorihi kamishkatin feeha misbahun almisbahu fee zujajatin alzzujajatu kaannaha kawkabun durriyyun yooqadu min shajaratin mubarakatin zaytoonatin la sharqiyyatin wala gharbiyyatin yakadu zaytuha yudeeo walaw lam tamsashu narun. Noorun A’ala noorin, yahdee Allahu linoorihi man yashao wayadribu Allahu alamthala lilnnasi wa’allahu bikulli shayin A’aleemun
Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. (This lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon light, Allah guideth unto His light whom He will. And Allah speaketh to mankind in allegories, for Allah is knower of all things.
Subhanallah, I used to hear this verse as a child, my mother had a cassette that used to play the Arabic and the translation and I think it stuck with me. This is an incredibly deep verse and there are hundreds of tafsir written on this verse alone. So for those of you that don’t know this is verse is actually referring to the heart of the believer. The niche is your ribcage and the lamp is the heart. The light of the lamp is the iman the believer has. The tree is the knowledge of Allah (S.W.T) and the oil that glows by itself is the Qu’ran. When the light of the believer’s iman meets the light of the Qu’ran you have nurun ala nur, light upon light.
This ayah seemed to me slightly out of place because the rest of the surah talks about lowering your gaze, and having 4 witnesses for adultery and stuff like that. It’s an amazing surah, but such an esoteric verse felt like it didn’t belong. There is another ayah that says (I’m ignoring the Arabic so we can focus on Ayah al Nur):
“Vile women are for vile men and vile men are for vile women; and good women are for good men and good men are for good women.”
So this verse is talking more so about marriage and relationships, but extends to any type of relationship. Whereas light upon light is achieved through the Qu’ran (which is why must form a personal relationship with the Qu’ran), the light of two believers enjoined hearts is also nurun ala nur. And what could be more beautiful than a community of believers enjoined under the light of Islam? This is what we mean by “I love you for the sake of Allah”. For those of you who know my thoughts on love (stop giggling or I will forcibly wipe that stupid smirk off your face), you know that I don’t believe it exists except to reinforce our own relationship with Allah (S.W.T).
Brothers and sisters we are living in some hard times right now. Indeed, holding onto our faith is like holding onto a burning ember and we were forewarned of this. Islam came as a strange thing and it will leave as a strange thing, and indeed it is a strange thing these days. If this is the end of times, which I believe is close at hand, there isn’t anything we can say or do against the qadr of Allah. If he wills it to happen it will happen. But Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said:
“If the day of resurrection comes upon anyone of you while he has a seedling in hand, let him plant it.”
And I think we all know that a tree can be knowledge or community or an actual tree. We cannot stop growing as a community or stop furthering human knowledge out of fear. Our Prophet commands us to keep going. But this doesn’t necessarily mean we are charged with saving the world. I saw on facebook the other day:
“I know some of you want to save the world, but I just wanted to tell you it’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is yourself.”
Because you never know brothers and sisters, you might mean the world to someone else.
As I said in the beginning, I am opposed to people hijacking a khutbah for personal reasons, but I have something to ask of you. If I have ever hurt you, or insulted you, or defamed you and I know I have even if you won’t admit it to me or anyone else, please in that moment you admit it to yourself, I ask that you forgive me. I know sometimes I can be caustic and I say things that sting, I don’t know why. I’m sorry. I’m also sorry for the things I didn’t say. If you ever needed to hear something from me or felt I missed an opportunity for something greater, I’m also sorry. I’ll admit I’m somewhat of a coward when it comes to relating to people. I wish I could have more courage. But I’m glad to have met all of you. Sincerely. And if there is any debt I’ve left unpaid, anything I can do before I leave, please let me know. Also, I’m sorry in advance for not keeping in contact. I hope we don’t drift away but I still haven’t figured out how to keep the people I want in my life in my life. But don’t ever hesitate to reach out, for any reason. Live, love and learn. And may peace be upon you.