Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,
As you are aware there is a heightened and a saturated body of words out there pertaining to the Islamic political process. There are elections taking place, there are movement, i.e. Islamic movements that are moving into positions of responsibility i.e. political responsibilities and state offices and all of this that you are very well familiar with; and in this context, there’s nothing wrong in looking at ourselves. We do this from time-to-time. There’s nothing wrong in taking a very objective and very accurate look at our own selves in one area at least and that area is the ability to speak truth to power. This is an area that we have not been very adapt at therefore we are in need of direction and light from Allah and His Prophet. In probably the first instance in which this is demonstrated in a striking way in the Qur’an is when Ibrahim (alayhi as salaam) comes into contact with one of these, (what we would call in today’s words), kings or sovereigns or potentates or presidents. This is not one of these occasions that the average Muslim dwells on simply because the type of information and speakers that are out there deliberately do not want us to take a closer look at this encounter. The ayah is 258 of Surah Al Baqarah.
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِي حَاجَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ
Have you not considered (or) have you not taken notice of the person who argued with Ibrahim… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 258)
What gave him that position to argue with Ibrahim? That fact that
أَنْ آتَاهُ اللَّهُ الْمُلْكَ
… this person now has power, has control, has finances, and all of these other stuff… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 258)
Then he sees himself in a position “yeah I can deal with this person. What does he have to say?” (It’s) just like the leaders we have in this world. What is he arguing with Ibrahim about?
الَّذِي حَاجَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فِي رَبِّهِ
… (he is arguing) about Ibrahim’s Sustainer… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 258)
What gives him the status to enter into this type of argument? The fact that
أَنْ آتَاهُ اللَّهُ الْمُلْكَ
… Allah gave him al mulk... (Surah Al Baqarah verse 258)
This argument is summarised in Ibrahim’s statement to this political big shot
رَبِّيَ الَّذِي يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ قَالَ أَنَا أُحْيِي وَأُمِيتُ
… Allah gives life and He gives death and this political big shot says well I do the same thing… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 258)
This is what they claim to do. Ibrahim didn’t want him to prove that; obviously there would have been an argument of sorts between the two and this political big shot would have said “look, I’m in charge of the birth laws in this country them, I’m in charge of the hospital care, medicine, all of these others and if it wasn’t for this do you think these newborns would be born into existence? They would die in infancy. So who is responsible for their life? (It is) the health services that I provide? And if I want to deal death to someone, I could very easily do that. (I could) throw the person in prison, lock him up for some time and then sign a piece of paper and then he is on his way to the gallows.” The courtesy and the mannerisms of Ibrahim wasn’t in such a way to say “OK- prove yourself” because what he will do is he will bring this argument and then if he wants to kill someone he will kill someone and say “look I did it.” So Ibrahim shifted this exchange of words.
قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْتِي بِالشَّمْسِ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ فَأْتِ بِهَا مِنَ الْمَغْرِبِ فَبُهِتَ الَّذِي كَفَرَ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
… he said, OK- so Allah causes the sun to rise from an eastward direction therefore would you cause it to rise from a westward direction? This person in position of power and authority was dumb founded and Allah does not guide people who do injustices to themselves. (Surah Al Baqarah verse 258)
Notice, (with us here), that the ending of this ayah didn’t end in the singular because here, Ibrahim is speaking to a king of sorts. Why is Allah ending this ayah and saying
وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
… Allah doesn’t guide people who do injustice to themselves. (Surah Al Baqarah verse 258)
Because this is not an argument between just two individuals, it is a position between two blocs of people and for those people who agree with this position that was expressed by this king, then Allah is not going to guide them. As far as we are concerned- look, obviously we are not Prophets but we are responsible for having the character of these Prophets. When do we have Muslims (as the) inheritors of this history, this guidance, of this Qur’an (and) of this Prophethood? Where do we have Muslims who have the nerves and who have the courage to stand up to these types of people who have mass power, the wherewithal and finances and all of these? Why do we have psychologically crippled Muslims who can’t even stand for the truth (and) express that truth and principle? Why are they an endangered species? Once again, we have to remind you- brothers and sisters- we’re the ones expressing these God-given words in the context of today’s world; we are not saying this in a vacuum. What’s wrong with all of these Islamic parties, Islamic organisations and Islamic movements, Islamic orientations, Islamic outfits, Islamic groupings, Islamic communities, Islamic leadership, Islamic spoke-persons? Why can’t they adopt this character of truth? What happened? An ayah in the Qur’an says
لَا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ
He, (meaning Allah), is not to be asked for what He does… (Surah Al Anbiya’ verse 23)
We can’t bring Allah and put Him in a position to ask Him “why did you do this and why did you do that and hold Him accountable and responsible for creation and social life and all we can’t do that?” He is Allah and we are humans
… but we, the people, are the ones who are going to be held responsible… (Surah Al Anbiya’ verse 23)
But right now this same ayah can be applied to the little gods on Earth (but) no one dare hold them responsible for their policies! What is wrong? What happened to this moral courage in the Islamic historical and Prophetic character? What happened to it? Where did it go? Then they are the excuses; of course Muslims don’t lack the excuses and the talk- they can talk the talk “Oh- but if we stand up to someone and say the truth then what is going to happen to us, our lives, our families? What’s going to happen?” Whatever is going to happen has been calculated by Allah. If you are expressing Allah’s meanings and if you are willing to do Allah’s work, (so to speak), then what is going to happen? It’s what Allah decreed to happen- nothing else; and the ultimate thing, the ultimate threat (or) the ultimate danger is you just pass from this world to the next or the coming one. That’s the biggest thing that could happen. Are you afraid of that? We all are moving in that direction. We are all approaching that moment (so if it) came a year earlier or date earlier what are you afraid off? Well, what happened to you? (Is) something wrong?
وَمَا كَانَ لِنَفْسٍ أَن تَمُوتَ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ
Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave… (Surah Aal Imran verse 145)
This ayah should be enough to put a gag on those who try to finagle their way out of this.
Then there is another issue- parallel to this one is, (you know), “we should be quite.” Remember, we’re saying this in the context of today’s political Islamic movements wherever you want to look for them in the Islamic geography. There are these who say “but look brother let’s be quite. We know what the truth is but let’s be quiet about it because the consequences are beyond us. Besides, what’s this? You express the truth with sharp words?! This also irritates them.” If a person who is under so much pressure surfaces and uses words that are sharp, straight forward, to the point (and) expressive (in) exposing this façade of injustice they say”no brother- don’t do this.” Let’s go back in the shades of the Qur’an. Allah in Surah An Nisa’ ayah 148 says
لَّا يُحِبُّ اللَّهُ الْجَهْرَ بِالسُّوءِ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ إِلَّا مَن ظُلِمَ
Allah doesn’t favour (or) Allah doesn’t like a person expressing his or her victimhood with what is tantamount to offensive words- Allah doesn’t like that- except for a person who has been oppressed; Allah doesn’t like people to us sharp words and what may amount to offensive language except for a person who’s been offended (or) a person whose rights have been taken away or a society that has been offended or a society that has been denied its rights… (Surah An Nisa’ verse 148)
This is an ayah, it’s not some scholar telling you this. You have your mind- think of what Allah is saying to you. This doesn’t just apply to an individual (i.e.) if you as one person or me as one person are subjected to the denial to our rights or some type of offense or aggression (or) some form of dhulm- this applies to one person but it also applies to communities and societies and populations and peoples. This is the area that the Muslim mind has not advanced into. Many times when we read these ayaat of the Qur’an we think about them individually; we don’t think about them at the aggregate level. Illa Man dhulim here could be male or female, it could be in the singular it could be in the plural- to every condition of dhulm. So Allah is giving us a permit. This is a permit. We can express ourselves. We’ve been injured, we’ve been harmed, we’ve been victims of warfare, we’ve been victims of civil rights violations, we’ve been victims of official paranoia, we’ve been victims of spying, we’ve become victims of eavesdropping, we’ve been victims of informers in our midst- so many things and then we have someone who comes and says “hey brother- please don’t express these things in public.” Why? What’s wrong with that? How do you understand this ayah? Please, if we’re not understanding this ayah right, tell these midget psychological Muslims “OK- express to us what the ayah means. Tell us what does that mean.” Up, until now we haven’t had anyone to tell us what that means. So let’s take these two conditions- we have people who think that expressing this truth publicly, forcefully, with sharp words and sharp statements is going to harm us?! We have people who think like that and we have other people who think that remaining silent, looking the other way, being passive (and) withdrawing from these issues is what is going to harm us. OK- this is the gambit of opinions. Harm is coming our way however way. If we look at these two mindsets harm is coming our way. If we speak up we’re going to be harmed and if we remain silent we’re going to be harmed. Let us take a look at record- those who remained silent. (Take a) look- there’s been much of that around, how much harm has befallen them? They still now are bleeding, literally bleeding, from their silence and there are others who have spoken the truth to power and they emerged with a better position than the one they were in. So if we have to choose between them, we choose to be harmed because we speak out and we speak up.
If we speak out against the resources of the Muslims because of bad decisions- there’s hundreds of billions of dollars that some people in power spend on buying obsolete weapons, i.e. weapons that are outdated, weapons that malfunction, weapons that depend on then enemy to function and all of this?! This is supposed to be the function of the press. The press is supposed to speak out against this but does the press do anything about this? No! We have a tamed, domesticated, inferior press just like we have tamed, domesticated, inferior Masajid. It is only obvious and it is only expected that we have a press that is like minded. They’re afraid to speak truth to power. What’s wrong? Some people say we express ourselves with a tinge of anger. How are we supposed to express ourselves? Like machines? (Do) you want to deny us our human content? We’re supposed to speak like machines or is there a spirit in what we are saying?! OK- some people will argue that back and forth, let us take them to the Qur’an. Musa (alayhi as salaam) was angry just like we are angry. You know, some Muslims have been dumbed down. There is an establishment of Masajid all over the world to dumb down the Muslims so the Muslims can’t speak truth to power. This generates some anger in those who are true to themselves, true to Allah and true to the issues of justice. Can we find some justification for feeling angry- not angry in the way that makes us crazy, not angry in the way that imbalances us, not angry in the way that leads us to entrapment, not angry in the way that some of us become mercenaries of the other side- all of these are different forms of anger and they’re all wrong. There’s a legitimate way and there’s a moral way of being angry. (They say “how do you say that?” OK- let’s take them to the ayaat of the Qur’an, Surah Al A‘raf ayah 150
وَلَمَّا رَجَعَ مُوسَىٰ إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ غَضْبَانَ أَسِفًا
And when Musa returned to his people in a state of anger and sorrow… (Surah Al A’raf verse 150)
Musa (alayhi as salaam), Allah’s Prophet, was angry. Oh- these holier-than-thou- Muslims can’t expect that a Prophet of Allah, a Messenger of Allah, one of the five main ones is angry?! Yes- if you read your Qur’an and understand what you’re reading, meaning if you read your Qur’an with your mind not with traditions and not through a third person. Read your Qur’an!
قَالَ بِئْسَمَا خَلَفْتُمُونِي مِن بَعْدِي ۖ أَعَجِلْتُمْ أَمْرَ رَبِّكُمْ ۖ وَأَلْقَى الْأَلْوَاحَ
… he said what a terrible outcome that has emerged after my absence; are you more anxious concerning your Lord’s affair (or) your Sustainer’s affair than He? And he threw down the tablets he had were with him… (Surah Al A’raf verse 150)
He went up on to the mountain he came back with tablets of instruction but because of his anger he threw them down. This wasn’t an anger that was going to capitulate to the status quo, it wasn’t an anger that was going to make him imbalanced, it wasn’t an anger that was going to make him regret being a Prophet (and) a committed Muslim
وَأَخَذَ بِرَأْسِ أَخِيهِ يَجُرُّهُ إِلَيْهِ
… he took his brother, he pulled his brother by his head dragging him towards him… (Surah Al A’raf verse 150)
Brothers and sisters, we know many of you read these ayaat and just don’t take the time- you are in the fast lane; please, when you are with Allah bring down your speed. Think for a while what is being said to you. Musa is a Prophet, Harun (alayhi as salaam) is a Prophet- two brothers that are Prophets; one of them comes back and he’s upset with what happens in his absence. His own people now have gone off on an anti Allah tangent and he takes his brother, his Prophet brother, (let’s be specific about this), he pulls him by the hair and by the head and he drags him in front of everyone. How demeaning is that, (and) that’s fine of course if you look at it out of context; this is a humiliating scene but it’s not in context with all the ingredients. This is the only thing left to do. If you are sincere to Allah and sincere to yourself what else can you do?
قَالَ ابْنَ أُمَّ
… He said my mother’s son… (Surah Al A’raf verse 150)
He didn’t say my father’s son. Both of these are brothers from the same father and mother. He didn’t say son of my father, he said son of my mother which here is to induce the feelings of passion and love and affection
إِنَّ الْقَوْمَ اسْتَضْعَفُونِي وَكَادُوا يَقْتُلُونَنِي فَلَا تُشْمِتْ بِيَ الْأَعْدَاءَ وَلَا تَجْعَلْنِي مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ
… these people saw that I am all by myself so they took over, they took the affairs into their own hands and they came so close to killing me; so don’t let the enemies take advantage of this scenery and don’t cause me to be identified with al qawm adh Dhaalimin. (Surah Al A’raf verse 150)
What we’re trying to say here is- human nature being what it is- if you are sincere to Allah, sincere to His Prophet, sincere to yourself (and) you’re a person of principle; because of that you may feel at times angry. This is not limited to Musa and his brother.
Brothers and sisters- we know this is a hot day, please bear with us a few more minutes. After that, when this transient feeling left Musa said
قَالَ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِأَخِي وَأَدْخِلْنَا فِي رَحْمَتِكَ ۖ وَأَنتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ
Oh my Sustainer forgive me and forgive my brother and cause us to enter your mercy for you are the Most Merciful. (Surah Al A’raf verse 151)
Then, in another ayah, Surah Al A’raf 154, Allah says
وَلَمَّا سَكَتَ عَن مُّوسَى الْغَضَبُ
When this anger had settled away from Musa or when this state of anger had left Musa alone… (Surah Al A’raf verse 154)
In Surah Ta-Ha ayah 86
فَرَجَعَ مُوسَىٰ إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ غَضْبَانَ أَسِفًا
Musa returned to his people angry, regretting things… (Surah Ta-Ha verse 86)
There are other ayaat but that’s enough. We think the point is made as far as Musa is concerned. No one came and said “Musa was behaving our of character” because they understood Musa stood for principle. In today’s world, especially among these moralising Muslims who are holier-than-thou, they understand these issues in a vacuum?!
In the course of the Seerah of our Prophet, in the lifetime of our Prophet, let’s see if there were conditions of this anger that presented themselves. On the day of Al Hudaybiyah a person by the name of Urwa ibn Mas’ud came to the Prophet from Makkah to try to negotiate some type of middle ground here when the Mushriks of Makkah feel that the Muslims now are in the ascendency and one portion of what he said, (you can review all of this in the books of Seerah), one of the sentences that this man, the Mushrik from Makkah is telling Allah’s Prophet is by Allah- I don’t find any dignified faces here I see scum bags. (We’re giving you the force of the words here). These people around you are faint hearted scumbags. The only thing that behoves them is to runaway and to leave you alone. This was said to Allah’s Prophet in the presence of the committed Muslims around him. One of these committed Muslims, (we’re not going to say the name because once again we know the Muslim brothers and sisters very well. If we mention a name we know that all of this traditionalism is going to kick in and they’re not going to pay attention- neither to the Prophet nor to the context of what happened nor to the validity of the statement, so why should a name jeopardise the lesson?), (let us give you a clue), who is known for his mild character. We’re going to quote in Arabic what he said and then we will give you the general English meaning, which represents the state of anger that he was in and which the Prophet of Allah did not repudiate (or) he didn’t tell him “why are you angry.” If we were to translate this literally it would be a little pornographic but to put it in a sense that you will understand, this gentle person around Allah’s Prophet upon hearing this insult was angry and expressed himself in words of anger, he said go suck on Al Lat. That’s the best way that can be translated without getting graphical. Go suck on Al Lat. Do you mean we are going to abandon and flee from our Prophet and our Messenger? It was never reported that the Prophet of Allah said wait a minute here, calm down; don’t be angry because it was legitimate anger. It was controlled anger and it was disciplined anger. Al Imam Al Husayn (radi Allahu anhu), on the day of Karbala’’ said a statement that indicates his anger or at least a moment of anger when he quoted his grandfather, the Prophet of Allah. This Shamir who was one of the war criminals of all times, he still hasn’t been brought to a court of justice in Islamic history! There’s been sectarianism all around this issue, there’s been feelings and there’s been a lot of things but he still hasn’t appeared in a calculated court of justice, in an Islamic court of justice. When Husayn saw what this war criminal, Shamir ibn Dhi Al Jaushad was about to do he said the following, (and he was quoting Rasulullah), as if I can see a chequered dog, a spotted dog, a dog with spots who is wollowing with his tongue in the blood of my bayt. These are the Prophet’s words. Now what do we say? The Prophet was angry and he shouldn’t have been angry?! Husayn was angry and he shouldn’t have been angry?! The Prophet of Allah on a couple of occasions had a person come up to him, (once in his own Masjid), and pull him very violently by his garment until there was a mark on his neck. People were looking. The Prophet asked him so what do you want? He said give me of the resources that you have, give me some money. I’m a poor man. Did the Prophet say “this person is angry, he is insane. Forget about it?” He came out of need and the Prophet could see that. He said give him some resources give him something that will help him. On another occasion the Prophet was in the cemetery of Al Baqiyah after janaza prayer (and) another person comes to the Prophet and does the same thing. This is the Prophet of Allah. He pulls him by his garment (and) shakes him in front of the other Muslims. So what do you want the Prophet asked him. He said I want you to pay me back. Then, one of the companions of the Prophet who is known for his impulsive nature said permit me- I’ll lob his head off his body. He said no. It behoves you to tell me to encourage me to give back what belongs to people (and) what belongs to this person and it behoves you also to address to him to tell him to be more patient. Today, if you speak up against these types of rulers, dictators (and) despots they’ll shred you to pieces! Where do we find in the Muslim world, where do we find in the whole world for that matter, in these democracies (and) civilised places the opportunity to see the leader of the country, much less to go up to him and express the injustice that has befallen you?
Dear committed brothers, dear committed sisters in Islam…
We know that this type of information doesn’t make its rounds in our lectures, in our conversations, in our conferences (and) this information is better kept out in circulation. Better for whom? For those who are in power. No one wants you and me and the average Muslim to wake up and speak out; but the issue of justice is a strong issue. It’s a fundamental issue and if we are silent others will speak out. It’s just a shame and a pity that we have the guidance so we qualify to speak out but we remain silent; others who don’t have this guidance are the ones who are speaking out according to their own limited information that they have. This is the irony of the world that we live. We find that these rulers are beyond approach; they are beyond criticism, they are beyond assessment, beyond evaluation. Why? Where did this come from? Is this a Qur’anic concept? Is this what Allah’s Prophet taught us? These people who say “as sunnah as sunnah as sunnah”; (that’s) fine, but how come this doesn’t this figure into your schematic sunnah? Where’s this in your sunnah i.e. the Prophet’s character when it comes to justice in life? Where is speaking truth to power we ask. A Saudi lady who has been working for ARAMCO for many many years- fifteen or more years- wants to attend a conference on human rights in Norway and her employer- this ARAMCO, the Arab American Oil Company- the boss there tells her “well you have a choice. If you want to go for the conference- go ahead and you lose your job; if you forfeit the conference you can continue with your employment with us.” You see this is how deep yearning for equality and dignity is in human nature- she says “I’m going and she goes and attends the conference.” Then she says “living outside of that cage- the Saudi Arabian cage…” (that is brought into our Masajid around the world), “…she feels like a human being.” She wears the full hijab in Europe but now if she wants to rent an apartment she’s not told “where is your father or where is your husband” if she goes and rents an apartment. (If) she wants to open a bank account she is not told “where is your father, where is your husband?” What is this? Women have no value in that type of nation state?! Then we have one of the prime contenders for the Presidency in Egypt who is representing the major Islamic party in Egypt who says, (we’re paraphrasing here), “Saudi Arabia is a government that there’s no objection to following it’s example.” (Or something along those lines.) What is this, brothers and sisters? This is coming from a person who is supposed to belong to an Islamic background, (who) is supposed to know better. He says “something he would like to have in the future- a copy-cat Egypt of Saudi Arabia.” What has happened to us? Where is the Qur’an? Where is the Prophet? Where is Allah in all of this? Obviously there is much more to be said…