Sectarianism Part 3

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Shawwal 06, 1433 2012-08-24

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,

You know that we have been, in the previous thirty odd years, concentrating our jum’ah khutbahs on the affairs that have escaped attention and eluded our will power in the past hundreds of years. This khutbah this Friday you may say is a transitional khutbah from the depths of the month of Ramadhan to the range of the issues that bedevil the Islamic existence in today’s world. The Prophet of Allah says in a hadith a Mu’min or a committed Muslim who is strong is more liked and is better than a committed Muslim who is weak… Being that in today’s world you and I- just the average human being- think about strength in terms of physical strength (or) the accumulation of materialistic power, so if a person is citing this hadith (and) being that our minds are conditioned to understand certain words in a certain way all of a sudden we- no one is taking issue with any word in the Prophet’s hadith- but what we fail to understand is the Islamic definition of who is strong. The Islamic definition of who is strong is not a muscular person (or) a person who has developed these muscles on his body- in the Islamic worldview that’s not a person who is strong. So who is a strong committed Muslim? A strong committed Muslim is the one who has developed his or her will power- that’s where our strength is: resolve, determination, a backbone and never succumbing to the physical powers of the world- this is strength. The Prophet of Allah worked on building this willpower, not muscles. The Prophet of Allah spent thirteen years in Makkah on building this willpower. We don’t know and we challenge anyone of you who does know otherwise- did he tell these initial committed Muslims with him, (and you are familiar with the names), we have to exercise our muscles or we should build up our physical capacity? None of that occurs in those historical years. What was done in those thirteen years was the building up of strong and determined and unyielding Islamic characters (and) Islamic individuals whose will cannot be broken. That’s strength. There was not one Masjid that was built in Makkah. The Prophet didn’t have one Masjid in Makkah. So those who are saying or who want to define strength as “that nebulas concept of we are going to build piety or we’re going to build spirituality” didn’t exist. The Prophet didn’t build a Masjid in Makkah for thirteen years because he wasn’t concerned with the types of issues that today’s Muslims are concerned with?! If today’s Muslims were following very closely and very thoughtfully what Allah’s Prophet was doing, they wouldn’t be concerned with building Masajid today. (Take a) look at how many Masajid we have in the world, but do we have strong Muslims who can walk into these Masajid? When Muslims were strong, (in the sense that we just defined), and if we were strong we would have had the type of Masajid that spread from there-on- from the Masjid in Qurtuba, Masjid Al Azhar, Masjid Az Zaytunah- when Muslims had the willpower that we’re supposed to have today. (This is) something that we have lost in all of these years. The columns in these Masajid, (you know the poles), a Muslim scholar would support his back with these poles and around him be a class. There was a circular class- it’s called a halaqah. Some of these Masajid, like the Masjid in Qurtuba had hundreds of columns in them and they had hundreds of teachers. What were they trying to communicate to the students or to the attendees? Some type of vague spiritualism that we have inherited and has been weighing down on us to the detriment of our own lives and our survival?

Coming out of the month of Ramadhan, (we quote one of these fourth or fifth generation Muslims after the Prophet). In this sense, he said, (we don’t want to mention his name because, once again, if we mention the name the mind works in a funny way and you lose sight of what’s being said), we, committed Muslims who have this type of unbending strength, (not the physical strength but the strength of our willpower), live in a state of ecstasy (or) in a type of jubilation that if kings were to know what we have, they would fight us to acquire it (or) to have it for themselves. Where is this leading to, (as we said), as we transition from Ramadhan into the rest of the year? Muslims who have lost their internal strength (and) the strength of principle have an image of being nervous or being depressed or being bigots. This is what happens when we lose sight and we lose track of Allah’s Prophet. There is nothing in Allah’s book or in the lifetime of Allah’s Prophet- nothing that shows us a Muslim to be ill-tempered or trigger-happy or insular. Nothing! To the contrary, there’s an ayah and this ayah is saying something like this

وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا

… and the subjects of the Most Merciful who walk with ease on earth… (Surah Al Furqan verse 63)

This is trying to given an image of Muslims who are relaxed. They are not like dogs. Have you ever seen or have you watched closely a dog?

إِن تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُكْهُ يَلْهَث

… if you were to cause him to run he can’t catch his breath and if you were to tell him to relax and sit down he still can’t catch his breath… (Surah Al A’raf verse 176)

وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا

… and if they are addressed by people who are lacking in knowledge (or) by individuals who are ignorant, their response is salama. (Surah Al Furqan verse 63)

This is the epitome of confidence that comes from a principled willpower that doesn’t negotiate (or) that doesn’t hide (or) that doesn’t apologise for its principles. (This is) something that we see lacking even amongst those who have been physically observant of Ramadhan. Some Muslims have taken their own definition and made it one of fanaticism. They can’t relate to other human beings because they’re fanatic. It’s OK, brothers and sisters, if we look at ourselves very closely. The Prophet of Allah, in trying to liberate us from fanaticism said all people are Allah’s family- all. Try to fit this hadith into the mentality and the deportment of fanatics- all Allah’s creation or people are His family. All people regardless of their belief, regardless of their colour, regardless of their social status- whatever it maybe is Allah’s family. The most loved by Allah is the one of the most service to His family i.e. to Allah’s family. We think this hadith right now, in the world we are in, should echo from one country to the next (and) from one community to the next. This certainly is an antidote for fanaticism. Where did this fanaticism come from? How did this happen? First of all, it is a constant in history. As much as we don’t like to see it around, we find it in almost every generation of history, if not in every generation of history. Allah quotes some of this fanaticism by those who are supposed to be the followers of His Prophet or Prophets. Now look what happened to followers of the Torah and Injeel. These are supposed to know better.

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ لَيْسَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ لَيْسَتِ الْيَهُودُ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَهُمْ يَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ مِثْلَ قَوْلِهِمْ ۚ فَاللَّهُ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ

Al Yahud said An Nasara have no grounds for what they claim to be and An Nasara said Al Yahud have no grounds for whom they claim to be; it is in such a manner that those who lack knowledge repeat these types of statements that were said by them, Allah is going to judge between them on the day of Resurrection concerning matters that they differed about. (Surah Al Baqarah verse 113)

OK brothers and sisters- some of you think this is maybe historical (or) academic, (but) how does it apply to us? It’s very simple. You can change the word Al Yahud and An Nasara with two other words that generate fanaticism among certain Muslims. What if we were to tell you: Ahl As Sunnah said Ahl Tashayyu’ have no grounds for what they claim to be and Ahl Tashayyu’ said Ahl As Sunnah have no grounds for whom they claim to be; it is in such a manner that those who lack knowledge repeat these types of statements that were said by them, Allah is going to judge between them on the day of Resurrection concerning matters that they differed about. If you want to play dumb and think that this attitude does not exist around, of course you have the freedom to do that but if you want to face reality and point to those who are fanatics you will find them- whether they say they are Al Yahud, whether they say they are An Nasara, whether they say they are As Sunnah or whether they say they are Ash Shi’ah- fanatics are fanatics and they exist. We came out of Ramadhan with principle and willpower; we want to face these facts not turn the other way and make believe they don’t exist. They do exist. They exist all the way to the warfront because these are not just words, these become policies. People begin to kill for months and years and more than that because of this attitude. It’s an attitude that doesn’t have any root or any presence in the Qur’an or in the Sunnah. We challenge anyone who hears this khutbah and understands this question to bring us justification- an ayah or a hadith- that reinforces or validates bigotry, fanaticism and the hatred of the other. Bring us just one hadith one ayah that does that.

We have differences- mankind, humanity, everyone has differences. We’re not carbon copies of each other. There’s always going to be differences and this is part of our creation. Part of our existence is to acknowledge these differences, not to turn these differences into reasons and justifications for bloodshed and for hatred. What is ayah one-hundred-and-nineteen in Surah Hud saying?

وَلَوْ شَاءَ رَبُّكَ لَجَعَلَ النَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً

If Allah willed it or if it was Allah’s determination He would have made all creation one Ummah… (Surah Hud ayah 118)

Then He says

وَلَا يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ

… but they will continue even if Allah was to unite us politically… (Surah Hud ayah 118)

That’s the meaning of an ummah i.e. the consolidated effort that we may have

وَلَا يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ

… they will continue within that unity to have their differences… (Surah Hud ayah 118)

If you listen then you will know that it is in the nature of things. The way Allah has created us (or) fashioned us (or) developed us (or) nurtured us is that we’re going to continue to have our differences but these differences should never ever become a matter of justifying wars and bloodshed and mayhem and divisions in society- never! Then Allah says

وَلِذَٰلِكَ خَلَقَهُمْ

… it is for this reason that He, meaning Allah, created them or created people, created societies, created communities, races, ethnicities blocs of people, populations. (Surah Hud ayah 119)

Allah is explaining why He created us and we cannot live with the differences that Allah created us with and if some of us recognise these differences we turn this into tools of hostilities against each other without any ayah or any hadith to justify it.

Now, some of you are more attentive to some historical issues. OK. We don’t know if we’re going to mention the name or not. We’ll mention the name because it’s necessary because the fanatics of today refer to him almost after the Prophet. This person’s name is ibn Taymiyah. For those who are not very keen on history and details ibn Taymiyah lived in a time when the Tatars or the Moguls invaded all the way up to the Mediterranean i.e. from that land called China all the way into the Mediterranean and they occupied all of this land. Of course, in the process some Muslims and non Muslims were taken as prisoners of war. There were Muslims, there were Christians, there were Jews and there were others who were taken prisoners of wars by the Moguls. Ibn Taymiyah, (who happens to be quoted far and wide by the fanatics of our time), went to the commander of the Moguls and he said to him (or) he asked him to release the prisoners of war that he has. This commander said OK- I will release the Muslim prisoners of war. We wish these fanatics of our generation just would learn from the person that they hold in high esteem. ibn Taymiyah said to the commander of the Moguls no. If you’re going to release the prisoners of war you’re going to release all of them- the Muslims, the Christians, the Jews and the others along with the Muslims. We wonder how this one peculiar incident in history is interpreted by these types today who are fuelling the fires of fanaticism?

In the eighth Hijri century, (that puts us around the fifteenth century on the Gregorian calendar), in Egypt, Egypt was passing through hard times economically, politically (and) socially people were under pressure and there’s a sizeable Christian community in Egypt- the same community now that they are trying to instigate religious strife and even civil war inside of Egypt because of the same community. What happened? Some employees of that community- remember, Egypt is governed by what passes as an Islamic administration. In that Islamic political administration there are Christian employees (and) they began to harass the Muslims. A Muslim went to the office if he wants something done (and) he is put off or he would be marginalised. So some Muslims got the feeling that they’re being discriminated against so what some of these ignorant Muslims did was they torched some Churches. In retaliation to that, some Christians- all of these are Egyptian Muslims and Christians- went and they torched some Masajid. This was beginning to get out of hand until finally justice caught up with those on both sides who were responsible for this type of fanaticism. What’s the problem? Why do things like this occur? It’s simply ignorance- whether we are Muslims inside of our own house, Sunnis and Shi’is and otherwise or whether we are followers of scripture, i.e. Muslims, Christians and Jews. What do you find in the Holy texts that tells you, you have to become a bigot and a fanatic and shed the blood of the other? Where do you get that from? You don’t get that from anywhere except for the pulse of discrimination and hatred inside of you. We quoted the Prophet of Allah- all Allah’s creation or people are His family and the most loved by Allah is the one of the most service to Allah’s family. Another hadith from the Prophet of Allah (says)- and most of these fanatics go to the hadiths. They don’t go to the ayaat and that is why unlike in previous khutbahs we emphasize some of these hadiths- none of you becomes a committed Muslim until he likes or loves his brother what he likes or loves for himself. If we want to severe this fanaticism and bigotry from our lives that doesn’t mean that we severe our principles. We are people of principles but there’s nothing in our principles that make us hate the other- nothing! When the Prophet of Allah was approached, hey look what do you want? We’ll virtually give you anything you want just don’t go on explaining or publicizing or consolidating the principles that you have. If it’s money, we’ll give you money. If it’s physical power or authoritarian power, we’ll give it to you. What is it? As a matter of principle, not as a matter of fanaticism (and) not as a matter of bigotry (but) as a matter of principle the Prophet replied with the following words: by Allah my uncle, if they were to place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand to have me relinquish what I am pursuing, (as a matter of principle) I will never do so until Allah causes this affair to become dominant or in the process I perish. That’s not fanaticism, that is not bigotry. Listen brothers and sisters- we are living in a world in which our enemies are listening to us more than we listen to ourselves. They want us to confuse principle with fanaticism. We’ll never do it even though we know along this course and in this direction there are going to be individuals who are going to fall into those traps and some of them have already fallen into them. Allah says in Surah Al Mumtahanah, ayah number eight. This ayah, for anyone who has just elementary information about what the Qur’an, is telling the committed Muslims who want to live by these instructions

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ

… leave people who are not targeting you because of your deen and are not expelling you because of your lands… (Surah Al Mumtahanah verse 8)

Two things- as long as these other people in the world are not targeting you because of your deen and expelling you from your homelands, leave them alone. The second successor to Allah’s Prophet entered Al Quds at a time when there was friction and animosity between the Christians and the Jews of Al Quds. He gave both sides total freedom to their Holies or the areas that they revere. It was the same thing when Muhammad Al Fatih entered Constantinople- today’s Istanbul. He gave the Patriarch of that city the freedom to administer the affair of his flock according to his scripture. The Prophet of Allah says whoever does not pay attention or is not concerned with the affairs of the Muslim is not a Muslim.

Brothers and sisters, committed Muslims…

In light of what was just said, we have in an area of the world that is known to be tolerant. Muslims and Christians in some instances have their religious services in the same building. On Fridays for the Muslims on Sundays for the Christians. Now though, there is a drive and this drive is not a simple one because there are treasuries and budgets that are allocated for it to drive a wedge of hostility among the different confessions in that part of the world. We’re namely speaking about Syria. They want a Muslim to turn against another Muslim. They want a Muslim to turn against a follower of divine scripture i.e. a Christian or a Jew. This has nothing to do with principle, it has nothing to do with ayaat and ahadith but it has everything to do with the fanatical and the biased and the prejudiced strain of explaining things. Now there are satellite TVs (and) there’s a mass media in the world that can flicker certain captions and certain images and have Muslims now feel that it’s a matter of their own interpretation of Islam to come to the aid of one of them against the other. This applies across the board- no one is immune to this. This is ugly. This is unbecoming. This is not worthy of any Muslim in his right mind and right heart but this is what they are trying to do. They show you images of a child who is being hung from the fourth or sixth storey of a building (and) summary executions that are taking place and they want to convince different confessions of people that the other did it to them. Observe when you read or you watch these types of presentations (that) no one is telling you and me and the public that there are common enemies, mischief makers, troublemakers, intelligence agencies, mercenaries, informers, paramilitaries and even special operation forces that are in the thick and thin of what they want to become a lasting division among the Muslims. If we don’t acquire accurate information and if we don’t immunise ourselves by what Allah and His Prophet are telling us, we, (because we are human beings), are going to fall into the pits and into the abyss of what they have prepared for us- all of us. This is when the words of Allah should ring in a person’s head.

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا

And hold firm to the rope of Allah, all of you and do not be divided… (Surah Aal Imran verse 103)

This is not a time to be divided. This is a time to be united. We have many enemies- all of them more than willing to create doubts in your mind and in his mind and in the other person’s mind against that “other.”

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