The ritualistic mis-understanding of Islam Part 8

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Rabi' al-Thani 30, 1433 2012-03-23

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,

One of the problems, (if not one of the major problems), we have is the misunderstanding that has settled in and that has been taken for granted; this misunderstanding has to do with the confusion or the separation of two terms (or) two words or two ideas. We are supposed to understand better but to say the truth at this time we don’t. There has been a separation of authority from divinity. This suits the secular world very well but it does not belong in our mind and in our life. When we say ilah we mean a divinity and an authority together- they are inseparable; that is why our definition is expressed by ash shahadah. I bear witness that there is no Ilah except Allah. The word ilah here does not mean a heavenly deity or a cosmic divinity that has no effect or has no influence in our lives. Alas- the Muslims have been assaulted throughout the centuries in a way that has excluded authority from its divine definition; so when someone says “oh there’s one God” that means that there’s one divinity. It doesn’t mean to the average person what it is supposed to. It is supposed to, but it doesn’t mean to the average person that there is One authority. This has taken root in our lives and in our societies for a long time and it’s not supposed to be this way. So now we can have rulers such as the ones in Arabia- we concentrate on Arabia because the Prophet concentrated on Arabia. We covered his seerah and his history and we explained aforetime in other khutbahs that he had the opportunity and the chance to step out of Arabia. There’s a big world out there! He could have gone out. What’s all this concentration on Arabia?! But he didn’t and we shouldn’t but those are for those who understand the Prophet. The problem is that not only are we deficient in understanding Allah because we have separated divinity from authority, (but), we also don’t understand our Prophet because we have separated what he did from what we do. This is our dilemma! We’re going to try to explain this.

In today’s average Muslim mind a very young Muslim (and) a very elementary Muslim will understand the word nawaqid al wudhu i.e. what annuls wudhu. Everyone knows that. It’s common information and its common knowledge but if you come to someone and say do you know what nawaqid al Islam or nawaqid al iman i.e. what annuls Islam or what annuls iman and the person will scratch their head and if they are honest they’d say “no. Actually I haven’t heard of this before.” And if they are venturous they will try to guess what that is and in both cases many times they’re not going to be accurate- which is another indication of where we are as opposed to where we should be. The tanzeel or the sequence of instructive ayaat that we have, and they’ve been in our possession for one-thousand-four-hundred years plus, began with the mental assault of the power structure and the ruling class of that time. Why? Because there was no separation of authority from divinity. Divinity and authority meant the same thing; so if there is one God, then there is one government. That is how it should be understood. Then, after these thirteen long years in Makkah we had the rest of these explanations of Islam that we have held on to ever since that time. Issues of social co-operations, issues that pertain to family life, issues that pertain to morality and mannerisms came later on. The first order of business, (as it were), was to disestablish the power configuration around. The Muslims were focused on this. We know that the Muslims used to meet in Dar Al Arqam when they were in Makkah. Go back to your history books, (you can pick anyone you want), and you will find that during this period that we are speaking about, the Muslims are concentrating on bringing down the oppressive power structure that they were in. It wasn’t a very sophisticated one. We’re not speaking about the Persians or the Romans/Byzantines; it was, (more or less), the unsophisticated power structure in Arabia, but that’s what they were concentrating on because their understanding of Allah is that He is also their Law-giver. He’s not just a God up there in Heaven; He is responsible for regulating their lives, not Mr. so-and-so or judge so-and-so or congressman so-and-so. No! In this regard (and) in this context Allah says to us and to them armed with this understanding (and) armed with this Qur’an and this information

وَجَاهِدْهُم بِهِ جِهَادًا كَبِيرًا

… you launch a significant struggle against them… (Surah Al Furqan verse 52)

This struggle had none of today’s traditional definitions of who’s a Muslim. So when they used to meet in Dar Al Arqam in this social atmosphere, what were they saying there? What was going on in Dar Al Arqam? Your humble brother has not come across any of this information in any of these books that tells us what was being discussed in Dar Al Arqam, who said what, what were the ideas that were expressed! That information is gone! Well- at least so far. It may be stolen because a lot of our history was stolen. We have manuscripts and we have monographs and we have all of this but they are not in our possession?! But from what we do have, we don’t have any information for what they were they meeting in Dar Al Arqam. Tell us- what were they saying there? We can surmise, we can in an educated manner think that they were discussing the challenges, the threats, the imposition (and) the fear that they were all living at that time but we don’t have the details of this. Could it be a matter for us to re-think why don’t we have this information? You ask yourself as a thinking Muslim: “Why isn’t this information not available to us? Does it have to do with our own history (and) some people who were in power in our own history wanted this information away from the Muslim public? Or is it that initially these people who were in power discouraged or opposed Muslims who wanted to preserve the details of that history for posterity?” We all know, (and this is once again from whichever reference you go to), that those people in power were upset and were hostile to the Prophet and the Qur’an. We know that as a fact. We take today’s Muslims and we see there are some Muslims who say “they belong to the Prophet” and there are some Muslims who say “they belong to the Qur’an” and to both of them but we find out: hey look- not many people around are hostile to them! What happened here? The point we are trying to make here is the meanings of the Qur’an at that time were not meant to be recited with a melodious voice when someone passes away or on some other sad or happy occasion. The Qur’an was not understood, it was not approached (and) it was not assimilated in this manner. The Qur’an was a book that was responding in real time to the real threats that were in the real life of real Muslims. That was the Qur’an. A close person of the Mushriks comes up to the Prophet there in the Makkan era to the Prophet after the Prophet spoke initially expressing to the people he is Allah’s Messenger to them and he says woe to you, oh Muhammad, you called us so that we can listen to these types of words. What! Was Allah absent from this? If Allah was a deity up there millions and millions of light years away there wouldn’t be any need to respond to those types of words, that type of psychology (and) that behavior out of which comes policies and consequences; but there was a response. A Mushrik says to the Prophet woe to you, oh Muhammad, and Allah says to him in the Qur’an that we read and recite, you’re not going to get away with this.

تَبَّتْ يَدَا أَبِي لَهَبٍ وَتَبَّ

Perish the hands of the father of flame, perish he. (Surah Lahab verse 1)

It was a Qur’an in real life, not a Qur’an of imagination and feeling good and we’ve done something here or something like that that today, people feel or the impressions people have when they listen to the Qur’an. The Mushriks used to say in this context- this is surah As Saad, ayah number 60

أَنِ امْشُوا وَاصْبِرُوا عَلَىٰ آلِهَتِكُمْ ۖ إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَشَيْءٌ يُرَادُ

... carry on and be patient for the sake of your gods or for the sake of your authorities. (Surah As Saad verse 6)

This could have been a policy statement by the Mushriks that Allah Who sees and Who knows everything would not have taken notice of and made it an ayah for us to memorize and understand. When Allah’s Prophet and the committed Muslims were making a point which was to deconstruct the power structure and the ruling class, they said

أَنِ امْشُوا وَاصْبِرُوا عَلَىٰ آلِهَتِكُمْ ۖ إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَشَيْءٌ يُرَادُ

… carry on and be patient for the sake of your gods or for the sake of your authorities. (Surah As Saad verse 6)

Remember, there’s no separation of divinity and authority or deity and authority. So the Mushriks were saying

أَنِ امْشُوا وَاصْبِرُوا عَلَىٰ آلِهَتِكُمْ ۖ إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَشَيْءٌ يُرَادُ

… let’s carry on and be patient for the sake of our authorities, this is something that is meant to be. (Surah As Saad verse 6)

This is an ayah. These are the Mushriks words. They become an ayah that we speak and we recite. Was the Qur’an not a book in real time?

The Mushriks said and this is another ayah. Allah put the Mushriks words in His Holy Book that we read and recite (but) our problem is that we’re schizophrenic! We have a personality that is a thousand-and-four-hundred years ago and we have another personality that is today- that’s if we understand. We’re living with two personalities. In another ayah

وَقَالُوا لَوْلَا نُزِّلَ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنُ عَلَىٰ رَجُلٍ مِّنَ الْقَرْيَتَيْنِ عَظِيمٍ

If only this Qur’an was revealed to a person from one of the two major societies. (Surah Az Zukhruf verse 31)

The contextual meaning of this ayah was that there’s a much more significant person than Muhammad in Makkah and in At Ta’if that this Qur’an could have been revealed to?! Do you mean to tell me that God is speaking to a person like this?! Why did a Mushrik statement become an ayah in the Qur’an if the Qur’an was not meant for real time- because the Mushriks who said that then are saying the same thing today when anyone wants to recover and relive the character and the behavior of Allah’s Prophet? Do we have to get into some details here of the real world that we are in? If this message is given to a people they say “why can’t this message come to another people?”

اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ حَيْثُ يَجْعَلُ رِسَالَتَه

… Allah knows best where He is placing His message… (Surah Al An’am verse 124)

In surah Al Ankabut, ayah number fifty Allah is quoting the Mushriks. Listen to this brothers. We can’t remain to be dead in our souls and dead in our minds when reading the Qur’an!

وَقَالُوا لَوْلَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ

They, the Mushriks, said if only an ayah or a miracle was brought down to him... (Surah Al Ankabut verse 50)

These are their words and the Qur’an quoted their words for eternity, not because they were only relevant for Makkah and Arabia then, but they are also relevant to the Muslims since that Makkah and Arabia until the end of human time.

قُلْ إِنَّمَا الْآيَاتُ عِندَ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّمَا أَنَا نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ

… say: when it comes to issues of extra-ordinary power and authority, that belongs to Allah; the Prophet, as far as he is concerned, is a person who communicates good news and news that have a warning in it. (Surah Al Ankabut verse 50)

That’s what the Prophet does.

They come to Allah’s Prophet and they say look here- let’s find a common ground. Let’s reach some kind of solution to this and, (as you very well know), they suggested there should be time sharing for both these power or governance ideas i.e. you can do it your way in Makkah and Arabia for, (let’s say), a year and then we’ll go back to our way for a year or whatever we agree on as far as time frame is concerned but it should be equal. Did the Prophet accept this? No, he didn’t and then there was a response from Allah to this. The abbreviated surah (or) the not so long surah Qul yaa Ayyuha Al Kafirun was the response to them.

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ

لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ

Say (Oh Prophet): Oh you who are kafirs. I am not in conformity with that, that you are in conformity with… (Surah Al Kafirun verse 1-2)

لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ

You have your deen and I have mine. (Surah Al Kafirun verse 6)

So there is here a dynamic that is lost because our meanings are gobbled- this dynamic of the incompatibility and the clash of kufr and iman. (As you know throughout the past twenty-nine years), it is not our habit to extensively quote to you ayaat from the Qur’an, but we’re going to make an exception this Friday (in) this khutbah and quote to you very briefly maybe seven or eight ayaat and what they mean in as far as Muslims concentrating on the injustice and the oppression of the power structure around and what that means to those criminals who are running these types of power structures. For those of you who would like to know these ayaat, the first one is surah Al An’am, ayah number ten. What does this ayah say? It says to the Prophet to you and to me.

وَلَقَدِ اسْتُهْزِئَ بِرُسُلٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ فَحَاقَ بِالَّذِينَ سَخِرُوا مِنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ

Those who came before you were ridiculed; the consequence of that was that their mockery of Prophets and committed Muslims came back to destroy them. (Surah Al An’am verse 10)

Societies (and) power structures were destroyed because of making fun of Prophets and committed Muslims.

The following ayah is 27 of surah Al An’am.

وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذْ وُقِفُوا عَلَى النَّارِ فَقَالُوا يَا لَيْتَنَا نُرَدُّ وَلَا نُكَذِّبَ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّنَا وَنَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

If you could only see when they were standing right there at the fire- they said if only we could return and we will not take issue with the ayaat of our Sustainer and we will thus become committed Muslims. (Surah Al An’am verse 27)

Who’s saying this? The Qur’an is quoting for us what the criminals of the power structures are saying- not when they are giving this fancy addresses, not when they are up for re-election, not when they want to win votes; this is their core selves speaking.

Another ayah, 47 in Surah Al An’am


Say… (Surah Al An’am verse 47)

You and we are instructed to say these? Yes you are. To whom? Not to the poor person in the corner! You have to say this to those who are ruling in the land- the oppressors around.

قُلْ أَرَأَيْتَكُمْ إِنْ أَتَاكُمْ عَذَابُ اللَّهِ بَغْتَةً أَوْ جَهْرَةً هَلْ يُهْلَكُ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

Say: Can you consider if punishment was to come to you without any notice and for everyone to see? Who are then to be destroyed except those who are iniquitous, who are not fair? (Surah Al An’am verse 47)

This other ayah is number four of Surah Al A’raf

وَكَم مِّن قَرْيَةٍ أَهْلَكْنَاهَا

How many were those societies that we destroyed… (Surah Al A’raf verse 4)

Now listen brothers and sisters- some people are a little sensitive to this issue. Societies are not destroyed because they are living in a state of nature, societies are not destroyed because they are left alone and there’s no one to come to tell them what the truth of the matter is; these societies are destroyed because they were comfortable living, authorizing and endorsing the oppressive power structure that they paid allegiance to. That’s when they are destroyed.

Surah Yunus number eight

أُولَٰئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ

…those- their refugee is the fire… (Surah Yunus verse 8)


بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

… because of what they gained from that oppressive system that they were in-charge of. (Surah Yunus verse 8)

Ayah 17 in Surah Yunus

إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ

… He, Allah, does not permit criminals to become ultimately successful. (Surah Yunus verse 17)

Surah Hud ayah number 50

إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا مُفْتَرُونَ

… but you are only claiming… (Surah Hud verse 50)

You means who here? You are these people who are the decision-makers, the officials those who defined God as belonging heaven and define themselves as the authorities and powers of the earth. Allah is saying

إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا مُفْتَرُونَ

… you are contriving things, you are falsifying things. (Surah Hud verse 50)

Surah Ibrahim ayah 15

وَخَابَ كُلُّ جَبَّارٍ عَنِيدٍ

… every stubborn dictator is bound to fail from frustration and is bound to be frustrated through failure. (Surah Ibrahim verse 15)

And there are other ayaat and for the sake of time we will conclude with this much; which brings us to: where are we today? We couldn’t go through all of these ayaat, we just went through half of the ones that we picked of all of the ayaat that were revealed in Makkah. Remember, we said between two-thirds and three-fourths of the Qur’an were revealed in Makkah concentrating on the false power-structure that has to be deconstructed. OK- look at today’s Islamic movements. Are they concentrating on bringing down in the best possible way? You don’t have to think in the extremist mode that the Mushriks of today want to put us in, but you compare these words, these ayaat with the statements of today’s chieftains in the Islamic movements. They come to Washington and they say “look, there’s not really any difference between us and you. We are pro-democracy people and you are pro-democracy people.” They express words that are not found in the Qur’an and then if some Muslim has the courage to go up to them and say “wait a minute here, what are you saying? Do you know who you are talking to?” they say “but we are not in the Madinan era. We don’t have a state. We are still struggling.” But these are the ayaat that we are quoting from the Makkan era?! They were the ones that were meant to expose and to criminalize the oppressors of these ruling classes! Where do they get this from? There is no basis for what they are saying and what they are doing in the Qur’an or in the Sunnah.

Then we have another abnormality. You know- there’s a big premium placed on memorizing the Qur’an and don’t get us wrong. We’re not against the memorization of the Qur’an. The human memory is a wonderful thing. It has the capacity to memorize millions and millions of words and the words of Allah should be the first words, especially at a younger age when we are still fresh in our minds to memorize the Book of Allah, but what has happened is this memorization of the book of Allah has come at a price that has cost us very dearly because first of all the Qur’an is not an academic book. It is not a theoretical discourse. If we wanted to understand the Qur’an a little better- and not many people refer to it like this but it will explain it a little better- the Qur’an is a manual. When you buy something and you need some explanation as to how to run this thing or how to have it work you read the manual. The Qur’an is the manual of this life that we have. The Qur’an is telling us how to run our lives. Now you tell us- have you ever seen or heard of a person who memorizes a manual?! I’m sure many of you have manuals in the gadgets you have you bring home. Has anyone memorized a manual? No! We don’t know of anyone. What they do is they understand what this manual is saying and then they run those instructions in practical life and that’s how it was done when the Prophet was around. During the time of the Prophet, there was no trend in society to memorize the Qur’an. It wasn’t there. Sure- there were individuals who memorized the Qur’an but it wasn’t a trend. It wasn’t something that thousands of people were doing. So what would they do? They would memorize some ayaat (or) a few ayaat and then go out there in life and live these meanings. But these ayaat had a sequence to them that is why- and this is another dysfunctional usage of a word- we have the tilawah of the Qur’an. The tilawah doesn’t mean (anything) like in today’s language- someone says tilawah al Qur’an it means the recital of the Qur’an but that is not what it means! Just like Ilah doesn’t mean a deity, the tilawah of the Qur’an doesn’t mean the recital of the Qur’an. It means the sequencing of these ayaat as they relate to practical life. One of the scholars of Islam in those early years way back then realized what was going on and he said what these huffaaz are doing is they are combining it’s letters but they are letting go of its practical meanings. If you read in these books of old, you will find such things as one Sahabi would read the whole Qur’an in one rak’ah! Oh come one brothers and sisters! This is where our minds are absent. Our minds don’t work when someone reads a statement or a sentence like that and then begins to think “how pious the Sahaba were.” If you were just to take a Qur’an, (it’s a simple thing, it doesn’t take a challenge to your mind); the Qur’an is thirty juzs. Let’s say a person reads every juz in forty minutes, (and that’s quick reading by the way, but let’s say he can do it in forty minutes). Forty minutes per juz i.e. that’s forty times thirty. One-thousand-and-two-hundred minutes. Divide that by sixty and you get twenty hours. How can a person read the Qur’an in one rak’ah in twenty hours?! What happened to the rest of the day, to as salah, to him going to sleep, to him going out and making a living and all of these other things? But these are the gaps and these are the vacuums that are meant to stay in our societies and our minds when we have Masajid and we have rulers and we have power structures- the same ones that we have here and the same ones that are there in Arabia.

Dear brothers and sisters, committed Muslims…

Until this issue is clear in our minds we will continue to think that we have some rulers who just make from time to time decisions that are not the best decisions for us. This is how the general justification for today’s political status quo is i.e. “we have rulers who from time-to-time make decisions that now, looking back at it, were not the best decisions to be made.” That’s what we have. No one comes and places these decisions- such as the rulers in Arabia who come here to Washington and the United States and place their confidence and their strategy in the hands of those who are- there’s no words to describe them- if we say oppressors, that’s a light word. If we say criminals, that’s an understatement. If you say that they are war criminals, that doesn’t capture the whole picture. Whatever you say, they’re beyond description but they come over here and they say that they are- and the said it. It’s not like they’re afraid that maybe some Muslim who has his thoughts together is listening. They don’t consider that because they feel secure that they have everything under control. As far as the Masajid- well, they finance or they control eighty to ninety per cent of them. That’s good enough, so the Saudi rulers can come and say “we are in a strategic relationship.” That’s what they say “ we are in a strategic relationship with the United States. The United States is not a dhalim government.” Ask them! The problem is they don’t even want us to have the courage to ask this question. Allah says

وَلَا تَرْكَنُوا إِلَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا

Don’t rely upon alladhina dhalamu or don’t depend on alladhina dhalamu or don’t trust alladhina dhalamu or don’t bestraddle alladhina dhalamu or don’t believe in alladhina dhalamu. (Surah Hud verse 113)

All of these are shades of the word alladhina dhalamu. They come and do this for everyone to see and what’s the response? “Oh- they’re making this little type of mistake.” What is this “making this little type of mistake?!” What are you talking about? They are guilty of, (in the mildest of words), the two Qur’anic definitions of shirk and kufr however way you want to look at it. If you consider them the authorities in Arabia then you are a Mushrik because you have equated them to Allah’s authority when they are in contradiction to it! Then, if you look at them in another aspect that they don’t make any mistakes then you are attributing to them al ismah. They are not deities and they are not ma’sums. They are human beings who are guilty of all that is wrong with us. The problem is that some of us here are contributing to that guilt instead of stopping them in their tracks and exposing them for who they really are. Remember, just a couple years ago, (you don’t have to go back very many years in history and you get lost ), just a few years ago some of our dear brothers were saying “the king of Saudi Arabia is of another genre. He’s another person. You can expect more of him.” What is he doing now? Do you remember yourself? Do you remember the way you were thinking just a few years ago? Ittaqullah. Ittaqullah in what you say. Ittaqullah in what you think. Ittaqullah in the direction that you are moving in.

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