Raising the Foundations of A Community


Salam all, here is a sermon that I wrote (with the help of a friend) and delivered on Nov 26,2010. I would have published it early but got busy with my exams as most of you are now experiencing.

Just like the previous sermon, I am removing all the initial and ending prayers and all arabic text. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

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*PBUH = Peace and Blessings be Upon Him

PART ONE:
“And hold together to the rope of Allah and do not separate” (Quran)

O Muslims, in the Quran Allah warns of separating and dividing our communities.  In describing the Muslim Community the Prophet (PBUH) said “like a wall, parts of which support other parts” (Muslim)

O Muslims we are all in this together, we are a wall of bricks that support each other, depend upon each other and interact with each other. When one bricks gets loose, it weakens the foundation for our whole community. I know we come from many different backgrounds, schools of thought and tongues, but we must stick together. Too many times I see the attitude of a Muslim as though he is a ball in a playpen; he floats alone, works alone and fails alone. This is not our community and we will never succeed under this mentality.

O Muslims I could give a Khutbah every Friday for the next year or so about all the characteristics that we as a Muslim community we need to embody. There is so much we can do, there is so much we must do. But this is the beauty of life, knowing that we are flawed and yet every day we can improve.

One of the greatest benchmarks of how upright we are as a people is our akhlaq, our character. In describing the character of the Prophet the Allah says in the Quran “on an exalted standard of character” (Quran 68:4) Even though the prophet (PBUH) reached such a high level, he continued to make duaa for good Khuliq and always used to make the duaa “O’Allah, you have made my physical form good, so make my attitude and behavior good also”. May Allah raise our standards of khulq and character together.

This teaches that there is always room for improvement and how good character and having a good attitude is the corner stone in building our communities since it encompasses qualities such as humility, modesty, compassion, justice, cheerfulness and many other that we want to flourish in our communities.

The prophet (PBUH)said “Among the best of you are those who have the best attitude (towards others)” and in  another narration he said “No greater deed will be placed in the balance than a good attitude towards others. A good attitude (towards others) will bring a person up to the level of fasting and prayer” (Tirmidhi) and in another report “By virtue of his good attitude towards others, a person may reach the level of one who habitually fasts and stands in prayer (at night)

Think about it just by having a good attitude towards others, we can reach the level of the ones who constantly fasts and prays qiam al-layil. The best example for us to learn good attitude is from our prophet (PBUH), listen to the following two stories

Anas (RA) tells us “I served the Messenger of Allah for ten years, and he never said to me ‘Uff’. If id did something he never said ‘Why did you do that? And if I did not do something, he never said ‘ why did you not do such and such?”  (Bukhari and Muslim). Imagine, the Prophet (PBUH) did not even us the word uff which is the mildest word of contempt in Arabic. This was to a servant of his and he never rebuked him. How is our attitude to our friends and community? Sadly the smallest error results in one getting rebuked immediately.

In another story Anas (RA) said: “The Prophet was merciful. Nobody came to him without receiving a promise of his help, which he would fulfill if he had the means to do so. On one occasion, when the iqaamah for prayer had been given, a Bedouin came to him, took hold of his cloak and said, ‘I still have some matter outstanding, and I do not want to forget it’ So the Prophet went with him and resolved the matter, then he came back and prayed” (Bukhari)

Imagine that, even though the iqaamah had already been given, the Prophet (PBUH) still helped out the Bedouin.  The prophet (PBUH) did not get upset of the timing of the request or the roughness the Bedouin displayed by holding his cloak, instead he immediately went to help him because the prophet (PBUH) was building a just, compassionate society and was leading by example. And he did it in a kind and effective manner.

The next aspect that we need to foster and develop in our community is tolerance and forgiveness. These are characteristics that we must instill in ourselves and in our communities for Allah said “… Who restrain anger, and pardon [all] men – for Allah loves those who do good” (Quran 3:134)

Interaction in the Muslim community must not be based on blaming criticism, censure and seeking revenge for every small and large issue. Instead we must instill in ourselves the concept of tolerance; we must learn to overlook others faults and we must be patient and forgiving when wrongdoings are committed against us.

When Abu Bakr (RA) heard the slander being uttered against his daughter Aishah (RA) he vowed to cut off his financial aid and support to anyone who joined in the sinful gossip but Allah revealed :

“Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah’s cause: Let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful” Imagine, look at how big slander that was committed, yet Allah still teaches us to take the higher road and focus on the only true goal and that is pleasing Allah and seeking his forgiveness. And Abu Bakr immediately complied and said “Yes, indeed, I want Allah’s forgiveness.”

We must not build a society where evil is repaid with evil, for in the end we will have a fractured society with intense hatred and bitter grudges between us. Then we become pawns to those who want to harm us. Just look at our recent history…

In the Quran Allah says
“Nor Can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel [Evil] with what is better: then will be between whom and you was hatred become as if he were your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint – none but persons of the greatest good fortune” (Quran 41: 34-35). Think about it brothers and sisters, what kind of society and community you want to have around you, one that remembers each sin and mistake you did and you find grudges and hatred every corner you turn or one that is filled with love, forgiveness, tolerance where faults of others are graciously overlooked. The choice is ours.

PART TWO:

In the previous Khutbah we discussed the importance of having good attitude in building a just and compassionate society. Now one of the most important things when dealing with the community and with some of the issues mentioned above: You cannot give up on the people.  The Prophet (PBUH) so eloquently described this in a hadith:   If a man says “halak al naas” he is “ahlkahoum”. [Muslim]
This hadith basically says that — If a man says “halak al naas” or the people are perished then he is ahlkahoum. The word Ahlkahoum here which comes from the word halak can actually have two meanings:
1. The first one, which is the one most of us immediately think of when we first read this,  is that it could mean that he is THE MOST perished of them
2. THE SECOND one, which is other interesting but very dangerous one, is that it could mean that he CAUSED THEM to perish.

We find that this a very crucial point to internalize when dealing with the community as a whole.  To bring this idea closer to reality remember the hadith in which the prophet  (PBUH)“The example of the Moumin  in their love, mercy and kindness [for each other] is like the body if a part of it is afflicted, the whole body responds” (Muslim and Bukhari)
Now lets say in this situation one of the limbs, say the arm for example, that wasn’t directly afflicted with pain but was fed up with the need to react to the sickness says” Forget this, this body is doomed, I am cutting myself off from the body” what happens in this case? Two things:
1. The arm is now the MOST doomed out of the body for it is now a lone limb on the floor which isnt of much, or any, use.
2. The arm has now CAUSED the doom of the entire body for it has now departed the body and left it as a body without a limb. That will cause the body tremendous loss and suffering and leave it in a doomed state.

So from this example it becomes clear that giving up and losing hope in the people will only result in loss for both the people as a whole AND for the person himself.
We can take this closer to our day to day life, a lot of people here do actually try to do the things that we mentioned above. They do try to help people, they do try to make a difference. We can see for example how the MSA and SGL each at their own level and capacity try to make a difference. However, our actions are imperfect and we make many mistakes, but for one to go and say “This Community is horrible, its doomed, I have nothing to do with them” will only bring loss to both the community and the individual speaking. Rather, one must have patience with the people and realize that he is a part of them, if the community is going downhill, then he is also on that ride and must be pushing to bring it uphill.

And SubhanAllah things can never be worse than how they were with our greatest role model, the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), subhanAllah he had the WORST situations with his people where they were ACTIVELY trying to find the BEST ways to persecute him and harm him and often times even to assassinate him.  Yet he never harmed them or wanted revenge against them. Only for the sake of Allah and Islam did he fight, not for his personal vengeance.

So with that said we should all give towards our community and work it and more importantly we should never give up patience and perseverance in the process. As we should always remember that the moment we give up on the people, is the moment where we have truly given up on ourselves…

*PBUH = Peace and Blessings be Upon Him

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