February 2011


This is a khutba I delivered:

Brothers and sisters we have been born into a society very unlike the societies that our parents, grandparents and older generations were born into.

Science has advanced far beyond what our grandparents could have envisioned and the combination of cheap and instant global communication together with cheap international travel has led to the development of a global monoculture. This monoculture is formed within the most powerful group of all, usually called by its blanket name the West.

This monoculture brings with it a worldview which has the invisible attraction that draws those that would like to have power (or at least, not be weak) towards those that have power.

However, to those that think, this worldview is unattractive. If fact it is often ugly. Even those who promote its views and ethics confess that they invented the ethics themselves. The intellectual cadre within them even promote the belief that those ethics ‘evolved’ for the material benefit of those holding the views. The intellectuals make no claim to have a real set of ethics that all should follow, although the governments send their armies out around the world with the excuse of correcting the morals of the owners of the resources the army are laying claim to.

We are here today because, thank God, we have found and united on a divinely sourced worldview which we all recognise as being the straight path. How did we recognise this worldview of ours, Islam, as divine? Each of us has had our own path to that realisation, but for all of us a pillar (whether realised or not) of our belief is the miracle of the Qur’aan.

The qur’aan was revealed to the prophet Muhammad (SAW) 1400 years ago over a period of 23 years. Its message was so powerful, beautiful and transforming that when the messenger Muhammad told his companions that it was delivered to him by the angel Gabriel, they had no doubt that he was telling the truth. The continued miracle of the revelation of the message of the Qur’aan and the wonderful character and uprightness of its prophet inspired his companions to propagate this divine message.

This message was so evidently divine in origin, inspiring and beautiful that it was treasured and followed by the companions of the prophet, and then their subsequent generations. This amazing message spread across land and sea at astonishing speed to Morocco in the West and China in the East, and spread its light also through the ages across 1400 years. If we estimate 27 years as the average generation gap then this is over 50 generations. From the earliest days of the revelations it was recognised that the message must be preserved exactly as the angel Gabriel delivered it and to this day we have the written Qur’aan exactly as it was written then. The hearts of over a billion people have been illuminated by this divine message.

Amongst the first few ayas revealed to the prophet Muhammad SAW were those ayas from surat al`Alaq:

<<Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created>>

<<Created man, out of a clot of congealed blood>>

<<Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful>>

<<He Who taught by the pen>>

<<Taught man that which he knew not.>>

This beautiful message said that Allah teaches by the pen what we do not know – and amazingly Allah is still teaching us with this message 1400 years later. 1400 years and 50 generations have passed, we live thousands of miles away from the place of revelation, societal structure has changed tremendously and yet every single verse of the 6200 verses in the Qur’aan still fully apply to and transform our lives. This is surely one of the greatest miracles of the Qur’aan.

The Qur’aan was revealed in Arabic for the obvious reason that it be understood by the society within which it was revealed. Also, and not by coincidence, it is the language best suited to carry the weight of this mighty message, and indeed the burden on the language is heavy:

<<If We had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah. And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought.>>

One of the beautiful facets of classical Arabic ( اللغة الفصحى) is how it carries the concepts expressed in the Qur’aan and how it helps the one who contemplates its meaning to approach what it is intended to say.

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We wanted to protect your rights so that you could take that burka off.

So first of all we killed your husband. Still, you didn’t take the burka off and you didn’t even say thank you.

So then we killed your father. Still, you didn’t take the burka off and you didn’t even say thank you.

So then we killed your brothers. Still, you didn’t take the burka off and you didn’t even say thank you.

So then we killed your sons. Still, you didn’t take the burka off and you didn’t even say thank you.

When will you thank us for giving you your rights!

I had to give a khutba at short notice, so I wrote this by piecing together some good pieces on the internet, and adding some insights of my own:

Part I

The importance of patience

In the last ayat of surat-alAsr Allah tells us the importance of encouraging each other to patience.

Being patient is one of the most important attributes of a muslim. Allah mentions it in the quran more than 90 times and has said that the patient gain a great reward, for instance, Allah says in surat Hud:

“Except those who are patient and do good, they shall have forgiveness and a great reward.”

Other ayats relating to patience:

Consider surat alBaqara ayats 152 – 157:

“Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me.”

“O you who believe! seek assistance through patience and prayer; surely Allah is with the patient.”

(What does it mean when Allah is with you – ‘whoever has gained Allah, what has he lost, and whoever has lost Allah, what has he gained’)

“And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead; nay, (they are) alive, but you do not perceive.”

(This was revealed about those Muslims who were killed at Badr. They were fourteen in total: eight from the Helpers and six from the Migrants.)

“And We will most certainly try you with somewhat of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits; and give good news to the patient,”

“Who, when a misfortune befalls them, say: Surely we are Allah’s and to Him we shall surely return.”

Now Allah tells us of the great reward for patience:  Those are they on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord, and those are the followers of the right course.

Also the great reward for the patient is mentioned is surat azzumar:

“Say: O my servants who believe! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord; for those who do good in this world is good, and Allah’s earth is spacious; only the patient will be paid back their reward in full without measure.”

Making du`aa in times of difficulty

There are many du`aa found in the qur’aan. Later in surat alBaqara, ayat 286, Allh teaches us a beautiful du`aa that we can make in times of difficulty:

“Allah does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of its ability; for it is (the benefit of) what it has earned and upon it (the evil of) what it has wrought: Our Lord! do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake; Our Lord! do not lay on us a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us, Our Lord do not impose upon us that which we have not the strength to bear; and pardon us and grant us protection and have mercy on us, Thou art our Patron, so help us against the unbelieving people.”

Types of patience

There are 3 general types of patience:

The first type of patience is when a person works constantly to fulfill obligations and to do righteous deeds.

The second type of patience is when a person abstains from prohibited acts and from evil. Abstaining from prohibited acts requires a great struggle against one’s desires, and takes much patience in refraining from the evil influences of Shayaateen among man and Shayaateen among jinn. Therefore, Allah (S.W.T.) will give great rewards on the Day of Judgment to those who patiently abstained from evil. The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) told us about the people who will receive a special reward: “Seven are (the persons) whom Allah would give protection with His shade on the day when there would be no shade but His shade (i.e., on the Day of Judgment) and among them: a youth who grew up with the worship of Allah, …a man whom an extremely beautiful woman seduces (for illicit relation), but he rejected this offer by saying: I fear Allah….” {Imams Bukhari and Muslim} Prophet Yusuf (S.A.W.) is another example of a person who abstained patiently from the evil lure of the wife of a nobleman of Egypt. Prophet Yusuf chose incarceration for several years rather than committing an evil act.

The third type of patience is when a person practices patience during times of hardship without complaints. One must not complain because Allah (S.W.T.) predestines their hardship. This is the fruit of believing in predestination. Predestination is one of the pillars of faith. (fa akhbirnii `anil-iimaan: qaala: an tu’mina billaahi wa malaa’ikatihi wa kutubihi wa rusulihi wal-yami l-aakhir wa tu’mina bi qadari khairihi wa sharrihi)

Part II

Delay gratification to increase the reward

Patience is about taking the long term view – the intelligent persons approach.

There have even been scientific studies that demonstrate that even in this dunya there are benefits to practising patience and being prepared to wait for an increased reward. One example was reported by the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A47688178:

A study that was done in the 1960’s by Standford University psychology researcher Michael Mischel. His study demonstrated how important self-discipline is to success.

The study began with a group of children 4 years old. He optionally offered them one marshmallow immediately, but instead if they could wait for him to return later, they could have two marshmallows instead. He left for approximately 20 minutes. His theory? The children that could wait would demonstrate they had the ability to delay gratification and control impulse, both significant and important traits for attaining wealth and being financially successful. As you would expect, some children took one marshmallow, and other children decided to wait and received two later.

Fourteen years later, the simple study demonstrated the significant differences between the two groups of children. The children who delayed gratification and waited until Dr. Mischel’s return were more positive, persistent when faced with life difficulties, more self motivated and were able to delay immediate gratification in order to pursue their longer term goals.

The children who chose 1 marshmallow didn’t fare as well. They were more indecisive, mistrustful of others, less self confident and often more troubled in general. They were more obviously unable to delay immediate gratification.

Comparing the SAT scores of the 1 marshmallow students to the 2 marshmallow students showed that students that chose 1 marshmallow scored an average of 210 points lower (range is 600 – 2400 – AL) than the 2 marshmallow students. Why? 2 marshmallow students are able to sacrifice immediate activity in the interest of more focused study time for a longer term benefit. The one marshmallow students were far more impulsive resulting in higher distraction and less focus on their school work. They fell for the old “Hey let’s go out, you can always study later“.

Lack of impulse control has proven to result in less successful marriages, low job satisfaction, bad health, overall frustration in life. All of these result in something that has significant negative impact on being wealthy: low income.

Car loans etc.

It is very clear in Islam that interest is to be totally avoided, so be patient and wait until you can buy the car with cash.

How to practice patience

Patience can be learnt, and it grows and builds upon each smaller act of patience. Try to slow down a little, don’t expect everything to be done really quickly.  Anas ibn Maalik related that the prophet said:

التأني من الله العجلة من الشيطان

Acting slowly, biding one’s time is from Allah – haste is from Shaytan.

I talked about when you have patience Allah is with you. What happens to those who do not pay due attention to Allah?:

<<And he whose sight is dim to the remembrance of the Beneficent, We assign unto him a shaytaan who becometh his comrade;>>

surat azzukhruf:36

that is, they will find themselves in the company of a shaytaan.  What that means is that they will experience whispers suggesting wrong thoughts, that they be disobedient to Allah by committing sins. Therefore it is very helpful to maintain patience we should regularly remember Allah, be that through adhkaar, ihsaan – being aware that Allah is watching you as explained by Gibril as, reading the quran. When we remember Allah we are helped to be patient when bad things are happening to us.

The prophet’s advice for dealing with anger:

Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 8.136,

Two men abused each other in front of the Prophet while we were sitting with him. One of the two abused his companion furiously and his face became red. The Prophet said, “I know a word (sentence) the saying of which will cause him to relax if this man says it. Only if he said, ‘I seek refuge with Allah from Satan, the outcast.’ ” So they said to that (furious) man, “Don’t you hear what the Prophet is saying?” He said, “I am not mad.”

Hadith – Sunan of Abu Dawood,

AbuWa’il al-Qass said: We entered upon Urwah ibn Muhammad ibn as-Sa’di. A man spoke to him and made him angry. So he stood and performed ablution; he then returned and performed ablution, and said: My father told me on the authority of my grandfather Atiyyah who reported the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) as saying: Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution.

Hadith – Sunan of Abu Dawood,

The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said to us: When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.