The Essence of Salah – A Khutbah

The following khutbah was delivered on August 21st, 2015, in Fullerton, California, at the Sayed Jamaluddin Al-Afghani Mosque.


[Direct download]

Imam al-Ghazzali, one of the great thinkers in Islam, said about salah (prayer), that it has four admiral qualities:

فإن الصلاة عماد الدين, وعصام اليقين, ورأس القربات, وغرة الطاعات.

  1. The support center of the Din;
  2. The means of holding tight to certainty;
  3. The foremost means of drawing close to God;
  4. The act amongst the acts of obedience to God;

An ‘imad is like a tent-pole. The pole which makes the rest of the tent a place of habitation. Without it, the tent collapses. Being that the word din is related to dayn, debt, the means of supporting your debt to God is through salah.

Isam, its literal meaning being “a strap”, is a means of tying something down. The way to achieving certainty (yaqin) is not achieved through intellectual endeavors alone. It is achieve through habitual action. The salah is a means of doing that habitual action which “ties us to God”.

Remember, that ra’s is not only the head of something, but also a beginning. The beginning of drawing close to God begins with salah. You will not achieve it through any singular intellectual endeavor, no matter how smart.

The word gurrah refers to a beauty mark that the Arabs would say a horse would have on its face. A white mark. Ghurrah, a mark of superiority, of quality, is what’s being emphasized here. In these two verses, we’re reminded the beautification that salah gives us on the Day of Judgment:

وُجوهٌ يَومَئِذٍ ناضِرَةٌ

إِلىٰ رَبِّها ناظِرَةٌ

“Faces that Day will be radiant, gazing at their Lord.” Qur’an, 75: 22-23

More Thoughts on Reza Aslan and Historical Hadith

On August 13th, Reza Aslan, scholar of religions and professor of creative writing at the UC Riverside, posted a tweet stating that all hadith were, “created to justify orthodox behavior”.

reza-aslan-hadith

To this I posted a rebuttal of his comment,

This is why Reza Aslan is a source of misguidance for Muslims. He utters statements of kufr. Sorry if this hurts.

Since the nature of social media is in itself somewhat difficult to speak clearly I decided to clarify my intentions and points with a short video. Enjoy,

Yet – From Understanding Islam

The following is an audio file from my weekly class, Understanding Islam. We asked the question,

“How many of us feel that when we sin, it’s as if we’re at the Day of Judgment?”


[Direct download]

Being a perfectionist may seem like it can help us reach our full potential, but it can also prevent us from proper growth and experience in other areas. Perfectionism is a mindset (and perhaps, illusion) based on the fear of failure but in Islam, fear is meant to divert one from the path of Ultimate Failure to the path of Ultimate Success.

This fear of failure is what Stanford Professor of Psychology Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset.” She refers to “the power of ‘yet’ in her Ted Talk:

When we are perfectionistic, there is only success and failure, nothing in between. Therefore, there is no room to learn and grow because doing so brings the possibility of failure. Consequently, we function purely within our comfort zone and develop no new skills. On the other hand, if we are not driven by fear of failure, we do not limit ourselves to what we know we can do well, and are more likely to take risks that promote learning and growth.

This problem of perfectionism may actually limit us in our Islam in that we may become discouraged when we “fail”. To this topic, the Prophet ﷺ addressed one of his Companions, Hudhayfah:

لاَ يَنْبَغِي لِلْمُؤْمِنِ أَنْ يُذِلَّ نَفْسَهُ
‏ قَالُوا وَكَيْفَ يُذِلُّ نَفْسَهُ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏ يَتَعَرَّضُ مِنَ الْبَلاَءِ لِمَا لاَ يُطِيقُ

“It is not for the believer to humiliate himself.” They said, “How does he humiliate himself?” He said, “By taking on a trial which he can not bear.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 2254]

ICIE Town Hall Meeting – Clarifying Points on My Letter of Resignation

On behalf of myself and my family, we thank everyone for the tremendous outpouring of support for us. May Allah reward everyone of you for doing so.

I would like to post an audio clip of a short and unexpected talk I gave on Monday evening, June 29th, 2015. I had nothing to do with the orchestration of this event: several hundred people gathered to discuss aspects of my tenure at ICIE, my leadership, my psychological state and my capabilities as an Imam and Religious Director. At the behest of several of the attendees it was recommended I come down to clarify my statements. Below is the audio from that talk.


[Direct download]

As I wrote on Twitter,

“Let not your loss for words ever be a loss for action.”

We ask you to remove the word “sad” from your vocabulary and replace it with a sense of excitement and wonder at the works, in sha’Allah, we will produce together at the forthcoming Center.

Statement of Resignation From Islamic Center of Inland Empire as Religious Director

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,

The Muslim community in America is at a very important and urgent crossroad. At the center of this crossroad is religious leadership. It is a line of work fraught with many hardships, but also great rewards. I have been blessed to experience them both. But due to a number of persistent issues at the Islamic Center of Inland Empire: abusive and racist treatment from congregants (something I encountered my first day one on the job), lack of institutional support, and discordant community vision, it became clear to me that I must make a very difficult decision: it is time to move on from my post at ICIE. There is not an Imam out there who will not inevitably face challenges, but in order to succeed, he must be supported by the community and institutes leadership.

Believe me when I said that I do not make this choice lightly: my family and I moved here from across the country with great hope of making real and sustained changes in the Muslim community and in fact, we still harbor this hope. We also moved here at great risk to ourselves, leaving behind stable careers, all with hopes that the trade off would be worth it. We still believe this and we will be actively looking carrying on this search, this endeavor, and this struggle, in a new setting. But regrettably, after months of introspection, peer discussions, and of course asking for God’s guidance, I have concluded that tendering my resignation is what is best for the wellbeing of myself and my family.

I am very blessed and am grateful to have worked closely with so many amazing people in the community. I have witnessed shahadahs, weddings, and funerals. This position has opened my eyes to the needs of the Muslim community in a way I could never have known as a lay member, no matter how committed. I also could not have done my job without the immense support of Malek Bendelhoum, ICIE’s brilliant administrator. To you, and to the host of remarkable ICIE volunteers who repeatedly stepped up to the plate to support and assist me, I am greatly indebted.

I pray that as one Ummah, as one community, locally and beyond, we move to sync our operational and organizational functions to meet and address the challenging and dynamic needs of our Muslim community. It is paramount that our mosques move beyond the petty tropes of ethnic enclaves and theological fiefdoms and provide havens and sanctuaries for humans to reach their true godly potential. I realize this is no easy task given the diverse backgrounds and histories that must be reconciled under one tent, but I believe it’s a challenge we must, in sha’Allah, rise to the call of tackling if for no other greater reason than the future of our children.

My wife and I have met so many kind and welcoming souls here in Southern California. For all of you, we are eternally grateful for helping to make this transition livable and dignified. We eagerly look forward to continuing to build that key component of our community: a genuine sense of connectedness. For the time being, we will be hard at work on the next chapter in our lives right here in sunny Southern California.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to ask forgiveness of anyone that I have ever wronged. Let me repeat: This is not good-bye. I am actively looking to get my hands dirty in planting seeds in new, fertile soil. I can be reached by all of the regular avenues: website, Facebook, social media, etc. Please pray for our family and all of our families, communities and children. May God bless all of you and accept your good deeds and bring us together as one united community.

Marc Manley