Astuteness In Islam

Dear respected brothers and sisters in Islam, I greet you today with the greeting of Paradise, “as-Salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu”.

First Khutbah – Main Points

اقترب للناس حسابهم و هم في غفلة معرضون

“The Reckoning is ever drawing closer to Mankind, yet they are woefully heedless of it, turning away.” [Q: 21: 1]

Last week, I opened the khutbah with a reading from suwrah al-Anbiyā’ in which Allah states the coming of the Hour. And while this coming of the Hour encompasses both the iterations of it: the Big Hour or the demise of the world [الساعة الكبيرة], or our individual hours: [الساعة الصغيرة].  Attached to this coming of the Hour is the account of all we have done in our live [or not done for that matter].  This is similar to what Allah says in suwrah al-Infatar:

علمت نفس ما قدمت و أخرت

“Every soul will know what it has put forward and what it held back.” [Q: 82: 5]

How do we react to advice when we’re given it from those we know?  What about advice from Allah of His Messenger [s]?  Are we as quick and eager to alter our character, our awareness as much as we think we are?  A case in point is the imagination that many Muslims have, thinking that we would have loved to have been with the Prophet [s] during his lifetime.  What we do not realize is this: we would have learned and been told a great many things about our character that we may have found hard to swallow.  And like it or not, we would have to imbibe this for there would have been no other arbiter to take one’s case to in the face of the Messenger critiquing your character.

Taking Stock

Taking stock through realizing we are all going to meet Allah on the Qiyāmah and that there’s no putting it off is one of the perennial duties of a Muslim.  Constant [though not obsessive or fatalistic] thought and reflection about our own demise will help us weigh and consider our lives in where our standing is – and with a sense of immediacy that we’re not entitled to nor promised any time.

For many people in today’s world however, people laugh at taking stock of themselves or they are presumptuous that they are entitled to something from Allah that they are not.  A hadīth, collected in at-Tirmidhī’s Qiyāmah, the Prophet [s] tells us to take stock of ourselves:

حاسبوا أنفسكم قبل أن تحاسبو,
وزنوا أعمالكم قبل أن توزن عليكم

“Take stock of yourselves before you are called to account –
weigh your deeds before they are weighed for you.”

The word hisāb is a continuing theme in the Prophetic and Qur’ānic dialog.  Studying its meaning and consequences can provide deeper insights to our lives and practices as Muslims.

Man in modernity has come to think of himself as dependent from God.  Our actions as a species on the planet reflect this. In related to the entitlement that we see so prevalent in people’s actions today, I am reminded by Imam Ali’s [rah] words:

من ظن أنه بدون الجهد يصل فهو متمن
و من ظن أنه ببذل الجهد يصل فهو مستغن

“He who thinks he can achieve his goal without spending any effort is a wishful thinker –
and he who thinks, that by the expending of effort, he deserves to achieve his goal, is presumptuous.”

Action is integral in achieve salvation of the human soul.  Islam places a high value on action [though always coupled with faith – hence the many ayāt that speaks of, “those who believe and practice sound deeds”].  But we must ask ourselves, what is it we are striving for?  The Qur’ān speaks of this in suwrah an-Najm, where Allah says:

و أن ليس للإنسان إلا ما سعى

“Surely man will have nothing less that we he strives for.” [Q: 53: 39]

Keeping an eye on what we’re striving for is a means of recalibrating our Islam – just like a machine, which needs constant recalibration to keep running smoothly and on track.  It is also the means of seeking Allah’s protection from the deception that Shaytān is always whispering to us with: that our actions will somehow justify our deeds.

Let us ask Allah to make us of those who strive for Him and for upholding the honor and the legacy of His Noble Prophet.

Second Khutbah – Main Points

We’ve talked about responsibility and being aware of the Hour and the hisāb, but how do we go about changing out character?

The Prophet [s], provides us with some advice:

الكيس من دان نفسه و عمل لما بعد الموت
و الأحمق من اتبع هواه و تمنى على الله تعالى الأماني

“The astute man passes judgment on himself and works for what comes after death –
The imbecile is the one who follows his passions yet expects God, the Exalted, to realize his wishes.”

This ties into Ali’s statement about presumption and entitlement. As the modern world has blinded itself of the true nature of Reality, it behaves like a child. Unable to cope, it holds its hands over its eyes, it refuses to see yet it does nothing to change Reality’s Truth. In light of this, many choose to pretend that death will never come.  Look at the counsel that Jabril [as] gives the Prophet [s]:

يا محمد, عش ما شئت فإنك ميت
و اعمل ما شئت فإنك مجزي به
و أحبب من شئت فإنك مفارقه

“O Muhammad! Live as long as you like, but you must die,
Do what you wish, but you will be repaid for it,
Love whoever you wish, but you will be separated from them
[in another narration is says, “whatever you wish”]

I mention this as it is indicative of how we often look at life as being entitled or promised so many things.  We ask Allah to allow all of us to take this sound advice to heart.

We also have to ask ourselves, what do we spend our time doing and with whom do we spend our time with? This is especially as it relates to children.

We live in the “Hyper Age” – not hyper as in spastic [though a clear symptom] but hyper in terms of excess. Modernity lacks the ability to take stock of itself. This is because it has put the individual as the ultimate arbiter of truth: moral truth, cosmological truth, legal/ethical issues.  Islam puts that back in its place: we can offer this to the rest of the world if we can get ourselves correct. But above all, we can never hope to affect change in the world without affecting change within ourselves.  Something all of us, in sha’Allah, can do.

We should keep in mind the kulliyāt of Islam.  In other words, what the Qur’ān, Sunnah, etc., is trying to “get at something” in relation to the human being.  While we don’t accept Darwin’s theory of evolution we do allow for the evolution of human beings in their Islam. Be tolerant with each other and when calling people do din al-Haqq.

May Allah make us the people of ‘irfān, the people who realize and actualize Lā ilāha illa Allah in their public and private lives. Amin.
We close now with a du’ah from the Prophet Muhammad [s] regarding the condition of the world we live in, asking Allah to protect us from its fitnah, so our souls may have salvation on the Day of Judgment:

اللهم إني أعوذ بك من قلب لا يخشع
و دعاء لا يسمع
و من نفس لا يشبع
و من علم لا ينفع
اللهم  إني أعوذ بك من هؤلاء الأربع

“O’ Allah! I seek protection in you from a heart that has no humility,
And from a supplication that is not heard,
And from a soul that cannot be satiated,
And from knowledge that has no benefit.
O’ Allah!, I seek refuge in you from all four of these!

Amin.

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