The Secret To Giving Meaningful Khutbahs

I had an amusing question put to me today after Jumu’ah:

Sorry. No special sauce. Just simply reading the Qur’an, frequently, and with no distractions. Reading it with the intention to learn something new. Reading it and reflecting on it, my life, and the world around me. Sorry to disappoint.

#MiddleGroundPodcast – Whose ‘Abd Do You Want To Be?


[Direct download]

Ask yourself, “Whose ‘abd1 do you want to be?”

It’s not that Allah doesn’t get upset if you commit a sin: It’s that Allah is more upset that you forgot Him. How so?

فَذوقوا بِما نَسيتُم لِقاءَ يَومِكُم هٰذا إِنّا نَسيناكُم ۖ وَذوقوا عَذابَ الخُلدِ بِما كُنتُم تَعمَلونَ

“So suffer it! You forgot this appointed day of yours, so now We’re going to forget you! Suffer the eternal punishment for your deeds!” Qur’an, 32: 14

We become distracted like little children who point to others who are doing bad, as if that justifies them being disobedient!

وَلَو شِئنا لَآتَينا كُلَّ نَفسٍ هُداها وَلٰكِن حَقَّ القَولُ مِنّي لَأَملَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنَ الجِنَّةِ وَالنّاسِ أَجمَعينَ

“If We had wanted, We could’ve guided every soul, but the truth of My sentence will come to pass: “I will fill Hellfire with jinns and people all together!” Qur’an, 32: 13

Go into Allah’s generosity, mercy, kindness.

يَا عَائِشَةُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ رَفِيقٌ يُحِبُّ الرِّفْقَ وَيُعْطِي عَلَى الرِّفْقِ مَا لَا يُعْطِي عَلَى الْعُنْفِ وَمَا لَا يُعْطِي عَلَى مَا سِوَاهُ

“A’ishah!, Allah is gentle and He loves gentleness. He rewards for gentleness what is not granted for harshness and He does not reward anything else like it”Sahih Muslim, #2593

Allah doesn’t speak of most sins as “taking revenge” or repercussion, but when it comes to forgetting Allah, He responds, “We’re going to forget you” on that day.

وَمَن أَظلَمُ مِمَّن ذُكِّرَ بِآياتِ رَبِّهِ ثُمَّ أَعرَضَ عَنها ۚ إِنّا مِنَ المُجرِمينَ مُنتَقِمونَ

“So who’s more wrong than the one who is reminded of the signs of his Lord but then turns away from them? We’re indeed going to get retribution from the wicked!” Qur’an, 32: 22

For other khutbahs and podcasts, see the Middle Ground Podcast.

Notes

1. The term, ‘abd (عبد), whose verbal root, ‘a-ba-da, means to worship. It is also understood to mean slave, though for many, because of the transatlantic slave trade, it has come to take on that meaning almost exclusively. Here, we use it to mean, “worshiper (of)”.

Can’t Have A Community If You Don’t Show Up

Alienation? Detachment? Loneliness? Sound familiar? This, and more, is what I so often hear from Muslims when I run into them (everywhere else but the center). But why are so many of us feeling like we’ve lost our sense of community? Part of the problem, in my opinion, is the way in which we often diagnose the issue to begin with.

This afternoon I happened to run into a sister at a local coffee shop with whom I’m fairly well acqainted. Upon seeing me, she lamented about feeling detached from Islam, from Allah, from community. We spoke on the importance of having a community as it relates to the well-being of one’s Deen or religious/spiritual practice. She related that so many of the masajid that she attends either (a) are unwelcoming, (b) speak in a language (this case, the khutbah being all in Arabic) she doesn’t understand or (c) in a vernacular she finds irrelevant. While I sympathized at how all of those could be frustrating I also comically pointed out that (a) I was that Imam who quit his job over some of these very issues (racism, irrelevancy, etc.) but had also, along with a group of like-minded and forward-thinking Muslims, built a place that seeks to provide the very things she claimed to long for: a welcoming environment that offered religious tutelage in an environment that (we hope!) is welcoming and relevant. My point being, we’re never going to overcome these challenges if we don’t even show up. And what’s amazing is that if we just begin with showing up, many of those maladies (loneliness, alienation, etc.) seem to slowly go away; maybe not overnight, but they do abate. Fundamentally, we must switch from an entitlement world-view (or community-view) in which we feel everything ought to be all set up and ready to go before we walk in the door. We have to show up first, and work cooperatively to make things how we (and others) would like them to be. So when I asked her why she didn’t show up she just smiled and said, “I’ll have to change that.” It all begins by just showing up.

That’s what we’re working to bring to you at Middle Ground. May Allah give us Islam, guidance, and mercy. Amin.

Can A Humanist Sustainability Work?

Edward Humes Garbology is a fascinating read. In it, he points to numerous challenges plaguing modern man, namely the issue of waste and how it not only degrades the natural environment but actually cases harm to humans. I know many secular humanists who hold to the notion that, to quote Matt Damon’s botanist, Mark Watney, “I’m gonna have to have to science the shit out of this”.

But what’s most striking is that it’s science, or perhaps more accurately, scientism, that got us into this issue in the first place. I make the designation of scientism, in that it is precisely that humanist strain of science which has sought to divorce itself from religious and spiritual ethics. Humanism, according to dictionary definition is “a system of thought criticized as being centered on the notion of the rational, autonomous self and ignoring the unintegrated and conditioned nature of the individual”. It is specifically this “autonomous self”, detached from the natural world — through its “rational” mechanics — which gives license to itself to treat the world as mere objects, having no sign or significance beyond their molecules and atoms.

So how, precisely, are we going to science the feces out of our conundrum when the malady points to a much deeper diagnosis: schizophrenic god-complex. Schizophrenia in that modern man is caught between expelling God and attempting to be God himself. Thus far, the “science-ing the shit out of this” theory doesn’t seem to hold water.