It Takes Heart To Do The Right Thing – A Middle Ground Khutbah


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وَنُريدُ أَن نَمُنَّ عَلَى الَّذينَ استُضعِفوا فِي الأَرضِ وَنَجعَلَهُم أَئِمَّةً وَنَجعَلَهُمُ الوارِثينَ

“And We want to empower those who were being oppressed in the land, to make them leaders, and to give them an inheritance in the earth.” Qur’an 28: 5

ما جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِرَجُلٍ مِن قَلبَينِ في جَوفِهِ ۚ

“God hasn’t placed two hearts in any man’s chest,” Qur’an 33: 4

مَنْ قَتَلَ مُعَاهَدًا لَمْ يَرَحْ رَائِحَةَ الْجَنَّةِ، وَإِنَّ رِيحَهَا تُوجَدُ مِنْ مَسِيرَةِ أَرْبَعِينَ عَامًا

“Whoever kills the one with whom there is a social contract will not smell the scent of Paradise though its fragrance is perceived from a distance of forty years.”Prophet Muhammad

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

For the story on Ibn Ali Miller, see my article, “Islam’s Capacity to Empower.

Your Relationship with Allah Cannot Be Separated From Your Worship of Him – A Middle Ground Khutbah


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Your relationship with Allah cannot be separated from your worship of Him. For you have had a relationship with your Creator, your Lord, for a very, very long time.

Am I not your Lord?

وَإِذ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَني آدَمَ مِن ظُهورِهِم ذُرِّيَّتَهُم وَأَشهَدَهُم عَلىٰ أَنفُسِهِم أَلَستُ بِرَبِّكُم ۖ قالوا بَلىٰ ۛ شَهِدنا ۛ أَن تَقولوا يَومَ القِيامَةِ إِنّا كُنّا عَن هٰذا غافِلينَ

“When your Lord took out all their descendants from the loins of the children of Adam and made them testify against themselves ‘Am I not your Lord?’ they said, ‘We testify that indeed You are!’ Lest you say on the Day of Rising, ‘We knew nothing of this’.” Qur’an, 7: 172

This is the issue of putting too much stock in identity and not enough in substance. When your relationship with Allah is based solely on your experience as a physical body in the here-and-now (hayāt al-dunia) and not balanced with not just the concerns of the Life To Come, but its reality, then one will consistently be riddled with disappointments and doubts.

Islam, as a way of being and living, certainly includes using one’s mind, it should not be confused for being a religion of intellectualism. When one feels overwhelmed, go back to a point of simplicity and sincerity.

ذكر عبد الله بن بسر أن رجلا قال إن شرائع الإيمان قد كثرت علي فأخبرني بشيء أتشبث به قال لا يزال لسانك رطبا من ذكر الله تعالى

‘Abdullah bin Busr mentioned that a man said to the Prophet ﷺ ‘O Messenger of God, the rules and regulations regarding faith are too numerous for me so inform me of something I can hold on to’. The Prophet replied ﷺ ‘Never allow your tongue to cease being moist in the remembrance of God the Exalted’.” — Related by al-Tirmidhi in al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib

“In the original American populistic dream, the omnicompetence of the common man was fundamental and indispensable. It was believed that he could, without much special preparation, pursue the professions and run the government. Today he knows that he cannot even make his breakfast without using devices, more or less mysterious to him, which expertise has put at his disposal; and when he sits down to breakfast and looks at his morning newspaper, he reads about a whole range of vital and intricate issues and acknowledges, if he is candid with himself, that he has not acquired competence to judge most of them.”Tom Nichols, How America Lost Faith in Expertise.

#MiddleGroundPodcast – But Based On What? Muslim Identity in the West


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This episode, we bring you some more commentary and perspective on theological boundaries in Islam from the Blue Bottle coffee shop in Culver City, California. This episode discusses, amongst many things, Haroon Mogul’s Muslims Need A New Definition of Islam In Order To Survive.

“I believe the way forward is to bring about a new definition of Islam that will coexist alongside the ones we already have.”Haroon Moghul

What Are Our Expectations of Islam? – A Middle Ground Khutbah


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It’s not about having a faith in which one attempts to force revelation to conform to your own thought patterns and constructions but rather it is that you are secure and firm in the truthfulness of what God says, no matter how astonishing it may be to you.

“Allah: I fit into your perspective. You can never fit into my perspective.”

Questions for the Skeptics

فَاستَفتِهِم أَهُم أَشَدُّ خَلقًا أَم مَن خَلَقنا ۚ إِنّا خَلَقناهُم مِن طينٍ لازِبٍ
بَل عَجِبتَ وَيَسخَرونَ
وَإِذا ذُكِّروا لا يَذكُرونَ
وَإِذا رَأَوا آيَةً يَستَسخِرونَ
وَقالوا إِن هٰذا إِلّا سِحرٌ مُبينٌ
أَإِذا مِتنا وَكُنّا تُرابًا وَعِظامًا أَإِنّا لَمَبعوثونَ
أَوَآباؤُنَا الأَوَّلونَ

“So ask them their opinion. Are they harder to create or the other things that We created? In fact, We made their ancestors from sticky clay! But no! You’re amazed at God’s creative power, while they just ridicule it. When they’re reminded, they don’t accept the reminder, and when they see a miracle, they belittle it. Then they say, “This is clearly no more than wizardry. Huh? When we die and become dust and bones, are we really going to be raised up to life again and our ancestors, too?” Qur’an 37: 11-17

Sometimes it’s unsettling or even challenging to hear ridicule. Allah was aware of this in relation to his Prophet and the way the Quraysh ridiculed him:

وَلَقَد نَعلَمُ أَنَّكَ يَضيقُ صَدرُكَ بِما يَقولونَ
فَسَبِّح بِحَمدِ رَبِّكَ وَكُن مِنَ السّاجِدينَ
وَاعبُد رَبَّكَ حَتّىٰ يَأتِيَكَ اليَقينُ

“We know how your heart aches at what they’re saying, but glorify and praise your Lord, be among those who bow down prostrate, and serve your Lord until what is certain comes to you.” Qur’an 15: 97-99

This chapter is from the Late Makkan Period. At this point the Prophet was really feeling worn down; delivering the message and the ridicule that came with being Muslim was starting to take its tole.

Parts of this Book are like a love letter; a consolation. And when you’re in love, even when it’s long distance, any mention, any reminder of the one you love, softens the heart.

The word/verb “dīq” can mean to be, “cramped, confined, anguished, angry, annoyed, dejected, oppressed and even depressed”. Undoubtedly the Prophet felt many if not all of these.

So why does the Qur’an not console our hearts? Why does our relationship with Allah not make us feel better? Perhaps it is not only the frequency with which we read The Book but how we read it. What expectations do we pour into it? That the Quraysh constantly accused the Prophet of being a magician or that the Qur’an was nothing other than a book of magical fables, they fulfilled their disbelief because that’s the only thing they would accept as proof of its truthfulness.

#MiddleGroundPodcast – An Islam Without Boundaries – Is It Still Islam?


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In this episode, I clarifyy some points in my article, The Unrecognizable Islam of Reza Aslan, about the boundaries of belief and asks some important questions for our community to consider.

Sources

1. The Unrecognizable Islam of Reza Aslan.

2. Mu’min and Kafir – Negotiating Shared Space.

3. The Trouble With Muslim Pundits TodayPart 1 and Part 2.