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

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]

Five Before Five – A Khutbah for Muslim Youth

Congratulations to all of those Muslims who are either graduating from one class to another or who have completed their degrees and are moving into the “real world.” As we move from stage to stage in this life (al-Hayah al-Dunya), we should know that we are moving ever closer that the Next Appointment. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم warned us about five things before they were taken from us:

اغتنم خمسا قبل خمس ، شبابك قبل هرمك ، وصحتك قبل سقمك ، وغناك قبل فقرك ، وفراغك قبل شغلك ، وحياتك قبل موتك

“Take advantage of five things before they are taken from you: your youth before you grow old, your health before you become sick, your wealth before you become poor, your free time before you are occupied and your life before your death.” Related by ‘Abd-Allah Ibn ‘Abbas from Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani’s Fath al-Bari.