Absent Minded Faith – A Khutbah

This khutbah/sermon takes up from last week’s khutbah:

[Direct download]

سَبَّحَ لِلَّهِ ما فِي السَّماواتِ وَما فِي الأَرضِ ۖ وَهُوَ العَزيزُ الحَكيمُ
يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا لِمَ تَقولونَ ما لا تَفعَلونَ
كَبُرَ مَقتًا عِندَ اللَّهِ أَن تَقولوا ما لا تَفعَلونَ
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الَّذينَ يُقاتِلونَ في سَبيلِهِ صَفًّا كَأَنَّهُم بُنيانٌ مَرصوصٌ
الرَّجُلُ عَلَى دِينِ خَلِيلِهِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ أَحَدُكُمْ مَنْ يُخَالِلُ

“Everything in the heavens and everything in the earth glorifies God. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. You who of faith!, why do you say what you do not do? It is deeply abhorrent to God that you should say what you do not do. God loves those who fight in His Way in ranks like well-built walls.” Qur’an, 61: 1-4

We said that Islam (religion) is sound advice (nasihah).

We said that one only takes advice if:

  1. One is ignorant of something and needs assistance/clarification.
  2. One trusts the one giving the advice.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“Allah the Exalted says: ‘I am as my slave expects me to be, and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me inwardly, I will remember him inwardly, and if he remembers Me in an assembly, I will remember him in a better assembly (i.e., in the assembly of angels).”

عن أبي هريرة، رضي الله عنه، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، قال ‏يقول الله تعالى‏ أنا عند ظن عبدي بي، وأنا معه إذا ذكرني، فإن ذكرني في نفسه، ذكرته في نفسي وإن ذكرني في ملإٍ ذكرته في ملإٍ خير منهم‏

What does Allah mean, “I am to my slave as s/he thinks of me”?, or, “I am, according to the thought of my slave, with him”?

Are we merely creatures, who are acted upon by the outside world?

What if we are dispassionate about God, about Islam?

One of the things that leads to this dispassion is becoming routine/becoming ossified.

How many of us recite the Fatihah, and only begin to pay attention to its meaning by the fourth or fifth verse?

Imagine skipping over the beginning (al-Hamd…) and then saying, “Guide us to the Straight Path…?

And we’re even told to thank people as a means of ultimately being appreciative of Allah:

لاَ يَشْكُرُ اللَّهَ مَنْ لاَ يَشْكُرُ النَّاسَ

The Prophet ﷺ said,

“He who does not thank the people is not thankful to Allah.” Sunan Abu Dawud, #4811

We recite the same surahs, for the same prayers. We become routine.

Being routine leads to laziness and cynicism.

Just look at this prayer from the Prophet:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْهَرَمِ، وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ فِتْنَةِ الْمَحْيَا وَالْمَمَاتِ، وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ

“O’ Allah! I seek refuge with You from helplessness, laziness, cowardice and feeble old age; I seek refuge with You from afflictions of life and death and seek refuge with You from the punishment in the grave.”

“A person is one religion of their confidant – therefore let each of you consider who he takes for his confidant.” Sunan Abu Dawud, #4833

الرَّجُلُ عَلَى دِينِ خَلِيلِهِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ أَحَدُكُمْ مَنْ يُخَالِلُ


The Holy Qur'ān

It’s time for Ramadan again, God willing. Whether by calculation [which this author does not subscribe to as a primary means of determining the fast] or by the traditional method of sighting [shahādah], the Blessed Month is upon us. It’s that time when immaterial whims of the world, its assumptions and delusions, as Mark Slouka puts it, are cast aside in favor of an Unseen Favor. Even the reward for fasting is known only to Allah.

Ramadan is that time, even though we look towards the horizon to confirm our fasting, when reality ceases to be solely horizontal and we take on a consciousness of the Seven Heavens; the Qur’an passing down, its Revelation, punctuates the true vertical nature of reality: That God is above the Throne which sits above the Creation. And from this, our Master Muhammad [s], was called and commanded: “Recite!”

Ramadan is a time to rehumanize: To come to know oneself without the muddling of Shayṭān. We can put our ears to our hearts and listen to what’s really there. Are we miserly? Coarse? Shallow? It is a time to dedicate oneself wholly to a new cause – indeed the only cause worth dedicating one’s soul to: lā ilāha illa Allah, Muḥammadun rasūl Allah.

In a few days time the debate over calculations, cesarean moon births and the like, will fade away and mosques will be crowded with the needy; needy of heart and soul. Our minds and hearts will be filled with transcendent thoughts while our vision vignettes on the Qur’an, blocking out the static of the dunya [wordly life], by reciting it night and day. We will greet each other with the greetings of Paradise [السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته] with smiles on our faces. Our hearts will tremble as we take stock, throwing ourselves on the Mercy of the Court: rabbanā ighfirlanā dhunūbanā!

I pray that Allah grants us access to Ramadan and all of its treasures, that we live to reap its benefits. Amin. For those who have contemplated embracing Islam, there can be no better time than the Holy Month of Ramadan to do so. I hope this short message will be one of the last as we shut off our computers and reboot our hearts, put down our Blackberries, Palm Pilots, iPhones/iPads and all other distractions and harness the tremendous benefits of this month. May you all have a blessed Ramadan.

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه, عن النبي, صلى الله عليه و سلم, قال يقول الله عز و جل الصوم لي و أنا أجزي به يدع شهوته و أكله و شربه من أجلي والصوم جنة وللصائم فرحتان: فرحة حين يفطر و فرحة حين يلقى ربه و خلوف فم الصائم أطيب عند الله من ريح المسك

[Ḥadīth Qudsī on the authority of Abū Hurayrah, may God be pleased with him, stated that the Prophet [s] said: “Fasting is Mine and I give its reward. One who abstains from passions, food, and drink for My Sake. So know fasting is like a shield; the one who fasts has two joys: a joy when the fast is broken and a joy when the faster meets their Lord. The odor eminating from the mouth of one who fasts is purer in God’s sight than the scent of musk.”

Marc Manley
27th of Sha’bān, 1431AH, Philadelphia