Life of the Prophet – Session 3: Theology Superstition and Modernity

The following is a short audio excerpt on the monthly class, Life of the Prophet, at Middle Ground. At the end, we discussed how the world was changing at the birth of the Prophet and the advent of Islam.

[Direct download]

Adaptive vs. Transformative – A Khutbah

[Direct download]

The scientists and the atheists get it wrong. They fixate only on the capacity for organisms to adapt, and in doing so they reduce all organisms to the same playing field. But clearly the human being has not only been able to adapt but it has been able to transform.

Our ability to achieve greatness is not determined by our biology: it is determined by our spirit (something animals lack). This is due to unique nature of human beings having the Spirit of God blown into him.

إِذ قالَ رَبُّكَ لِلمَلائِكَةِ إِنّي خالِقٌ بَشَرًا مِن طينٍ
فَإِذا سَوَّيتُهُ وَنَفَختُ فيهِ مِن روحي فَقَعوا لَهُ ساجِدينَ

“Your Lord said to the angels, ‘I am going to create a human being out of clay. When I have formed him and breathed My Ruh into him, fall down in prostration to him’!” Qur’an, 38: 71-72

وَالَّتي أَحصَنَت فَرجَها فَنَفَخنا فيها مِن روحِنا وَجَعَلناها وَابنَها آيَةً لِلعالَمينَ

“And she who protected her private parts. We breathed into her some of Our Ruh and made her and her son a Sign for all the worlds.” Qur’an, 21: 91

ثُمَّ سَوّاهُ وَنَفَخَ فيهِ مِن روحِهِ ۖ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمعَ وَالأَبصارَ وَالأَفئِدَةَ ۚ قَليلًا ما تَشكُرونَ

“…then [God] formed him [Adam] and breathed His Ruh [Spirit] into him and gave you hearing, sight and hearts. What little thanks you show!” Qur’an, 32: 9

Animals don’t worry if they’re too fat or skinny. They can experience hunger but they do not think of transforming themselves.

Therefore Muslims are here not just simply to adapt or assimilate but to transform and to realize.

Transforming from a quiet piety, where one is merely observant of God, (adaptation to the modern American environment where religion is a quiet and conformist religious experience), to one based on knowledge, particularly where knowledge leads to action.

One is not merely satisfied to complete one’s prayers and other duties in the quiet privacy of one’s home, but one’s knowledge of God and His Messenger compels one to act:

  • Homelessness,
  • corruption,
  • aggression and oppression of the weak.

There are a great many who would love for things to remain the same: a weak, impotent and intimidated Muslim collective who will not challenge society. A weed has no greater friend than an absentee gardener.

أَنَّ رَجُلاً، سَأَلَ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَىُّ الإِسْلاَمِ خَيْرٌ قَالَ – تُطْعِمُ الطَّعَامَ وَتَقْرَأُ السَّلاَمَ عَلَى مَنْ عَرَفْتَ وَمَنْ لَمْ تَعْرِفْ

“A man asked the Prophet ﷺ “Which Islam is good/best?” The Prophet ﷺ replied, “To feed the poor and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” Sahih al-Bukhari #12

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