Act Now – A Khutbah

selfie-dmsa

It was with a heavy heart that I delivered my last khutbah today for the Drexel MSA in the capacity as chaplain. In truth, I have not been the chaplain at Drexel for over a year but I have, nonetheless, function as a de facto chaplain, or as the students affectionately call me, ustadh. The platform and environment that the Drexel MSA created provided me with an environment were I was able to grow and learn as a leader. For that I am eternally grateful and will miss all of the students in Drexel’s and Penn’s MSA’s.

So while some are sad, it also offers up new opportunities. I left these few words of advice:

وَأَنْفِقُوا مِنْ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ فَيَقُولَ رَبِّ لَوْلَا أَخَّرْتَنِي إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ فَأَصَّدَّقَ وَأَكُنْ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ

وَلَنْ يُؤَخِّرَ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِذَا جَاءَ أَجَلُهَا ۚ وَاللَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“Give from what We have provided for you before death comes to one of you and he says, ‘My Lord, if only you would give me a little more time so that I can give sadaqa and be one of the righteous!’ Allah will not give anyone more time, once their time has come. Allah is aware of what you do.” (Qur’an, 63: 10-11)

A Spirituality of Few Difficult Demands? – A Khutbah

“What is missing in the new surrogate religions is a spiritual discipline — submission to a body of teachings that has come to be accepted even when it conflicts with immediate interests or inclinations and cannot constantly be redesigned to individual specifications … eclecticism in general makes few difficult demands, as a believer can shuffle the ingredients to suit his requirements for psychic comfort.” — Christopher LaschSoul of a New Age.

The following audio is from a khutbah delivered at the University of Pennsylvania, March 15th, 2013.

 

Morality In Modern Times-Why Do Morals Still Matter?

The moral collapse we see around is can be daunting at times. This is made even more disenfranchising due to modernity’s inability to confront the golem of its handiwork: the abandonment of moral in virtue. What tool is there for modernity to tackle the consequences of moving “beyond,” to a post-tradition age? I dare say that if modern culture chooses to plunge over the cliff of post-tradition, it will only prove itself being further incapable of diagnosing let alone addressing the fallout from having no moral compass.

It is this area that I believe Muslims have something genuine to offer America: Offer, not supplant. These ideas and more are discussed in the following Chaplain Chat, the last for the Spring 2012 term at the University of Pennsylvania. It has been a real pleasure to have inherited such a great weight and responsibility from the likes of Adnan Zulfiqar and Carolyn Baugh. I pray that God will bless the further endeavors of the MSA and I am extremely grateful for the love and support of UPenn’s MSA, without whom I could not have attempted the task at hand.

Passing of an Era

Prayer room at Drexel University

The following is a short audio clip of some musings on the passing of an era at the University of Pennsylvania. My good friend Adnan Zilfiqar helped launch the Muslim chaplain position at UPenn as well as raising the standard of quality regarding Muslim life on campus. For this we are all thankfull yet saddened at his departure. We ask Allah to bless his new endeavors. Amin.

The second is the audio from his khutbah, Islam: A Religion That Teaches You To Pause, delivered at the University of Pennsylvania on April 20th, 2012.

Beyond Halal-Meanings and Significance of Food in Islam

Sadly, the Muslim discourse on food has mostly revolved around the practice of Islamically slaughtered meat. This has led to a conflation of terms: halal/حلال with dhabihah/ذبيحة. Despite the claims to the contrary, there is a difference of opinion on the necessity to eat only dhabihah meat. But what is more tragic is that while Muslims obsess axiomatic about halal meat (hereafter referred to as dhabihah), they miss the forest for the trees in terms of whether nor such meats are good/طيب.

There are numerous Qur’anic verses that deal with the topic of food and eating and a great many of them emphasize “the good”, in Arabic known as tayyib/طيب. Oddly enough, this component, “the good,” is seldom discussed in terms of Muslim dietary needs. Being that “the good” is often expressed as a command from God (see examples below), how is it that Muslims are so unhealthy? Indeed, health seems to pass under the radar of Muslims despite the large number of Muslims who work in the health and medical fields.

Like so many things in is Islam, it is not simply concerned with the lawful, but also with the good. Oddly enough, it seems to be non-Muslims who are picking up on this notion, as halal is increasingly seen as a potentially health food choice:

Chickens: [are] raised in huge flocks indoors under crowded conditions, treated with antibiotics to prevent illness and promote rapid growth, and are ready to slaughter six weeks after hatching. Look for birds that were raised free-range without antibiotics and are Certified Organic, kosher, or halal.

I have noticed that a number of food products, from meat to even vitamins (the current brand of fish oil I use from Minami Nutrition uses halal gelatin for its capsules) which are looking to halal as a representative of organic or “the good.” The question I posed in the topic was: Is it possible, like kosher, to expand the notion or halal (which simply means “lawful” in fiqh terms)—increasingly seen as organic, etc.—to include non-meat items, whereby halal comes to be understand as “the good,”, a.k.a., tayyib. In other words, eating as a Muslim means to eat well. In order to do so, Muslims will need to stop conflating rules for principles (something Muslims do in many circles, not just related to food).

A friend of mine left me with some food for thought: Perhaps Muslims obsess about dhabihah, not solely out of a desire to gain God’s favor, but as a means of cultural, societal and even civilizational protest. Indeed, I know of many Muslims who hail from so-called cultural Muslim backgrounds that do not maintain regular prayers but are adamant on insisting they eat only dhabihah meat. I am left wondering about his insight on this issue.

كلو من طيبت ما رزقنكم

“Eat from that which is good from what We have provided for you.” [Qur’an, 2: 57]

يأيه الناس كلوا مما فى الأرض حللا طيبا ولا تتبعوا خطوت الشيطن إنه لكم عدو مبين

“O people!, eat from the good lawful things of the earth and do not follow in the footsteps of Shaytan as he is a clear enemy to you.” [Qur’an, 2: 168]

يأيها الذين ءامنوا كلوا من طيبت ما رزقنكم واشكرا لله إن كنتم إياه تعبدون

“O you who profess faith!, eat from that which is good that We have provided for you and show gratitude if indeed it is God alone you worship.” [Qur’an, 2: 172]

فكلوا مما ذكر اسم الله عليه إن كنتم بئايته مؤمنين

“Therefore eat from that which God’s name has been mentioned over if indeed you are believers in God’s Sign.” [Qur’an, 6: 118]

The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food?” – Joel Salatin.

You, as a food buyer, have the distinct privilege of proactively participating in shaping the world your children will inherit,” Joel Salatin.

لا طريق إلى الوصول للقاء الله إلا بالعلم والعمل ولا تمكن المواظبة عليهما إلا بسلامة البدل

“There is no path to arriving at one’s meeting with God except by acquiring knowledge and deeds and yet there can be no establishing devotion to them except with a sound body,” al-Ghazzali

 

Further Readings

The Labels Halal & Zabihah and Why I Choose Local and Organic Instead: why some Muslims are looking to other alternatives to old-school halal.

Eat halaal! Organic is no substitute: an article on fellow blogger, Indigo Jo’s website. A response to the Hijabman’s article.

Polyface Farms: one of the most influential organic farms in America run by Joel Salatin.

Beyond Halal: a website/blog dedicated to looking at food beyond the realm of the permissible. They have a post feature the above articles, yours truly and more!