Ramadan Preparation Part Too: A Khutbah

From the previous khutbah, we continue the topic of religious responsibility, deeds, and taqwa, all as a part of increasing our religious literacy. To sum things up again, we noted that taqwa can be thought of as a set of reflexes – a self-defense system if you will – for the believer. Again, to quote al-Tabrizi’s from the collection, al-Hamasah:

الإتقاء أن تجعل بينك و بين ما تخافه حاجزا يحفظك

“Taqwa is the idea that you [A] place something [C] between yourself and that which you fear could destroy you [B].”

So with this in mind, we will look at how avoiding disobedience can server as our “barrier” to put in between ourselves and what may lie in wait for us on the Day of Judgment. Let’s triage some of the acts of disobedience.

Avoiding Disobedience

This can prove to be one of the most difficult things a believer can do: put their desires in check so as to avoid the displeasure and disobedience of God. We forget that God has promised us that on the Day We Stand, our limbs themselves will bear testimony of what we did:

يوم تشهد عليهم ألسنتهم وأيديهم وأرجلهم بما كانوا يعملون

“On that day their tongues, hands, and feet will testify against them about what they used to do.” [Qur’an: al-Nur, 24].

So by keeping this in mind, we may be able to encourage ourselves, through hope and fear, of avoiding disobedience, by reminding ourselves that our eyes, our hands, and our tongues will testify against us. But the glass is not all half empty. As we shall see, as Ibn al-Qayyim relates a saying of one of the Salaf, that sins are also opportunities to return to obedience to God. He quotes in his work, al-Wabil al-Sayyib:

إن العبد ليعمل الذنب يدخل به الجنة و يعمل الحسنة يدخل بها النار

“A servant may commit a sin by which he goes to Paradise and he may do a good deed by which he enters the Fire.” [Hilyah al-Awliya’ wa Tabaqat al-Asfiya’, 242.]

Be careful here not to misconstrue Ibn al-Qayyim’s words: it’s not that sins in and of themselves are something “good”, but rather, when one commits a sin, there is the opportunity to feel shame, remorse, and to be regretful in committing the act. We all commit sins so we should never feel secure that because we’re doing other good deeds that we do not need to seek Allah’s forgiveness. On the other hand, if good deeds become something prideful, then we lose the benefit of those actions. In fact, if the servant heads down this path, he or she runs the risk of Allah abandoning them to their pride. But with so many things, God has given us a head start to obedience by not “leaving us to ourselves”. Again, Ibn al-Qayyim says:

العارفون كلهم مجمعون على أن التوفيق أن لا يكلك الله تعالى إلى نفسك والخذلان أن يكلك الله تعالى إلى نفسك

“Those who are Aware are in agreement that tawfiq [Divine Success] is that Allah does not entrust you to yourself and that Allah’s displeasure is that Allah leaves you to your pride, vanity or heedlessness”

God the Exalted has given us God to rely on. It is only when we are heedless, prideful, or both, that we are “left to ourselves” as we read in the Qur’an:

فنذر الذين لا يرجون لقاءنا في طغينهم يعمهون

“And so We left those who have no hope in meeting Us in wandering blindly in transgression.” [Qur’an: Yunus, 11]

From time to time, we allow Shaytan the Accursed to trick us into thinking that [aside from associating partners with God] the sins we have committed are beyond even God’s clemency to forgive and redeem. This quandary further illustrates the importance of understand God by the Attributes that Allah chose: al-Ghafur, al-Rahman, al-Tawwab, etc. These Names and Attributes, in the Divine Reality, are capable of forgiving the sons and daughters of Adam, even if their sins Were to be “like the foam on the ocean.” But despair leads to heedlessness which deceives us in giving up hope in meeting our Creator and being forgiven for our transgressions.

Mercy Over Wrath

In the modern discourse surrounding Islam, there is far little mentioned concerning the mercy and love that God has towards the Creation. This is especially absent in how Islam is presented towards non-Muslims, which has taken on a dry, textual, and ritualistically-empty practice. And yet, as we see in this hadith Qudsi [Divine Narration], God set a fundamental approach as to how the Creation would be treated:

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم لما قضى الله الخلق كتب في كتابه على نفسه فهو موضوع عنده إن رحمتي تغلب على غضبي

“The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated: When God decreed the Creation, God wrote in [His] Book in regards to His Self-which is laid down with God-that ‘My mercy precedes My wrath.'” [Abu Hurairah reports this in Muslim]

So as we prepare to greet the month of Ramadan, seek the Creators mercy and clemency. Strive to avoid disobedience through the limbs and the heart and keep this du’ah in mind:

يا حي يا قيوم برحمتك نستغيث لا تكلنا إلى أنفسنا ولا إلى أحد من خلقك طرفة عين وأصلح لنا شؤوننا كلها

“O Ever-Living, O Self-Subsistent, by Your mercy we beseech Your help. Leave us not to ourselves nor to any of Your creation for even the blink of an eye. Set right for us all our affairs.”
Listen to and download the khutbah below:

Additional Resources

For the reference to a “fiqh of the cubicle” [from the audio], see Imam Suhaib Webb’s khutbah.

Ramadan Lecture: The Importance of Adab

Delivered at United Muslim Masjid, Philadelphia

الله سبحانه و تعالى المسؤول المرجوُّ الإجابة أن يتولاكم في الدنيا و الآخرة و أن يسبغ عليكم نعمه ظاهرة و باطنة (ألم تروا أن الله سخر لكم ما في السماوات وما في الأرض وأسبغ عليكم نعمه ظاهرة و باطنة – سورة لقمان 20) و أن يجعلكم ممن إذا أنعم الله عليه شكر و إذا ابتُلِيَ صبر و إذا أذنب استغفر فإن هذه الأمور الثلاثة هي عنوان سعادة العبد وعلامة فلاحه في دنياه و أخراه ولا يَنفَكُّ عبدٌ عنها أبدا فإن العبد دائما يتقلب بين هذه الأطباق الثلاث

“Perfect is God the Exalted, the one we implore—and whose answer we await—to watch over you in this world and the next, to shower you with God’s grace, outwardly and inwardly, and to make you among those who, when blessed, give thanks; when tried, persevere and endure; and when sinful, seek forgiveness. For these three conditions are the supports of the servant’s happiness, and the signs of his success in this world and the next. No servant is without them, but is always shifting from one to the other.” [Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah – al-Wābil as-Ṣayyib].

نُعِمَ من الله تعالى تترادف عليه فقيدها الشكر و هو مبني على ثلاثة أركان الاعتراف بها باطنا والتحدث بها ظاهرا وتصريفها في مرضاة وليها و مسديها و معطيها فإذا فعل ذلك فقد شكرها مع تقصيره في شكرها (ومن كان يرجوا لقاء ربه فليعمل عملا صالحا سورة الكهف 110)

“The first condition is the blessings which come to the servant from God the Exalted, one after another. What secures them is gratitude, based on three supports: inward recognition of the blessing; outward mention and thanks for it; and its use in a way that pleases the One to whom it truly belongs and who truly bestows it. Acting in accordance with this, the servant shows his gratitude for the blessing—however small it may be.” [Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah – al-Wābil as-Ṣayyib]

عن عمر رضي الله عنه أن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم قال حاسبوا أنفسكم قبل أن تحاسبوا وزنوا أعمالكم قبل أن توزن عليكم

“’Abd Allah Ibn ‘Abbas reports that the Prophet said: take stock of your selves before you are judged; weigh your deeds before they are weighed for you.” [Arba’īn al-Wad’āniyyah].

من ظن أنه بدون الجهد يصل فهو متمن ومن ظن أنه ببذل الجهد يصل فهو مستغن

“He who thinks he will attain his goal without effort is a fool and he who thinks he will achieve his goal purely by effort is presumptuous and arrogant.” [‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib].

ألعلم بلا عمل جنون والعمل بغير علم لا يكون

“Knowledge without action or deeds is madness and action without knowledge is void/useless.” [Imam al-Ghazali]

فاستحي من مولاك حق الحياء واجتهد أن لا يراك حيث نهاك ولا يفقدك حيث أمرك واعبده كأنك تراه فإن لم يكن تراه فإنه يراك

“Have modesty before your Lord as you should; make sure that He never sees you in a situation which He has forbidden you, and never misses you where He has commanded you to be; worship God as if you see God, for even though you can’t see God, know that God sees you.” [Imam al-Haddad]

ينبغي أن توزِّع أوقاتك وترتِّبَ أورادك

“You should structure your time and arrange your regular devotions.” [Imam al-Haddad]

قال لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له له الملك وهو الحمد وهو على كل شيء قدير في يومٍ مائةَ مرة ، كانت له عدلَ عشْرِ رقاب ، وكتب له مائةُ حسنة ، ومحيت عنه مائة سيئة ، وكانت له حرزا من الشيطان يومَه ذلك حتى يُمْسِيَ ، ولم يأت أحد بأفضل مما جاء به إلا رجل عمل أكثر منه

“Whoever says: “La ilaha illal-lah …,” one hundred times will get the same reward as given for freeing ten slaves; and one hundred good deeds will be written in his accounts, and one hundred sins will be deducted from his accounts, and it (his saying) will be a shield for him from Satan on that day till night, and nobody will be able to do a better deed except the one who does more than he.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

أكثر من السجود فإنه ليس من مسلم يسجد لله تعالى سجدة إلا رفعه بها الله درجة في الجنة وحط عنه بها خطيئة

“Prostrate much because there is no Muslim that prostrates to God except that God raises him one degree in Paradise by it and forgives for him a sin.” [Ahmad]

Endeavor to restrain your souls, and the Ultimate reward will be yours:

وأما من خاف مقام ربه ونهى النفس عن الهوى فإن الجنة هى المأوى

For the one who fears the Station of his Lord and denies the appetites of the lower self, the Garden will be his refuge.” [al-Nāzi’at 79: 40-1]

Listen to and download the lecture here.