February 26, 2006

Itqan in the Practice of Helping Others

Khutbah from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS)
24 February 2006 / 25 Muharram 1427

O mankind, do not waste even a second of your time. Allah witnesses your every act, and every deed will be accounted for in judgment day. Allah the Most Powerful is Most Able to cause death upon us anytime. So are we ready? How do we get ready?

In the past week's sermon, we have listened and understood that Islam is the religion which encourages its believers to help each other in goodness and how Muslims are given the responsibility to bring benefits to all.

When Allah (swt) says that Muslims are the best of mankind, this verse mentions that we will reach that level of excellence by doing good and forbidding evil with a sincere faith in Allah.

In doing something, we must make sure that it is an act of ma’aruf (goodness), be it in work, studies, sports or ibadah.

In doing an act of ma’aruf (goodness), it must be done with sincere intentions. Not only that, we must make sure that the act will result in an impactful contribution to society; a contribution which is our responsibility as a believer.

Remember what Rasulullah once said in a hadith narrated by Imam Tabrani:

“Indeed Allah loves one who does work, he does it with itqan.”

Itqan here means the attitude of being careful, meticulous, hardworking and excellent in carrying out responsibilities and tasks. Our responsibilities are not towards Allah only, but towards our employers, teachers, students, and all.

In fact, itqan should be implanted in the heart of a believer in Allah (swt) and the Day of Judgment, for it shall be the day when every deed that we have done will be shown to all, in accordance with Allah’s promise, Surah At-Taubah, verse 105:

“Do deeds! Allah will see your deeds, and (so will) His Messenger and the believers. And you will be brought back to the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen. Then He will inform you of what you used to do.”

My beloved brothers in Islam,

Those who strive hard and work hard will get what they are working for. Those who do not give up are those who have itqan in them. Itqan is a reason for achievement and excellence.

Indeed this is what has been shown by Rasulullah (saw). He did not give up in spreading the message to his people. Rasulullah (saw) was ridiculed, insulted, to the point where pebbles were thrown at him, but Rasulullah (saw) still continued with his dakwah.

The fruits of his endless dakwah prove the itqan and strivings in his acts. From just one person, he succeeded in islamicizing the city of Madinah. After that, he managed to gain back Makkah. Until after only 23 years he spread the message, he was able to take control of a major part of the land of the Arabs.

His companions continued this dakwah effort with much strivings and itqan. In less than 100 years since Rasulullah introduced Islam, Islam had spread to Africa and Europe. And it continued to spread to China and India.

Alhamdulilllah, with such efforts, Islam finally spread to the Malay Archipelago, and now we are in this mosque, we are believers, because of the hard work and determination of those who do the work of dakwah without ever giving up.

My blessed brothers in Islam,

With this itqan virtue, we do not have to doubt the quality of the work we produce. We do not have to worry about complacency and selfishness. A society with itqan will be more proactive and responsible. A society with itqan will be more sensitive of their own conditions, and there will be awareness and consensus among all parties.

Let us not be among those who tarnish the good image of Islam. We are all responsible of keeping up the positive image of Islam to others, and this can be done by showing itqan in all that we do. This will not only remove all wrong misconceptions about our religion, it will also increase our standing in society, where the standing can be seen as ties in strengthening the harmonious relationship between race and religion.

Do not take these ties lightly. We should work hard in improving these ties of understanding and compromise, because Allah (swt) may test the strength of these ties any time. Strengthen the ties among us with this virtue of itqan, by helping each other and being beneficial towards all. Hopefully these virtues make us a respected society, a community and an ummah, which will be the pride of our prophet, Muhammad (saw).

February 17, 2006

Helping Each Other in Goodness

Khutbah from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS)
17 February 2006 / 18 Muharram 1427

Maasyirah Muslimin Rahimakumullah,

I call upon myself and to my brothers here, to fear Allah s.w.t. as how He should be feared, to have taqwa in ourselves, taqwa which can instill in us the value of helping others; in matters of goodness and piety and in doing all that He commands and abstaining from all that He forbids.

Blessed Friday congregation,

As its name suggests, Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. And on this basis, Islam sets the nature of relationship between man, between race and nation, based on the concept of love for peace and harmony, not for enmity and hostility.

This can clearly be seen from Rasulullah s.a.w., who without doubt is a blessing to mankind, so that we may succeed in this world and in the hereafter, as stated in the Quran:

"And We have sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a mercy for the ‘Aamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)." (Surah Al-Anbiya’ (21): 107)

My beloved brothers in Islam,

Among the many things that can contribute towards peace and harmony is the virtue of helping each other in matters of goodness and piety, which is much demanded in Islam, because it brings about respect, love and brotherhood, and with this, there will be peace and harmony in the ummah.

This is in line with Allah’s command in Surah Al-Ma'idah (5): 2:

"And help you one another in righteousness and piety. But do not help one another in sin and transgression."

Blessed Friday congregation,

Allah’s command to help each other in goodness is not only limited to us Muslims, but it covers the entire mankind in matters that bring virtue to us all, especially in multi-racial Singapore where we Muslims live side by side with various ethnic and religious groups.

This is because a Muslim who is strong in faith and taqwa is the one who has good relationships with others, even with non-Muslims.

At the same time, Islam encourages Muslims to avoid from instilling hostility and negative misunderstandings among man.

Allah s.w.t says in Surah Al-Anfaal (8): 25:

“And fear the fitnah (affliction and trial) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong (but it may afflict all the good and the bad people).”

Blessed Friday congregation,

Helping each other in beneficial matters among Muslims and non-Muslims is not something new in Islam. It has existed since Rasulullah’s time, even when the Muslims were in Madinah, they lived in a society made of various races and religions. And this included the Jewish community. In order to ensure religious and racial harmony, Rasulullah s.a.w., as the leader of the city, had introduced a treaty between the occupants of Madinah, including the non-Muslims, a treaty which is known as the Treaty of Madinah.

Among the terms stated in the treaty was that each Madinah citizen must maintain close cordial relationships among themselves, regardless of religion or heritage. They must advise each other in promoting goodness and forbidding evil.

This principle of helping each other towards goodness among mankind, including non-Muslims as stated in the treaty of Madinah is also in line with Allah’s Words in Surah Al-Mumtahanah (60): 8

"Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity."

Now we know that Allah encourages us to help each other in beneficial matters, among Muslims and non-Muslims too, and the benefits and positive effects which can be gained from this good virtue.

So it is time for us to ask ourselves, to judge ourselves, is our virtue of helping others towards goodness limited only among the Muslim society? Have we ever thought of not helping someone who is in need if the person is a Non-Muslim Chinese or Indian? If the answer is Yes, then we need to change this wrong perspective and work towards widening the scope of helping others, including the non-Muslims.

Blessed Friday congregation,

Among the many examples of helping each other which can contribute towards mankind, passing over boundaries of religion, country or race, is by involving ourselves in humanistic efforts organised by associations such as Mercy Relief, Red Cross Society, and others. This can be done in any association as long as the activities do not go against the teachings in Islam.

This can be done by contributing donations or by participating directly in the humanistic missions such as volunteering and others.

The involvement of Muslims in such activities will portray Islam as a religion that places importance on harmony by encouraging the spirit of love for brotherhood and volunteering. This is because these associations are always involved in helping every time there is a calamity or tragedy, regardless of nation, religion or skin colour.

May our efforts in contributing and helping each other in goodness among mankind be blessed by Allah s.w.t. and may we be among those mentioned in a hadith:

"The best men are those who are most beneficial towards others." (Hadith narrated by Imam Baihaqi)

May our efforts in helping all levels of society towards goodness keep up the good reputation of Islam and the good name of our prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

February 03, 2006

Why Muslims Don't Pronounce "Takfir"

George Carty asked: "Would it not be a good idea to refer to extremist terrorists like al-Zarqawi and the GIA as 'takfiris'?"

Good question, George; however, the answer is no.

Both the Qur'an and the sahih ahadith collections are strong in their condemnations of this practice. We are not to judge who is a kafir unless there is extremely stringent evidence against them. Unfortunately, there are some groups, such as Takfir wal-Hijra and the GIA, who take a too-liberal approach toward pronouncing people as kafirs when perhaps they shouldn't be; however, these same groups may suffer for their pronunciations of takfir in the hereafter.

According to the Qur'an: "O ye who believe! When ye go abroad in the cause of Allah, investigate carefully, and say not to any one who offers you a salutation: "Thou art none of a believer!" Coveting the perishable goods of this life: with Allah are profits and spoils abundant. Even thus were ye yourselves before, till Allah conferred on you His favours: Therefore carefully investigate. For Allah is well aware of all that ye do." (4:94)

The punishment for those Muslims who kill other Muslims is severe: "If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him." (4:93)

In the sahih collections are the following ahadith:

“Whenever a man accuses another of being a kafir or wrong-doer, this accusation will rebound on him if the one accused is not in reality a kafir or wrong-doer.” (Bukhari)

“The man who calls another kafir or enemy of God, and the latter was not such, this charge will indeed turn back upon the accused.” (Muslim)

“He who curses a believer, it is as if he has killed him. And he who accuses a believer of kufr, it is as if he has killed him.” (Bukhari)

There is a belief in Islam that we humans are not really in a position to judge who is a Muslim and who isn't. One never knows who will be accepted into Jannah (heaven), even at the last moment:

"Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There was a person before you who had killed ninety-nine persons and then made an inquiry about the learned persons of the world (who could show him the way to salvation). He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine persons and asked him whether there was any scope for his repentance to be accepted. He said: No. He killed him also and thus completed one hundred. He then asked about the learned persons of the earth and he was directed to a scholar, and he told him that he had killed one hundred persons and asked him whether there was any scope for his repentance to be accepted. He said: Yes; what stands between you and the repentance? You better go to such and such land; there are people devoted to prayer and worship and you also worship along with them and do not come to the land of yours since it was an evil land (for you). So he went away and he had hardly covered half the distance when death came to him and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment. The angels of mercy said: This man has come as a penitant and remorseful to Allah and the angels of punishment said: He has done no good at all. Then there came another angel in the form of a human being in order to decide between them. He said: You measure the land to which he has drawn near. They measured it and found him nearer to the land where he intended to go (the land of piety), and so the angels of mercy took possession of it. Qatada said that Hasan told him that it was said to them that as death approached him, he crawled upon his chest (and managed) to slip in the land of mercy.
Muslim, Book 037, Number 6662

(There are slight variations to the story in hadith numbers 6663 and 6664; however, the basic story remains the same.)

Also, from Maulana Maudoodi (May 1935):

It is in Hadith that once during a military expedition a man, when he saw the Muslims, said: “Assalamu Alaikum, there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” But a Muslim killed him, thinking that the man had proclaimed the Kalima just to save his own life. When the Holy Prophet heard of this, he was very angry, and he reprimanded that Muslim. But he replied:

“O Messenger of Allah, that man read the Kalima merely to protect himself from our sword.”

The Holy Prophet said:

“Did you open his heart and look inside it?”

A companion of the Holy Prophet asked:

“If a man (in battle) attacks me and cuts off my hand, but when I attack him he recites the Kalima, can I kill him in these circumstances?”

The Holy Prophet said: “No.” The companion said:

“O Messenger of Allah, he cut off my hand.”

The Holy Prophet said:

“Despite that, you cannot kill him. If you do kill him then he will have the rank which you had before you killed him, and you will have the rank which he had before he recited the Kalima.

In another hadith it says that the Holy Prophet said:

“If a man (in a battle) is attacking a kafir with a spear, and it has reached his throat, and at that moment he says ‘There is no god but Allah,’ the Muslim must immediately withdraw his spear.”

Another hadith records that

“to abuse a Muslim is an act of wrong-doing, and to fight a Muslim is an act of kufr.”

All these instructions were given because the strength and unity of the Muslims are based on the bond of faith and nothing else. If Muslims do not honour this bond, and they keep on cutting it on small things, the community will become disintegrated, and it will have no collective strength left to proclaim the word of God to the followers of falsehood and to invite them to good.

For more information about takfir, you might also look at:
Fitna-i Takfir (‘The mischief of calling Muslims as kafir’)
Wiki: Takfir