March 25, 2006

Upholding Islamic Principles at All Times

Khutbah from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS)
24 March 2006 / 24 Safar 1427

Blessed Friday congregation,

Fear Allah truly and safeguard your akhlaq and your faith, for these are the principles in a believer’s life.

Rasulullah (saw) once said in a hadith:

There will come a time when those who are patient in their religion, will be like the ones who have burning coal in their hands.
(Narrated by Imam Tarmizi.)

The world today is developing rapidly. Mankind has achieved much advancement and developments. Scientific and technological developments have helped man lead a much better life. However, we cannot deny that living in a modern world has tremendous challenges too. We can now see the many kinds of cultures and ways of living that have resulted from this modernization.

Because of this, Rasulullah (saw) said that there will come an age when those who are patient with their religion will be like the ones who hold burning coal in their hands. Is this the time? Let us think about it.

My beloved brothers,

Life at this age has much exposure. There are many things that can lead a Muslim away from his Islamic principles. A Muslim can choose whichever path he wants. But what are the things that can help a Muslim be steadfast in his religion at this age and at the same time able to adapt to modernization?

Listen to what our prophet Muhammad (saw) said:

Let not any of you be a follower by saying: (My principle or character) depends on the majority. If the majority is good, I will be good and if the majority is bad, I will be bad. But you must strengthen your principles. If the majority is good, you will be good. If the majority is bad, you will correct them.
(Narrated by Imam Tarmizi.)

We as Muslims are obligated to remain steadfast in our religion, especially in faith and good character. We must know where are the limits and boundaries.

In practicing religion in today’s context and living in a multi-racial society, we must be wise in adapting ourselves, and not sacrificing our Islamic principles at the same time, especially in issues of faith and good character.

For instance, Islam has been tainted with many negative impressions. However, it is not only the ignorant who are ruining the image of Islam with lies and insults, but we Muslims ourselves are blemishing Islam. Just look at the many riots and violent outbursts done in the name of Islam. Do we not ask, where is our akhlaq? Did Rasulullah ever teach us to damage the property of others to uphold Islam? Is this the true Islam?

Another example is through the internet. As Muslims, we must be wise in using it. With a strong faith, we will be God-conscious wherever we are. We will not visit websites which are unbeneficial, such as porn sites and others. Instead we should use the Internet to spread the message about our religion, Islam.

Another characteristic, which is rampant these days and is often linked to modernization, is unhealthy mixing of the genders. A lot of them can be seen holding hands in public. Not only that, some even go to the extent of hugging. There are also those who dare to kiss, without feeling ashamed. What should the limits be? According to the mind, you can socialize without limits as long as there is no sexual intercourse. According to lust you can have sex, as long as one is not pregnant. According to Allah’s laws, all doors which lead to illegal sexual intercourse should be avoided. Not only holding hands, even touching is not allowed.

Blessed Friday congregation,

In trying to adapt, we must remember the limits placed by our religion. Everything is clear. We must ensure that our Islamic principles are not compromised. We should explain to the society our limits and boundaries. We must be wise in explaining all the wrong misconceptions about our religion.

In adapting, we must ensure that it is according to our religious principles. For instance, although we are living in a non-Islamic country, we must open our eyes to understand that the state’s laws must be obeyed because they are based on justice among mankind. And this is also a principle in Islam.

We must live the true spirit of Islam. By seeking knowledge and understanding that everything we do because of Allah is an ibadah and we will be rewarded accordingly. With this spirit, we will be able to develop ourselves and at the same time, bring ourselves closer to Allah.

We also need to show good character wherever we are, because that is the true personality of a Mukmin. By doing this, we will be able to adapt without compromising our faith or good character.

My beloved brothers in Islam,

The splendid strength of faith and character was shown by a Follower’s Follower named Rabi’ bin Khuthaim. Because of his faith, there was jealousy among the Fasiq, until there was a reward of 1000 dirham to a beautiful woman who could seduce Rabi’ bin Khuthaim.

So the woman dressed up prettily and put on perfume. Then the woman went to meet Rabi’ while he was leaving the mosque. Rabi’ bin Khuthaim was surprised with the state of the woman.

Rabi’ said to the woman: "How would your condition be when you are inflicted with a disease, when your skin color and your beauty are affected? How would your condition be when the Angel of Death comes and takes away your soul? Or when the angels Munkar and Nakir come to torture you?”

Upon listening to the words of Rabi’, the woman cried and cried regretting her actions, and then she went back home and repented.

Let us learn from this story. May Allah help us in living the religion. The Muslim society which has high moral values and spirituality is actually a strong tree as depicted by Allah (swt) in the Al-Quran:

"See you not how Allah sets forth a parable? A goodly word as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the sky. Giving its fruit at all times, by the Leave of its Lord, and Allah sets forth parables for mankind in order that they may remember."
(Surah Ibrahim, 14: 24-25)

Akhlaq: Literally, "disposition." The practice of virtue, morality and manners.
Dirham: A unit of currency.
Fasiq: One of corrupt moral character who engages in various sins.
Ibadah: Literally, "worship." This term refers to any and all acts that demonstrate obedience and commitment to God. Thus, in Islam, visiting the sick, giving charity, hugging one's spouse, or any other good act is considered an act of ibadah.
Munkar and Nakir: Two black, blue-eyed malaikah (angels) who test the faith of the dead in their graves. For more information, see the Wikipedia article: Nakir and Munkar.
Rasulullah: The Prophet of God; i.e., Muhammad (saw).
(saw): These letters are abbreviations for the words "Salla Allahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam," which means, "may the blessing and the peace of Allah be upon him." When the name of Prophet Muhammad is mentioned, a Muslim is to respect him and invoke this statement of peace upon him.
(swt): These letters are abbreviations for the words of "Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala." When the name of Almighty Allah is pronounced, a Muslim is to show his respect to Him by reciting this. The meaning of this statement is that Allah is purified of having partners or a son.

March 22, 2006

Meditation of the Prophet (pbuh)

Masjid al Nabawi, by Google EarthWhen becoming humiliated, remember the Prophet in Ta’if.

When being starved, remember the Prophet tying two stones to his stomach in the battle of Khandaq.

When becoming angry, remember the Prophet’s control of anger on the martyrdom of his beloved Uncle Hamza.

When losing a tooth, remember the Prophet’s tooth in the battle of Uhud.

When bleeding from any part of the body, remember the Prophet’s body covered in blood on his return from Ta’if.

When feeling lonely, remember the Prophet’s seclusion in Mount Hira .

When feeling tired in Salaat, remember the Prophet’s blessed feet in Tahajjud.

When being prickled with thorns, remember the Prophet’s pain from Abu Lahab’s wife.

When being troubled by neighbours, remember the old woman who would empty rubbish on the Prophet.

When losing a child, remember the Prophet’s son, Ibrahim.

When beginning a long journey, remember the Prophet’s long journey to Madinah.

When going against a Sunnah, remember the Prophet’s intercession, (Ummati, Ummati, Ummati) (My Ummah).

When sacrificing an animal, remember the Prophet’s sacrifice of 63 animals for his Ummah.

Before shaving your beard, remember the Prophet’s face rejecting the two beardless Iranians.

When falling into an argument with your wife, remember the Prophet’s encounter with Aisha and Hafsa.

When experiencing less food in the house, remember the Prophet’s days of poverty.

When experiencing poverty, remember the Prophet’s advice to Ashaab-e-Suffa (People of Suffa).

When losing a family member, remember the Prophet’s departure from this world.

When becoming an orphan, remember the Prophet’s age at six.

When sponsoring an orphan, remember the Prophet’s sponsor for Zaid ibn Haritha.

When fearing an enemy, remember the Prophet’s saying to Abu Bakr in Mount Thour .

Whatever situation you may find yourself in, remember your role model, the best of creation: Prophet Muhammad.

Whatever you may do, remember that your deeds are presented before our Prophet. Are we pleasing him or displeasing him?

March 05, 2006

The Importance of Faith

Khutbah from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS)
3 March 2006 / 3 Safar 1427

Masyiral Muslimin wa zumratal Mukminin Rahimakumullah,

I call upon myself and my brothers here to fear Allah s.w.t. truly, by doing all that He commands, and leaving all that He forbids.

For us to reach the level of taqwa, which is demanded, we must strengthen our faith in Allah s.w.t. Because taqwa is the reflection of faith in the heart, faith can rise and fall, increase and decrease.

A person’s faith decreases when he commits a sin. And it is because, when he commits the sin, he is not aware or forgets his faith, the sacred faith in the oneness of Allah. Whereas his faith grows when he strengthens his belief in the oneness of Allah s.w.t.

Therefore, faith is something which is of the utmost importance for Muslims. Its importance exceeds all the other aspects of religious obligations. There is no point if a Muslim prays and does ibadah day and night, if his faith is flawed. Allah s.w.t says in Surah Az-Zumar, verse 65:

"And indeed it has been revealed to you (O Muhammad), as it was to those (Allah’s Messengers) before you: 'If you join others in worship with Allah, (then) surely (all) your deeds will be in vain, and you will certainly be among the losers.'"

My brothers in Islam,

The religious scholars of the past had placed a very clear principle for us. The principle is:

"The first thing in learning Islam is by learning about Allah first."

We must know Allah, our God. This is the condition to be known as Muslims. We need to know, what are our principles? What is our faith? When a person does not know Allah, there will be many deviations in beliefs and teachings which may involve performing ibadah like a Muslim but is not.

How do we know Allah?

We are not like believers of other religions who can depict their gods. We cannot depict Allah, because our minds will never be able to comprehend that. So the way to know Allah is through His Attributes, and the meanings of His Glorious Names. Not from His Essence.

Our religious scholars have taught us an easy way to know the Attributes of Allah. Just by learning and understanding the obligatory 20 attributes. These attributes are based on Al-Quran and Hadith. Attributes such as Wujud, Qidam, Baqa’, Mukhalafatuhu lil hawadith, and others.

All these are part of the legacy of our religious knowledge. It is very important to be learnt and taught to the Muslim community at this age, especially to our new generation. Because being ignorant of these obligatory Attributes of Allah will expose one to the dangers of associating partners to Allah s.w.t., which will finally nullify his faith.

Whereas the 99 names of Allah have been stated by Rasulullah s.a.w. in his hadith. We are required not only to memorize them, but to learn and understand them.

Maasyiral Muslimin rahimakumullah,

Observing all His creations around us can further strengthen the faith, which is embedded in our hearts through our understanding of the attributes, and His Glorious Names. All that we can see are evidence for the existence of Allah, and His Glory. Allah s.w.t. says in Surah As-Fussilat, verse 53:

"We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Qur'an) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?"

In the Al-Qur'an itself, there are so many verses urging us to observe the creations of Allah s.w.t., so we may understand the Greatness and Glory of Allah s.w.t. Just look at the familiar verses recited in the Friday prayer, in Surah Al-Ghaasyiyah, verse 17-20:

"Do they not look at the camels, how they are created? And at the heaven, how it is raised? And at the mountains how they are rooted? And at the earth how it is outspread?"

In these verses, Allah s.w.t. brings forth an example of an animal with such miraculous creation, the camel; the only large mammal which can live for a long time at a very dry place without food or water. This is where there is evidence pointing towards Allah’s All-Encompassing Knowledge, Who designs each creation in accordance with its living habitat. A principle which scientists call ‘Adaptation.’

And then Allah s.w.t. brings our attention to an object larger than the camel. Which is the sky above us. So wide the sky is, it contains thousands of millions of stars and galaxies.

When a person is able to understand the vastness of this universe, he will see how insignificant and unimportant the earth is, it is like a speck of dust in the middle of a vast desert of no value at all. But, the wealth and richness of the earth is what makes man fight and compete, until he forgets that Allah is always watching him, and that what he gets will fade away when he dies.

Do realize this, my brothers. Seek wealth. Work for wealth. But let it be according to the laws laid by Allah s.w.t. And do not ever let this world stay in our hearts, until we forget our real purpose living in this world.

Blessed Friday congregation,

We want to be an excellent ummah. Well-respected. Khaira Ummah, the best ummah. But, we will never achieve all this without strengthening our faith and our children’s faith. Faith is the pulse of life in Muslims. There is no compromise in faith.

So, let us step up our faith and our children’s faith. Learn to know Allah through His attributes, His Names. Increase our iman by continuing our pursuits in learning, studying and observing the creations of Allah. It is only with a strong unshakable faith that we can be successful Muslims in this world and the hereafter.