Friday Sermon

Children’s Rights to Good Education, Honorable Life and Hopeful Future
Jumada al-Ula 10, 1437 AH / February 19, 2016 CE

awkaf-

Sermon Plan

  1. Children, a Divine Grace Worthy of Thanksgiving
  2. Islamic Care of Children
  3. Principles for Good Upbringing:
  4. Choice of Good Names
  5. Natural Breastfeeding
  6. Kindness 
  7. Fair and Equal Treatment between Children
  8. Guaranty of Honorable Life for Children
  9. Importance of Hope in our Life

Sermon Topic

The grace of children is a great divine grace comes next only to the grace of having faith in Allah. It is with this grace that human future generations continue. Children are the joys of eyes and a grand divine grace that Allah gives whom He wishes of His slaves. Allah, the Almighty, says, “To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what he wills and gives to whom He wills female [children] and whom He wills males. Or He makes them both males and females, and He renders whom He wills barren. Indeed, He is Knowing and Competent” (the Quran, 42: 49-50).

Children fill life with happiness turning the darkness of houses into light; they are the lamps of houses, the joys of souls and the beauties of life. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Wealth and children are but adornment of the worldly life. But the lasting good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for one’s hope” (the Quran, 18: 46).

The grace of children is worthy of great thanksgiving to Allah. Prophet Ibrāhīm, (Peace be upon him) thanked Allah, the Almighty, after giving him the grace of children saying: “Praise to Allah, who has granted to me in old age Ishmael and Isaac. Indeed, my Lord is the Hearer of supplication. (39) My Lord, make me an establisher of prayer, and [many] from my descendants. Our Lord, and accept my supplication” (the Quran, 14: 39-40). Actually, the more you thank the greater graces you receive; Allah, the Almighty, says, “Your Lord have solemnly proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe” (the Quran, 14: 7). It is highly important to give due care for this grace, so the new generation becomes a godly-oriented generation well acquainted with the rights of Allah as well as the rights of parents, nation and society.

Islam gives due care for child-raising and education with the aim of helping both children and parents achieve happiness and success in this world and in the hereafter. Indeed, the Islamic care for children begins very early even before their arrival to life. For example, Islam makes it compulsory upon a person desirous of marriage to choose a good partner. It is in the houses of faith that one gets blessed with happiness, prosperity and success. In his tradition, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) indicates this meaning saying: “Win the one who is religious, may you win the bliss” (Muslim in his authentic collection). The Islamic care for children is prior to the rise of the international child organizations. For Islam, this phase is very serious and impressive in human life.

Childhood is a very crucial phase of human life through which man moves towards the age of majority. Child care aims to introduce children as a positive addition and active element in the society. Many laws are in force for the benefits of children and family and in turn the whole society gets benefits.

The Islamic care for children began very early during the fetal stage of development. Several laws organize this starting serious period with the aim of guaranteeing the fetus’ right to life, dignity, due maintenance and inclusive care. While in the womb, a child is guaranteed the right to life and, as such, abortion is declared a crime.

The mother is deservedly entitled to receive due care during pregnancy insomuch that she is allowed to break the fasting during Ramadan when she fears any expected harm, so the fetus has a full natural growth. Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Allah has remitted half the prayer to a traveler (s/he may pray only two units instead of the four-unit prayers)) and fasting (during Ramadan and must make up for the days missed), the woman who is suckling an infant and the woman who is pregnant (also have the same concessions)” (al-Nasā’i).

Aspects of Islamic care for children are many; the parents shall choose him a good name. Unlike the bad names, a good name brings about comfort and serenity in hearts. Abu al-Dardā’ (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your fathers’ names, so give yourselves good names” (Abu Dawud).

After giving birth, the parents shall choose a nice name to their child. The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “It is necessary for a boy to have a sacrificial animal sacrificed for him on the seventh day; he should also be given a name and has his head shaved” (al-Tirmidhi). The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) encouraged Muslims to choose the best of names and the most beloved names to Allah. Nafi‘ narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and with his father) that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “The most beloved of names to Allah are ‘Abdullah and ‘Abd al-Raḥmān” (Abu Dawud in his Sunan).

According to the narration of Imam Muslim: “The most beloved of your names to Allah are ‘Abdullah and ‘Abd al-Raḥmān.” The Prophet also prohibited bad names, lest their ugly impression causes children any psychological injury or pains. A man once came to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb (may Allah be pleased with him) complaining of his son’s disobedience. ‘Umar summoned the boy and rebuked him for disobeying his father and neglecting his rights. The boy replied: “O Commander of the Believers, does a child have no rights over his father?” “Certainly,” replied ‘Umar. “What are they, O Commander of the Believers?” He should choose him a good mother and a good name and teach him the Book (the Quran), ‘Umar said.” O Commander of the Believers, my father did nothing of this. My mother was a black bondwoman owned by a Magian (fire worshipper). He gave me the name of Ju‘l (meaning dung beetle or scarab) and did not teach me a single letter of the Quran. Turning to the father, ‘Umar said: “You have come to me complaining about your son’s disobedience but you failed to pay him his due rights before he disobeyed you; you had wronged him before he wronged you” (Tarbiyat al-Awlād fi al-Islam).

Sufyan al-Thawri said, “It is the right of a child over his parents to choose him/her a good name, provide him/her a good education and help him/her marry when they are adult.” Good names help children escape any ridiculous and slight signs and inspire them with good feelings when mentioned. The name is the title of a personality.

Islam also imposes a certain period of breastfeeding; Allah, the Almighty, says, “Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is their [i.e., the mothers’] provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. No person is charged with more than his capacity.  No mother should be harmed through her child, and no father through his child. And upon the father’s heir is a duty like that of the father. And if they both desire weaning through mutual consent from both of them and consultation, there is no blame upon either of them. And if you wish to have your children nursed by a substitute, there is no blame upon you as long as you give payment according to what is acceptable. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Watchful of what you do” (the Quran, 2: 233).

According to this noble Quranic verse, the period of breastfeeding is two complete years as a child in this period needs a certain kind of food to help his/her body formation. Mother’s gifted milk is the best meal a child may have in this stage as divinely planned by the Creator, who said, “Does He, who created not know, while He is the Subtle, the Acquainted?” (the Quran, 67: 14).

However, if the mother has any medical barrier to lactation, or if the child stopped sucking, or if the mother dies— it is obligatory upon the father to hire them a nurse and guarantee their safety. Recent medical and psychological studies prove that the two-year period of breastfeeding under the Sharī‘ah is essential for the child healthy physical and psychological growth. It strengthens the child sense of warm feeling, kindness and security as closely related to the mother. As such, a child grows healthily and lives honorably.

It is also substantially important for child-raising to give the children good treatment in kindness without any cruelty or harshness. It is a truism that kindness begets nothing but good outcome. ‘Aishah—the Mother of the Believers, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “O ‘Aishah, surely Allah is kind and He loves kindness and grants for kindness that which He does not grants for cruelty and even does not grants for anything else (but kindness)” (Muslim in his authentic collection). Harsh upbringing and education lead most children to dislike educators and disobey them.

Contrary to this harshness, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) was reported to have carried his grandsons al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusayn on his shoulders. His principal way of education was kindness and gentleness. Ibn Buraydah narrated from his father Buraydah who said, “While the Messenger of Allah was on the pulpit, Al-Ḥasan and Al-Ḥusayn came, wearing red shirts, walking and stumbling. He came down and picked them up, then said: ‘Allah has spoken the truth: “Your wealth and your children are only a trial.’ I saw these two walking and stumbling in their shirts, and I could not be patient until I went down and picked them up” (al-Nasā’i in his sunan).

A good educator, a parent or a teacher, should consider this great principle of good and kind treatment. Mistakes shall be wisely and mercifully addressed. Cruelty begets fears and cowardice and may lead to psychological disorder, repugnance and hesitation. In one of his advice, al-Aḥnaf Ibn Qays said, “Do not be a lock of your children. Or else, they would hope for your death, dislike approaching you and feel boring with your life.” Kind treatment is different from discreet, and wisely used, punishment when necessary.

Justice and Fair Treatment: Justice and fair treatment are essential for good child-raising. For Islam, justice is an original Islamic principle that must be well considered. Allah, the Almighty, says, “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do” (the Quran, 5: 8). This principle must be applied, especially in the child-parent relationships.

The Prophet directed parents to take care of and abide by this principle. It is even coupled with God-fearing as narrated from ‘Amer that he heard al-Nu‘mān Ibn Bashīr (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) on the pulpit saying, “My father gave me a gift but ‘Amrah Bint Rawaḥah (my mother) said that she would not agree to that unless he made Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) as a witness to it. My father went to Allah’s Messenger and said, ‘I have given a gift to my son from ‘Amrah Bint Rawaḥah, but she ordered me to make you as a witness to it, O Allah’s Messenger(may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him). Allah’s Messenger asked, ‘Have you given (the like of it) to everyone of your children?’ He replied in the negative. Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Be afraid of Allah and be just to your children.’ My father then returned and took back his gift” (al-Bukhari in his authentic collection).

Likewise, ‘Abd al-Razzaqq narrated in his al-Muṣannaf that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) received an invitation from a man from al-Anṣār. In the host’s house, his son first came and the father kissed and hugged him placing him to his side. Later, a daughter of that man came and her father only placed her to his side. The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “If you proved just in treatment, it would be much better for your; be gently just with your children even in kisses.”  Just treatment between children has some great benefits. It is a main cause for fair gratitude. It also introduces a good generation to the society and helps fraternity to dominate the relationship of brothers and sisters in essence and form.

Contrary to justice, unfair treatment is the worse source of ingratitude, family disintegration and hate. It is the seed of malicious grudge sowed in the children. Psychological research proves that most of mental and social disorders that a child suffers originate from feelings of injustice and unfair treatment compared to his brothers and sisters. Examples of this fact is found in the story of Yūsuf (Joseph, peace be upon him) and his brothers when they misunderstood the treatment of Ya‘qūb (Jacob, peace be upon him) with Yūsuf and saw it a sort of unfair preference. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Certainly were there in Joseph and his brothers signs for those who ask, [such as] (7) When they said, “Joseph and his brother 558 are more beloved to our father than we, while we are a clan. Indeed, our father is in clear error. (8) Kill Joseph or cast him out to [another] land; the countenance [i.e., attention] of your father will [then] be only for you, and you will be after that a righteous people” (the Quran, 12: 7-9).

Islamic Education: Islam also makes it necessary to educate the children according to the Islamic teachings, as the Quran commands fathers and mothers to work on relieving themselves and their families from destruction. Allah, the Almighty, says, “O you who believe, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded” (the Quran, 67: 6).

Child education and training according to the Islamic principle are religious duties and a right of child over his/her parents. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah’s be pleased with him and his father) narrated that they said, “O Messenger of Allah, we knew the rights of parents on their children but what are the rights of children on their parents? In reply, he said: “They should choose him/her a good name and teach him good morality” (al-Bayhaqi in Shu‘ab al-Imān).

Al-Tirmidhi narrated in his sunan that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “There is no gift that a father gives his son more virtuous than good manners.” It is highly important to teach children good education, direction and moral conduct. Education and training should be kindly given without upsetting the children, especially in front of foreigners.

The Prophet’s gentle example of education is indicative of this method. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah’s be pleased with him and his father) said, “One day, I was riding behind the Prophet when he said, “O boy! I will teach you in some matters. Be watchful of Allah (Commandments of Allah), He will preserve you. Safeguard His Rights and He will be ever with you. If you beg, beg of Him Alone; and if you need assistance, beseech Allah Alone for help. And remember that if all the people gather to benefit you, they will not be able to benefit you except that which Allah had foreordained (for you); and if all of them gather to do harm to you, they will not be able to afflict you with anything other than that which Allah had pre-destined against you. The pens had been lifted and the ink had dried up” (al-Tirmidhi).

The noble Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) used to educate, guide and instruct children gently. ‘Umar Ibn Salamah (may Allah’s be pleased with him and his father) related the Prophet’s good example saying, “I was a boy under the care of Allah’s Messenger and my hand used to go around the dish while I was eating. So Allah’s Messenger said to me, ‘O boy, mention the Name of Allah and eat with your right hand, and eat of the dish what is nearer to you” (Muslim in his authentic collection).

Imam al-Ghazali said, “A child is divinely entrusted to his/her parents; his/her pure heart is a precious pearl when getting accustomed to good, s/he learns it and earns happiness and success in this life and in the hereafter.” A good educator should be an ideal for the children in assuming the loftiest of noble ethics before directing them. Children are the best imitators of their fathers. What a wonderful is the following line saying:

A child grows up following the habits s/he earns from his/her father

It is considerable to mention that the process of child education is not the sole duty of parents but the duty of teachers and schools as well. For children, the teacher is symbolic of the ethical vales of the society and, as such, they should educate the children in the values and ethics of society. Child education is the responsibility of the whole society; all members shall care for their good behavior and discipline. Child education is a very heavy duty that all should undertake. This sort of collective social duties is indicated in the Prophet’s statement: “Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for what is in his/her custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and is responsible for them; a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it; a lady is a guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it.” The narrator added, I think that the Prophet also said, “A man is a guardian of his father’s property and is responsible for it, so all of you are guardians and responsible for things under your care” (al-Bukhari in his authentic collection).

For Islam, the parents are responsible for maintaining their children. Qatadah narrated from al-Ḥasan that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Surely, Allah would hold accountable every guardian for what was under his/her custody, whether s/he maintained or wasted, until a man would be questioned about his own household” (Ibn Ḥibban).

In Islam, the child is a perfect human being, who is entitled to physical, psychological, financial, educational and pedagogical rights. Furthermore, Islam imposes the respect and protection of these rights to guarantee children an honorable life within a civilized human community. Only then, the spirit of friendship, kindness, love and mercy predominate.

Finally, it is highly important to have hopes in better future for us and for our children. Man cannot live and prosper without hopes. Indeed, a hopeless life is not a life, so hopelessness shall have no place in life. In the view of the people of knowledge, despair, discouragement and disappointment are all grave sins.

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah’s be pleased with him and his father) narrated that a man once said: O Allah’s Messenger, what are the grave sins? In reply, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Associating others with Allah in divinity or worship, being despaired of the relief of Allah or hopeless of the Mercy of Allah. I guarantee Paradise for anyone that Allah relieves from that.”

558 Benjamin who was born of the same mother as Joseph.

Our Duty towards the Quran
Jumada al-Ula 3, 1437 AH / Feb. 12, 2016 CE

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Sermon Plan

  1. The Qur’ān is the Eternal Miracle of Islam
  2. The Position and Merits of the Quran
  3. The Lofty Status of the People of the Qur’ān
  4. Muslim Duties towards the Qur’ān
  5. Glorification, Recitation and Contemplation
  6. Respect of the Qur’ān and Following the Quranic exemplary ideals
  7. Obeying Quranic Commands and Avoiding Quranic Prohibition

Sermon Theme

The Noble Qur’ān is the major miracle of all times; both the humankind and Jinn failed to produce the like of it or the like of any part of it (the Quran, 17: 88, 11: 13; 2: 23). It was revealed to the heart of Prophet Muhammad as a guidance and light to this life; it guides the confused souls forming the constitution of Muslims whereby hearts are revived, souls are purified and ethics are refined. Allah, the Almighty, says:

  • “Alif, Lām, Meem. (1) This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah – (2) Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them” (the Quran, 2: 1-3).
  • “Indeed, this Qur’ān guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward” (the Quran, 17: 9).
  • Adhering to the Quranic teachings relieves from trials. It is the guiding spirit and light of believers, as Allah, the Almighty, says, “And thus We have revealed to you an inspiration of Our command [i.e., the Qu’rān]. You did not know what is the Book or [what is] faith, but We have made it a light by which We guide whom We will of Our servants. And indeed, [O Muhammad], you guide to a straight path – (52) The path of Allah, to whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Unquestionably, to Allah do [all] matters evolve [i.e. return]” (the Quran, 42: 52-53).
  • Hearing to the imposing beautiful Quranic message, a group of the jinn believed in and glorified it. They were thus guided to the straight path and immediately returned to warn their nations “And [mention, O Muhammad], when We directed to you a few of the jinn, listening to the Qur’ā And when they attended it, they said, “Listen quietly.” And when it was concluded, they went back to their people as warners. (29) They said, “O our people, indeed we have heard a [recited] Book revealed after Moses confirming what was before it which guides to the truth and to a straight path. (30) O our people, respond to the Caller [i.e., Messenger] of Allah and believe in him; He [i.e., Allah] will forgive for you your sins and protect you from a painful punishment. (31) But he who does not respond to the Caller of Allah will not cause failure [to Him] upon earth, and he will not have besides Him any protectors. Those are in manifest error” (the Quran, 46: 29-32).
  • Like the jinn, the angels are also moved by the Quran, as narrated by Usayd Ibn Ḥuḍayr (may Allah be pleased with him) that while he was reciting Surat Al-Baqarah (the second chapter of the Quran) at night, and his horse was tied beside him, the horse was suddenly startled and troubled. When he stopped reciting, the horse became quiet, and when he started again, the horse was startled again. Then he stopped reciting and the horse became quiet too. He started reciting again and the horse was startled and troubled once again. Then he stopped reciting and his son, Yaḥya, was beside the horse. He was afraid lest the horse might trample on him. When he took the boy away and looked towards the sky, he could not see it. The next morning he informed the Prophet who said, “Recite, O Ibn Ḥuḍayr! Recite, O Ibn Ḥuḍayr!” Ibn Ḥuḍayr replied, “O Allah’s Messenger! My son, Yaḥya, was near the horse and I was afraid that it might trample on him, so I looked towards the sky, and went to him. When I looked at the sky, I saw something like a cloud containing what looked like lamps, so I went out in order not to see it.” The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Do you know what that was?” Ibn Ḥuḍayr replied, “No.” The Prophet said, “Those were angels, who approached you for your voice and if you had kept on reciting till dawn, it would have remained there till morning when people would have seen it as it would not have disappeared” (al-Bukhari). Such is the impact of the Qur’ān when recited.
  • It is the word of Allah whose miracles never end. It is divinely preserved and saved from distortions and changes; Allah, the Almighty, says, “Indeed, it is We who sent down the message [i.e., the Qur’ān] and indeed, We will be its guardian” (the Quran, 15: 9). Whoever speaks it declares the truth; and whoever acts upon is rewarded; and whoever judges by it has judged justly; and whoever invites to it guides to the straight path. Allah makes it a mercy and healing saying, “And We send down of the Qur’ān that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss” (the Quran, 17: 82).
  • ‘Abdullah ibn Masud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “This Qur’ān is the banquet of Allah. Learn as much as you can from His banquet. This Qur’ān is the rope of Allah, and it is the clear light and the effective healing. A protection to the one who adheres to it and a rescue to the one who follows it. It is free from deviation and perversion and thus needs no apology or rectification. Its wonders never end. It does not wear out with much repetition. So recite it, for Allah will reward you for the recitation of each letter gets ten times the like of its rewards. I do not say that Alif, Lam, Mim, is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.” (Hakim in his Mustadrak)
  • Allah attributes to it the lofty characters using the grandest names, so people could know the Quranic merits and greatness. Allah, the Almighty, says, “[This is] a Book whose verses are perfected and then presented in detail from [one who is] Wise and Acquainted” (the Quran, 11: 1). Allah also says, “Indeed, it is a mighty Book. (41) Falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it; [it is] a revelation from [Lord who is] Wise and Praiseworthy” (the Quran, 41: 41-42).
  • The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) told us of the great merits and excellences of the Noble Quran, which are beneficial to man in this life and in the afterlife. The following are a few examples of the Prophetic statements in this regard:
  • Superiority of the People of the Quran: ‘Uthman Ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “The best of you are those who learn and teach the Qur’ān” (al-Bukhari in His Authentic Collection).
  • Lofty Position Promised to a Companion of the Quran: ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) said that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “It would be said to the one who memorizes the Qur’ān: “Recite and ascend, recite melodiously as you did in the world. Indeed, your rank shall be at the last verse you recite” (Abu Dawud in His Sunan).
  • Intercession: Abu Umamah al-Baheli (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that he heard the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) saying, “Recite the Qur’an, for on the Day of Resurrection it will come as an intercessor for those who recite it” (Muslim in His Authentic Collection).
  • Great Rewards for Qur’ān Readers: ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ūd (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever recites a letter from Allah’s Book, then he receives the reward from it, and the reward of ten the like of it. I do not say that Alif, Lam, Mim, is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter” (al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan).
  • Preservation of Houses in which the Qur’ān is read: Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Make not your houses graveyards; indeed, Satan runs away from the house in which Surat al-Baqarah is recited” (Muslim in His Authentic Collection).
  • Ibn Sireen said, “A house in which the Qur’ān is recited is visited by angels and is freed from devils. It even becomes so roomy for its people and richly prosperous. Conversely, the house in which the Qur’ān is not recited is attended by devils and deprived of angels; it becomes so narrow for its people and lacking prosperity” (Ibn Abi Shaybah, al-Musannaf).
  • Reflecting on the conditions of the Honorable Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) with the Qur’ān reveals that they were not satisfied with reading or listening. Instead, they contemplated the Qur’ān giving it hearts and souls. They applied it in word and deed following its commands and avoiding its prohibitions. Thanks to their obedience to Quranic teachings, they had their lofty merits and greatness. ‘Umar Ibn al-Khaṭtab (may Allah be pleased with him) memorized Surat al-Baqarah in eight years. It was not due to his weak memory but because he was keen to practice each verse before moving to the other. Abu ‘Abd al-Raḥman al-Sulami (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “When we learned ten Quranic verses, we would not move to the other following ten verses before learning what permissible and what is impermissible, what is obligatory and what is forbidden thereof” (‘Abd al-Razzaq in His Muṣṣannaf).
  • Since the Prophet’s Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) used to understand and practice the Quranic verses, they were quickly in obeying Allah and avoiding forbidden matters. When the verse forbidding wine was revealed and a caller declared that “Wine has been peremptorily prohibited,” they responded effectively on the spot. Anyone who had any glass of wine poured it; and anyone who had a mouthful of wine spat it; and anyone who had preserved some vessels of wine poured them out in response to the imperatives of the Quran. The streets of Medina became muddy with it. They said we have already abstained!
  • Likewise, when Allah, the Almighty, says, “Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah] from what which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it” (the Quran, 3: 92). Abu al-Daḥdaḥ at once gave his most beloved valuable orchard in charity. Such was the way the Prophet’s Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) preserved the Book of Allah. For them, it was not a group of words but a way of life, education and faith manifested in behaviors and everyday activities between themselves and also with others.
  • As such, a lofty position is promised by Allah to the People of the Qur’ān who read and acted upon it. Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Allah has His own people among mankind.’ They said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, who are they?’ He said: ‘The people of the Qur’ān, the people of Allah and those who are closest to Him” (Ibn Majah in His Sunan). A reader of the Qur’ān is very close to Allah, what a great honor! The more you memorize of the Quran, the more honor you earn.

Our Duty Towards to the Quran:

  • Learning and Teaching: We should continuously read and study the Qur’ān as the best of people are the Qur’ān teachers and learners:The best of you are those who learn and teach the Qur’ān.” The Prophet also commanded us to read it constantly; Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Read the Qur’ān regularly. By the One in Whose Hand Muhammad’s soul is, it escapes from memory faster than a camel does from its tying ropes” (al-Bukhari in his Authentic Collection).
  • The Qur’ān is the main element of the Muslim person’s entities from which the Muslim derives religious teachings and morals. The Muslim shall read it well, which is an easy task. Many people, for instance, learn foreign languages and endure difficulties to learn some areas of specializations to get a well-paid job. How could one lazily neglect the learning of the word of Allah under a pretext that it is difficult to read? ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “The one who recites the Qur’ān and he is proficient with it, he is with the noble and blessed angels, and the one who recites it and it is hard for him, then he gets two rewards” (Abu Dawud in His Sunan). Allah, the Almighty, promised us easiness in reading the Quran: “And We have certainly made the Qur’ān easy for remembrance, so is there any who will remember?” (the Quran, 54: 17).
  • Contemplation as being revealed to readers: It is our duty to contemplate the Qur’ān and taste the sweet and grand impression it reflects. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’ān, or are there locks upon [their] hearts?” (the Quran, 47: 24). Allah also says, “Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’ān? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction” (the Qur’ān, 4: 82). The best rewarded of the people of the Qur’ān are those who recite with tongues and deeply understand with hearts and minds. Allah, the Almighty, says, “[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded” (the Quran, 38: 29). Praising readers who grow firmer in faith by reading, Allah, the Almighty, says, “The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely” (the Quran, 8: 2).
  • Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Allah is the guarantee for him/her who recites that Qur’ān and acts upon it that s/he will neither go astray in this life nor suffer in the afterlife,” as Allah, the Almighty, says, “[Allah] said, “Whoever follows My guidance will neither go astray [in the world] nor suffer [in the afterlife]. (123) And whoever turns away from My remembrance –indeed, he will have a distressful life, and We will gather [i.e., raise] him on the Day of Resurrection blind.” (124) He will say, “My Lord, why have you raised me blind while I was [once] seeing?” (125) [Allah] will say, “Thus did Our signs come to you, and you forgot [i.e., disregarded] them; and thus will you this Day be forgotten” (the Quran, 123-126).
  • The Prophet sets examples to us in contemplation and reaction to the Quran. Once he said to ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ūd (may Allah be pleased with him) “Recite the Qur’ān to me.” ‘Abdullah said, “Shall I recite (it) to you while it has been revealed to you?” He said, “I like to hear it from another person.” So he recited Surat al-Nisā’ (the fourth chapter of the Qur’ān) till he reached the Verse: ‘How (will it be) then when We bring from each nation a witness, and We bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness against these people.’ (4.41) Then he said to him, “Stop!” “Thereupon, I saw his eyes overflowing with tears,” ‘Abdullah said. (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim). A believer is wholly moved and impressed by the word of Allah. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Allah has sent down the best statement: a consistent Book wherein is reiteration. The skins shiver therefrom of those who fear their Lord; then their skins and their hearts relax at the remembrance [i.e., mention] of Allah. That is the guidance of Allah by which He guides whom He wills. And one whom Allah leaves astray – for him there is no guide” (the Quran, 39: 23).
  • Respect of the Qur’ān and Following Quranic Morals: It is the duty of Quranic readers to assume the morals, ethics and teachings of the Qur’ān whereby a human being is free from the dominance of desires and lust and has an elevated soul backed by lofty ethics: ““Indeed, this Qur’ān guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward” (the Quran, 17: 9).” Our ideal example is the Prophet who was a living Qur’ān on the earth; he followed the morals of the Quran, is pleased or displeased according to the criteria of the Quran. When ‘Aishah was asked about the morals of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with her), she said, “His morals were that of the Qur’ān” (Ahmad in His Musnad).
  • Most Quranic verses encourage the lofty morals and high ethics. The Qur’ān is the teacher of mercy, truthfulness, justice, tolerance, honesty and fulfillment of one’s promise among other ethics necessary for a Muslim to win the happiness in this world and in the afterlife.
  • Obeying Quranic Commands and Avoiding Quranic Prohibition: It is also our duty, beside recitation, memorization and contemplation, to abide by its commands and avoid its prohibitions in deeds and behaviors as the Prophet and His Companions did. A Muslim shall obey the Quranic commands and avoid the Quranic prohibitions. The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “the Holy Qur’ān is a proof on your behalf or against you” (Muslim in his Authentic Collection). It is a proof against you when you read it heedlessly and it has no effect on your behaviors. Actually, one may read the Qur’ān while the Qur’ān curses him.
  • It is also necessary to face the distortions of the extremists and the misinterpretations of the false deniers, who attempt to employ the Qur’ān politically or ideologically to win some interests or gains. It is a must to learn the Qur’ān in word and meaning from the specialized scholars, who are reliable in knowledge. Those scholars teach people the right faith and teachings. They never employ religion for their favor or interpret it in line with their desires.
  • The today world is urgently in need of the Quranic guidance; the present world is essentially ethical. No other book urges lofty morals with all people as frequently as the Qur’ān does. The mistake of contemporary Muslims is their being away from the ethics of the Qur’ā The most significant duty the Muslims must do is to return to the ethics of the Qur’ān following the lofty practical ideal example of the Qur’ān, namely, the Prophet who was described by the Lord as the companion of the great moral character as he followed the moral teachings of the Qur’ān. He was the best ideal of Quranic morals in practice and obedience. Allah, the Almighty, says, “And indeed, you are of a great moral character” (the Quran, 68: 4). This is the declaration of ‘Aishah when she was asked about the morals of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with her), she said, “His morals were that of the Qur’ān” (Ahmad in His Musnad).
  • We defend the Qur’ān in hope to win the Quran’s defense of us on the last day as Abu Umamah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that he heard the Prophet saying, “On the Day of Resurrection, the Qur’ān and those who acted according to it will be brought with Surat al-Baqarah and aI-‘Imrān (2nd and 3rd chapters of the Qur’ān) preceding them. The Messenger of Allah likened them to three things, which I did not forget afterwards. The Prophet likened them to two clouds, or two black canopies with light between them, or two flocks of birds in ranks pleading for one who recited them” (Muslim in his authentic Collection).

Only when Muslims recite the Qur’ān continuously in contemplation, practice its teachings and educate it to children, they will get the greatest prosperity. It is with the Qur’ān that the social reform comes true, the mercy and justice dominate, hearts are purely refined and good things increase and evils are eliminated.

Quran-Oriented Reform is the Core of Prophet’s Mission
Rabī‘ al-Akhar 12, 1437/January 22, 2016

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Sermon Plan

  1. Islam is a Faith to Reform Man and the World
  2. Quranic Reform Examples from the Lives of Prophets
  3. Needs to Individual Reform
  4. Reforms Positively Affects Individuals and Society
  5. Dangers of Neglecting Reform

Sermon Text:

  Islam highly encourages and appreciates the value of private (personal) and general (universal) reform. It is a great human value  for the achievement of human happiness, civilization and universal reform. Reform, in principle, implies the elimination of all means to corruption and discrepancy and activating all means to rapprochement among people for a prosperous right life.

Undoubtedly, refining one’s behavior and promoting reform are the ultimate ends of all human words and deeds. Without reform, deeds are  inacceptable. It is necessary for a good man in soul, statement and deed to promote reform and goodness and to relieve people from worries. Reflecting on the Quranic verses proves that they pay due concern for the great value of reform. The Quran mentions the term “i” (reform) and its derivatives one hundred and seventy times in an indication of the Quranic due care and high appreciation of reform. The various meanings of ilāh generally prove that Islam aims to reform humankind in creeds, behaviors, worships, transactions and all other activities of life.

Faith and reform are frequently associated in several Quranic contexts: “So whoever believes and reforms – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve” (the Quran, 6: 48); “They ask you about the bounties [of war]. Say, “The [decision concerning] bounties is for Allah and the Messenger.” So fear Allah and aliu (reform/amend) that which is between you and obey Allah and His Messenger, if you should be believers” (the Quran, 8: 1).

Likewise, righteousness [God-fearing] and reform come in the same Quranic contexts, “Whoever fears Allah and reforms – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve” (the Quran, 7: 35). By the same token, repentance and reform are mentioned together (the Quran, 2: 160; 4: 16; 24:5). Reform is the fruit of belief in Allah, keeping to righteous conduct and frequent repentance to the Lord of all worlds.

The Quran encourages reform for the great rewards it renders: “No good is there in much of their private conversation, except for those who enjoin charity or that which is right or making peace between people. And whoever does that seeking means to the approval of Allah – then We are going to give him a great reward” (the Quran, 4: 114). The stories of prophets with their peoples prove that they all came to reform the corruption that people committed on the earth; their mission was one and the same: reforming the universe by eliminating evils, sins and social diseases. Each prophet came to reform the corruption of his time. Allah sent them with glad tidings and warnings; they introduced the divine creed, laws and ethics that can purify human souls from the dirt of polytheism. Allah, Almighty, says, “And We sent not before you any messenger except that We revealed to him that, “There is no deity except Me, so worship Me” (the Quran, 21: 25). Their ministry aimed to reform human deeds in this world and qualify them for divine satisfaction in the afterlife.

Noah, for example, invited his people to reform themselves by the pure monotheistic creed and worship of Allah alone with no partner in abandonment of the useless idols that can neither benefit or harm. Allah, Almighty, says, “And said, ‘Never leave your gods and never leave Wadd or Suwā‘ or Yaghūth and Ya‘ūq and Nasr. And already they have misled many. And, [my Lord], do not increase the wrongdoers except in error” (the Quran, 71: 23-24). He also encouraged them to seek Allah’s forgiveness to have more provision, wealth and children: “And said, ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever a Perpetual Forgiver. (10) He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in [continuing] showers (11) And give you increase in wealth and children and provide for you gardens and provide for you rivers. (12) What is [the matter] with you that you do not attribute to Allah [due] grandeur” (the Quran, 71: 10-13).

Shu‘ayb , the Prophet’s Orator, (may Allah’s Peace be upon him) also addressed the doctrinal corruption that led to economic corruption. His people used to give less than due in measure and scale. This vice was widespread among them. He thus invited his people to reform in preservation of the rights of both buyers and sellers. Shu‘ayb said to his people, as Allah says, “O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. And do not decrease from the measure and the scale. Indeed, I see you in prosperity, but indeed, I fear for you the punishment of an all-encompassing Day. (84) And O my people, give full measure and weight in justice and do not deprive the people of their due and do not commit abuse on earth, spreading corruption. (85) What remains [lawful] from Allah is best for you, if you would be believers. But I am not a guardian over you” (the Quran, 11: 84-86). He then explained that reform is the essence of his mission: “And I do not intend to differ from you in that which I have forbidden you; I only intend reform as much as I am able. And my success is not but through Allah. Upon him I have relied, and to Him I return” ((the Quran, 11: 88).

Another context indicates his determination to reform the economic corruption that his people did: “Give full measure and do not be of those who cause loss. (181) And weigh with an even [i.e., honest] balance. (182) And do not deprive people of their due and do not commit abuse on earth, spreading corruption” (the Quran, 26: 181-183). Shu‘ay’s sincerity in materializing reform is very clear in conditioning his success upon Allah’s help, a virtue that all reformers should have. Reform shall be free from personal desires and interests as well as from psychological stimuli and personal conflicts. It is a pure reform for public welfare that benefit all individuals of the community.

Prophet Ṣalīḥ (may Allah’s Peace be upon him) called upon his people: “So fear Allah and obey me. (150) And do not obey the order of the transgressors, (151) Who cause corruption in the land and do not amend” (the Quran, 26: 150-152).

When Moses (may Allah’s Peace be upon him) entrusted his brother Aaron with leading his people after him; he advised him to work on achieving reform and avoiding the ways of corrupters: “And We made an appointment with Moses for thirty nights and perfected them by [the addition of] ten; so the term of his Lord was completed as forty nights. And Moses said to his brother Aaron, “Take my place among my people, do right [by them], and do not follow the way of the corrupters” (the Quran, 7: 142).

Prophet Muhammad only came to complement the call to reform in all religious, social, economic and political areas of life initiated by past prophets and apostles.  An in-depth evaluation of the life and biography of the Prophet reveals that he built an Islamic civilization associated with values and ethics in a contaminated corrupt society tainted with many vices. Vices of illegal sexual relations, theft, killing, usury, unjust holding of people’s property, and consuming the wealth of orphans were widely practiced among many other evils. In face of all these vices, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) adopted a reformative approach. His call was that for life and social reform of individuals and communities: “O you who have believed, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. And know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered” (the Quran, 8: 24).

In the religious reform, he called humankind to reform souls by faith and belief in Allah as the only Lord that has no partner. Proofs for monotheism are many and they testify to the truth that the Prophet brought. In the area of reforming behaviors, the Prophet encouraged good conduct and lofty morals as the essence of his call. Al-Bayhaqi narrated that the Prophet said, “I have been sent to perfect the loftiest of morals.” He also urged them to observe high ethics and values whereby social reform comes true and social unity, power, solidarity and association materialize. As such, humankind can live in peace away from dispute, difference, violence and terror against the scenes of violence, killing and destruction we frequently see.

All human virtues that have universal approval in their support from the heavenly messages aim to achieve reform, such as justice, tolerance, keeping one’s word, honest conduct, right statements and deeds, gratitude to parents,  honoring the sanctity of orphan’s wealth, good neighboring and good talks. Indeed, the source of divine laws is one and the same. That is why the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one” (al-Bukhari in his authentic collection of Hadith).

The laws may vary in forms of worship that accorded the nature of times and places but the human ethics and values, as the basis for coexistence, remain the same in all laws: “One of the statements of early Prophets that people have got is: If you feel no shame (shyness from committing irreligious acts) do whatever you like.” No Sharī‘ah (Divine law) allowed killing without justice, as Allah prohibits to kill the soul unless it be for a just cause. No Sharī‘ah allowed ingratitude to parents, or ill-gotten gains, or violating the financial rights of orphans, workers or wage-earners.  No Sharī‘ah allowed telling lies, dishonesty, betrayal, breaking one’s promises or meeting good deeds with bad ones.

Conversely, the divine laws unanimously approve all lofty human virtues that anyone who breaks them violates the limits of religion and goes beyond the limits of humanity in an open violation of the affiliation to humankind and good nature. In his commentary on the following verses: “Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason. (151) And do not approach the orphan’s property except in a way that is best [i.e., intending improvement] until he reaches maturity. And give full measure and weight in justice. We do not charge any soul except [with that within] its capacity. And when you speak [i.e., testify], be just, even if [it concerns] a near relative. And the covenant of Allah fulfill. This has He instructed you that you may remember. (152) And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous (the Quran, 7: 151-153),” Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) said, “These are decisive verses that no other verses abrogated them in all books. They are divine limits for all humankind. They are the mother of the Book; whoever acts upon them enters paradise and whoever neglects them enters hellfire.” Any call opposing the call of prophets and violating the Divine laws is indeed a call to corruption on the earth.

The Prophet gave the perfect example in personal and social reform in word and deed; he used to supplicate for reform of all affairs saying, “O Allah, reform for me my religion, which is the safeguard of my affairs. And reform for me the affairs of the world wherein is my living. Decree the Hereafter to be good for me. And make this life, for me, (a source) of abundance for every good and make my death (a source) of comfort to me and protection against every evil” (Muslim in his authentic collection of Hadith).

He used to resolve disputes and make peace between people in encouragement of reform and discouragement from disintegration and dispute. Sahl Ibn Sa‘d (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Once the people of Qubā’ fought with each other till they threw stones on each other. When Allah’s Apostle was informed about it, he said, “Let us go to bring about a reconciliation between them” (al-Bukhari in his authentic collection of Hadith).

Personal and social reforms are the strong safeguard for the survival and progress of society. We first need personal reform and then social reform to refine all political, social, economic and scientific areas of life. However, personal reform is a legal prerequisite and religious duty, especially in the present times corrupted with weakness of faith and spoiled morality. Rights and duties are so badly lost that many people admit no right to senior notables, scholars, relatives, parents or nations.

It is an aspect of reform to know about rights and duties; a person thus never violates others’ rights. A person realizes one’s duties to do them in the best manner. Individual integrity and spiritual progress on the way of lofty ethics and noble morals apart from perversion, corruption, wrongdoing, rancor and hate― form the essence of reform. As such, man is straightforward in his relation with his self, lord, humankind and the universe. When a human being is self-reformed, he can promote reform to others. In other words, personal progress by means of lofty ethics is a means to self-reform that prevents wrongdoing, sins and violation of things forbidden by Allah. It also a means to universal reform on the earth; it extract resources and discovers secrets for the sake of public welfare.

Reform is the way to friendship and unity against disunity in personification of the teachings of the Glorious Quran. Reform reflects the values of universal mercy, tolerance and forgiveness. It also a means to dismiss violence, hate, rancor and grudge. Reform is not confined to a specific time. It is a life-duty to one’s last breath. Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “If the Last Hour comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it” (al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad).

However, reform can only come true and its fruits can appear when a person gradually achieves self-reform, the family-reform and finally community-reform until the whole society is reformed, which is necessary for good life and prosperous nations in which security, work and advancement are guaranteed. The virtue of love and friendship thus dominate. A self-reformed and reform-making person sacrifices efforts and wealth for making peace to be included in the prophetic prayers for reform-makers: “Indeed the religion began as something strange and it will return to being strange. So Tuba is for the strangers who reform what the people have corrupted from my Sunnah after me” (al-Tirmidhi in his collection of Hadith).

Reform has many positive impacts on individuals and society:

  • It guarantees honorable life: Allah, the Almighty, says, “Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do” (the Quran, 16: 97).
  • Salvation from destruction: Allah, the Almighty, says, “And your Lord would not have destroyed the cities unjustly while their people were reformers” (the Quran, 11: 117).
  • Inheriting the world leadership: Reform is a condition for inheriting the leadership of the world: Allah, the Almighty, says, “And We have already written in the book [of Psalms] after the [previous] mention that the land [of Paradise] is inherited by My righteous servants” (the Quran, 21: 105)..
  • Qualifying human beings to receive divine support and providence: Allah, the Almighty, says, “Indeed, my protector is Allah, who has sent down the Book; and He is an ally to the righteous” (the Quran, 7: 196).
  • Preservation of progeny: “And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience” (the Quran, 20: 82). The story of building the wall of the two orphans, as related in the account of Moses with the godly man is well known. It was not an accidental process but a consequence of the good deeds of their father. Ibn ‘Abbas said, “They were preserved because of the good deeds of their fathers even if no good deed was attributed to them.”
  • Reform guarantees security from horrible fears of this world and the hereafter: Allah, the Almighty, says, “And We send not the messengers except as bringers of good tidings and warnings; so whoever believes and reforms – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve” (the Quran, 6: 48).
  • Reform is a means to forgiveness and mercy: Allah, the Almighty, says, “And if you reform [your affairs] and fear Allah – then indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful” (the Quran, 4: 129).
  • Reform is the beauty and decoration of things as well as a merit deeply beloved by Allah and His Messenger. It is a requisite for straight life and coherent nation becomes in which the infirm are honored and Muslims are united in word and essence by the power of love and kindness. It is also a proof for the fraternity of the faithful, as Allah says, “The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy” (the Quran, 49: 10).

 Loss of the value of reform leads society and families to destruction and, as such, chaos dominates, corruption exacerbates, divine laws are broken and false desires are committed. Loss of reform foreshadows the fall of society, state and civilization and worse indeed are the general punishment and social poverty, dishonor and disregard divinely decreed for neglect of reform.

Islam: A Means to Construction and Civilization
Rabee‘ Al-Awwal 1437 AH/January 1, 2016 CE

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Sermon Plan

  1. Global Cultivation is a Religious Duty
  2. Islam Encourages Settlement and Construction
  3. Qualitative Work Leads Nations to Prosper
  4. Islam Denounces All Aspects of Idleness
  5. Warning Against Global Corruption and Destruction

Sermon Text

Allah has created humankind in the best form; He honored and graced them over all creation subjecting all things in the world to them. He (may He be Exalted) says, “We have honored the Children of Adam and carried them in the land and the sea, and We have provided for them of the good things, and We have preferred them over many of those We created” (the Quran, 17: 70). He also says, “He is the One who has created for you all that is on the earth, then He attended to the heaven and has made it seven heavens, and He is aware of all things” (the Quran, 2: 29). As such, man was entrusted with stewardship over the earth: “And your Lord said to the angels: “I am placing a vicegerent on the earth.” They said: “Will You place in it he who would make corruption in it, and spill blood; while we praise by Your glory, and exalt to You?” He said: “I know what you do not know” (the Quran, 2: 30).

Indeed, the Lord assigned a great mission to humankind; that is to worship Him, cultivate and develop the world and discover its treasures and resources. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “He [Allah] has established you from the earth and has made you settle in it [reform the earth and discover its resources and graces]” (the Quran, 11: 61). Allah encourages man to work in dependence on the physical means placed in the universe without inclination to idleness and s. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “He is the One who made the earth subservient for you. So roam its paths, and eat from His provisions; and to Him is the final summoning” (the Quran, 67: 15).

Hard work is not restricted to a specific time. A human being has to pursue the course of reform to his/her last breath as indicated in the narration of Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “If the Last Hour comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it” (al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad).

Islam sanctifies and encourages building and construction, even at the hardest moments, since they are the backbone of life and the means to the progress of nations and communities.

As such, Islam encourages all areas of learning and education, which lead to the settlement and construction of the universe. All Muslims are deeply animated to explore the world and discover resources in land and sea. Persistent work has a very special in Islam as cited in the narration of al-Miqdam (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Nobody has ever eaten a better meal than that which one has earned by working with one’s own hands. The Prophet of Allah, David, used to eat from the earnings of his manual labor” (al-Bukhari).

Evidently, Islam is an open call for work, settlement and human welfare. For Islam, hard work yields great esteem and veneration, as a means to progress and development. Like acts of worship, it is divinely rewarded. The Quranic verses encourage lawful means and work for seeking one’s livelihood. In fact, encouragement of good work for lawful provision comes next only to the command of prayers. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “When the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allah, and remember Allah often that you may succeed” (the Quran, 62: 10). After praying the Friday prayer, ‘Irak Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) used to leave the mosque saying at the threshold of the mosque: “O Allah, I have responded to your call, have done your obligatory salah and left as You commanded, so provide for me out of Your Graces and You are the best of providers. Many Quranic and prophetic texts speak of the higher objectives of construction and reform and encourage hard working and building. They also discourage from idleness and laziness. Hard work is the way to save face, earn respect and human dignity. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Surely, you had better gather a bundle of wood and carry it on your back (to earn your living) rather than ask somebody who may give you or not” (al-Bukhari).

When Sufyan al-Thawri passed by some people while they were sitting in the Sacred Mosque, he asked why they sat there. In reply, they questioned: “What shall we do? He said, “Seek the grace of Allah and do not depend on [other] Muslims [in your provision].” In Islam, the one who seeks the livelihood of his family through the lawful means has a rank equal to that of martyrs and guards of far borders. Ka‘b Ibn ‘Ujrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that a man once passed by the Prophet. Observing his power and vigorous activity, the Prophet’s Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah, if only he had made use of his power and activity in the cause of Allah!” In reply, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “If he is seeking the provision of his children, he is in the Cause of Allah. Likewise, if he is seeking the provision of his old parents, he is in the Cause of Allah. Also, if he seeks to meet his own needs, he is in the Cause of Allah and if he seeks to meet the needs of his family, he is in the cause of Allah but if he seeks the means to vain glories and riches, he is in the cause of falsehood” (Narrated by al-Tabarani).

Not only does Islam call Muslims for work as a means to construction and civilization, but also encourages qualitative and accurate work as a way to earn the Divine Love and Mercy. ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Surely, Allah loves anyone doing a work to do it in the best qualitative manner” (Narrated by al-Tabarani).

Qualitative and careful work is one of the most significant values and principles that Islam encourages. It is also one of the key Islamic objectives, whereby a Muslim earns the Divine satisfaction and achieves the right devotion. Actually, Allah only accepts the deeds sincerely devoted to Him and a sincere work must fulfill the quality standards. Allah creates inimitable things everywhere as speaks of this miraculous power saying: “[It is] the work of Allah, who perfects all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do” (the Quran, 27: 88). Allah also encourages man to do what is good and do it in the most qualitative manner and to refrain from all aspects of corruption: Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good”, (the Quran, 2: 195) and He also says, “And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” (77) He (may He be Exalted) said, “I was only given it because of knowledge I have” (the Quran, 28: 77).

The Quranic verses frequently preach good and qualitative work that shall be sincerely done in pursuit of the Divine satisfaction and public welfare. It is a devotional way to serve the members of the community. Promises of great rewards and good repute in this life and in the afterlife are always at the ready for hard workers who serve their communities while being conscious of God’s Control and Awareness of all hidden notions in the depths of hearts and chests. He is always aware people’s deeds as He told: “And, [O Muhammad], you are not [occupied by] any matter or recite any of the Quran and you [people] do not do any deed except that we are witness over you when you are involved in it. And not absent from your Lord is any [part] of an atom’s weight within the earth or within the heaven or [anything] smaller than that or greater but that it is in a clear record” (the Quran, 10: 61).

Allah sees humans in all of their affairs; in plants, farms, bookshops and all other areas. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “And say, “Do [as you will], for Allah will see your deeds, and [so, will] His Messenger and the believers. And you will be returned to the Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, and He will inform you of what you used to do” (the Quran, 9: 105). Allah is well-aware of all affairs and deeds, so expedite to do the good wholeheartedly devoted to Allah and keep away from all evils as He is witness over you. Zuhayr, an Arab poet, said:

No trait a person may have as hidden from people, but will be disclosed

The pure tradition of the Prophet also encourages hard work and building to achieve the best outcome, a rule generally applied to all ritual and worldly activities. For example, in the prayer, which is a communication between a servant and His Lord; the best reader should lead prayers. Good readers are promised the company of the honorable angels. Likewise, the shroud should be properly chosen, as the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “If anyone of you is charged with taking care of his brother (after death), let him shroud him well” (Muslim). ‘Asim Ibn Kulayb al-Jarmi said, “My father Kulayb attended funerals with his father in the company of the Prophet when he was mindfully a boy of good perception. The Prophet approached the grave when the burial was in process. He kept saying, “Level the inside of the grave” until people thought it is an act of sunnah. Then, he turned to them saying, “Indeed, this act (of leveling) carries no benefit or harm to the deceased but Allah loves anyone doing any work to do it in the best” (al-Bayhaqi).

It is necessary for any work a man does to perform it in the best manner and devote it to Allah. Allah alone is the Omniscient of the secrets of human hearts and He counts their deeds, small or big. Inept workers do not regard the divine observation over their work and their sin is equal to the loss and damages in property and energy they cause. A clumsy employee, who carelessly neglects his work while getting his wages, will have the whole community against him on the Last Day. Those malicious persons carry the onus of nations’ backwardness. ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Only to Allah, I complain of the weakness of honest people and the dauntless betrayal of powerful ones.”

Islam is against all aspects of despair and indolence that hinder construction and cultivation. As far as Islam is concerned, laziness is a disgusted vice whose bearers are worthy of divine dispraise and are similar to hypocrites who “come not to prayer except while they are lazy” (the Quran, 9: 54). Laziness is a destructive fault that spoils nations and causes them to lag behind other developed civilizations. It is a fatal disease that could lead man to lose the essence of his humanity. To use the expression of Imam al-Raghib, “He who intentionally neglects his work and falls to inactivity removes himself from humankind and even from animals as s/he is closer to the dead.” [al-Dharee‘ah ila Makarem al-Sharee’ah].

That is why the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) sought refuge in Allah from incapacity and laziness saying, “O Allah, I seek refuge in You from incapacity, laziness, old age, miserliness and cowardice, and I seek refuge in You from the torment of the grave, and from the trials of life and death” (Muslim in his Authentic Collection from Anas Ibn Malik). Note how he (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) gathered incapacity and laziness together, as they equally lead people to neglect their duties.

Laziness is a mental and psychological defect that deadens mettle and weakens will. Like a lethal germ and fatal disease, it leads to inactivity and impedes nations’ endeavors to progress. It also hinders individuals from serious work and useful activity. Islam blames laziness, as it causes man to overlook duties and begets feelings of boredom and hate, may Allah save us. As such, a person may dislike the good only because of lack of power and determination. It disregards duties, opposes success and kills it victims. A victim of laziness is a parasitic and independent being, who fails to carry out his human responsibility and constitutes an impending danger to individuals in the community. Imam ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Idleness is the key to despondence. Indeed, inability and inactivity beget poverty and breed ruins. Anyone who fails to pursue [an active course of life] gets no useful outcome and, hence, leads a corrupt course.”

Laziness is against the ethics and guidance of Islam. Islam invites people to do good and reform the universe; the lazy people never build civilization; rather, they may cause the destruction of civilizations. Islam also fights against corruption. Indeed, corruption is the vice of evildoers and hypocrites whom Allah describes saying, “They strive throughout the land [causing] corruption and Allah does not like corrupters” (the Quran, 5: 64). Allah also says, “Do not walk on the earth spreading corruption” (the Quran, 2: 60).

Corruption has many forms; the most dangerous thereof is the corruption in religion. Muslims have been afflicted with corrupt people who spread mischief on the earth in the name of religion. They kill the innocent and violate the honors and properties of people. Allah dispraised them in the Quran as follows: “And from among the people are whose words you admire in this worldly life, but Allah is witness as to what is in his heart, for he is the worst in opposition. And if he gains power, he seeks to corrupt the earth and destroy its crops, and the lineage. Allah does not love corruption. And if he is told: “Be aware of Allah,” his pride leads him to more sin. Hell shall be sufficient for him; what a miserable abode” (the Quran, 2: 204-206).

All forms of corruption destabilize the values of construction and development. It promotes negativism and irresponsibility. We shall all resist corruption and corrupt makers to relieve the whole community; otherwise, the community may come to ruins.

 Al-Nu‘man Ibn Basheer (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “The likeness of the man who observes the limits prescribed by Allah and that of the man who transgresses them is like the people who get on board a ship after casting lots. Some of them are in its lower deck and some of them in its upper (deck). Those who are in its lower (deck), when they require water, go to the occupants of the upper deck, and say to them, ‘If we make a hole in the bottom of the ship, we shall not harm you.’ If they (the occupants of the upper deck) leave them to carry out their design they all will be drowned. But if they do not let them go ahead (with their plan), all of them will remain safe” (al-Bukhari). Mutual cooperation, support and solidarity are essential to achieve the essence of faith and fraternity.

Saving the earth from the corrupt people and safeguarding the roads and institutions are some of the best good deeds. Actually, Allah removes the corruption at the hand of the defenders of reformation. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “If only there was from the previous generations a people with wisdom who prohibited corruption on the earth, except the few that We saved of them. And those who were wicked followed the enjoyment they were in, and they were criminal” (the Quran, 11: 116). A corrupt person is a destructive means that undermines community and harm people. Only elimination of corruption can save people from evils.

The Muslims have many resources, vast lands, seas, lakes and rivers. Their lands are rich with most of the contemporary world’s needs of minerals and oil reserves, let alone their precious treasures of experts and manpower. It is the duty of all Muslims to invest their possessions and rich resources in the best manner for the welfare of humankind as a whole in order to build a progressive civilization and achieve scientific advancement. The Muslim community forms an active nation of work and construction, not of idleness and destruction. They are the people of civilization, not of backwardness. A Muslim shall love his/her faith and proudly work hard for his religious and national progress.