الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي أكمل للمسلمين دينهم، وجعل قومه لا يخافون من اللائمين لومهم، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير،  ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.

أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع

الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر.

 

In a recent discussion I was having with a group of men, we were discussing the extent to which the modern understanding of the world and the modern humanist understanding of what is right or wrong has come to pervade the consciousness of Muslims everywhere, including many of their leaders and people of knowledge. Similarly, we have allowed their understanding of concepts and terminology to colour our own, thereby placing us in the invidious position of having to either justify something that seems unjustifiable or somehow change and adapt the deen to remove said thing completely. An example of this is slavery. Slavery is clearly unsavoury when we adopt a modern understanding of the term, an understanding based upon the American experience whereby slaves were chattel. Every part of them was owned by their master and they had no rights and no time of their own. They were often abused and maltreated and worked to death, and they or their forefathers were brought into slavery through kidnapping or illicit trade. Everything about their status seems inherently unjust and our hearts scream at us that it is wrong. Then we are told that Islam has condoned slavery and that Allah and His Messenger have considered it permissible, but how can that be when we know that the essence of this deen is justice? Allah says,

 

إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالاِحْسَانِ

 

the translation of which is, “Allah commands to justice and ihsan” And Allah says,

 

وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَن تَحْكُمُواْ بِالْعَدْلِ

 

the translation of which is, “If you judge between people, judge between them with justice” And the Messenger of Allah said,

 

إن العدل ميزان الله في الأرض

 

“Justice is Allah’s balance upon the earth.” It is clear that nothing that is inherently unjust could ever be part of this deen, so slavery could never be part of it. Thus goes the reasoning. For example, the open letter against ISIS that was written at the end of 2014 proclaims, addressing ISIS, “No scholar of Islam disputes that one of Islam’s aims is to abolish slavery. You have resuscitated something that the Shari’ah has worked tirelessly to undo and has been considered forbidden by consensus for over a century.”

This sounds reasonable until you consider what it implies. Firstly, it implies that the Messenger and His Companions continued to engage in something that our Lord frowns upon right to the end of their lives, and in the case of the Companions, after the death of their guide and teacher. Proof for this is found, not just in the history books or books of Sira, but in the Book of Allah itself. Allah says,

 

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَحْلَلْنَا لَكَ أَزْوَاجَكَ اللَّاتِي آَتَيْتَ أُجُورَهُنَّ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ مِمَّا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكَ

 

the translation of which is, “O Prophet! We have made halal for you:  your wives to whom you have given dowries and any slavegirls you own  from the booty Allah has allotted you.” And, according to the majority of scholars, at least one of these slaves, Maariya al-Qibtiya, the mother of his son Ibrahim, remained a slave until his death.

And it is impossible for a Messenger of Allah to engage in something which is displeasing to Allah, for by definition they are our iswa, our example to be followed. Allah says,

لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولُ اللهِ إِسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللهَ وَاليَوْمَ الآخِرَ

 

the translation of which is, “You have an excellent model in the Messenger of Allah, for all who put their hope in Allah and the Last Day.”. Every action that he took and every decision that he made become, at the very least, recommended or permissible for us, aside from those few things that are his khasa’is, rights that are his and his alone. And slavery was clearly not one of those, for he himself assigned slaves taken as booty in various battles to various Companions of his.

Secondly, it implies that the deen was not complete at the death of the Prophet, that the final Messenger that Allah will send to creation did not complete his mission, but a committee of non-Muslim secularists and humanists finally completed it for him approximately one century ago, and brought enlightenment to the Muslim lands.

They have fallen for the narrative of the colonialists. To entertain such an idea is to abandon one’s intellect, since it implies that Allah fell short in His promise to give us all the tools to live rightly-guided lives and that is impossible for the All-Knowing, All-Wise, All-Powerful and Just Creator. And it is to ignore the clear, the muhkama, ayat of the Quran revealed to the Prophet near the end of his life, during his farewell hajj,

 

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ

 

the translation of which is, “Today, I have completed your deen for you.” No part of the deen was lacking or incomplete at the death of the Messenger of Allah.

Thirdly, it implies that the fuqaha and ulama, throughout the ages, have been misguided to assign so much time and space in their books to the rulings relating to slaves, when the reality is that they should have just declared it impermissible. For the fact that they addressed the subject indicates that they viewed it as permissible. You do not find any sections dealing with the correct adab when robbing someone, or the rulings on how to engage in an adulterous relationship and how to treat ones mistresses. It implies that every scholar, from the time of the Prophet until now, has misunderstood what is permissible in the deen and what is not, and that only those modern scholars have seen the light. In other words, it implies that the deen that has been passed to us is untrustworthy and flawed, since if they could get this wrong, what else might they also have gone wrong. So it becomes hard to trust or accept anything we have been taught, and what we know of Islam goes up in smoke.

So slavery is clearly part of the laws and legacy of our deen, but how can that be when the essence of Islam is justice? The answer lies in what is meant by the term slavery. It has very little in common with the American experience. Yes, in both cases, people are owned by other people, but the implications and extent of that ownership are very different. A closer parallel would be the medieval serf, men and women who were granted protection and a place to live in exchange for spending a certain amount of their time working the land of the lord of the estate. The rest of their time was their own. The same applied to slaves in Islam, they had the same rights and time they could call their own, but they also, on top of that, had that right to be fed and clothed, often to a very high standard. Because they had their own time, some slaves often grew quite wealthy. The well-known Scottish explorer, Mungo Park, during one of his journeys encountered a wealthy slave in one of the Muslim lands and offered to be pay for his freedom. The slave appeared alarmed and replied, “For heaven’s sake, do not free me. That will spoil my entire life.”

And slaves often rose to the highest levels of power and state. For example, Egypt was governed for many years by the Mamluks, literally those who are owned, former slaves, and the Ottoman empire was run by them. Slavery, in Islam, was no barrier to social or economic advancement. And it was often a great mercy to those enslaved. When Muslims heard that European battles often left battlefields so covered with dead bodies that the ground could scarcely be seen, they were shocked, for their battles rarely had such a result. There were other options open to them aside from killing, and they were ransom and enslavement. And if a slave desperately did not want to be a slave, then there were options available to him to obtain his freedom, including buying his own freedom by using his own time to earn the necessary money to do so. And aside from that, the freeing of slaves is highly encouraged in the deen and there are few actions which are so highly rewarded.

Thus, there is no incompatibility between justice and the permissibility of slavery as understood by the Muslims. So there is no need to contort the deen to somehow remove it.

Although it may seem so, this khutba is not about slavery, per se, but rather about our tendency to allow our understanding of our deen to be warped and perverted by those who have no love for nor understanding of it. Their morality is not our morality and their milla is not our milla. They do not seek to set Islam, nor even humanity, right, but rather to subjugate and subject it to their will. And if we allow them to define our deen in their own terms, and accept those definitions as being accurate and true, then we have abetted them in their task and undermined our brothers and sisters. This is what the Messenger of Allah was warning about when he said to Zayd ibn Thabit,

 

يَا زَيْدُ، تَعَلَّمْ لِي كِتَابَ يَهُودَ فَإِنِّي وَاللَّهِ مَا آمَنُ يَهُودَ عَلَى كِتَابِي

 

“Zayd, learn the writings of the Yahud/ the Jews, for, by Allah, I do not trust the Yahud with respect to any of my writings.” kitabi could also refer to the Book of Allah. In other words, we must protect ourselves by understanding the mind-set of those who would do us harm. They will distort whatever they can of our deen in order to make us doubt it. They will try to make us, as a first step towards total dalal, reject parts of our legacy so that we come to believe in only part of the Book and reject the rest. And if part of it can be false, then so can the rest of it. So be on your guard. Make sure you understand something properly before making a judgement on it. Do not make snap judgements and do not assume the definition you have been provided with of something is the correct one, especially if it has been defined for you by non-Muslims. Rather, make your starting point a good opinion of Allah and His Messenger and a good opinion of those whom He has entrusted to preserve His deen, the true ulama of every age. Do not assume they are all wrong and you are somehow right and have stumbled upon some higher understanding that they all missed, but rather look at things from the opposite perspective, from a position of humility, and re-examine your positions through that lens. We ask our Lord for a correct understanding and appreciation of His deen.

 

أَقُولُ قَوْلِي هَذَا وَأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ الْعَظِيمَ لِي وَلَكُمْ وَلِسَائِرِ المُسْلِمِينَ مِنْ كُلِّ ذَنْبٍ فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ.

 

الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.

أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته.

 

If we continue to allow ourselves to be manipulated, and our understanding formulated and shaped by the dominant milla of this age, millat al-kufr. And continue to adapt our deen accordingly, keeping what seemingly conforms and discarding what does not, then we will no longer be able to claim to be the people of Allah, we will no longer be able to claim that we are with Him and He is with us. For discarding even one part of the deen that has been prescribed – and I do not mean simply not doing it, I mean considering it to not be applicable to us at a fundamental level – discarding one part of the deen is the same as discarding it in its entirety. And so must be a considered a form of irtidaad, a form of ridda. And those who are guilty of ridda will be cast aside. But, that will not mean the end of this umma, no. For our Lord has guaranteed and undertaken to preserve this deen until the Day of Qiyama. No, he will simply bring another people forward, as He did in the past with the Persians, the Turks, the Berbers and even the Mongols, and they will become the new inheritors and the new protectors. Allah says,

 

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا مَنْ يَرْتَدَّ مِنْكُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِ فَسَوْفَ يَأْتِي اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ يُحِبُّهُمْ وَيُحِبُّونَهُ أَذِلَّةٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَعِزَّةٍ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ يُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا يَخَافُونَ لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ

 

the translation of which is, “O you who believe, if any of you renounce your deen, Allah will bring forward a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble to the muminun, fierce to the kafirun, who do jihad in the Way of Allah and do not fear the blame of any censurer.”

If we want to be ranked among these people, then the qualities described in this aya are non-negotiable. They are the qualities each and every one of us must have.

The first is love of Allah. Love of Allah is demonstrated by one thing, and that is the following of His Messenger, completely and without reservation. Otherwise it is a false and empty form of love. Allah says, addressing His Prophet,

قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي

 

the translation of which is, “Say, if you love Allah, follow me.” i.e. ‘Walk in my footsteps, do as you see me do, take on my Sunna, and the Sunna of the rightly-guided khalifs after me, for their sunna is a continuation of my own, and do not stray from it. And put it into practice and do not discard any part of it as being unsuitable, for that is tantamount to abandoning it.’

The second is gentleness to the believers, acting humbly with them. We do not treat them harshly nor bring harm to them, except when there is no other course of action available. We greet them with peace and with a smile and overlook their faults, keeping them hidden as much as possible. We raise them up, as Yusuf did with his parents and brothers, not humiliate them and grind them into the ground. We defend them and protect them with our every breath.

As for harshness and ferocity, that quality must be reserved for kufr and the unbelievers. This does not mean that we are rude to non-Muslims or greet them with a frown. Nor does it mean that we deny them access to the softer sides of our nature – that was not the example of the Messenger of Allah. But it does mean that there can be no compromise when it comes to the outright rejection of Allah, and no acceptance of any of their practices. The word kafir is an active participle, and refers to when that person is covering over the deen and openly rejecting it, when they are openly disobeying Allah and disregarding His laws. We most show our displeasure of that rejection. We cannot act as if there is nothing wrong with kufr, or that a Muslim and a kafir are the same. And we most certainly cannot try and make our deen fit in comfortably with its milla, kowtow to them and apologise for and explain away certain of our Lord’s Commands. We must be firm and implacable towards the unbelievers, but flexible and understanding of our Muslim brothers. This is the quality of a people who are successful.

Then Allah describes an action, jihad in the Way of Allah. Struggling with our wealth and our limbs in every way in order to see Allah’s deen uppermost in the land. In other words, it is not to just have love and good character, one must also have good action, fulfil the commands of Allah, do what He has commanded to be done.

The final characteristic Allah mentions in the ayat is that they do not fear the blame of any blamer, the criticism of any one who criticises. There are two important things we get from this. Firstly, a lack of fear, as I mentioned in the khutba two weeks ago. We do not let imagined possible future outcomes prevent us from doing what needs to be done. We do not fret and worry about how others will perceive us if we continue along a particular course of action, rather we only worry about whether it is acceptable to Allah. What others say about us is immaterial – we are not here to please them, we are here to please Allah. We cannot leave aside some necessary obligatory aspect of the deen because it will lead to negative PR, or publicly renounce some other aspect because it will bring us positive PR. The only lawm, the only displeasure, that we should be worried about is that of Allah.

The second thing that this aya shows us is that following the path of Allah will inevitably lead to people blaming you and speaking out against you, will inevitably make you enemies. We are not here to please everyone. If someone has no enemies and everyone universally praises him and has nothing bad to say of him, even the enemies of Allah, then that is an indication that the path he has taken is not the right one, that there is something missing. Look at the Prophet, the man who was recognised and respected by all his peers, Muslim or non-Muslim, as having the best character of all his people, indeed of all people. And yet the unbelievers of Quraysh criticised him at every turn, calling him liar, calling him mad, calling him bewitcher and soothsayer. Falsehood cannot abide truth. And that is especially true in a time such as today, when those who reject Allah far outnumber those who accept Him, and control most of the channels of media. If you see so-called Muslim scholars being lauded by the enemies of Allah, or given a free pass, then be wary of them. A man is judged by his enemies as much as he is judged by his friends and companions. The true deen of Allah will never find acceptance with the unbelievers, and those who call to it will never be left uncriticised. Use your discrimination and do not be deceived.

We ask Allah to make us those people whom He loves and who love Him, who are gentle with the believers and fierce towards the unbelievers, and who do not fear any criticism. We ask Him to enable us to put the Sunna of His Messenger into practice, and do what needs to be done in this age. We ask Him for victory and His continued support, to us and to all those Muslims who are struggled and fighting in His way in these difficult times.

 

إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً.

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ  أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وعن أم المومنين عائشة التي أمرنا الله في سورة النور أن ندافع عنها، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.

اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ، وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.

رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.

إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.