الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي أحب لنفسه الكرم والجود، وجعله لعباده من الخُلُق المحمود، 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. قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في خطبته المشهورة عن شهر رمضان: وهو شهر المواساة، وشهرٌ يزاد فيه رزقُ المؤمن،

 

The Messenger of Allah said in the famous khutba he gave about the month of Ramadan, “It is the month of generous giving, and the month in which a believer’s provision is increased.” The month of Ramadan is a time when people often focus all their time and energy on ibadat, sometimes at the expense of everything else. But Ramadan is a complete month and its time is valuable for all manner of activities, not just those traditionally associated with worship. It was often a time for expeditions and often a time for fruitful commercial ventures, it was a time for strengthening one’s ties and connections with people as well as our Lord, a time for looking out for others and trying to see to their needs, financial, spiritual and social. There should never be a time when fellow Muslims should be left destitute, nor isolated and alone. This applies throughout the year, but most especially in this month. And in the absence of unified leadership and properly functioning zakat collection and distribution, it falls on the individuals of this umma to actively show their care and concern. This was always the example of our noble Messenger, for Ibn Abbas famously said of him,

 

كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أجود الناس بالخي وأجود ما كان في شهر رمضان

 

“The Prophet was the most generous of people at giving, and at his most generous in the month of Ramadan.” This hadith uses the term khayr for what is given, which can either mean wealth, for that is what is most commonly given, or anything that is good and brings good. And the Prophet, of course, did both. Whenever he had any wealth whatsoever, he would immediately distribute to those whom he thought had need of it, not letting even one full day pass with it remaining in his hands. He said,

 

ما يسُرني أنّ لي أحداً ذهباً يبيت عندي منه دينار، إلا ديناراً أرصده لدَين

 

“I do not feel easy if any gold dinar remains with me overnight, except for a dinar which I have set aside to pay a debt.”

Most people do not realise how wealthy the Messenger of Allah was or could have been, and that is because he never held on to any significant portion of it. He was given the keys to the heavens and the earth and allowed the spoils of war, which had been forbidden to previous Prophets. A fifth of all those spoils belonged to him, spoils that included the riches of all the tribes the Muslims conquered and defeated, especially the Jews of Khaybar whose fabulous wealth has been well-documented. Allah says,

 

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الاَنفَالِ قُلِ الاَنفَالُ للهِ وَالرَّسُولِ

 

the translation of which is, “They ask you about the anfaal/ the spoils of war. Say the anfaal are for Allah and His Messenger.” The anfaal, according to a position of Imam Malik are the khumus – the fifth, and that fifth was for the Messenger of Allah to do with as he saw fit. He could have used to build palaces and bedeck himself in finery, but instead he saw fit to give every single bit of it back to the Muslims. He said,

 

ما لي مما أفاء الله عليكم إلا الخمس، والخُمُس مردود عليكم

 

“I do not have any portion of any booty you acquire aside from the fifth, and that fifth is given back to you.” His criterion for who would receive his gifts was whatever brought most benefit to the Muslims, whether as individuals or as an umma. So sometimes he would even give to non-Muslims if he saw that the gift would soften their hearts to Islam and bring them and their people over to the deen. This is the category of recipients of zakat known as mu’allafat al-qulub.

 

عن أنس قال إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لم يُسألْ على الإسلام شيئاً إلا أعطاه، وأتاه رجل فسأله فأمر له بشاءٍ كثير بين جبلين من شاء الصدقة، فرجع قومَه فقال: يا قوم أسلموا؛ فإن محمداً يعطي عطاء من لا يخاف الفاقة

 

Anas said, “The Messenger of Allah was never asked anything in Islam but the he gave it away. A man once asked him for something, so he commanded that all the sheep between two mountains be given to him. So the man returned to his people and said, ‘My people, become Muslim, for Muhammad gives the gift of a man who has no fear of poverty.’”

Giving takes many forms, but perhaps the highest is to feed, for it is food that sustains people’s well-being and keeps them alive. And it is the act of eating together and breaking break that binds the hearts more surely than anything else. It is not for nothing that among the first acts of courtship is the sharing of a meal. Feeding is reckoned as the highest form of generosity, indeed it is considered synonymous with generosity – the one cannot exist without the other. Ibn Hibban said,

 

والعرب لم تكن تعدُّ الجودَ إلا قِرَى الضَّيف، وإطعام الطعام، ولا تعدُّ السَّخيَّ من لم يكن فيه ذلك

 

“The Arabs did not consider generosity to lie in anything but serving one’s guests and feeding them; and did not consider someone to be generous unless he did that.” There can be no better use of your time, your wealth or of your energy. Ali ibn Abi Talib said,

 

لأن أَجمعَ الإخوانَ على صالحِ طعامٍ أحبُّ إلىّ من أن أَعتِقَ رقبة

 

“I would prefer to gather together the brothers for a meal than to free a slave.” The act of feeding has great resonance throughout the year, but most especially in the month of Ramadan where people have been going without food for the entirety of their day. There are few gifts a person can give that compare to the provision of iftar to the faster. The Prophet said,

 

من فطر فيه صائما كان له عتقُ رقبةٍ ومغفرةٌ لذنوبه وكان له أجرُه من غير أن يَنقُصَ من أجرِه شَيءٌ

 

“Anyone who gives someone fasting that with which to break his fast, will receive the reward of freeing a slave and be forgiven his wrong actions. Moreover, he will receive the reward for the fast of the one he fed without diminishing that person’s reward in any way.” By feeding, we do not refer only to the financial side of things, the provision of the materials, which is of course necessary and important, but to the service that goes hand-in-hand with it. To give of your time and your energy as well as your money. While giving just one of those things is laudable and praiseworthy, the best form of generosity is to combine all three, no matter what your status and no matter the status of your guest, no matter if you are the king of all you survey and your guests destitute beggars from off the street. Luqman said,

 

أربع لا ينبغى لاحد أن يأنف منهن وإن كان شريفا أو أميرا : قيامه من محله لأبيه ، وخدمته لضيفه ، وقيامه على فرسه ، وخدمته للعالم.

 

“There are four things that no one, not even a nobleman nor an emir, should turn their noses up at: giving up his seat for his father, serving his guests, looking after his horse and serving the men of knowledge.” The more one serves the greater one’s reward. When I was in Morocco, I was invited for supper one night. It was an incredibly hot night and our host’s electric fan was broken, so he spent the entire evening cooling his guests with a hand fan, trying to ensure they were as comfortable as possible.

This is generosity, and this form of generosity is open to anyone no matter how poor, no matter how limited their wealth and possessions. Every one can serve, even if they do not themselves have places to invite people to. We provide them with the means to do that here in the mosque – the opportunity to lay the tables and prepare the soup, the opportunity to share in the reward for providing iftar to the fasters. And alhamdulillah, such is the generosity of this jama‘a that those opportunities were snapped up weeks in advance and the soup rota filled well before the month of Ramadan even commenced. Brothers and sisters vying with one another in the execution of good deeds, while at the same time working with one another to ensure they are brought about in the best possible way. A sure sign of a healthy and well-functioning community. We ask Allah to reward all of those who have come forward and got involved. And we invite everyone else here to come and join us for iftar here in the mosque – for there are few things more affirming than the act of breaking your fast in the company of a large number of your fellow believers. Come serve and be served and be part of something special.

 

أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو الغفور الرَّحيم.

 

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.

 

As we have said, giving is part and parcel of what it means to be Muslim, but even generosity is not haphazard. We are held as much accountable for what spend and give as for what we earn and acquire. So we must always ensure that our gifts bring benefit and not harm, both to the recipients themselves and to the wider umma. Our primary concern must be, “Is this of benefit to the Muslims?” The gifts that most completely meet this criterion are the highest form of sadaqa.

The form of sadaqa that used to provide the most benefit to the Muslims is the waqf, loosely translated as ‘endowment’. A waqf, or hubus as it is also known, is giving over the benefits and usage of a particular piece of property or wealth to a specified group of recipients, and limiting the benefits and usage to that group. This group might be the Muslims as a whole or it might be a particular family or category of worker. Usually the benefits of this waqf, most often in the form of income or produce, were given over in perpetuity to those people named and their descendants, or to provide the upkeep for the building or institution named, such as a mosque, hospital or school. This ensured their or its continued well-being, even long after the death of the donor, and meant that the donor continued to receive the reward for giving long after he had passed into his grave. It is this form of sadaqa to which the Messenger of Allah was referring when he said,

 

إذا مات الإنسانُ انقطع عنه عملُه إلا من ثلاث، إلا من صدقة جارية أو علم ينتفعُ به أو ولد صالح يدعو له

 

“When a person dies, all of his actions stop except for three: an ongoing act of sadaqa, knowledge from which he benefitted and a right-acting child who makes dua for him.” Anything you own, no matter how small, can be made into a waqf provided it has the capacity of providing benefit for others – it does not have to be land or property. The Prophet said,

 

من احتبس فرسا في سبيل الله، إيمانا بالله، وتصديقا بوعده، فإن شبعه وريه وروثه وبوله في ميزانه يوم القيامة

 

“If anyone makes a horse into a waqf that is to be used in the way of Allah out of belief in Allah and in confirmation of His promise, its food, water, droppings and urine will be placed in his balance on the Day of Rising.”

So enthusiastic have the Muslims been about giving waqfs – an indication of the unparalleled generosity of this great umma – that more than a third of all land under their possession came to have the designation of waqf property. And unlike today, they were not exclusively the domain of mosques, although all mosques were waqfs. People looked to the needs of the people and then gave accordingly. They made sure their institutions and their cities were looked after, and their populace kept healthy and educated. It was waqfs that set the Muslim cities apart and made them the envy of their age.

All of the madrasas and universities that were at the forefront of the great scientific advancement in al-Andalus and the Maghrib were all established as waqfs and their upkeep (including lighting, teacher’s wages, provisions of books, sleeping quarters and student grants weres provided for by waqfs). Indeed, in Fes in the Qarawiyyin, there was a separate waqf to support each subject that was being taught. Abdal-Hadi at-Tazi mentions that eighteen different subjects were being supported in that way in his time.

And each city was furnished with great libraries, funded totally by waqfs and free for all seekers of knowledge to use. It is mentioned in Nafh at-Tib that one of the great scholars of Granada, Abu Hayyan ibn Yusuf criticised another great scholar, al-Maqri, for buying so many books, saying, “Allah has provided you with an intellect and you should live by it. Any book I want to read, I simply borrow from the libraries of the awqaf!”

And hospitals, pharmacies and clinics abounded. Indeed, in Baghdad alone in the fourth century AH, there were five great hospitals, and in Cordoba, it has been narrated that there were fifty hospitals! And that is not to mention all the smaller clinics and pharmacies that could be found in every district, as well as specialist hospitals dealing with particular illnesses and asylums for the mentally unwell. Almost all of these places treated the sick for free since the upkeep for the hospital and the wages of the doctors, nurses and medical students were all provided for by the waqfs that were attached to them.

Awqaf were also established to maintain the roads, provide weaponry to soldiers, look after orphans, widows and divorcees, provide free guesthouses for travellers lacking means, provide fresh drinking water, give young people the means to get married, provide milk and sugar to breast-feeding ladies and even, most astonishingly, give help to servants who broke things. And it was not just humans who were provided for, for there were even waqfs to look after stray cats and worn-out donkeys, one such place still existing in Fes today.

In the Muslim umma, all of these things were free, just like the mosque and the market – the citizens were not taxed to pay for them. And whenever such taxation was levied on the Muslims, it was immediately recognised as being unjust and the Muslims freed themselves of it at the first available opportunity. The main battle cry of the Murabitun when they freed the Muslims of al-Andalus from the yoke of their rulers was,

 

دعوة الحق ورد المظالم وقطع المغارم

 

“Call to the Truth, put right injustice, and abolish unjust taxes.”

Compare this to the modern state where every conceivable thing is taxed – your income, your home, your inheritance, your business transactions, your vehicle etc. etc., in exchange for which, the state undertakes to provide you with all these same services that waqfs traditionally provided. But, by handing over all of these functions to the state, as well as impoverishing ourselves to fund a massive, corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy (for by way of comparison, the entire Ottoman empire only had three thousand administrators), we have given them an unprecedented degree of control over almost every aspect of our lives. They control what our children must study, the types of treatment we must take and even those with whom we must do business.

Never before, in the entire history of mankind, has any nation ever exercised such control over its people as the modern ‘parental’ welfare state – not even the most tyrannical of dictators. Never before has a citizenry been so dependent on its government – almost every move we make must be sanctioned by them before we can do it. This total dependence on the state has ripped apart the natural brotherhood of people and destroyed the impulse of ta’awun ala-l-birri wa-taqwa, helping one another to birr and taqwa. Instead, it has led to a situation where neighbours of twenty years are strangers to one another and children leave their aging parents in state-run old people’s homes.

And so long as we are so totally dependent upon the state, we will not be able to accomplish anything. Hence, the creation of waqfs. They are the most important step we as Muslims can take to reassert our freedom, regain our strength and prosperity and move outside of the realm of state control and interference. So we ask Allah to give us the means to establish the awqaf necessary for a healthy and vibrant society and, by means of them, help us to rid our societies of injustice and bring an end to unfair taxation.

 

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.