الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي جعل الدينَ الحنيف بين التفريط والإفراط، وجعل خيرَ الأمور هي التي وقع في الأوساط، 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.

 

We live in difficult times, times where Islam is villified daily and Muslims are viewed with fear and suspicion, times when sometimes it can seem to some that the whole world is against them. We are seen as a threat not just to the physical well-being of the people around us, but to their values and way of life. We talked last week about extremism, but when the governments and media talk about extremism, they are not just referring to the violent fanatics, but to all practicing Muslims. They tar us all with the same brush, and by doing so they turn everyone against us and make us all public enemy number one. “Extremism” is a term that has deliberately been left vague and undefined so that it comes to include everything that is deemed alien and not culturally appropriate, in other words, anything that does not fit in with the dominant milla of the age. What is the dominant milla of the age? Secularism and capitalism. Humanism and the rule of law. All forms of religious worship and all signs of faith in something beyond our day-to-day lives and experiences are viewed with suspicion, particularly when they are associated with Islam. And they are deemed signs of extremist behaviour. A Muslim nurse in the UK, who had not previously worn a headscarf but decided to start wearing one was reported for extremism, as was an entire school for attaching examples of Arabic calligraphy to their walls. A man was removed from an airplane for saying inshallah, while men with big beards were stopped and questioned about being ISIS sympathisers. This, despite the fact that ISIS has sent out instructions to potential members to avoid beards and all outward signs of being Muslim, and despite the fact that none of the perpetrators of recent terrorist atrocities have matched up to these stereotypes of how a Muslim should look or behave. None of them had beards and most of them frequented bars and other such establishments, not mosques.

So we have to suspect there is another agenda at work, beyond that of security and keeping the people safe from terrorist attacks, a deliberate attempt to turn people, including Muslims, against Islam. When a Birmingham Muslim mother of three was asked about a speech the ex-British Prime Minister gave about extremism last year she said, “I have a question for David Cameron: does he think it’s OK to be a practising Muslim? The idea of extremist Islam has not really been defined. I am a practising Muslim and follow the way of Islam; does that mean I fall into it?” Her implication, of course, being that Cameron and the institution that he represents do not think it OK for a person to be a practising Muslim. They would like nothing better than to expunge Islam from their society and indeed all societies. It is not the violent extremists that have brought them around to that point of view, it is the values and teachings. The call to one God and the abandonment of false gods and idols is perceived as an existential threat to a society that has made money and its acquisition the be all and end all of existence, a society that has replaced temples with banks and divine law with secular, temporal rules.

This is not advancement and progress as they perceive, but rather the recurrence of an age-old theme. The people of falsehood always feel threatened by the people of truth, and always do whatever lies in their power to discredit them in the eyes of the masses. From Pharaoh to Thamud, from Ad to the peoples of Ibrahim and Isa. They all used whatever methods they could, from using magicians to publically burning those accused. And the same happened with our own noble Messenger and those with him. Their lives were made hell by the people of Makka – they would beat and torture them, imprison them in their own homes. The people of Thaqif even conditioned their children to pelt the Messenger of Allah with stones and their women to curse and insult him whenever he walked past. They even tossed smelly rubbish on his back as he prayed, and when that approach did not work, tried to bribe him and buy him to persuade him to stop and leave his religion behind. Their power and status among the Arabs was based on idolatry, for the idols of all the Arabs were safeguarded by them in the Ka‘ba and they were revered and respected as a result. Islam, with its call for the abandonment of all false gods threatened that status quo, just its call for justice and the abandonment of usury threatens the status quo of the modern world. It was a direct challenge to their authority so that had to get rid of it, just as they are trying to get rid of it today. Whatever we do, we can never please them or gain their acceptance, short of a total abandonment of all that makes us Muslim. Allah says,

 

‫وَلَن تَرْضَىٰ عَنكَ الْيَهُودُ وَلَا النَّصَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُمْ ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ ۗ وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُم بَعْدَ الَّذِي جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ ۙ مَا لَكَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ

 

the translation of which is, “The Jews and the Christians will not be pleased with you until you follow their milla/ their ways. Say, ‘The guidance of Allah is the guidance, and if you follow their whims after the knowledge has come to you, you will find no friend or supporter to help you against Allah.” Their fight is not against extremism, regardless of what they say, their fight is to promote extremism and make us all into extremists, either in the manner that Israel has done with the Palestinians in taking away everything from them and making them so desperate that they drive them into the eagerly-waiting arms of Hamas and Hezbollah, or the documented techniques used by special forces to actively encourage young alienated vulnerable Muslim men to form terror cells, or by going to the opposite extreme and redefining moderation, promulgating modern values that normalise what was once considered deviance and marginalise all outwardly religious behaviour, including prayer, fasting and modest dress. In this way, they hope to remove the biggest threat to their ongoing hegemony from the picture, Islam. Islam which has always occupied the true middle ground for a human being that was created to worship and know his Lord and Creator, a human being that was created to be His vicegerent upon the earth and guard and protect it and its inhabitants, not rape it and exploit it and strip it of everything useful until it remains a bare husk incapable of sustaining life, a human being asked to live in balance and harmony with his environment and fellow men, not to create the greatest levels of discord, corruption and imbalance ever seen in the history of the world. The Deen of Allah and the Sunna of His Messenger is the true moderation, and those who hold to that are the true moderates. Allah says,

وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا

 

Allah says in His mighty Book, the translation of which is, “In this way We have made you a middlemost community.” A community of the middle way. This middle way is not narrow and constricting, but broad and tolerant, permitting of great variety and diversity, from the strict adherence to the letter of the law of Ibn Umar, to the ijtihad and broad interpretation of Ibn Abbas, from the rigour of Umar ibn al-Khattab to the gentleness of Abu Bakr. Beyond this middle way lie the extremes, on one side what is known as ifrat, going to excess, and on the other what is known as tafrit, falling short, each extreme as pernicious and dangerous to the well-being of the human race as the other. Ibn al-Qayyim said,

 

ما أمر الله بأمر إلا وللشيطان فيه نزغتان: إما إلى تفريط وإضاعة، وإما إلى إفراط وغلو، ودين الله وسط بين الجافي عنه والغالي فيه، كالوادي بين الجبلين، والهدى بين الضلالتين، والوسط بين طرفين ذميمين

 

“There is nothing that Allah has commanded us to do except that Shaytan comes to us in one of two ways – either by encouraging us to fall short and abandon it, or encouraging us to go to excess. The deen of Allah lies in the middle between those abandon action and those who are extreme and excessive – it is like a valley between two mountains, guidance between two sources of misguidance, a praiseworthy way between two ways that are blameworthy.” The agents of Shaytan in this day are not just the recruiters for these violent and deviant groups, but also those who like to call themselves moderates and liberals, those who constantly and consistently critique Muslims and paint them as extremists  and misogynists. They paint themselves as the reasonable ones, but they have lost all grasp on reason, they consider themselves the moral arbiters for the world, but they lack any form of moral compass. For them , deviance has become normality and normality has become deviance, and yet they would tell us how we should live our lives. There is only one solution to our woes, and it is not the one they present to us. That will only bring us grief and disaster in this world and the Next. Our only solution is to look to please our Lord and live our lives according to the parameters He has laid down for us. Our solution is to return to the example shown to us by the Prophet and his Companions, and lived by them in the society they created in al-Madinat al-Munawarra. As Imam Malik said,

ولا يُصلح آخر هذه الأمة إلا ما أصلحَ أولها

 

“The end of this umma will not be set aright by anything except that which set it right at the beginning.”

 

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

 

The society of the first generation of the Muslims was based on many things, but at its heart lay the principle of brotherhood, ukhuwwa, and the principle of company, suhba. It was these things that kept them safe during the difficult times in Makka, and helped turn them in the unstoppable force for good in Madina. I touched on this in the khutba last week, but I would like to go into a little more detail here.

The importance of suhba cannot be overstated. The human being has an inherent need for others – we are social animal, not a solitary one, and it is only when we are in collectives, in groupings, that we reach our full potential. The qualities around which we come together are magnified, whether it is our strength or our intellectual prowess. This has been proven time and again throughout history. Nothing epoch-changing or even community-changing has ever been achieved completely alone. Even the Prophets and Messengers took Companions to complete the tasks assigned to them – Musa had Harun, Isa his hawariyyun and our own Messenger his Sahaba, a word that literally means Companion. Indeed, the extraordinary status they enjoy and degree of honour is solely on the basis of them keeping company.

And this tells us something, company changes you. You take on the characteristics of the ones whose company you keep. The Prophet said,

 

المرأ على دين خليله فلينظر أحدكم من يخالل

 

“Men follow the deen of their close friends, so look carefully at those whom you befriend.” And he said,

 

مثل الجليس الصالح وجليس السوء، كحامل المسك ونافخ الكير فحامل المسك إما أن يُحذيك، وإما أن تبتاع منه، وإما أن تجد منه ريحاً طيبة، ونافخُ الكير إما أن يحرق ثيابك، وإما أن تجد منه ريحاً منتنة

 

“The likeness of the good companion and the bad companion is that of the purveyor of musk and the blower of the blacksmith’s bellows: as for the purveyor of musk, he will either grant you some, or you will buy some from him, or you will enjoy his pleasant smell. But, as for the blower of the blacksmith’s bellows, he will either burn your clothes or you will be subjected to his nasty smell.”

The Companions are so extraordinary because the one they accompanied was so extraordinary. He had all of the best qualities of character and none of the worst, so spending time with him magnified those qualities and caused the other negative ones to subside. He was a man of sincerity and conviction, so their sincerity and conviction came to the fore, he was a man of action, so they accomplished extraordinary things, he was a man of knowledge, so they carried learning with them wherever they went. And they transmitted these same qualities to those who came into their circles and spent time with them. The importance they attached to keeping company and holding to the jama’a insured that the deen was spread by osmosis as much as by word. Their secret was that they kept company only with those who would help them in their task, not with those who would hinder them or distract them or take them away from the sirat al-mustaqim.

We must only spend time in the company of those who are extraordinary, those who call us to the best of what we can be, those who remind us of Allah and protect us from the worst of our selves, those who correct us when we go astray and help us we are in need. The Messenger of Allah said,

 

من أراد الله به خيراً رزقه خليلاً صالحاً إن نسي ذكره وإن ذكر أعانه

 

“If Allah wants good for someone, He will provide him with a right-acting close friend who reminds him when he forgets and helps him when he remembers.” As for those who pull us away from the deen and encourage us to give full reign to our basest instincts and desires, those who when we remember try to make us forget and try and spread enmity, slander and discontent, we must avoid their company at all costs. Even so much as a single sitting with them can damage and taint us in ways we do not even realise, so powerful is the effect of company on the human being. They are like a dye, and every time a drop of that dye is added to the clear water of our being, it colours and changes it, until eventually enough dye is added to make our water and their dye indistinguishable. We become as them and take on all their characteristics. Allah says,

إِنَّكُمْ إِذاً مّثْلُهُمْ

 

the translation of which is, “You are then just the same as them.” Never work alone, never eat alone, never travel alone, always seek company. But take great care in the company you seek. Look only for those who have taqwa and are true to their Lord and themselves, those who remember their Lord and help you to remain to in a constant state of remembrance, those who look our for you as much as for themselves and there for you in times of difficulty and ease, those who see the best in you and not the worst. Look for the Muslims, those who embody the noble qualities of character and eschew all that is base, those who call on Allah, morning and evening, desiring His face. Seek their company and hold fast to it. Do that and you will be safe, and the extremists will not be able to tempt you or affect you or pull you from the middle way.

We ask Allah to always keep us in company, and protect us from going apart. We ask Allah to make that company the best of company, and help us be there for another as the Companions were there for the Messenger of Allah and each other. And we ask Him to keep our feet firmly upon the middle way, and protect us from all the whisperers and agents of Shaytan who seek to pull us from it and make us join their ranks. We ask Allah to realise the Sunna in us and around us and join our hearts together.

 

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