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
One of the lessons we learn from the Laylat al-Isra wa-l-Mi’raj relates to the essential nature of the human being and the capacity with which he has been endowed. This lesson was taught through the medium of Musa, and related to the prayer, and the number of prayers that each person must pray each day. These obligatory daily prayers started with fifty. Each time the Messenger of Allah came back past him, Musa asked him what his Lord had commanded, and each time he heard of the number of daily prayers, he said, “Go back, for you people will not be able to manage that. And he kept going back until there were five.
This is not a religion of excess, this is a deen of moderation. Allah says,
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا
the translation of which is, “In this way We have made you a middlemost community.” Our deen is often called the deen of the middle way and the Muslims are known as the people of the middle path. And yet, today, as a religion, we are associated with extremism. So is it we who have been wrong all these years to consider ourselves moderate, or have the definitions of moderation become skewed and the actions of a few madmen come to define us? It is clearly the latter, for there was nothing in the life or example of the Messenger of Allah that suggested extremism. He always took the middle way and discouraged his Companions from going to extremes and warned them of its dangers. There are stories throughout the Sira that show this. For example, the well-known story of the three men who came before the Prophet. When one of them said, “I stand the whole night every night in prayer”, and the second said, “I fast every day”, and the third said, “I avoid the company of women and will never marry”, the Prophet replied,
أما أنا والله إني لأخشاكم لله وأتقاكم له لكنى أصوم وأفطر، وأصلى وأرقد، وأتزوج النساء، فمن رغب عن سنتي فليس منى
“As for me – and I have more fear and taqwa of Allah than any of you – I both fast and do not fast, pray and sleep, and marry women. Whoever turns aside from my sunna is not from me.” Extremist behaviour was not part of his Sunna. Another example is when the Prophet heard of a man who had made a solemn oath to his Lord to neither sit nor speak nor seek shade from the sun and spend all his time fasting, he said,
مُرُوه، فليتكلَّم، وليَسْتظِلَّ، وليَقْعُد، وليُتِمَّ صومَه
“Instruct him to speak, sit and seek shade, and stop fasting.” Not only is such extremism debilitating and weakening to the human body, but it is anti-dawa. It puts people off Islam, because extreme hardship is not attractive to the vast majority of the human race. The Messenger of Allah was not sent to make things hard, he brought a deen of ease. Allah says,
يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
“Allah wants ease for you and does not want difficulty.” That is not to say you stop doing anything and leave all action aside, for indolence is not the path of ease. It is equally damaging and indeed, equally taxing and tiring. The Arabs have a saying,
مَن تعود الكسل ومال إلى الراحة فَقَدَ الراحة
“Whoever becomes accustomed to laziness and prefers to rest, forsakes all rest.” And they also say,
إن أردت ألا تتعب فاتعب حتى لا تتعب
“If you want not to suffer from tiredness, then tire yourself out so that you do not become tired.” Listlessness and tiredness more commonly follow indolence and wasting of time than actual work, no matter how taxing or frustrating. No, the path of ease, the path of rest, the path towards which the human psyche is naturally attracted is that of moderate, effective action. And that is the path our Lord wants and the Prophet brought. Indeed, in the Fatiha, which we recite every day in every prayer, we ask our Lord to guide us to the path of those He has blessed,
غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ
the translation of which is, “not that of those who have incurred his anger or gone astray.” One of the interpretations of this is that those who have incurred Allah’s anger are those who have added to the deen things that are not part of it while the astray are those who have left the path and abandoned the teachings. This was exemplified by the Jews with their fanatical emphasis on the minutiae of the law and the Christians with their almost total abandonment of the law. Both paths bring ruin and destruction and the curse of Allah. Al-Awza‘i said,
ما من أمرٍ أَمَر الله به، إلا عارَضَه الشيطانُ بخَصْلَتين، لا يُبَالِي أيَّهما أصاب: الغُلُو والتقصير
“Any deed Allah commands, Shaytan seeks to countermand, doing so in one of two ways. He cares not which way it is, so long as it is effective. These two ways are encouraging them to fall short or to go to excess.” Why is doing more so dangerous? Surely you cannot have too much of a good thing? Why did the Prophet warm us against it so frequently, for he said,
إياكم والغلو في الدين، فإنما أهلك من كان قبلكم الغلو في الدين
“Beware of excess in the deen. The only thing that brought about the destruction of those who came before you was excess in the deen.” And he also said,
هلك المتنطعون هلك المتنطعون هلك المتنطعون
“Those who go to excess will be destroyed. Those who go to excess will be destroyed. Those who go to excess will be destroyed.” Why? Because that is the form in which our Lord created us. He did not make us angels, unable to do wrong and never tiring. He created us with needs and limitations. Allah says,
وَخُلِقَ الاِنسَانُ ضَعِيفًا
the translation of which is, “Man was created weak.” Absolute perfection is not expected of us, we are rewarded for our jihad/ our struggle. But, just like the physical jihad, you do not expend all your energies in the first day and weaken yourself for the rest of the campaign. Otherwise, the campaign will be doomed to failure. Slow and steady beats burn out, exhaustion and collapse. The tortoise beats the hare in the famous parable. The Messenger of Allah said,
اكْلَفُوا من الأعمال ما تُطِيقون
“Only take on the things you are able to do.” And when he was asked which type of action Allah loves the best, he replied,
أَدْوَمُها وإن قلَّ
“Actions that are persevered with, even if they are small and few.” So pace yourself. Do your utmost within your capacities. If you want to do extra ibada, add it to your daily program or weekly program a little bit a time. That way, it will be more likely to stick.
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. قال الله عز وجل في كتابه الكريم: قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا أَهْوَاءَ قَوْمٍ قَدْ ضَلُّوا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَأَضَلُّوا كَثِيرًا وَضَلُّوا عَنْ سَوَاءِ السَّبِيلِ
Allah says in His Noble Book, the translation of which is, “Say: ‘People of the Book! do not go to excess in your deen, asserting other than the truth, and do not follow the whims and desires of people who were misguided previously and have misguided many others, and are far from the right way.’”
Excess takes many forms – it is not always in terms of amount of action. It can also be in terms of type of action and what a person feels, thinks or believes. . The Christians went to extremes by deifying their Prophet, by saying that Isa was the son of Allah, while the Jews went to extremes by considering themselves the special race and thinking that they had the monopoly on knowledge – and by extension considering all other races inferior – saying,
نحن أبناؤا الله وأحباؤه
the translation of which is, “We are the sons of Allah and those most beloved to Him.” And as a result brought Allah’s curse and anger down upon themselves. And we Muslims are in constant danger of the same, for those same tendencies exist within us. Already as an umma, we have split into more sects than those deens before us. And every time, it was some excess they went to in the deen that pulled them away from the jama’a/ from the main body of the Muslims. The shia went to excess in love of sayyidina ‘Ali and the family of the Prophet, leading to them rejecting and despising the rest of the Companions and the majority of the Muslim umma who took their deen from them, while the Khawarij went to excess in the literal interpretation of the law, rejecting any interpretation other than their own and considering those who adopted other interpretations to be outside of the deen. And it was adherents of these two extremist groups that assassinated two of the four khulafa ar-rashidin, Shia supporters killing Uthman, and khawarij supporters killing Ali. Indeed, not one of the early Muslim leaders was killed or defeated by the enemies of Islam, but only ever by extremist elements within their own ranks. And that pattern has continued throughout the ages, and is particularly apparent in the modern day, with those who claim to represent us doing the most harm. Look at Syria, and look who is actually massacring the Muslims – the Shia militias on the one side, and the khawarij ideologues on the other. Extremism, and specifically going to excess in the deen, poses a bigger risk to the Muslim umma than its enemies ever will.
And that is because excess in the deen is, by its very nature, divisive. It is the primary cause of fitna, and as Allah says,
والفتنة أشد من القتل
the translation of which is, “Fitna is worse than killing.” For people who go to excess, especially those who go to excess in matters of fiqh, tend to be puritanical and view matters in black and white. For them, there are only two categories of ruling: obligatory and forbidden. Hence, anything that contradicts their narrow world view, is considered bida and outside the pale of Islam and any Muslim who does not actively agree with them becomes fair game. For them, their greatest enemies are their Muslim brothers, for their excess causes them to view their actions as more worthy of censure and disapproval than any action done by real enemies of the deen. And that same puritanical excess leads them to believe that they are doing good, purifying the deen, whereas in fact all they are doing is stripping away much of what is good and alive, leaving a dead and soulless deen more akin to a harsh lifeless desert than a verdant vibrant meadow. That is not the deen that was practiced by the Messenger of Allah and his Companions not by all the right-acting generations who followed them. As it says in a famous hadith, “The believer is one who is harsh on himself but generous with others, while the munafiq is the one who is harsh on others but generous with himself.”
So how do we combat these increasing levels of extremism within our communities? The first way is through knowledge and education, specifically education in the deen. The majority of extremists lack even a basic understanding of Islam. Olivier Roy writes in his book, ‘Jihad and Death: the Global Appeal of Islamic State’,
No matter what database is taken as a reference, the paucity of religious knowledge among jihadis is glaring. According to leaked Isis records containing details for more than 4,000 foreign recruits, while most of the fighters are well-educated, 70% state that they have only basic knowledge of Islam.” So we must ensure that our young men and women receive the necessary education to inoculate and protect them against the calls of extremism. They are not required to become ulama, just a basic understanding of the tenets of the deen and the Sunna of the Messenger is sufficient. Umar ibn AbdalAziz succeeded in getting more than two thousand of the Khawarij to return to the ranks of the Jama’a in but a single session.
And the second way is through dhikrullah. Those who fall prey most easily to the call of extremism are those who feel alienated – ill at ease with their situation, and out of place in the communities in which they grow up. They have little to no sense of belonging. Their hearts are in turmoil and so their actions follow suit. They gravitate towards anarchy and lawlessness. So the way to cure them is to cure the turbulence of their hearts and restore that sense of inner peace and being within a community. There is only one way to do that. Allah says,
أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللهِ تَطْمَئِنَّ الْقُلُوبُ
the translation of which is, “It is only with the dhikr of Allah that hearts can find tranquility. Dhikr is not some idiosyncrasy of the Sufis, it is an act that is essential to the well-being of this umma. And as soon as group dhikr and awraad start being decried as Bida, and communities stop coming together to remember Allah, the level of dhikr within a community drops and drops. We rely on one another for support. Allah says,
وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى
the translation of which is, “Help one another to good and taqwa.” Work with one another to accomplish good action. And if we are not remembering Allah together in groups then we are often not remembering Allah at all. Ask yourself this, and be honest. If there was no tarawih in the mosque, how much tarawih would you actually do in Ramadan? Little to none is the honest answer of the majority of us. So hold fast to the tradition of ghadat, durood and awraad and continue to gather in circles of dhikr. And encourage the younger generation to come with you. Therein lies their protection. We ask Allah to protect us from ignorance and protect our circles of dhikr. And we ask that He guide our misguided brothers back to the Sirat al-Mustaqim. We ask Him to protect this umma from excess and extremism, and make us once again that middlemost community that lives and breathes the sunna of the Messenger of Allah.
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.