الحَمْدُ للهِ، الحَمْدُ للهِ الذي ألّف بين قلوبِ أهلِ الإيمان، وجعل من أفرادِهم أرصَّ البُنيان، وأَمَرَهم بالاجتماع على عِبادةِ الرحمان، نَحْمَدُهُ تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، مَنْ يَهْدِ اللهُ فلا مضل له، ومَنْ يُضلِلْ فَلاَ هَادِيَ لَهُ، ونَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ، له الملك وله الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشْهَدُ أَنَّ سَيِّدَنَا ومولانا مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُه وَرَسُولُهُ، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدّى الأمانة ونصح الأمّة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحقّ، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعَلَى آلِهِ وأَصْحابِهِ ومَنْ تَبِعَهم بإِحْسانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّيْنِ. أَمَّا بَعْدُ، فَيَا عِبَادَ اللهِ اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون، يا أيها الذين آمنوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا، يُصْلِحْ لَكُم أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا، يا أيها المسلمون اتقوا الله فيما أوصى وأمر، وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر. قال الله تعالى في كتابه العزيز بعد أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم: يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا
Allah says in His Noble Quran, the translation of which is, “Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other.”
Now, more than ever, we need to cling to Jama’at, we need to hold fast to one another’s company. This is not the time for going it alone, despite modern day society’s emphasis on the rights of the individual. The model of the state and the individual does not work, as we recently saw in London in the aftermath of the horrific tower-block fire. The state did not fulfil its self-appointed task. It cannot be relied upon at any level. It did not look after its citizens – indeed, it fell apart and seemed incapable of any action. Not only did its representatives fail to show any compassion or empathy, they failed to organise or coordinate even the most basic of relief efforts. People were left bereft: of news, of comfort, of basic conveniences and a even a place to rest their heads. They were let down. State failed, but where state failed, people stepped in. People gave, people opened their doors, people coordinated and organised and filled the vacuum and void. Where much vaunted governmental structures collapsed, community stood up.
Community is the key to the success of the human being. There are things that we encounter as we go through life that cannot be endured alone, cannot be overcome on our own. It does not matter how many structures and safeguards we have in place, it does not matter what laws we legislate, isolation destroys us. But the model of the modern era is one of ever-increasing isolation with the state acting as the surrogate for our fellow man. It does not work as the London fire demonstrates. Community and togetherness is essential.
The sad thing is that what happened in London is somewhat exceptional, which is why it is so newsworthy. Such community feeling, such spontaneous outbursts of generosity or solidarity are no longer the norm. It requires extraordinary and terrible sets of circumstances to bring them out. Outside of those sets of circumstances, the indifference and blindness reasserts itself. How long had that impoverished community been living in Kensington, surrounded by the wealthiest of the wealthy, without anyone lifting a finger to help or show them an ounce of generosity or compassion. Their plight scarcely even warranted a second glance until disaster struck. So great is the darkness of the modern era that we cannot see until a fire is lit in front of our eyes. And even that only provides a momentary reminder, and then things go swiftly back to the way they were.
Community is so clearly the answer to our woes, but it is equally clear that each generation that passes sees it being eroded more and more. So it is our job as Muslims to restore it. We have a greater understanding of it than most others, for we recognise its importance. It was no coincidence that a large number of the first responders in London were Muslim, that a large part of the relief effort was organised by Muslims. Community still means something to us, we still have a degree of brotherhood and jama’at. It has always been the cornerstone of this great deen. When people ask me about what this deen means, I often tell them keeping company. It lies at the heart of everything – it is the fitra of the human being, and this is the deen of fitra.
We understand that we were not created to live alone, to be hermits. That we were placed on this earth to be its khalifas and that implies interaction not withdrawal. That the example of the Messengers was to form connections not sever them, to create societies and Madinas not destroy them, that the deen is one of mu’amala and communal worship, not just individual ibada. Indeed, the perfection of all of the pillars that seemingly imply individual worship is found only in community. A shahada is not ratified until it is witnessed, prayer is more meaningful and rewarded in company, zakat is not given to oneself nor ones dependents, but those in society who are in need, fasting is best broken with others. Dua is more likely to be answered the wider its scope and the more people who are included. The Prophet said,
يَدُ اللَّهِ مع الْجَمَاعَةِ
“The hand of Allah is with the group.” This jama’a, this group, of which we speak is not just any grouping of people, it must be the right grouping of people. For even company can be damaging and destructive when it is based on batil and not haqq. Look at the destruction that mobs have wrought. Some of the greatest atrocities in the history of man have been caused by out-of-control mobs, by people gathered on a false premise and whipped into a frenzy. People seemingly civilised and sensible at an individual level, but mad and crazed as a group.
The secret to success in this matter, as in any other, lies with furqan/ discrimination, for make no mistake, those with whom you spend your time will shape who you are and who you become. They will bring you to their level, no matter your own qualities, until you become one of them, acting like them, speaking like them and thinking like them. That is the inevitable result of company – the effects can be felt in moments and can become almost permanent in but a matter of weeks. The one who spends forty days in the company of people becomes one of them. The Prophet said,
الرجل على دين خليله فلينظر أحدكم من يخالل
“Men follow the deen of their close friends, so look carefully at those whom you befriend.” Is he right-acting or wrong-acting? Does he spend his life in useful actions or in idle pursuits? Is he a man of knowledge or ignorance? Does he remind you of your Lord or cause you to forget?
For there are, in truth, only two categories of people: those who raise you up or those who pull you down – there is no third category for man is always in change and never standing still. These two categories of people are described by the Messenger of Allah in a well-known hadith,
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 a good companion and a bad companion is that of a perfume seller and a blacksmith’s assistant. The perfume seller will either give you some, or you will buy some from him, or you will enjoy his pleasant smell. The blacksmith’s assistant will either burn your clothes or you will be subjected to his nasty smell.” So the good companion is the one from whose company you benefit even when he is doing nothing for you; and the bad companion is the one from whose company you suffer harm even when he is doing nothing against you. The good companion’s presence uplifts you and reminds you of Allah, while the bad companion’s presence makes you feel dirty and forget your Lord. And the degree to which they do that is the criterion by which we must judge everyone with whom we come into contact. And the starting point for that is to make sure your closest friends and companions come from the ranks of the believers and not the unbelievers. It is not for nothing that Allah describes the muminun as being friends to one another and the unbelievers being friends to one another. The Prophet said,
إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ كَالْبُنْيَانِ يَشُدُّ بَعْضُهُ بَعْضاً
“Believers are, to one another, like bricks in a well-built wall, each one strengthening the other” For the truth of the matter is that no staunch unbeliever, or even Christian or Jew, will ever be truly content until he has led you astray. Allah says,
وَلَنْ تَرْضَى عَنْكَ الْيَهُودُ وَلَا النَّصَارَى حَتَّى تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُمْ
the translation of which is, “The Jews and Christians will never be content with you until you follow their ways.” That is not to say, of course, that you do not interact with them or spend any time with them, for it is our duty as Muslims to pass on the message to all and sundry, regardless of creed or colour, for our Prophet was sent as a guidance for all of mankind. And indeed many of us would have not been here were it not for the dawa and good news we received at the hands of Muslims. But, we must draw them into our circles, not let them draw us into theirs. They must keep company with us, not us keep company with them. That is the recipe for success.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله العظيم لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو التوّابُ 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.
Once you have found the right people, you must hold fast to their company and never let go. The right company is, of course, the believers, as we made clear in the last khutba. But you should know that there are two levels of company and two degrees of jam’at – the wider jama’a and the inner circle. And the human being must have both in order to be safe. The wider jama’a is the umma of Sayyidina Muhammad. Allah says,
إِنَّمَا الْمُومِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ
the translation of which is, “The believers are brothers” – we have an affiliation towards them and an affinity with them. We are all part of the same body. But even in that body, divisions can form, even violent ones. Even the greatest generation of this umma, the Companions, suffered a great fitna and fought a civil war, even in the time of the Messenger, the Aws and Khazraj came close to blows. But so great was their belief in Allah and His Messenger, and love of Allah and His Messenger, that they were able to survive and overcome those differences. They had structures and forms in place that permitted and enabled community to flourish and endure. We have few of those same structures and even more differences divide us, so even though we pay lip service to, and indeed feel at some level, that brotherhood, we need the second level of jama’at to truly survive and endure.
This level of jama’a can be termed the inner circle, or just the circle, and it is what corresponds to our lived life, to the people we actually spend time with on a day-to-day level, to our own congregation and community. Shaykh Abdaqadir says at the end of his seminal text, The Entire City,
“The lived life is dependent on the company of a few. Divine Messengers confirmed or revised societal law but they drew their strength from a chosen circle of quality. Jesus’s followers were gathered at a divinely-given table to feast their brotherhood. The final Messenger names ten men as assured the Garden in the Unseen, they were the chosen and the best of men.”
Such a grouping of men and women must be able to rely on one another through thick and thin, through feast and famine. They are there for one another in the best of times and the worst of times, at all times. They do not require disaster for them to show each other their generosity, love and humanity. There must be no fitna within such a group – they should be clear, open and frank. There should be no whispering, rumourmongering and backbiting. If that is there, then there is no true circle, and we cannot hope for success, especially in this, the darkest of eras and epochs. As the Shaykh says in the final words of the postscript of his book, “Essential are a few Companions for company in the dark.” Companions with a capital C, in the words of the Shaykh, a “circle of men and women bounded not by blood or station, but by a shared quality of life which demands pure worship of the Lord of the Universe, an on-going competition among its members in generosity, support, nurture, learning and mutual concern.”
We ask our Lord to make us such a circle of men and women, and to make the bond that unites us unbreakable and the love and concern that we have for one another unshakeable. We ask Him to make us people who seek only the best for each other, and speak only the best about each other. We ask Him to keep us safe and secure in this time of insecurity and together in this time of dispersal. We ask Him to allow fitna no way in to our jama’aat and communities and keep us firmly upon the Sirat al-Mustaqim, moving forward shoulder-to-shoulder, leaving no gaps for the Shayatin to insinuate themselves and find ears in which to whisper.
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.