الحَمْدُ للهِ، الحَمْدُ للهِ الذي خَلَقَ الإِنْسانَ، وعلّمه القرءانَ والبيان، وأخرجه من ظلام الجهل والكفر إلى نور العلم والإيمان، 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.
Not everyone is the same in the eyes of Allah, but the qualities that He looks for and promotes are not those that are generally sought-after in this world or seen as the basis for preference. Wealth, fame, strength and power do not raise a person’s status with his Lord, nor does an accident of birth – sex, race, nationality or family do not automatically bestow merit upon a person. These things are all merely tests and means. They are the things you use or the issues you encounter in your time on this planet and speak nothing of your worth or status. For example, Sayyidina Umar said,
الغنى والفقر مطيتان، لا أبالي أيهما ركبت
“Both richness and poverty are steeds, and I care not which of them you choose to ride.” And the Messenger of Allah said in one of his khutbas,
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَلَا إِنَّ رَبَّكُمْ وَاحِدٌ وَإِنَّ أَبَاكُمْ وَاحِدٌ ، أَلَا لَا فَضْلَ لِعَرَبِيٍّ عَلَى أَعْجَمِيٍّ وَلَا لِعَجَمِيٍّ عَلَى عَرَبِيٍّ وَلَا لِأَحْمَرَ عَلَى أَسْوَدَ وَلَا أَسْوَدَ عَلَى أَحْمَرَ إِلَّا بِالتَّقْوَى
“People, your Lord is One and you have one forefather. An Arab is no better than a non-Arab nor a non-Arab than an Arab, and a red man is no better than a black man nor a black man than a red man, except by means of taqwa of Allah.” So what are these qualities then that elevate a person and raise him up. The first and most important is iman. Belief in Allah is the primary criterion for the worthiness of a person. If he lacks it, he can never truly rise from the gutter and the mud. He will always be lowly and despised in the eyes of his Lord. Allah says,
أَفَمَنْ كَانَ مُؤْمِنًا كَمَنْ كَانَ فَاسِقًا لَا يَسْتَوُونَ
the translation of which is, “Is a person who believes like one who is a fasiq. No, they are not the same.” The fisq that is referred to here is kufr according to the Mufassirin. Belief in Allah – and His Messenger, for the twin pillars of belief are inseparable for the people of this age, are the starting points for worth. None of the other qualities we are going to mention matter if it is not there.
The second is strongly connected to the first and is mentioned in the hadith above. “Taqwa”. Allah says,
إن أكرمكم عند الله أتقاكم
the translation of which is, “The most noble of you in the eyes of Allah are those with the most taqwa.” Taqwa is often translated as fear of Allah. But it is more than that – it is an awareness of the true reality of existence and where you stand in it, an awareness that you are the slave and Allah is your Lord and Master and what that entails in terms of action. The more taqwa a person has, the more elevated and correct his action, both at an inward level and at an outward level. For he knows that those actions themselves are one of the criteria by which his worth is determined. The true elite are those who fill their moments with the best of actions, obligatory and voluntary. The Prophet said,
وما تقرب إليّ عبدي بشيء أحب إليّ مما افترضته عليه ، ولا يزال عبدي يتقرب إليّ بالنوافل حتى أحبه
“There is no way more dear to Me for a slave of Mine to get near to Me than by means of what I have made obligatory on him. And My slave continues to come nearer and nearer to Me by means of supererogatory actions until I love him.” Both at an inward level and an outward. No outward action is worthwhile unless it is accompanied by an intention. The Messenger of Allah says,
إنما الأعمال بالنيات
“Actions are only by intention.” Niyya is the requirement for most good acts, most acts of worship. And by good acts, we do not just mean ritual acts. It refers too, to husnu-l-khuluq – good character. Generosity, courage, adab, truthfulness, honesty, integrity and compassion. Each and every one of these raises a person up above his fellows, even in this world for such qualities are universally treasured and revered. As for those who disregard such qualities in favour of their opposites and act wrongly, caring little for the consequences in their thirst for what they imagine to be worthwhile in this world, they are wretched and despised and will be in for a rude awakening. Allah says,
أَمْ حَسِبَ الَّذِينَ اجْتَرَحُوا السَّيِّئَاتِ أَنْ نَجْعَلَهُمْ كَالَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ سَوَاءً مَحْيَاهُمْ وَمَمَاتُهُمْ سَاءَ مَا يَحْكُمُونَ
the translation of which is, “Do those who perpetrate evil deeds suppose that We will make them like those who believe and do right actions, so that their lives and deaths will be the same? How bad their judgement is.” Taqwa also implies knowledge, for how can you know what to do and what to avoid without it. The greatest levels of taqwa are reserved for those who have the greatest knowledge of Allah, inward and outward. Allah says,
إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ
the translation of which is, “Only those of His slaves with knowledge have fear of Allah.” The greater their knowledge, the more their taqwa, and the more their taqwa, the greater their knowledge. Allah says,
وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ ٱللَّهُ
the translation of which is, “Have taqwa of Allah and Allah will give you knowledge.” Along with belief and action, it is knowledge that makes one slave superior to another, and grants him worth and distinction. Allah says,
هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
the translation of which is, “Are they the same – those who know and those who do not know?” It is knowledge that lifts him up in the eyes of his Lord. Allah says,
يَرْفَعُ اللهُ الذِينَ ءَامَنُوا والذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ
the translation of which is, “Allah will raise in rank those who believe and those who have knowledge.” No one with even half an intellect wants to remain lowly and despised, we all want to rise up in the world and attain to the highest levels. That is the himma of the healthy heart. And the path towards doing that has been made clear and it is threefold – iman, ‘amal and ‘ilm. Each of these we must acquire and each of these we must increase in. It is the third of these three about which I would speak today. Knowledge. The greater the ignorance the more valuable knowledge becomes. And we live in a world of breathtaking ignorance. Man has become reliant on tools and instruments, governments and welfare, supermarkets and service providers. Skills that were commonplace among our forefathers are today as rare as hen teeth and the domain of oddballs and eccentrics. Compare our current school curricula with those of our grandfathers and see how much it has been dumbed down. Look at the breadth of vocabulary of modern day novels and those of a century past. Think even of telephone numbers and how many do not even know that of their wives or children due to their reliance on the saved number facilities in their phones. Yes, there may be technological advances every day and scientific discoveries, but with everything that is gained by them even more is lost. And all this is just knowledge of the affairs of this world. The knowledge of what really matters in the long run, of our Lord and Creator and how we are to conduct ourselves in the world that He has created for us, is even more diminished. A large percentage of the world no longer even believes in Him, and of those who do, their belief is merely tokenistic. They ignore or, more pertinently, are ignorant of the majority of His commands and prohibitions and make little effort to learn of them. But ignorance is not an excuse. No man should embark on any course of action until he knows the rulings governing it. Imam ash-Shafi‘i declared in his Risala that this was a consensus among all the people of knowledge, and the great Maliki scholar, al-Akhdari, said,
ولا يحل له أن يفعل فعلا حتى يعلم حكم الله فيه، ويسأل العلماء، ويقتدي بالمتبعين
“It is not permissible for anyone to do something if they do not the ruling of Allah concerning it. They must first ask the people of knowledge and follow those who are worthy of being followed.” This judgement is derived from the Book of Allah, for Allah says,
فَاسْأَلُواْ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
the translation of which is, “Ask the people of dhikr/knowledge if you do not know.” The difficulty in the present age is that the people of knowledge are becoming increasingly harder to find. Yes, there may still be many great scholars, men and women who may have absorbed and memorised great tomes of Arabic grammar, tafsir, hadith, fiqh, usul, and seera, but knowledge is not just found on paper or in words. It is kept alive in action. And much of the deen has ceased to be practised in any shape or form. So the students of knowledge have learnt theories and ideas rather than been shown and taught living practices. And as anyone who has studied can testify – something which is only conceptualised rarely matches up to that’s things practical reality. But, still, we must not let that stop us. Our Lord preserves this deen. The more of us continue to seek knowledge, especially the knowledge of fiqh, for as the Prophet said,
من يرد الله به خيرا يفقهه في الدين
“When Allah wants good for someone, He increases them in fiqh – He gives them understanding of the Deen.” The more of us seek fiqh and put it into practice, the closer we will get to a fully realised deen. We ask Allah to place us at the forefront of those who seek meaningful, useful knowledge and take it from the one of theory to that of practical lived reality.
أقول قولي هذا و أستغفر الله لي و لكم و لسائر 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.
This world is vast and no human being could ever fully encompass it. There is always more to learn and more to know. And that is only the created world. There is also knowledge of our Creator, a knowledge that cannot be quantified in the same way. Not all of these forms of knowledge are equal. Knowledge of Allah is the pinnacle, and it is not maksub, it is mawhub. It is an understanding and an awareness that Allah places in the hearts of certain of his right-acting slaves whom He chooses to favour. We can all hope for such knowledge and ask for such knowledge, but its path is the favour of Allah. So if you want, keep the company of those whom He has favoured, and will your moments with everything that He loves. Be truly sincere, and such is the generosity of our Lord that some portion of that will come your way.
As for the knowledge of the outward, ‘ilm, that is divided into four categories:
The first category of knowledge is the obligatory. What every person must learn and come to know. It was this category of knowledge to which the Messenger of Allah was referring when he said,
فإن طلبَ العِلمِ فريضةٌ على كلِّ مسلم
“Seeking knowledge is an obligation on every Muslim.”
There are two types of obligatory knowledge: the first is that which is fard ‘ayn, obligatory upon the individual. And that is knowing everything which it is necessary to know in order to fulfil one’s obligations in the deen. Such as, for example, learning the correct ‘aqeeda; or learning how to do wudu, establish the prayer, or pay zakat; or learning rulings for actions which one performs on a day-to-day basis, so that one may keep within Allah’s bounds and avoid the haraam. Thus, those who are married must know the rulings relating to marriage and divorce, and those who have businesses and trading enterprises must know the rulings related to business and trade. It is also an individual obligation for a Muslim to learn the sciences related to the heart and qualities of character, since ridding oneself of base characteristics such as envy and pride is obligatory, as is the taking on of noble characteristics such as humility and generosity.
The second type of obligatory knowledge is that which is fard kifaya, obligatory upon the community as a whole. What this means is that if some of the community acquire knowledges of this sort, they cease to be obligatory for the remainder of the community. Examples of this type of knowledge include studying the different sciences of the deen, such as fiqh, nahw, tafsir and hadith, in great depth, since not everybody is expected to be a scholar; studying the branches of knowledge necessary for a society to function and be healthy such as medicine, engineering and the like; and learning about the workings of the world around you. We must take our cue from the Book of Allah. Allah says,
سِيرُواْ فِي الأَرضِ فَانظُرُوآْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ
the translation of which is, “Travel about the earth and see how those who came before you ended up.” None of the great ulama of the past limited themselves to just what was termed the Islamic sciences – they were true polymaths.
The second category of knowledge is that which is forbidden, except when it is studied with the intention of combatting or refuting it. Not all types of knowledge have good in them – there are some which harmful to man, both in terms of his humanity and his deen. Allah says, in reference to sihr – black magic:
وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنْفَعُهُمْ
the translation of which is, “They have learned what will harm them and will not benefit them.” Sciences of this sort include black magic, as is mentioned in the Quranic aya, fortune telling and the like, and deviant philosophies when studied with the intention of benefiting from them, not refuting them.
The third category of knowledge is that which it is recommended to acquire, such as learning all the things that are recommended in the shariah, whether that be the recommendation to trim one’s nails on the day of Jumu‘a or to memorise the entire Quran or whether that be to study the sciences of the deen in depth when there are already people in the community who have acquired and kept that knowledge alive.
The fourth and final category of knowledge is that which it is permissible to acquire. In other words, knowledges to which no dislike or recommendation is attached, such as learning other languages simply for the sake of learning them, or learning sciences which are not related to the deen and not required for a healthy functioning society, such as medicine when there are already a sufficient number of doctors.
As we have mentioned in the course of this khutba, the acquisition of knowledge is very important to the deen of Allah, but that does not mean that it does not have its dangers. So I would like to finish this khutba with a word of warning. The acquisition of outward knowledge alone without working to purify one’s heart at the same time can lead to arrogance and hardness of heart. The perfect example of that is the Banu Israil, who devoted themselves to understanding the minutiae of their laws and working out ways of circumventing them, and whose hearts Allah hardened as a result.
True humility is the only way of preventing such a thing happening to you, so in the course of your studies, remember that knowledge is an attribute which is borrowed from our Creator – we have no knowledge except for that which He has taught us – and that there is always someone who knows more than you do. Allah says,
وَفَوْقَ كُلِّ ذِي عِلْمٍ عَلِيمٌ
the translation of which is, “Over everyone with knowledge is a Knower.” i.e. One who has more knowledge than you. No matter how many laws of the deen you understand, no matter how many hadith you memorise, no matter how good your Arabic becomes, the full extent of what you know will only ever be a single grain of sand in the desert of things that are knowable. The more you know, the more you realise you do not know. Remember that, and perhaps your knowledge will bring you benefit. We ask Allah to grant us knowledge that will benefit us and protect our hearts from hardness and our ‘ulama from arrogance and pride. We ask Allah to give us understanding of the deen and enable us to put what He teaches into practice. We ask Him to give us the knowledge that will enable to put our society right and bring it back to life. We ask Him to give us knowledge of Him.
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.
اللهم اسق عبادك وبهائمك، وانشر رحمتك وأحي بلدك الميت (3) اللهم اسقنا الغيث ولا تجعلنا من القانطين (3) اللهم اسقنا غيثاً مغيثاً مريئاً نافعاً غير ضار، عاجلاً غير آجل (1) اللهم أغثنا، اللهم أغثنا اللهم أغثنا
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.