You can listen to Imam Adam’s Khutbah above, watch it below, or read the summary below
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
فَلَعَلَّكَ بَـٰخِعٌۭ نَّفْسَكَ عَلَىٰٓ ءَاثَـٰرِهِمْ إِن لَّمْ يُؤْمِنُوا۟ بِهَـٰذَا ٱلْحَدِيثِ أَسَفًا
FalaAAallaka bakhiAAun nafsaka AAala atharihim in lam yuminoo bihatha alhadeethi asafan
Then perhaps you would kill yourself through grief over them, [O Muhammad], if they do not believe in this message, [and] out of sorrow.
(Surah Al-Kahf, Quran 18:6)
All praises are due to Allah and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon his Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) was described in the Quran-
وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
Wainnaka laAAala khuluqin AAatheemin
And indeed, you are of a great moral character.
(Surah Al-Qalam, Quran 68:4)
You are at the highest level, O Prophet, of character. If character was like a great mountain, then you, O Prophet, would be sitting at the top of that great mountain. Your character would elevate you to the top of that mountain, which is the mountain of character. Allah uses the word “A’laa” which means upon or over, on top of, and that is what personifies for us, what that mountain could be.
When we think of the Prophet’s (pbuh) character, what do we think about? Many of us might think about Ṣādiq al-Amīn, the truthful, the trustworthy. And he was that, and he had so many parts of his character, which is where we should go to as he is our role model. So we should go to him to learn from him about all those different qualities that he had.
One of the qualities which I would like to discuss today is the quality of empathy. It is something that in our time is more appreciated than it has been before. So I wanted to talk about the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) empathy. Empathy is different from sympathy. Sympathy is someone is in pain or someone has a strong feeling and you try to connect with them on that. But empathy is where you can step into their shoes and you can feel as they feel. And so it’s stronger than just sympathy. “You lost your loved one, I’m sorry.” That’s sympathy. Empathy is where you’re right there with that emotion with them.
Many might come from backgrounds where being emotional is actually frowned upon, especially for men. So it’s important for us to understand how the Prophet (pbuh) was because he was the manliest of men and he was the example. How did he respond to people who were coming to him for comfort, people who were coming to him at times of grief, people who were coming to him in such situations?
The Quran talks about his own suffering. When the Muslims were discriminated against him. Allah says in the Quran – عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ – Every time you, O believers suffer at the hands of Quraysh or whoever. عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ – it’s something that is so hard on him. It is so burdensome on him. بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ – He is someone who really cares for the believers. He is someone who is really merciful towards the believers, in any suffering that they go through as a result of their belief. It’s so hard on him, it’s so burdensome on him, even those who don’t believe.
Every Friday we read in Surah Al-Kahf – فَلَعَلَّكَ بَـٰخِعٌۭ نَّفْسَكَ – how is this translated? What does it say? You’re about to kill yourself. You are killing yourself – عَلَىٰٓ ءَاثَـٰرِهِمْ – because of their deeds. إِن لَّمْ يُؤْمِنُوا۟ بِهَـٰذَا ٱلْحَدِيثِ أَسَفًا – if they don’t believe in this word – أَسَفًا – out of sheer grief, out of regret and grief over their actions, over their future suffering because of their rejection and also their aggression. And you are killing yourself in grief over that. The word – بَـٰخِعٌۭ – means in Arabic – kill the land. To kill and to farm the land until nothing is left. How does that apply here? The Prophet’s (pbuh) heart is so in grief that it’s as if there’s no emotion left, that all the emotion has been taken out. That’s how much in grief he is over the situation. This goes for the people who are attacking him and are aggressive.
Want to be able to read and understand the Quran without translations?
So what about those who are his companions, his family, his friends? Let’s look at the instances in the life of the Prophet (pbuh) when he showed such great times of empathy. That was not with his companions and his friends as much as it was with actually the people who were openly, publicly, his enemies. The greatest of those enemies in Mecca and the time of Mecca was Abu Jahl. Abu Jahl was originally known as father of wisdom, Abū l-Ḥakam but they started calling him Abu Jahl, which means father of ignorance, because of the kinds of torture that he would put the Muslims under. Many of us might’ve heard those stories of Abu Jahl. The Muslims called him the Firaun (Pharaoh) of his time and he fought the Muslims at Badr and he was a main aggressor against the Muslims in that time.
After Abu Jahl passed away, his son Iqrama comes to Mecca to the Prophet (pbuh). Word is that he is coming to the Prophet to accept Islam and the Prophet (pbuh), what could he have done? This was a time where tribalism was everything that you were your father, and if you had no father, you were an orphan. If you had a mother, but no father, you were an orphan. That’s how important who your father was is? And Iqrama, he is the son of the greatest enemy of Islam. And when they just hear the name Iqrama they remember of Abu Jahl and think of all the things that Abu Jahl had, put them through the people, the people that they lost because of Abu Jahl. All those emotions are coming back when they hear that Iqrama, son of Abu Jahl, is coming to Mecca.
And what does Prophet (pbuh) think? He is not someone who keeps thinking about the past. A lot of us are always in the past thinking about everything that’s happened before, but the Prophet (pbuh) is someone who is actively in the present. He says to the companions, when Iqrama comes, don’t call his father Abu Jahl. It doesn’t matter how bad Abu Jahl was. It doesn’t matter what he did. Don’t call his father Abu Jahl because it will hurt Iqrama. This is how much the Prophet (pbuh) cared about the feelings of the son of his enemy.
They didn’t actually know what Iqrama was coming for. That was the word on the street. It seems to be, this is probably the reason why he’s coming and the Prophet (pbuh) anticipated the emotions that Iqrama was probably feeling. Iqrama was probably embarrassed by the actions of his father and his own actions. And he’s probably thinking, how will I ever seek forgiveness enough from the Prophet. The Prophet (pbuh) is anticipating that in advance. He’s not waiting for Iqrama to come to feel him out. What is his face like? Is he truly regretful? Is he truly remorseful? Once I feel him out and I make sure that he’s on my side, then I’ll treat him with some respect. The Prophet (pbuh) anticipated and he tells the companions not to say Abu Jahl.
Another example is the greatest aggressor against the Prophet (pbuh) in the time of Medina. The one causing discord and chaos and disunity was Abdullah Ibn Ubayy, the chief of the the hypocrite. He was the one spreading all kinds of rumors about the Prophet’s (pbuh) wife, Aisha, and about the different tribes and how they shouldn’t unite. He was bringing up all their past grievances and causing problems so much that when he died Allah revealed the verses in the Quran exposing his hypocrisy even before his death.
Then the son of Abdullah is upset and he’s crying that his father passed away and he’s embarrassed because he knows what his father did. He knows the role that his father played in Medina and the kind of trouble that he caused. So he has conflicting emotions that his father was his father, but he’s also embarrassed because of the actions of his father, especially at the end of his life. And what does the Prophet (pbuh) do? Does the Prophet (pbuh) say, Allah has revealed this verse, don’t ever think about your father again. Does he say why are you crying over a hypocrite? Not just any hypocrite, but the chief of the hypocrite.
What did the Prophet (pbuh) say? He did not say a word. He took off his own shirt and he gave it to the son of Abdullah, honoring him and telling him that it’s okay that you feel what you feel at the loss of your father, validating his emotion. That is something which a lot of us have to work on when someone comes to us and they are sad. They are grieving. How do we respond? It’s important for us to think about that. This is how the Prophet (pbuh) responded to the family of his enemy. In those times, family was ‘like father, like son.’ But the Prophet (pbuh) allowed the son of Abdullah to feel the way that he was feeling and validated his emotion and validated his feelings. That’s important for us to learn as Muslims about how the Prophet (pbuh) validated others emotions and allowed them to be emotional.
So I ask Allah, that he helps us to learn from that. And He helps us to be more empathetic. Ameen.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
I say what you have heard and I seek forgiveness from Allah for me and you from every sin.
I remember when my grandfather passed away. When he passed away, I took it, I went for the ghusl, we did the ghusl, we washed the body, we went to the graveyard, and I was perfectly fine. I was not showing anything in terms of emotion. But as soon as they lowered him into the grave and then we made the dua and they asked me to lead the dua, then I just broke down and I was crying. And someone came to me and said, “Don’t cry!” Someone said, “Don’t cry, hold it in. Don’t cry.” And that’s such an interesting response.
Is that what the Prophet (pbuh) would have done? There’s this misconception that when we lose someone, we should not cry. This is something that existed even during the companions time. It stemmed from the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) stopped a certain practice. That practice was that when someone would die in pre-Islamic times, the people would compete to cause a huge commotion about the death of their loved one. They would rip their clothes and they would drum the drums and they would wail and they would scream. It was like a competition who could cause more of a spectacle because that shows how much you love that person. It was an exaggeration and it was extreme. And so the Prophet (pbuh) put a stop to that.
What many interpreted even during his time was that, “oh, you should not cry when someone dies so much.” When the great Umar was stabbed and he was dying, Suhaib, one of his friends said, “oh, my friend, my brother.” Suhaib is crying and Umar is saying, “don’t cry. You should not cry.” Umar is the one who is on his death bed and Umar was a very rough personality. He was a tough person. He was a very black and white person, radhiallahu anhu, may Allah be pleased with him. He was a specific kind of personality. He said, “Don’t cry, Suhaib, the Prophet (pbuh) forbade this.” He gave him a command, the Prophet (pbuh) forbade you from crying. His son Abdullah is there and the Prophet’s (pbuh) cousin Abdullah Ibn Abbas is there. So in a hadith, Al-Bukhari, Abdullah Ibn Abbas goes to A’isha and A’isha is the one who is narrated so many hadith. She is in the top three of most narrated hadith from the Prophet (pbuh). She knew all the nuances. She knew about the Prophet (pbuh)’s life at home. When Abdullah told her that Umar said this, he was asking her, “is that true?” And what did A’isha say? She said,
رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰ – May Allah have mercy on Umar, he has passed. May Allah have mercy on him. But the Prophet (pbuh) never said this. He never said you shouldn’t cry like this and he never said that crying harms the deceased in this way. And then she recited the verse,
وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَىٰ
Wala taziru waziratun wizra okhra
And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.
(Surah Fatir, Quran 35:18)
No soul is burdened by the burden of another soul. Your crying does not harm someone else. And this was A’isha (ra). And that is why we find in the time of the Prophet (pbuh) that he is holding a child who is dying and he is crying. The question was asked that, “oh, Rasulallah do you cry?” And he said, “Allah is merciful and he loves mercy.” And when the Prophet (pbuh)’s son Ibrahim passed away, then he cried and someone said, “do you cry, O Prophet? Do you reject what Allah has done? That Allah has taken your son.” And the Prophet (pbuh) explain – إن العين تدمع – the eyes, they tear. This is emotion. This is normal. This is not something you have to control or something you have to repress. There’s extremes which the prophet forbade but regular, normal emotion is okay. That’s something which the Prophet (pbuh) showed in his own life and he validated those.
Imagine when Abdullah, the son of Abdullah Ibn Ubayy came. He’s like, “my father passed away.” The Prophet (pbuh) as a human being, probably thought of his own father that he never met, that his father passed away before he was born. And so he was able to step into the shoes of the son of the chief hypocrite and act accordingly. He was able to empathize. This is something that’s very important for us to understand. I pray to Allah that He helps us increase our empathy and to work on it. Even if we’re really bad at it, we have to work on it. Umar himself said, innamal ‘ilmu bitta’allum – forbearance and mercy and patience, it comes through practice. It doesn’t happen at the first time.
That’s so important when our kids come to us with their feelings. They come to us with how they’re feeling, what happened at school, what’s happening between them and their friends, what’s happening between them and their teachers. It’s important for us to be emotionally available. It’s important for us validate their emotions. That is how we can build a connection with our kids. We complain our kids are going upstairs in their room, they shut the door, they don’t talk to us. That’s a normal age thing. At the same time, what have we done to emotionally connect? And when the child does come to us with how they’re feeling, do we say, “uhhhh-nuhhhh.” Do we do that or do we listen? Do we ask questions? Even if we’re nervous, even if we’re anxious, do we try to talk to them and connect to them because that is what they need. I ask Allah that He helps us to do that.
Before I conclude, I wanted to also talk about we are in Black History Month. And I don’t want to select only Black History Month for this, we should also remember this in other times. But especially today, I wanted to talk about how important it is that we empathize and that we step into the shoes of our black brothers and sisters and everything that they have gone through in this country. Especially what has happened in this country, in the history of black people in this country. It’s important for us to step into their shoes and realize what they have gone through.
For us we have taken advantage of so many different opportunities that come before us, that we’re able to work in the big tech companies and so on. But for generations, black people in this country, every opportunity was stolen from them. Actually it was put into law that black people can only live in these districts, or they should not be able to obtain mortgages or loans to buy homes and so on. So many things, thing after thing, which were put into law for every opportunity to be taken from them and they fought back, the civil rights movement. And I’ve said this before, we’re only here because of that civil rights movement, but we should not only think about black people as, oh, they helped us come here. But even more than that, we should empathize with them as our brothers and realize that our future is connected to their future and our past is connected to their past.
So it’s important for us as Muslims to talk about this in our families, to have a family movie night and watch something that is related to black history. For example, one of the things on my list is “Hidden Figures.” It’s a movie about three NASA scientists who were black women and how that all played out in the 1950s, as one example. Have a family movie night, watch something that is related to black history, educate yourself, and don’t depend on other people telling you.
We ask Allah that He helps us increase in empathy. We ask Allah that He helps us to follow the way of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). We ask Allah that He has mercy, forgives those that have passed away. We ask Allah that He cures that those that are sick. May Allah give them quick and complete shifa. We ask Allah that those are in need, may Allah fulfill their needs. I ask Allah that He helps us to have a mercy for each other, not only for our family, but for our friends and all of those around us and for our community, and for everyone that comes across us. I ask Allah that He helps us to be like the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and our interactions with others. I ask Allah that when our time comes and we leave this earth then our last words are – لآ اِلَهَ اِ لّا اللّهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُوُل اللّهِ – We ask Allah that He grants us his shade on the day when there is no shade, but His. We ask Allah that when our time comes on this earth, that we enter the highest levels of paradise.
رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّآ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِیعُ العَلِیمُ وَتُبْ عَلَیْنَآ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِیمُ
رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِى ٱلْءَاخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ
عِبَادَ اللّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
Servants of Allah. Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.
اُذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ الْعَظِيمَ يَذْكُرْكُمْ واشْكُرُوهُ يَزِدْكُمْ واسْتَغْفِرُوهُ يَغْفِرْ لكُمْ واتّقُوهُ يَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَمْرِكُمْ مَخْرَجًا
Remember Allah, the Great – He will remember you. Thank Him for His favors – He will increase you therein. And seek forgiveness from Him – He will forgive you. And be conscious of Him – He will provide you a way out of difficult matters.
And, establish the prayer.