You can listen to Imam Adam’s Khutbah above (starts at 1:10) or read the summary below.  Delivered April 8th, 2022

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

وَالْعَصْرِ

WaalAAasri

By time,

 إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ

Inna alinsana lafee khusrin

Indeed, mankind is in loss,

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ

Illa allatheena amanoo waAAamiloo alssalihati watawasaw bialhaqqi watawasaw bialssabri

Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.

(Surah Al-Asr, Quran 103: 1-3)

My dear brothers and sisters, it is a great honor and blessing of Allah, a great favor upon us that we are here today in this beautiful location. It’s a great blessing of Allah that He has given us this opportunity to have our Jummah prayers in the masjid, right here in the center of the city. May Allah reward all of those who have made this possible and who continue to sacrifice their time, their energy, and their money in order to keep this going. May Allah give us all the ability to take action to ensure that this location and this idea that we started continues Insha’Allah.

Today, I would like to talk about some very important lessons from a very short, yet comprehensive surah in the Quran, which is Surah Al-Asr. Imam Shafi, the great scholar of Islam, one of the four Imams, said that if people were to just learn and study Surah Al Asr, then it would be sufficient for them. That’s something that’s so short, yet it summarizes what we are here to do. It summarizes our main concerns.

One of the interesting studies of the Quran is something called Munasibat, which is the study of the relationship of surahs. One surah has a certain theme, and then the next Surah has a certain theme, and somehow those two themes are connected. So when we study a surah we not only study the internal part of that surah but we also study its relationship with the other chapters of the Quran that surround it. Next to Surah Al-Asr, as one example on one side, we have Surah At-Takathur.

The theme of Surah Takathur is the theme of what are we here doing? What are we competing for? Surah At-Takathur asks us to think about how are we living our life? What are we living it for? Is it just to compete to get the next new thing- the shiny object syndrome? Is it just to compete in who’s making your boss happy? Is it just to compete in who’s making Zuckerberg and Bezos happy? Is it to compete in who has the nicest property or the nicest car? Is it to compete to have more than what your brother has or what your sister has?

أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ – tells us to compete instead for Allah, to compete for our own selves. Competing for Allah’s mercy and His forgiveness and His happiness and His pleasure is competing for ourselves. It’s actually working for ourselves. It reminds us of the reality of this world. حَتَّىٰ زُرْتُمُ الْمَقَابِرَ – remember that there will come a day when you are in your grave, six feet below the ground. So have you prepared for that day? Have you prepared for that moment? That is not to say that we want to live life morbidly or sadly or in a way that “oh, we’re all going to die, what’s the point?” But rather to realize that when you have that moment, when your time on this earth will end that moment in front of you, when you when you remind yourself of that moment, it reprioritizes your life. It reprioritizes your trajectory.

Because no longer are you concerned about the little petty things, the small grudges, the small issues that happen, but you are concerned about the bigger picture. It’s easy to get caught up with those small things in life. It’s easy to get caught up in what your brother said today or your sister said today or your cousin or your friend said today and to be going over it in your mind. What must they mean by that? And what must they be thinking of me? And how is it making me look that they were able to say this to me. But if you’re not thinking about that, if you are actually beyond that, you’re actually thinking about what your purpose is here and what you are here to do and what you’re here to accomplish for yourself and for Allah, then those things don’t matter as much. If someone told you that you have this much time to live, if you knew that time was going to come, how would it change your life? How would it change the way you live your life? That is what – أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ – reminds us about.

The surah next to At-Takathur is Surah Al-Asr. It’s a surah that many of us have memorized and many of us recite in our prayers. It’s nice and short. So what does Surah Al-Asr tell us? Surah Al-Asr starts with an oath of Allah. وَالْعَصْرِI swear by time. When Allah swears by something, He’s bringing attention to it. It’s something that “hey, listen up, listen up. This is something important.” I swear by time, Allah says. So what is الْعَصْرِ ? Let’s go into some of the meanings of الْعَصْرِ . Most of us when we hear Asr, we might think of Asr prayer. What is Asr prayer? Asr prayer is the last prayer of light. It’s the last prayer of the day before the sunset. It is also translated as the declining day, because that is when the sun is declining and that is the time of Asr prayer. So there’s this idea in the word Asr, that it is something that is going away. The great scholars of the past, they used to say that your life is but days. With each day, a piece of your life is gone. With each day, a piece of you is gone.

There was an interesting study I read (it wasn’t really a study, it was just logic.) It said that you spend time with your parents for 18 years. Then for the following how many every years, let’s say you go away for college, you go away for work, or whatever it might be. For all of the rest of the years for most people, they’ll spend another maximum one or two years with their parents. So the majority of the time you spend with your parents is in your childhood. After that you just have a year or two left with them. If you add up all the times you go and you spend Christmas there, you spend Thanksgiving there, you spend Eid there, you spend some Ramadan’s there, some trips there. You add all that up, it amounts to about another year. That is the temporary nature of this life. That speaks to me when I hear the word Al-Asr.

Another meaning of Al-Asr in Arabic today is for juice, because you squeeze the good stuff out of the fruit and you made it into liquid form. You’ve squeezed something out of it. When you juice something you’re getting all of the the good stuff out, right? That’s another meaning of Asr- that you have this time and it’s being squeezed away. It’s the good stuff and it’s being squeezed away. Once that sun is in decline, then that day is never coming back. Asr is a reminder of us to think about how we are spending our days.

Asr also refers to the swiftness of time. The fact that days turn into months, and months turn into years, years into decades. I remember I saw the young children before COVID, pre-COVID. I didn’t see many of them until a year and a half. Now those same little kids are teenagers, they’re grown, their voices have changed. It’s like what happened? COVID was this time warp. Two years we just sped into the future. Like how did this happen so quickly? That is the reality of time. That is the reminder which Surah Al-Asr gives us. Asr puts us in this state of mind that our time is running out. Imagine you are someone whose time is running out on something. Maybe you have a deadline coming up, you have a test you’re preparing for, you have something that needs doing, a spreadsheet that needs completing, a document that needs signing, or a house that needs closing, or whatever it might be. Imagine that sense of urgency that you feel that time is running out.

Then the next verse comes, إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍthat indeed, human beings are at a loss. When it comes to time, they are at loss. Imagine that you do all of this work. You prepare for the test and you take the test. Then at the end of it, your teacher comes to you and says well, actually, you filled the form in as if it was multiple choice, but the whole exam was true or false. You did it all wrong. You missed the closing date for the house and now we get to keep your earnest money. You missed all your deadlines. You thought it was this day, but it was actually that day. Your boss says you missed your deadline and now prime days already gone. Prime days already over. You turned in your work after Prime Day. That sense of urgency that you feel, and then when you actually get it done, you’re at loss because you had the facts wrong. You followed the wrong rules. Now that time is up, and it’s easy to see this and think, “man, I’m done for.”

But if we have that realization early on, that each day of our life has some urgency to it. Each day of our life means a whole lifetime of good in the hereafter. If we take advantage of just one day of one moment, then that could be enough for many lifetimes of good in the hereafter. That is what our scholars and the righteous said. If you stand in prayer, and that one prayer you make maybe you don’t focus in your prayer. Most of the time, maybe you are thinking about this and that work and family and this situation and that situation. But if you have that one strong prayer, that one good prayer, or that one time where you read the Quran and it touches your heart, that one moment could be enough for you.

The Prophet (pbuh) told us that, on the Day of Judgment, there will be certain groups of people who receive the shade of Allah. One of those groups of people is the just Imam, the just leader. That’s a difficult task to be a just leader, to not give into corruption, to not give into tyranny, to not give into oppression. It’s a huge task. It’s very easy to criticize from our arm chairs and to say that, “oh this leader should be doing this and this leader should be doing this.” But where are we to be put into that position? Would we be able to make the right choice decision? An enormous task.

Another group of people that will receive Allah’s shade are the people who remembered Allah in isolation and as a result, they teared up. As a result, they cried. That is enough for them to be right next to the person who had to do so much to be that just leader, who had to avoid corruption and tyranny and oppression and all the things that come up with leadership. Right next to them will simply be the person who just thought about Allah in isolation by themselves with no one else watching. That one moment of theirs was enough for their forgiveness and that one moment of theirs was enough for them.

Sometimes we complicate it and we think you have to be this certain level of person, and that no one can achieve that except the 1% of the 1% of the 1%. But the Prophet (pbuh) said that a man will be raised on the Day of Judgment, with all of his deeds, or a woman with all of her deeds on one side, and there will be countless misdeeds and countless sins and countless mistakes on that one side. And on the other side, the only thing they have going for them, is لآ اِلَهَ اِ لّا اللّهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُوُل اللّهِ – In an authentic hadith of the Prophet (pbuh), all they have going for them is, “There is no God, but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger,” and that is weightier and mightier than all those misdeeds.

It’s not to say that we take advantage of that by saying, oh, we will do whatever we want. But this is a sincere belief. There was a man in the time of the Prophet (pbuh), He was addicted to alcohol, an alcoholic. He was a companion of the Prophet (pbuh), the greatest generation of Muslims, those who saw the Prophet, those who felt his presence, those who spoke to him, those who heard his words directly. And yet still, he was an alcoholic. When the prohibition of alcohol came down, then he still would fall into alcohol, and he would still partake from time to time. People would be really upset with him. When people cursed him, and abused him, and insulted him, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Don’t curse him, don’t abuse him, don’t insult him, for he loves Allah and His messenger.” So that love for Allah and His Messenger was sincere. Yes, he made a mistake and yes, he was sinful. But he was regretful of that mistake, and he was regretful of that sin, and he took the accountability for that.

So a lot of times we think that we are so far away and there’s no way we could be good in the eyes of Allah. But Imaan cannot just be based around guilt, my brothers and sisters. Our Imaan cannot just be built around shame, my brothers and sisters. So going back to Surah Al-Asr, when it comes to all of these things, human beings are at loss. How do you get out of that loss? How do you get out of that hole that you feel that you’ve put yourself in?

The next verse, Allah says, إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواexcept for those who believe. So you are at loss unless you believe. Sometimes we think of Imaan, belief, as black or white. Either you have it or you don’t. But Allah, very wisely, advises us in the Quran. He says (in Surah An-Nisa, Quran 4:136) يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ ءَامِنُوا۟Oh, you who believe, believe. What does that mean? If you say to someone, oh, you who believe, why do you need to tell them to believe? What is that verse saying to us?

That verse is saying it’s one thing to be among those who say they believe and it’s another to really have that belief, because belief is a spectrum. Belief is not either you have it or you don’t. Sometimes that’s how we feel. We feel like if we don’t have that 100% extremely high Imaan, then we don’t have Imaan at all. But that’s not the case. Rather, Imaan goes up and down.

This was something that was even talked about at the time of the Prophet (pbuh), where a man Hanzala, came in he said, “O Prophet, I am a hypocrite. I am a Munafiq” and that’s the worst of the worst- the people who say they believe but they do not believe, and rather they act against the believers. The Prophet asks, “how are you a Munafiq? How are you a hypocrite?” He says, “When I’m with you, my faith is so high and I just feel like I am just the truest of believers. But as soon as I leave your presence, and I go about my daily life, my faith isn’t as high as it is. And so I know I’m a hypocrite.” And what was the Prophet (pbuh)’s response? He said, “that is what Imaan is.” He said, الإيمان يزيد وينقصImaan increases and decreases. It goes up and down.

So when we feel that our Imaan is higher in the month of Ramadan, we feel more connected to the Quran. We feel more connected to the masjid. We feel more connected to Allah. Then we should lean into that. We should not feel guilty about it and say well, I’m not like this the rest of the year. No, lean into that. That Imaan that you feel, that faith that you feel, lean into that faith. Give it your all. Give it what you can, especially in this month of Ramadan. So the next part of Surah Al-Asr is the last verse I’ll go over in the second half of this Khutbah.

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.

بِسْ مِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ ،الحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ وَالصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَامُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ 

In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful. All praise is to Allah, and peace and blessings upon the Messenger of Allah.

So Allah says, mankind is at loss, human beings are at loss. إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا except for those who believe, وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ – and they do good deeds. So not just to have the Imaan, but to back that up with the good deeds. Especially in this month of Ramadan, this month of the Quran- How can we increase our good deeds? I know a lot of us are probably watching food videos on Tiktok or on whatever social media, right? But out of the hour that we spend, let’s take 10 minutes to read the Quran. And don’t let those doubts come in where you say, “but I’m not getting anything out of it or I don’t understand Arabic.” Don’t let excuses and doubts plague your mind. Instead, just jump in. Read, the translation doesn’t have to be just the Arabic. Read what connects you to Allah. If it’s some scholar you like listening to on YouTube, then open that up. Whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be a specific thing.

Sometimes people have this idea that I have to do what everyone else is doing. But that doesn’t have to be the case. You have to find what works for you and your Imaan and your Ramadan this year what works for you. Maybe that is reading Quran in Arabic. Maybe it’s memorizing. Maybe it’s reading the translation. Maybe it’s listening to a lecture. Maybe it’s coming to the Maghrib salah and having Iftar with your community members and meeting other Muslims. Maybe that’s what does it for you. Maybe that’s what increases your Imaan. Coming to Isha and praying what you can, maybe that’s what does it for you. You don’t just have to do what everyone else is doing. But you have to do what works for you when it comes to your Imaan. Remember that the Prophet (pbuh) told us that, “whoever fasts the month of Ramadan with faith and with expectation of reward than their prior sins are forgiven.” So just by the act of fasting, you’re already in a good spot. Just find that other thing that you need to connect to Allah.

Finally, the last piece of this verse, وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ – those who advise each other with the truth and advise each other with patience. That’s such an important point because we’re not supposed to go at it alone. When we pray, we pray together. When we give zakat, we give to those in need, it builds that community. When we go for Hajj, we do it with all the Muslims. When we fast, we do it with all the Muslims. All of those things are connected. So don’t feel like you have to do it alone. Don’t feel like if you don’t do it by yourself that it’s not true or it’s not genuine or it’s not sincere, but use the community. Lean on the community for help. Lean on your fellow brothers and sisters. وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ – and advise each other with truth and advise each other with patience, for diligence, for perseverance.

We ask Allah that He helps us to take advantage of our time. We ask Allah that He makes us amongst those who believe and do good deeds and advise each other with truth and with patience. We ask Allah that He helps us to make the Quran a light for us in our lives. I ask Allah that He connects us to Him this month. We ask Allah that He helps us to connect to the Quran this month and to His Messenger Muhammad (pbuh) this month. We ask Allah that He accepts our good deeds and He multiplies them this month. We ask Allah that He helps us to be generous, more generous than we’ve ever been before, this month. We ask Allah that He helps us to make our prayers this month, that He helps us to read the Quran this month. We ask Allah that He helps us to make dua to Him, and to appreciate Him and to be thankful to Him. And We ask Allah that when our time comes that our last words are لآ اِلَهَ اِ لّا اللّهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُوُل اللّهِ, and that when our time comes, that in our graves we are given gardens of Paradise and then when we are raised we receive His shade and then after the Day of Judgment that we receive the highest levels of Paradise and those that are here today that we’d be reunited in the highest levels of Paradise. Ameen.

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

 وَأَقِمِ الصّلَاة

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.

What did you think? Please share your reflections and questions below.

And come back next week for another khutbah!

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