بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.
إِنَّ الْحَمْدَ لِلَّهِ ,نَحْمَدُهُ ,وَنَسْتَعِينُهُ وَنَسْتَغْفِرُهُ , وَنَعُوذُ بِاللهِ مِنْ شُرُور أَنْفُسِنَا وَمِنْسَيِّئَاتِ أَعْمَالِنَا ,مَنْ يَهْدِهِ اللهُ فَلَا مُضِلَّ لَهُ , وَمَنْ يُضْلِلْ فَلَا هَادِيَ لَهُ , وَأَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ
Verily, all praise is for Allah. We praise Him, we seek His assistance and we ask for His forgiveness. And we seek refuge in Him from the evils of our selves. Whoever Allah guides, none can misguide. Whoever He misguides, none can guide. And I bear witness that there is no deity other than Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.
أعوذُ بِٱللَّهِ مِنَ ٱلشَّيۡطَٰنِ ٱلرَّجِيم
Seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the expelled.
بِسْ مِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.
وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ ۚ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ ۚ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۚ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَٰذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ ۚ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ ۖ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَىٰ وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ
Wa jaahidu fi-llaahi haqqa jihaadihi huwa ajtabakum wa maa ja’ala ‘alaaykum fi-dini min harajin millata abikum Ibraahima huwa sammaakumul-muslimina min qablu wa fi hatha liyakunal-mursulu shahidan ‘alaykum wa takunu shuhada-a ‘ala-naasi faaqimu-salaata wa-atu-zakaata wa a’tasimu billaahi huwa mawlaakum fani’mal-mawlaa wa ni’ma-nasiru
And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Ibrahim. Allah named you “Muslims” before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So establish prayer and give zakah and hold fast to Allah. He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper.
(Surah Al-Hajj; Quran 22:78)
My dear brothers and sisters,
All praises are due to Allah (swt) – the One that has blessed us with so much, the One that deserves all praises, the One that has given us this beautiful day where we come together, even during our current circumstances. And so all praises are due to a Allah (swt), the One that has given us the greatest gift of all, which is that of Imaan. May Allah make our last words on this earth –
لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ
La illaaha illal-Allah, Muhammad-un rasulul-Allah
There is no deity but Allah. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is his messenger.
because there is no greater blessing than that.
When we leave this world, all of our possessions will stay here. All of our properties, all of our vehicles, all of our bank accounts, the Bitcoin, all of it – it’ll all stay here and we will move on. So what is it that we are going to leave this world with, my brothers and sisters? The greatest blessing of all is that when we leave this world that we leave with لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ intact – with our faith intact. That is the thing that we should aim to preserve the most. More than we want to preserve anything, we should want to preserve that Imaan, not only for ourselves but for our next generations.
Allah (swt) says:
وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ
Wa jaahidu fi-Allah-i haqqa jihaadihi
And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him.
Jihad is this struggle. It’s your utmost that you can give. It’s not weak energy. It’s not procrastination. It’s not, “Oh, I’ll get to it when I get to it”. No, this is your utmost priority: to strive for Allah – حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ – the way that He deserves. “And what does Allah deserve?” We can never repay Allah for what He has given us. We can never repay him for the immense blessings that He has given us. But we can “try our best, to strive for Him with this little bit of time that we have on this earth.”
Just in this country, 500,000 people have died from COVID. 500,000 people. I’m sure many of us know people who have passed away from COVID. Our time on this earth is short and all of this circumstance should help us to reorient, because as a species, we’ve started to believe that we are in control and that we control nature, that we can do what we want with on this earth that Allah has given to us as a trust. In fact, the past year has shown us that we are not in control, that Allah (swt) is in control.
So, when we strive for Allah, we should strive as he deserves, and each and every single one of us should think:
What does Allah deserve from me? What should I be doing for Allah?
For each and every single one of us, the answer to that question will be a little different because Allah has given us each and every single one of us our own skills, talents, abilities, perspective, and history. So me in my position and you in your position, what is it that we can do to strive for the sake of Allah (swt)?
Then Allah (swt) continues:
He (Allah) has chosen you.
If you ever asked yourself these questions:
- Why am I in this place?
- How did I get here? I was born somewhere else and now I am in Redmond, Washington.
- Why did I get this family?
- Why did I get this brother?
- Why did I get this sister?
- Why didn’t I get this mom or this dad?
Because the young people, they tend to ask and wonder. Allah (swt) chose you for your position. He decided that you were the best for that situation.
Have you ever asked:
- Why did He give me this language?
- Why did He make my skin this color?
هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ – the answer is – Allah chose you for it.
Allah knew that you can handle it alone because Allah doesn’t give us anything that we can not handle. Everything that Allah gives us is within our ability to overcome. It’s within our ability to be grateful for the blessings that we have. He chose you just like He chose the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) to be our role model.
وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ
Wa maa ja’ala ‘alaykum fi-dini min harajin
Allah (swt) continues in this verse that He has not placed the difficulty in this Deen upon you. Sometimes you might think to yourself, or Shaytan might lead you to believe, that Islam is difficult, that you have to do this and you have to do that, and you can’t do this and you can’t do that. So Shaytan leads you to believe that this is difficult. Whereas Allah tells us that He has not placed any difficulty upon you with this religion. So where is the truth? Well, in terms of your experience, the fact of the matter is that whatever Allah has placed upon us, He has placed upon us for our own good. And whatever He has forbidden us from is the best thing for us to avoid.
Look at a simple example which is that of alcohol. Some people might think it would be easier if it wasn’t forbidden. You might think, “I could go to work meetings and I could go to this and I could do that”. But how much harm has the consumption of alcohol caused? It not only harms the mind, it harms the body, it makes you commit harmful actions and you wake up the next morning thinking what happened? You can’t remember.
So much harm, it’s documented study after study. So that prohibition is for a reason, my brothers and sisters, especially the young brothers and sisters who ask why? I understand why you ask that. I grew up in Texas. I was the only Muslim at school, and I saw everyone else doing one thing and I had to do this other thing and go back to my parents and say, “Why do I have to do no one else? Why do I have to do this? Everyone else is doing it”. It’s a natural question that comes about when you stand out and you are different. But to remember that Allah chose you for this and everyone has their challenges, and this is your challenge. And then whatever Allah has forbidden for us. That is good for us to stay away from.
Another example of something that people might believe is a burden is that we have to pray. “I’m busy with my work. I’m busy with my exams, studying. How can I make time for prayer? How can I take five minutes to pray?” We’ve become so obsessed with productivity that we forget what our true purpose is. If you can’t take five minutes, then that shows a different problem. It shows that maybe your priorities aren’t aligned in the way that they should be aligned, that maybe you are working more than you should to be.
They interviewed patients at a geriatric facility. They spoke with the elders who were on their final days and weeks. The nurse spoke to them and asked, “What are your regrets?” What do you think were the top regrets that people had? Did they say, “I wish I made our shareholders more money? If only our shares went up one more dollar”? No, they said, “I wish I didn’t work as hard as I did”. That’s what they said. “I wish I didn’t only focus on work.” So if this burden is there upon you where you feel like you have to just work and work, and you can’t take a few minutes out to reorient, turn back to Allah. Allah has not created difficulty, but rather He has created a release for us. He has created a way for us to fulfill the need in our lives, to reconnect with Him.
Then the verse continues:
مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ
Millata abikum Ibrahim
This is the way of Ibrahim.
This is not just any way. This is the way of Prophet Ibrahim. It’s not the way of just the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), but it actually goes beyond further through a line of messengers, a line of prophets, sent one after the other to educate human beings.
And then this next verse always touched me. This next part of this verse is so powerful. In times of disagreement, in times of disunity, I remember asking my dad, “I heard a lecture about hannafi and sha’fi – what are we? Are we Hannafi?” I didn’t finish. And this is where this verse came up.
هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
You are Muslims.
Hannafi, Sha’fii – these are schools of scholars. It’s like Harvard and Stanford. It’s separate from your Deen. Your Deen is Muslim. Your Deen is Islam.
You are a Muslim. This is what Ibrahim called you. So if you’re ever wondering what you are – you are a Muslim. Nothing other than Muslim. That is the label that Ibrahim and Islam gave you.
مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَٰذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ
Min qablu wa fi hathal-yakuna-rasulu shahidan ‘alaykum
And in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you.
Allah (swt) lets us know that the Prophet Mohammed (pnuh) is a witness over us. The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is our guide. It’s one thing to theorize. Theorists create all kinds of theories, but how do you actually practice? How do you put a theory into practice?
That’s a whole other conversation. And that is what the Prophet (pbuh) was. He was that guide for us, the one who explains to us what this Quran is, and how it is meant to be practiced in our daily lives.
And in turn, we were given an obligation:
وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ
Wa takunu shuhada-a ‘ala-naas
And you may be witnesses over the people.
We become witnesses over others. So now you have this responsibility as a Muslim to, not only follow the messenger, but just as the messenger is an example for us, we should be examples for others. We should be model human beings. We should be people who others look up to because of our character, because of our principles, because we have a higher purpose because we can say, “I need five minutes from this meeting. I need to go pray” and, “I’m fasting today“. Then it’s clear you actually do something else, besides work. You live for something else. It’s confusing at first for people to see you live for something else. They might look at you like, “What do you mean? What is that?”.
وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ – This verse doesn’t say be perfect, but it says be a higher testimony, show people a higher standard and a higher purpose.
And then Allah tells us how we prepare for such a responsibility. What is the secret? How do you prepare yourself for this obligation of being a witness to the people and being a role model for others? How do you prepare for that?
It feels like a huge obligation. It feels huge, and you think, “I’m just me. I don’t want to deal with anybody else”. But Allah (swt) tells us the secret. He tells us how we can get there.
فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ
So establish prayer and give zakat.
Don’t make prayer, establish the prayer. That’s one of the secrets. That is it.
So establishing the prayer isn’t just praying. It’s establishing, it’s happening. When you establish an institution or you establish a university, it’s not a pop-up store that comes and goes. Now you’ve established and committed to this thing, it’s there to stay. It doesn’t fly away with the wind. No, it is established.
وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ – and give a portion of your wealth to others. Don’t forget about your responsibility to others.
So the first part is to establish the prayer. The second one is give the zakat and then the third part:
Hold fast to Allah.
He is your protector.
He (Allah) is your nurturing, caring, friendly protector. He loves you and He is going to protect you. Don’t worry.
Because you start worrying:
- What if I make a mistake?
- What if I fall?
- What if I can’t do it?
- What if I can’t establish the prayer?
- What if I mess up, oh Allah?
هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ – Don’t worry. He is going to protect you.
فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَىٰ وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ
Fani’mal-mawlaa wa ni’ma-nasiru
And excellent is the Protector, and excellent is the Helper.
What an amazing protector He is ! What an amazing helper He is! So if we establish the prayer, we make sure we give our zakat. And our zakat is not just that calculation, but it’s that realization that our wealth is not just ours, but others have a right to it as well. The blessings Allah has given us are not just ours, but there’s a right that others have over those blessings. We are to share that, as well. And then the third piece is to hold fast to Allah, to realize that He is your protector all the way through this journey. He is your helper. Every time you fall, He is there to pick you back up.
So I ask Allah (swt) that He helps us to strive for Him in the way that He deserves.
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 in conclusion, my brothers and sisters, in this one verse that we talked about in this Khutbah Allah tells us to strive for Him in the way that He deserves. He reminds us that each and every single one of us are on a path that has been tried before. And that is the path of Prophet Ibrahim. It makes it easier for you to travel a path that has been travelled before, right? When it’s just a barren field, you’re not sure which direction to go, but when you see the footsteps from before you, and you see there’s a path that’s been beaten through, then it’s easy to follow that. That is the way of Prophet Ibrahim and those who followed him. And of course, the way of the messenger Muhammad (pbuh) who is a role model for us, who is waiting for us on that path. And as we get onto that path, we’re taking others with us and that is our obligation.
Again, the way to prepare for that obligation is to establish the prayer, to realize that others have a right over us as well and to give this zakat, and thirdly, to trust in Allah (swt). Of course, that’s easier said than done. Because when you’re going through the challenges, that’s when you really have to push yourself trust in Allah, and to realize that He is the protector and He is the helper.
So I ask Allah that He helps us to fulfill this obligation. I ask Allah that He helps us to establish the prayer in our lives, in our families, in our homes, in our community. I ask Allah that He helps us to be charitable and giving to those that are in need. I ask Allah that He helps us to place our trust in him. I ask Allah that He helps us to place our trust in Him as our nurturing, caring protector. I ask Allah that He helps us to place our trust in him as He is our helper the one and only. I ask Allah that He gives us the blessing of, of our last words being لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ. I asked Allah that He helps to be more grateful to those around us, that He helps us to be more grateful to him. I ask Allah that He fulfills the needs of those that are in need, that He cures those that are sick, that He forgives those that have passed, that He gives patients to their families, has mercy on them and enters them into the highest levels of paradise and raises them with the profits and the righteous and the marchers. I ask Allah that He blesses us with jannat ul firdaus the highest level of paradise.
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.
What did you think? Please share your reflections and questions below.
And come back next week for another khutbah!