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.
وَسَارِعُوا إِلَىٰ مَغْفِرَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
WasariAAoo ila maghfiratin min rabbikum wajannatin AAarduha alssamawatu waalardu oAAiddat lilmuttaqeena
Allatheena yunfiqoona fee alssarrai waalddarrai waalkathimeena alghaytha waalAAafeena AAani alnnasi waAllahu yuhibbu almuhsineena
And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous
Who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good;
(Surah Ali ‘Imran, Quran 3:133-134)
In Surah Ali ‘Imran, the third surah of the Quran, Allah (swt) reminds the believers of what happened at Uhud and He reminds them of the many losses that they found as a result of their disobedience. He warns them from disobeying Him and He warns them of the consequences, both in this life as well as in the next life. Then Allah (swt) encourages them with a set of beautiful verses that talk about believers and having taqwa and seeking forgiveness. Those are the verses that I want to cover today insha’Allah.
Allah (swt) says, وَسَارِعُوا – Rush. Rush/race to the forgiveness of your Lord/Master. We always find ourselves competing in this life, don’t we? If we’re on the road by ourselves, mashaAllah, we’re going at the speed limit. But as soon as you add some other cars, “oh man, I got to go faster than that guy. As long as I’m going faster than everyone else, I’m happy.” We fall into these competitions; a competition for the newest car, newest gadgets, the newest this, the newest that, the latest in technology or whatever it may be. We find ourselves competing.
But most of this competition is meaningless. A year from now, a month from now, everyone’s moved on to the next thing already. So what is the competition and what is the race that really matters? That is this competition وَسَارِعُوا إِلَىٰ مَغْفِرَةٍ – rush and race to forgiveness from your Lord. That is the competition that matters. That is the race that matters. What does Allah say? He tells us to rush to it and to raise to it and to not delay.
When people want to convert to Islam and they say, “well, I really love bacon or I cannot let go of alcohol or I can’t do this. I cannot let go of this yet or that yet. I don’t know what my family’s going to say.” What should we tell them? We should tell them brother, or sister, we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. No one knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. No one knows what’s going to happen next week. No one knows when the angel of death is going to come and take us, take our soul. No one knows subhanAllah.
So it’s important that we act now. You can take your shahada. You can proclaim your belief, and you can figure out all the rest later. We can figure it out, no problem. The Sahaba didn’t all of a sudden start practicing right away. It took them 13 years in Makkah, and then the verses of riba, the verses of alcohol and the verses of all of the other things were revealed in Medina. They spent 13 years in Makkah without those verses. So it’s okay. We’ll figure out the details later. Let’s at least establish our belief now. Let’s proclaim our belief now.
So we can’t delay. There is so much goodness when we don’t delay. Allah (swt) presents opportunities before us. Every time a college group or a youth group, or someone wants me to give a talk, I see it as an opportunity from Allah (swt) and won’t mind to refuse it. If I have a very good reason to refuse it, fine, but otherwise I will accept because I see it as an opportunity from Allah (swt) that He has given me this opportunity for good and that I shouldn’t delay. Many times we see these opportunities come before us. Hundred times in our past, we delayed and then we let that opportunity slip away. We wait for the next one and the next one and the next one, and it doesn’t come back. So when we see a good opportunity, we should take advantage of that. Rush to it. Race to it.
The brilliant thing about this rushing and this racing is that it is contagious. You see someone who needs help. A woman is helping that person, then one person takes a step, then another person comes forward as well. Have you seen that happen before? People follow others who are doing good. I remember when it was 2011, I used to teach at an Islamic school. At the Islamic school, we all went for umrah together. We made a big group of 30 people, teachers and students, and we all went to umrah together. Alhamdulillah. We were in JFK airport and it was time to pray. We were in the international wing of the airport and we found a big enough spot and we set up to pray. Someone gave the adhan without disturbing everyone and then we started praying. We had the qibla, and then there was a bar to our right. So we started praying. During the prayer people were taking pictures, and I could see flashes. You’re trying to recite and you’re trying to read, and you see camera flashes. SubhanAllah people taking pictures. What’s going on? What is this? What is happening?
All these children as well are lined up behind SubhanAllah. Old and young, they’re all lined up together. Beautiful! Then we made our salam but when we turned, we saw that there were three more rows of Muslims behind us because we were in the international wing of JFK. So you had the Turkish airlines, you had the Emirates, you had all of the different Muslims and they saw us praying then they joined us. That is the reward of rushing and racing towards good. You find that others will join with them as well, and they will support you in that as well.
When the Muslims were preparing to defend themselves, the Prophet (pbuh) said, who will give in the cause of Allah (swt)? At first people were hesitant. There were difficult times in Medina, drought. Then one man came and he had a handful of dates. He set it down on the cloth that the Prophet (pbuh) had laid out. Then you saw another person come and another person come and then a group came. That entire sheet that he had laid out was filled with charity all for the sake of Allah. So what did the Prophet (pbuh) say? He said,
من سن في الإسلام سنة حسنة فله أجرها
Whoever starts something good in this way, then he will get the reward similar to it. (Riyad as-Salihin 171)
So every person that came thereafter and placed charity on that sheet, that first man got the reward for all of it. He had a piece of every single reward subhanAllah. Imagine on the Day of Judgment, that person will be raised. He will look at these deeds and he will say, “well, I didn’t do all of these other deeds, ya Allah. I only gave this much. Where did all these other things come from? I only gave some dates.” It is because he started a legacy, because he started something good, and people followed him in that, and he had a part to play in that. So he got a piece of that without diminishing the others.
So Allah says, “run and rush and race to forgiveness from your Lord.” Do not delay until tomorrow. “I will start praying tomorrow. I will start fasting tomorrow. I will start doing this tomorrow. I will start doing that. When I get married, then this will happen. Once I have children, then I will change.” Have you heard this before? Have you heard yourself telling yourself this before for anything? “Once I get the promotion and then wallahi I will become the most pious of people. Ya Allah, make me a millionaire, then I will be the most pious person once I am 40 years old or once I am 50 years old.”
But these are all delay tactics. You find that people who think this way, once they get married, nothing changes. Once they have children, nothing changes. Once they get the promotion, nothing changes once they get, once they become a millionaire, nothing has changed. But if you act today, then you can guarantee that change for yourself. Then you can guarantee that if something were to happen to you, that if your time was to come on this earth, your time was to end, that you would’ve already made that change. (Learn how to master change in a practical manner here.)
So rush and race to forgiveness from your Master. وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ – and the guardian whose breadth, depth and width is as wide and deep and as great as the heavens and the earth. The scholars, they say that means each garden. Each garden belonging to each person will be the heavens and the earth because the singular is used here وَجَنَّةٍ – without alif-laam. That means a single garden, just one single garden from the gardens of Allah (swt) is equal to the heavens and the earth.
So, who is this prepared for? It’s prepared for Al-Muttaqeen. Allah (swt), He talks about the Muttaqeen in the Quran. From the beginning of the Surah Baqarah, He starts talking about the Muttaqeen. The Muttaqeen are the ones who achieve guidance. They are the ones who get Jannah. Who are these Muttaqeen?
Muttaqeen comes from taqwa. Taqwa is usually mistranslated as fear of God and it makes us think we should always be afraid of Allah. But the true definition of taqwa is to be awe-inspired by Allah (swt). You think of Allah and you’re amazed. You are inspired and in awe of Him. That is why some people translated as fear. You’re conscious of Him. The Prophet (pbuh) said, اتَّقِ اللَّهَ حَيْثُمَا كُنْت – “be conscious of Allah wherever you are.” Whatever you are doing, know that Allah is watching you.” That is taqwa.
So these are the Muttaqeen and they have such a high status. When people think of the Muttaqeen, they think, “man, how can I get there? How can I be Muttaqeen?” That seems like such a high thing. Allah starts describing the Muttaqeen. What does He say?
الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ – they are the ones who spend in good times and in bad times. In good times it’s easy to spend. A hundred dollars here, $20 here, $50 there in good times. It’s easier to spend and to give, but in bad times or hard times, it becomes more difficult. But you should spend in good times as well as in bad times.
The second is وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ – they swallowed their anger. When you swallow something, what happens? It’s gone. It always reminds me of Tom and Jerry. When Tom and Jerry are messing around, Jerry locks the door and he swallows the key. Khalas, it’s gone. That anger when it is rising inside of you and you want to show who’s boss and you swallow it and you’re able to maintain your control over yourself. That’s from the Muttaqeen.
وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ – and those who forgive people. What’s interesting is the word Allah uses here is عَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ – There are many words for forgiveness. One of them is ٱلْغَفَّـٰرَ – it means to cover. It even sounds that like that, right? Ghaffarah and cover. It sounds similar whereas, وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ, it means to erase as if nothing happened. Someone says, “please forgive me.” It’s as if nothing happened. Forgiving for what? As nothing happened? وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ – they completely forgive others. They don’t let it get to them. They don’t let it get to their egos. No one can ruin their control over themselves. That’s the third quality.
The fourth quality وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ – these are people who excel in everything they do. They try their best to their capacity to excel in everything that it is that they do. A lot of times, if people are to choose between the Muslim contractor and the non-Muslim contractor, they would choose the non-Muslim contractor. “The Muslim contractor comes with many other issues. The Muslim brother discount, the Muslim brother unprofessionalism.” This is what happens a lot of times and we can’t have that. Allah loves those who excel. Allah loves those who do good.
So these are the some qualities of the Muttaqeen that Allah mentions. So when you read these qualities, you think, “what if I’m not at that level? I don’t give all the time, in good times and hard times. I don’t swallow my anger all the time. I don’t forgive people as if nothing’s happened. I don’t always excel in everything I do. I can’t make it.”
So what’s some other qualities of the Muttaqeen? They sound like these perfect people. Here’s where it gets intense, brothers and sisters, listen up.
وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً أَوْ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ ذَكَرُوا اللَّهَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا لِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَمَن يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَلَمْ يُصِرُّوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلُوا وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
Waallatheena itha faAAaloo fahishatan aw thalamoo anfusahum thakaroo Allaha faistaghfaroo lithunoobihim waman yaghfiru alththunooba illa Allahu walam yusirroo AAala ma faAAaloo wahum yaAAlamoona
And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know.
(Surah Ali ‘Imran, Quran 3:135)
So the qualities of the Muttaqeen are these people who are given such a high status. They’re given forgiveness. They’re given Jannah. They have all of these qualities.
The fifth quality that’s mentioned here is that وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً – when they do something shameless, فاحشة – something you know is wrong. Something, as soon as you do, you feel it in your heart, you are guilty. You know it’s wrong, you know there’s no doubt about it.
أَوْ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ – or they wronged themselves. What do you mean they have wronged themselves? They oppress themselves. Anything we do against Allah or against any human being. Allah says we are wronging no one but our own selves. Because those people will be waiting for us on the day of judgment. Allah will be waiting for us on the Day of Judgment.
So people who do something wrong or wrong themselves, ذَكَرُوا اللَّهَ – they remember Allah (swt). Allah didn’t say “if they do something wrong.” He said, “when they do something wrong.” What’s the difference between if and when? ‘If’ is something that might happen. ‘When’ is something that definitely is going to happen. So when they do means it’s definitely going to happen. When they do something wrong or wrong themselves, they immediately remember Allah.
ذَكَرُوا اللَّهَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا لِذُنُوبِهِمْ – and they seek forgiveness for what they’ve done
وَمَن يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ – and Allah is the the only one that can forgive. The Prophet (pbuh) cannot forgive your sins. Only Allah can forgive your sins.
وَلَمْ يُصِرُّوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلُوا وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ – and they don’t persist in the wrong that they were doing while they know.
So it’s amazing. One of the conditions of the Muttaqeen who have this high status in front of Allah (swt), is that they will do something wrong. The Prophet (pbuh) told us that, “if you were pure people that never did anything wrong, Allah would replace you with the people who did make mistakes.” SubhanAllah, Allah wants to forgive us. Allah knows we are going to make mistakes. Allah knows we are going to fall and we are going to do something wrong which we might be ashamed of. But the important thing is when you do it, then you feel something in your heart.
A man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and he said, “I have done wrong. I feel like I’ve lost my imaan.” And the Prophet (pbuh) said, “that is the sign of imaan.” The sign of imaan is you feel something. If you stop feeling anything, then that’s when you need to be worried, because that is the nature of sinful acts. The first time you do it, you feel so guilty. The second time it becomes easier. The third time it becomes easier and easier and easier and easier until it becomes a habit and you stop thinking twice and that’s something you have to be afraid of. That’s something you have to ask Allah protection from, and that’s something you have to repent from and try to change your habits and try to change yourself.
So what do these people get? أُولَٰئِكَ جَزَاؤُهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ – those people they will have forgiveness from their master.
وَجَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا – and they have gardens and gardens under which rivers flow. You don’t have to maintain them. You don’t have to worry about them. They will stay there forever.
وَنِعْمَ أَجْرُ الْعَامِلِينَ – and how amazing is the reward of those who do. Again bringing it back full circle to those who act, to those who do. Because every good deed erases a bad deed. When we truly seek forgiveness, then Allah tells us He will turn all of our bad deeds into good deeds. So if we were negative 1,000, we’ll be at 1,000 positive. All we have to do is turn back to Him. All we have to do is make sincere intention to change. We have to make sincere intention to stay away from the things that lead us to that.
A young man came up to me and asked me, “I’m addicted to something. What can I do about it? I’m addicted to something wrong and I don’t know what to do about it.” What does Islam tell us? Islam tells us to make sincere intention away from that thing. But what else does Islam tell us? Islam tells us to act as well. If you’re missing prayer, then set your alarm. If you know that hanging out with a certain group of people takes you in this direction, then stop hanging out with that group of people. If you know that placing your computer in this position or having your computer in a private place leads you to looking at wrong things, then you should only browse the internet publicly. That is how you can start to get away from those things. There’s many other ways which we can discuss in a whole another khutbah. But the point of todays khutbah is to act and to act today and to not delay. You will see that as soon as you act that others will follow and others will support you in your good.
So we ask Allah that He helps us to do good. We ask Allah that He helps us to race and to rush towards good. We ask Allah that He makes us amongst the Muttaqeen, those who are conscious of Him in every place and at every time. We ask ask Allah to make us amongst those who give in good times and in hard times. We ask Allah that He makes us amongst those who forgive people easily. We ask Allah that He makes us amongst those who swallow their anger. We ask Allah that He makes us amongst those who excel in everything. We ask Allah to make us amongst those who, when we do wrong, we remember Him and we seek His forgiveness. We ask Allah to forgive us and to accept our good deeds. 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.
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.