You can listen to Imam Adam’s Khutbah above (starts at 3:06), watch it below, or read the summary below. Delivered February 23rd, 2018.

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

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

إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ 

inna akramakum AAinda Allahi atqakum

Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.

(Surah Al-Hujurat, Quran 49:13)

My dear brothers and sisters, in the Quran, there is a word: ayah. The interesting thing about the word ayah is that the literal meaning of ayah is a sign. What is a sign meant to do for you? A stop sign, traffic sign. What do signs do? They direct you. They guide you. They show you the way. They show you the path that you need to go on. They give you your options. That is what signs do.

What’s interesting is that every single verse of the Quran is known as what? It’s known as an ayah. It is known as a sign. Each and every single verse of the Quran is a sign that directs you and points you to who? To Allah. To God. What a beautiful name for every verse in the Quran! But then when you actually read the Quran, you find that ayah is used in other ways as well.

Allah says, اِنَّ فِيْ خَلْقِ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالْاَرْضِ in the creation of the heavens and the earth, there are signs. There are signs between you and your spouse. We know those verses that are recited at every nikah, at every marriage, that “the love and mercy He has placed between you and your spouse is a sign.” Your children are a sign. و في أنـفـسـكـم -And your own bodies, your own cells, are signs. Every single blood cell, SubhanAllah, is like a city by itself. Every single blood cell, every single red blood cell, white blood cell, all the different cells, they’re all signs. Amongst these signs, one of the signs which I would like to focus on today is where Allah says:

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالِمِينَ 

Wamin ayatihi khalqu alssamawati waalardi waikhtilafu alsinatikum waalwanikum inna fee thalika laayatin lilAAalimeena

And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.

(Surah Ar-Rum, Quran 30:22)

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ – in the creation of the heavens and the earth. And in the differences between your tongue, your languages and your colors, your races, there are signs. إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالِمِينَ – there are signs for those who know, for those who have knowledge.

So signs are incredibly important. People ask, what is the sign that there is a God that exists? A Bedouin man was asked this question. How do you know that God exists? How do you know that Allah exists? And the Bedouin man said, “when I see the feces of a camel, I know that there was a camel here. In the same way, I look around. I look at the design of this creation, and I know there is a designer.”

In the same way, I see a computer. I know there’s someone who designed this and built and engineered this computer. I look at this world. I look at this creation. I look at the order. I look at all of this and I know that there must be a designer and a creator. And that was a simple answer. So people are looking for science. Now what happens if we disregard a sign? What happens if we destroy a sign? What if we dishonor a sign? What happens?

Allah in Surah Ash-Shams talks about the people of Prophet Saleh (as), the tribe of Thamud. When the people asked for a sign, Allah sent a huge she-camel that erupted from the mountain. This was their sign. But not only did they disregard this sign, but also they dishonored this sign. They actually slaughtered the camel and they removed the sign.

So what happened to them? فَدَمْدَمَ عَلَيْهِمْ رَبُّهُم بِذَنبِهِمْ فَسَوَّاهَاAnd Allah destroyed them. That is how severe it is when we disregard a sign. SubhanAllah. That’s why when Allah says something is a sign, then that thing should be given the highest honor. That thing should be given the highest status and the highest position. And we should make sure that in all of our words and in all of our actions, we keep that in mind. We keep in mind what happens to those who disregard the signs of Allah. So that’s the introduction to this topic.

The Prophet (pbuh), in his final pilgrimage, in his final Hajj to Makkah, addressed thousands of Muslims. What were amongst his words? What did he say? These were his final words to many of those Muslims. He still lived on afterward, but because it was the largest gathering, to many of them, those were his final words to them. So what did he say?

He said that, “no Arab is better than any non Arab.” SubhanAllah. He is saying this to thousands of Arabs. Who is he speaking to? He’s speaking to us. He’s speaking to the future. He’s speaking to the future generations that will exist, and that will be so diverse. That is one of the most beautiful things about Islam. If you look around here today, you find people of all colors, of all nations, of all tribes, of all cultures. SubhanAllah. Isn’t that so beautiful? Isn’t that so amazing?

Recently, I had breakfast with a Somali accountant, a black American dentist, an Arab computer scientist, a Swedish hacker and me, the Pakistani imam. They were all, SubhanAllah, different people and I told them, “you know, if it wasn’t for Islam, I don’t see us ever being together in one place. I just don’t see it happening.” SubhanAllah. Here today I don’t see all of us being together if it weren’t for Islam. And that’s so beautiful. That’s so amazing.

Dr. Sherman Jackson is a very prolific writer and scholar. He became Muslim, I believe in the seventies, and was talking about his experience and why he became Muslim. If you read these books, he uses very big words, very academic language. You read his book sometimes you become confused because it’s academic. You have to have the right mindset. So he’s a very academic, very scholarly person. But what did he say was the best thing about Islam that attracted him to Islam? He said, “when I went to the masjid. Then I saw black. I saw white, I saw yellow. I saw brown. I saw all colors together, standing in prayer, shoulder to shoulder.” The imam says, “shoulder to shoulder.” SubhanAllah. Amazing! Rich and poor, it doesn’t matter, you’re all together. You’re all in the same place.

Allah says, إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ the best of you are the ones that are the most pious and the most righteous. The ones that have the most honor in the sight of Allah are the ones that are the most conscious of Him. Full stop period. There’s nothing else there. It doesn’t matter what your race is. It doesn’t matter what color you are. It doesn’t matter who your father was. It doesn’t matter who your mother was. It doesn’t matter who your ancestors were. It doesn’t matter what tribe you’re from, what village you’re from, what town you’re from, what city you’re from, what country you’re from. None of those things matter. What matters to Allah is that you are conscious of Him. That is how we are all equal before Allah.

There was a study done by an organization called ISPU. One of the founders of that organization is sister Dalia Mogahed. If you don’t know her, she’s been on national TV. She was a part of President Obama’s team. When it came to Muslims, she was an advisor and she’s been known to talk about Islam and Muslims and hijab and women, and all kinds of things on different programs. She was a scholarly person who has done a lot of research for government, for different organizations, and then she started ISPU. The purpose of ISPU is to provide data and statistics on Muslims, especially. So they did a lot of great work highlighting the differences and the positive changes that Muslims are bringing to places like Michigan and Chicago and so on.

They’ve been doing a lot of this kind of work, and they’ve showcased a lot of this work over here a few weeks ago, when we had our “Faith Over Fear” conference. So we had our conference where, alhamdulillah, over a hundred allies of the Muslim community came to support us, to learn about Islamophobia, to learn about Muslims, to learn about Islam. That was about a month ago, I believe. Even the senators came and the federal representative, Jayapal, was here and she spoke as well. So it was, mashaAllah, a very successful and great event that was talking about the anniversary of the Muslim ban and so on.

So this organization, ISPU, does statistics on Muslims and Islam. One of the studies they did was on racism. When I talk about racism, a lot of Muslims go, “yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know this. This is nothing new.” But there’s a lot of work that can be done. You know, Islam is perfect, but Muslims don’t always reach that perfection, right? They don’t always reach there. We have some work to do to catch up to the ideals that our Prophet (pbuh) has laid out for us.

I also sent out a survey when I first came here a few months ago. I sent out a survey to this community and I said, well, “what are some of the biggest concerns in the community?”

  • The first concern was youth.
  • The second concern was how can we engage with wider society?
  • The third top most concern in the survey was racism.

There is racism within the community. ISPU did some statistics and said in the US, about one-third of people, especially African Americans, complain of facing racial discrimination. If you look in the Muslim community:

  • 33% of black Muslims complain of racial discrimination within the Muslim community
  • 26% of Arab Muslims complain of racial discrimination within the Muslim community
  • 31% of Asian Muslims complain of racial discrimination within the Muslim community.

So our religion tells us, “the best of you is the one who is the most righteous, the most pious.” But we have to get there. We have to work a little harder to make sure that we get there. Why? Because Islam is perfect. A lot of times we are not. A lot of times we do things unintentionally. We discriminate. We don’t mean to. We don’t even realize, and it happens. So it’s important that we change this. It’s important that we do something to change this.

Because this is a real statistic coming up. I gave you the whole introduction of who that organization was so you realize that this is a legit statistic. This is not coming out of thin air. This is coming after having surveyed lots of people, after having followed all the procedures that are necessary, all the scientific research, and all of that. So it’s really important that we realize that we have a ways to go.

And yes, we do face discrimination outside the Muslim community, even more so. But the main thing we can do is we can change ourselves first. We can focus on what we can do better and how we can change ourselves. (Learn practical steps to change from the Quran here)

So what are some examples? Sometimes you hear (and I say this coming from a south Asian background) that when parents want to get their children married, “find someone who has lighter skin.” This is from before Islam. This has nothing to do with Islam. Or the fact there’s skin changing lotions to make your skin whiter and more fair. This is also something that’s from before Islam and has nothing to do with Islam. This is nuts. Allah created us a certain way and we have to make sure that we follow through with that, that we accept that, that we are satisfied with how Allah has made us. We have to realize that no skin color matters in the sight of Allah.

Whenever you hear people say, “Oh, people from this country, they do this. People from this religion, they do this.” We complain that Muslims make the stereotype, but sometimes we make stereotypes about other people too. We have to be careful of that. “People from this country, they always do this. People from this village or this town or this city, they always act like this. They’re not generous or they’re thieves or they’re liars or they’re this or they’re that.” And we allow these stereotypes to exist in our minds. When you hear people talking like this, whether they are Muslim or not Muslim, what does our religion tell us to do? The Prophet (pbuh) said,

مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا Whoever among you sees something wrong,

فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ then he should change it or she should change it with their hand.

فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ – and if they cannot do that, then move their tongue. Speak out against it.

فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ – and if you cannot even do that, then at least at the very least hate it in your heart.

وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الْإِيمَانِ – and that is the weakest form of iman.

That you at least hate something wrong in your heart. That you leave it in your heart. I would say, we need to move up a level. It’s not enough just to leave it in our heart. We have to speak out against it. If someone is making stereotypes about somebody else, someone is saying something that is against Islam, then what do we have to do? We have to say,

“No, this isn’t the right kind of talk. This isn’t the right kind of speech. This isn’t the way Muslims speak. This isn’t the way our Prophet (pbuh) told us to talk.” If you see anyone making stereotypes, this is the way you have to respond. It is your obligation as a Muslim, as a believer, that when you see something wrong, that you respond to it.

So what is the benefit? Allah talks about the benefit of being diverse. Someone might ask, “why did Allah create us so different? Why didn’t he make us all the same?” So what does Allah say in the Quran?

He says,

 يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا

Ya ayyuha alnnasu inna khalaqnakum min thakarin waontha wajaAAalnakum shuAAooban waqabaila litaAAarafoo

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. 

(Surah Al-Hujurat, Quran 49:13)

He says, “we created you in tribes. We created you diverse people.” Why? لِتَعَارَفُوا So that you may get to know one another.

Another thing the Prophet (pbuh) said was, “the believer is the mirror of another believer.” What does that mean? What do you do when you look into a mirror? You look into a mirror and you find what? You find your flaws. “My beard this side is larger than this side. Let me just fix that up. My hair looks a certain way. Let me fix that up. My dress is a certain way. Let me fix that up.” What do you do in the mirror? You use the mirror to fix yourself, to find your flaws. Allah tells us that we are different and we benefit and learn from each other.

Instead of making negative stereotypes, you should be making positive stereotypes. We should be saying, “these people are always so generous. These people are always so honorable. These people always stick to their promises. These people don’t betray their word. These people are people of integrity. These people are people who always pick the truth. These are people who stand up for justice. These are people who pray their prayers. These are people who always give to charity, you can always count on them to give.”

We should be saying good things about each other. We should find out what are the good things in my Muslim brother/sister that I can bring into my own life? Have you ever met a person who’s so much better than you in one specific thing? I’m sure you have. How can you be like that person? How can my manners be like that person? How can my speech be like that person? How can I control my tongue? Like that person never back bites, that person never talks behind anyone’s back. Let me be like that person.

So that is why Allah has created us different. So that way we can get to know one another and learn from each other. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “the believer is the brother of his fellow believer and the believer is the mirror of his fellow believer.” The mirror that you use to find your flaws and your faults. (Learn more about our collective responsibility as a community and rights of brotherhood here.)

So we ask Allah that He guides us. We ask Allah that He removes any kind of racism or any kind of hatred from our hearts. We ask Allah that He unites our all people together. I ask Allah that He makes amongst those who follow the way of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Ameen.

One of the most amazing things is when you go for Hajj to Makkah, SubhanAllah. Everyone has to wear the Ihraam. Everyone has to wear that white cloth, that does not differentiate between rich or poor. Everyone is wearing that same cloth. SubhanAllah. Everyone is equal before Allah and you see people of all kinds of ethnicities and races and backgrounds. Millions of people, all in one place for the same purpose. That’s so beautiful. That’s something what we should reach out for. That’s the way Allah wants us to be. He wants us to realize that we are equal in His sight, that we are equal before him. SubhanAllah. That is something that we all have to bring into our hearts and bring into our actions.

So with that said, before I end my talk today, I wanted to briefly address two things. The first thing was alhamdulillah we have so many allies and supporters in this nation and in this community. That is something that has been cultivated. It’s not something that just came about. It’s not something that just happened. It’s happened through the amazing work of people behind the scenes that have been doing so many great things.

Alhamdulillah on Sunday, I had the honor of being invited to a church in south Seattle that was started by Japanese Americans. In World War II, these Japanese Americans were actually taken to concentration camps. So every year they read the executive order that President Roosevelt signed that basically said anyone of Japanese descent, (it didn’t say it in the order, but that’s essentially what it was is) were all taken to concentration camps, these internment camps. So every year they read this order and they actually invited me as well as the MAPS community to join them in the reading of that executive order as well as to speak. So I spoke there about the different challenges that we face as a community and how they can support us and how they can help us and how they have been, alhamdulillah, supporting us and helping us. (Learn about the similarities and difference between the Quran and the Bible here.)

So these are opportunities that come through lots of engagement and lots of support and lots of work. So please try to find a way. Ask the people at the masjid. Ask them, “how you can be more involved? How you can help us gain more allies?” The Prophet (pbuh), who was his ally in Makkah? Who was his supporter in Makkah? Who was the one protecting him from the hands of Quraysh? It was his own uncle who was not even a Muslim, Abu Talib. Abu Talib held the Quraysh at bay so that they could not touch the Prophet (pbuh). Even though they wanted to kill him and wanted to remove him, they could not because of his uncle. SubhanAllah. That was the means by which Allah protected him.

The second thing is a message to our young people because of the violence that took place in Florida and the many shootings that have happened in this country. We’re seeing more and more that change needs to happen. We’ve been saying this for years, but now even more needs to be done. To speak out against this and to create change and to speak out with your vote. We all have to make sure we register to vote and we vote the people who are supported by the gun lobby and so on. We have to make sure we do our best and vote in the right direction, so that we can make this kind of change happen. We can make this kind of change come about.

So to my young people- you know, one of the most surprising and shocking things that I heard was, “oh, you know what? This is just another school shooting.” We’re desensitized to this. It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s just another thing. That’s where we’ve gone. That’s where we are now, that kids are saying, “oh, it’s just another. It’s a normal thing.” I would say to my young people, take direction. Those wonderful, beautiful young people who are standing up who are protesting, who are saying “change needs to happen.” They’re speaking out in the medias subhanAllah. Follow them and don’t lose hope. Change can always come.

Allah tells us that, “He will not change the people until they change themselves.” Until you decide that you are going to make a change and you’re going to do something about it, nothing will happen. But as soon as you decide, and collectively, as a community, we decide that we want change to happen, then SubhanAllah so many things can happen. So many good things can come out of that. So we ask Allah to help us. We ask Allah to guide us. We ask Allah to make us amongst those who He guides and directs. And we ask Allah to enter us into Jannah and we ask Allah to protect us from His Judgement and make the Day of Judgment easy for us. And we ask Allah to protect us from His punishment. We ask Allah to grant us His mercy and His forgiveness. 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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