بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

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

 الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ‎

‏ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

‏ إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِين ‎

‏ اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ

‏ صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ

In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds

The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful

Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.

It is You we worship and You we ask for help.

Guide us to the straight path

The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

(Surah Al-Fatiha, Quran 1:1-7)

All praise is due to Allah, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

Seeking Protection

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ told us that the most beloved place on earth is the Masjid. That the most beloved of all places on earth to Allah is the Masjid. Why? The Masjid is the place where we go to worship Allah. The Masjid is the place where we find our fellow believers. The Masjid is the place where we find safety, security, community, charity, and so much more. All of these things we find at the Masjid.

It has become even more clear in these days that we live in, with the violence that’s going on in Palestine, in Gaza, that many Muslims are feeling uneasy. They’re feeling unsafe, unsecured. And you know the place that gives you security and the place that gives you safety? It’s the Masjid.

A brother came to me, and many brothers told me these past few weeks, that this is the place where I feel safest with my family. Not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually. This place, the House of Allah, is the place where I find the most safety, the most security.

And that is the beautiful thing about the Masjid. That is the beautiful thing about the House of Allah. That is the beautiful thing of seeking protection in Allah SWT. That is something which we do every single night before you go to bed. You recite,

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ – In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ – I seek protection in the Lord of the people.

قل أعوذ برب الفلق – I seek protection in the Lord of the dawn, the One who brings the sun up.

We seek protection in Allah SWT, and we find His protection here in the Masjid, and it is a beautiful place.

Our Ummah

One of the things that we want to focus on in this turbulent time, in this difficult time, is we need to appreciate our brotherhood and our sisterhood. We have to appreciate that we are one Ummah, that we are all the nation of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. No matter our language, no matter our race, no matter our color, no matter our accent, no matter our looks.

The Prophet ﷺ said Allah does not look at your appearance or wealth. Rather Allah judges us by the condition of our hearts and our deeds, our actions.

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى صُوَرِكُمْ وَأَمْوَالِكُمْ

وَلَكِنْ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ وَأَعْمَالِكُم‏

Verily Allah does not look to your faces and your wealth,

but He looks to your heart and to your deeds.

Sahih Muslim, 2564

As an Ummah, we have to realize that we have to be there for each other, and we have to realize that we all worship Allah SWT together.

But that’s not all.

Seeking Support

One of the things that happens when you are afraid is you tend to isolate yourself. You tend to say, “I don’t want to interact with anybody. I want to be by myself. Just me and myself and I, that’s it.” When you’re afraid, that’s what we tend to do. Or, “just me and the Muslims, that’s it. Nobody else, I don’t need anybody else.”

But the fact of the matter is that we can find support in people outside of the masjid as well. And we can bring them to the masjid. We can bring them into the masjid, our actual masjid, the masjid of our homes, the masjid of our hearts. We can bring other people in.

When the Prophet ﷺ was in Makkah, many of his greatest supporters were not Muslim. His greatest supporter, after his wife Khadija, was Abu Talib, his uncle who was not a Muslim. And no matter how many times the Prophet ﷺ tried to persuade him, convince him, invite him to Islam, Abu Talib did not accept Islam. And yet, the Prophet ﷺ depended on Abu Talib for support.

So those of us that are thinking we only need Muslims, that is not even the way of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

It’s important for us to be out there. It’s important for us to be open and to not close the doors and hide. It’s important for us to be out there and to make the changes that we want to see and to help the people outside as well. Because as Muslims, our responsibility is not just to ourselves.

Mercy to Creation

Allah SWT says in the Quran:

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ

You are the best nation for the people.

(Surah Ali ‘Imran, 3:110)

لِلنَّاسِ For the people.

It didn’t say على لِلنَّاس. You are not above the people. Sometimes people interpret it as على لِلنَّاس. We’re in charge. We have to be in charge. Our main job is to be in charge. It didn’t say على لِلنَّاس. It says لِلنَّاسِ

Whatever your condition, you are لِلنَّاس – You are in the service of the people.

How can you be in the service of the people?

When someone thinks negatively about or hears something negatively about a Muslim, the first thing they should think is, “I know Muhammad. I know Sameer. I know Ali. And he’s a Muslim. I know Fatima. She’s a Muslim. And they’re a great person. And they’re very helpful. And they’re very kind. And that time I was being bullied at school, they helped me. That time when I didn’t get my math homework, they helped me. The Muslims, they helped me. The Muslims, they are helpful people. Muslims are good people.”

And how does that happen?

When you make yourself like the Prophet ﷺ, who was not just a teacher, but he was رحمة للعالمين – He was a mercy to all of creation.

So, how are we mercy to creation? Even in difficult times. It’s easy to be merciful in good times. Give me lots of wealth. Give me lots of time. Give me lots of energy. And I will be merciful to everyone. Although that’s not necessarily the case. We see the people that a lot of times they’re the least merciful. But the average human being, if they’re in a time of abundance and they have a lot, then they feel more merciful. They feel more giving. And when you restrict someone, when times are difficult, now are you still merciful? What is the character now? What are you like now?

We Are Not Alone

So as Muslims it’s important for us to build our brotherhood, to build our connection to the Masjid, to build what this community is. It’s also important to realize that it’s important for us to be facing the world as well. And it’s not easy. But we will find that there are so many people outside non-Muslims who are supportive of the same things that we are seeking.

Just this morning, Imam Akram from MAP Seattle and I went to downtown Seattle, in front of the federal office building. That is where you have the office of the senator of the state.

And we were there with a group called Jewish Voice for Peace. This group had blockaded the building, the office of the senator, in order to fight for the rights of the people in Gaza, of our brothers and sisters in Gaza. They were there blockading the office and when you blockade the doors, you make yourself liable to arrest. Several weeks ago, when the doors were open, they went all the way up to the senator’s office and they sat in the office and they were arrested by the police and they were escorted out of the building. They were hoping to do that again today but the doors were locked. They assumed that everyone was told, please work from home today because there’s a protest. So no one was coming in or out of the building and the police were there.

When you see it, you realize that there’s so many people who see what’s going on and they see right through lies. They see right through what’s happening and they realize what is oppression and what is injustice and they are there to support. They are there to support in many ways. Someone took a picture of me and sent it to my wife. It was a co-worker of my wife who’s not a Muslim who heard me speak at the event and took a picture.

And so we have to realize that we are not alone in our struggle. We are not alone in what we’re fighting for, in what we’re trying to get, which is peace and rights for our brothers and sisters in Palestine. And that this is something that is not just small things, but this is the difference between life and death. People that are people of conscience, people that realize what is injustice, they are there and they’re standing up day after day. So it’s important for us to realize as Muslims to always have hope.

Don’t Lose Hope

One of the young people, and I don’t blame them for this, when we were talking about Palestine, it was almost like, “Oh, are we still talking about this? I’m tired of this now.” And I don’t blame them because when something is so difficult to see and to hear and to take in day after day, it’s so terrible, you can’t even think about it, especially as a young person. You’re a young person, you’ve only seen so much in your life. Of course it’s a lot to hear and to see. Of course you will feel fatigued, you will feel tired.

But my message to you today is to be brave, to be strong, to look for support, to look for courage, to look for strength for yourself, but also for our brothers and sisters in Palestine.

And to realize that there is hope.

Allah SWT tells us in the Qur’an, ‘Oh you who believe, don’t lose hope in the mercy of Allah.’

Don’t ever lose hope in the mercy of Allah SWT. That is what makes you a believer, that you do not lose hope ever.

So we ask Allah SWT that He helps our brothers and sisters in Gaza and that He helps us to use our voices in the best way possible.

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.

Your Voice Matters

There’s a local high school and for the first time, they started an MSA, a Muslim Student Association where the Muslim students can come together and be together, talk about Muslim issues, even just socialize, eat some cookies, whatever, right? You can do activities together to raise awareness about Islam and about Muslims. And they did this at their high school.

And I remember growing up, I had an MSA in my high school. It was especially important after 9-11 when there was a lot of Islamophobia, a lot of bullying, that we needed that MSA as a place to go, as a place to seek refuge, as a place to go and to make Salah together and to be together and to find unity. So this is a beautiful thing that this was initiated by the Muslim students. So don’t ever think that you are too young to do something.

One of the things that this MSA did is that their school was going to have a fundraiser on ‘Israel and Occupied Territories.’ They lobbied the school and they discussed with the school to change it to ‘Israel and Palestine’ fundraiser because they said, how can you erase our brothers and sisters from Palestine? How can you erase that?

These are students that made this change. Students that made this difference. So don’t always wait for the adults. Don’t think that you have no power, that you have no voice. Actually your voice matters a lot because you are closer to the fitra. Do you know what the fitra is?

The Fitra

The fitra is the natural born state that Prophet SAW said that every one of us is born in a natural state. We don’t believe in the original sin. As Muslims we don’t believe that we were born sinful, that we were born as a mistake, that we were born out of sin, but rather we believe that we were born on the fitra, on the natural disposition, the natural belief in Allah SWT. This is something that we believe.

So you all as children, as kids, you are closer to the fitra. So don’t ever doubt yourself. Realize that you can make such a big difference. And if you need anything from us, let us know. We will help you. We will support you. We will be there for you inshallah ta’ala. And that is the purpose of this community. So don’t ever feel like you are alone. Always feel like you have older brothers, older sisters who you can go to for advice. Anytime, any day.

Du’a

We ask Allah SWT that He gives us unity and brotherhood and sisterhood. May Allah SWT guide us, guide our youth, guide our elders. Ameen. And help our brothers and sisters in Gaza and alleviate their oppression and their suffering. And help them to have peace and prosperity and all the pursuits that we get to pursue. May Allah SWT grant them that ability. And those that have passed away, may Allah SWT accept them as martyrs, as shaheed and enter them into the highest levels of paradise. Ameen Ya Rabbul Alameen.

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.

Please share your reflections and du’as in the comments below.

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