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.
Alif, Lam, Meem.
ذَٰلِكَ ٱلْكِتَٰبُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ
Dhālika Al-Kitābu Lā Rayba Fīhi Hudáan Lilmuttaqīna
This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah –
ٱلَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱلْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَٰهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ
Al-Ladhīna Yu’uminūna Bil-Ghaybi Wa Yuqīmūna Aş-Şalāata Wa Mimmā Razaqnāhum Yunfiqūna
Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them,
(Surah Al-Baqarah, Quran 2:1-3)
My dear brothers and sisters,
All praises are due to Allah and all the blessings that He has given us and in particular, that greatest blessing of all, which is that of Imaan in Islam. The structure and guidance and direction and meaning.
Imagine you did not have faith. What would you be? What would you do? What direction would you go in? They talk about suicide. Suicide has increased 400% since 1950. They say suicide in wealthier countries is higher than those in poorer countries. And the status quo currently is that we spend our life thinking that if we just get this next thing, we will be happy and we will be satisfied and we will be content. And it’s going to last forever. If we just get to this number in our bank account, if we just get this thing that we desperately need and that we aim our entire lives towards getting that.
And then once we get it, the satisfaction lasts for a day, an hour, a minute. And then we ask, “What’s the next thing?”
You’ve been watching your favorite drama, your favorite TV show. The minute it finishes, you’re like, “What do I do now with my life? What should I watch? What else is out there? Let me watch something else”. Right? What is that next thing? And so as Muslims, we praise Allah for giving us more, for telling us, informing us through revelation that there is more to life than that which will never bring us any satisfaction. If that is what we seek for satisfaction, it’s the wrong medicine.
And so today I’d like to talk about the meaning of Islam.
What is Islam? Islam means submission to Allah.
But what is submission to Allah? What does that mean? And how can we bring it into our lives? Because of course its not as easy as I said. Imaan is not black and white. There are times that the Sahaba, the companions, said to the Prophet (pbuh), “When we’re with you, our Imaan is sky high. And when we leave you, we don’t feel the same”. Hanzala said, “I am a munafiq. I am a hypocrite”. And the Prophet asked, “why?” He said, “Because when I’m with you, I feel like a true believer and when I’m without you, then I feel like it’s gone. And the Prophet (pbuh) said, “That is Imaan, the fact that you are afraid for it, that you want to hold on to it. If you weren’t worried, then that’s something you should be worried about.”
So what is that submission? There are several aspects to submission. I would like to focus on three today.
The first one is submission to Allah. A lot of times when you tell people Islam means submission, they think of maybe an army or they think of something like that. But submission to the will of Allah is something that impacts our everyday life. Our every situation. Think of all the things that are out of your control. You’re following the rules as you go. When it’s green, you stop. When it’s red, you slow down. When it’s yellow, you get into an accident in that moment. Are you submitting to the will of Allah? Your kid drops a glass, it shatters all over the floor. Are you going to submit to the will of Allah?
Your co-worker or your family or your friends says something that offends you? Are you submitting to the will of Allah? How are you going to react? What are you going to do? What are you going to do? How are you going to respond to those little situations and the big situation?
Do you well up with anger and erupt, or are you able to take the way of the Prophet (pbuh)? Are you able to practice patience and forbearence and forgiveness?? Are you able to control your anger? Like the Prophet (pbuh) said, “The strongest of you is the one who can control his anger“. Not the one who can wrestle every single person down, but the strongest is the one who can control his anger.
A lot of us are high functioning. When we go to work, we have so many skills and that same professional courtesy – do we bring it home? Do we bring that compassion? Do we bring it home with us? When we are home, do we treat our people around us that are closest to us with the same courtesy with which we treat a stranger on the street? Do we differentiate when we meet a person who’s not the same culture, not the same race as us? Are we one way with one group of people and one way with the other group of the people?
There are two thing that always gets me. I’ll tell you two complaints I have.
First one is parking. Even though it seems like a small issue, but every single Masjid you go to, parking is an issue. Why is parking an issue? We go to work every single day and it’s fine. It’s perfectly fine. Then we come to the masjid, what’s happened. Why are we treating one group different from the other? Why are we treating this group different from this group? Why can’t we take that professional courtesy and respect that we have for civilians? Why can’t we bring it here?
At a wedding, back before COVID, my second complaint is people just can’t stop talking. There’s just yapping going on the entire time. But when it’s someone outside of the community, someone who we don’t take for granted, let’s all be silent. Let’s all be silent and listen to what this person has to say. They’re from outside the community. So as human beings, we take things for granted, don’t we? And the thing that we take for granted the most is our Deen, our religion. We take it for granted. We don’t realize what we have until it’s gone. We don’t realize what we have until it’s gone.
So that first aspect of Islam is submission to Allah’s will.
Think back to when the Prophet (pbuh) said, “إِنَّ أَمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ خَيْرٌ everything that happens to the believer is good إِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ , if something bad, afflicts the believer صَبَرَ , he is patient, she is patient, and that is good for them. أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ and if something good happens, then they are grateful. And that is good for them. وَلَيْسَ ذَاكَ لِأَحَدٍ إِلَّا لِلْمُؤْمِنِ And that is for no one, but the believer”.
People ask, “how can I bring Islam into my daily? How can I pray more, fast more? How can I be Muslim more?” Number one, you need to interpret the events in your life. Look at the story on Friday. We’re meant to read Surah al-Kahf, which includes the ‘People of the Cave’.
It also includes a shorter story, about the man with two gardens. The man says, “look at all that I have”. He says to his companion, “I have more than you. I have more money than you. And when this all is over, Allah is going to give me even more in the Hereafter. When this is all over, He is going to give me even more”. This man misinterpreted his blessing. He saw it as, “I have all this for now, and I will have even more later. Look how much my Lord has blessed me”. That was a misinterpretation.
That’s what Pharaoh did. Pharaoh thought he had all this power, he must be God. He was the extreme, but even this person just had two gardens. He was wealthy. He thought he was going to have this forever, and he’d get even more after he left the earth. That’s what the leaders of Quraysh did. They told the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), “Even if what you’re saying is true, God has given us so much. Now he’s going to give us so much more later”.
This is all misinterpretation. Actually, that wealth is a blessing from Allah , for you to be grateful, but it’s also a test. Are you truly going to be grateful or are you going to hang it over everybody’s head? Is it going to lead to arrogance? Arrogance being the highest of evils, that anyone with an ounce of arrogance will not enter Paradise. So will that wealth lead you to arrogance, which will lead to your downfall? Then that person, that man with two gardens, his gardens are wiped out.
يَا لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أُشْرِكْ بِرَبِّي أَحَدًا
“I wish I did not associate partners with my Lord.”
The shirk is not mentioned in the story until that moment. The scholars debated, was the shirk of polytheism or was the shirk that he believed in the material that he worshipped – his gardens. If he had them, he was happy and he did everything in his life to serve the gardens and to increase his wealth. Was that his worship? Was that his God, besides God, was that the shirk that he had done? Or was it the shirk of arrogance? Because that is another lower shirk or the shirk of ri’a, the shirk of showing off, when you do an act, not because of Allah, but because of someone else is watching. So that’s one aspect: submission to the will of Allah and interpreting the events of our lives.
The second aspect is the submission to the prescription. I’m not going to say submission to the rules. I want to say subscription to the prescription.
Imagine you go to the doctor. You trust the doctor. He’s helped you before. You’ve done the things that he said and your blood pressure went down and your health increased and you’ve got in control of your diabetes. You trust this doctor he’s done good for you before. And he tells you to look, your life will get better.
If you take this pill, make sure you go to the pharmacist, take the pill. You’ll be good. Now, did you know that one third of people who get prescribed a prescription don’t even go to the pharmacist to fill the prescription and half of the people that do, they don’t actually take all the doses they should take and so we have in our Deen a prescription.
The question is not how can I pray more? How can I do the things that I should be doing more? But the question is, when will I do it. Because that is what that is taking the prescription, my brothers and sisters. How can we complain that our Imaan is low when we’re not taking the prescription. The verse I read at the beginning of the Khutbah:
ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ
الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ
The descriptors of the لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ. Isn’t it interesting that Allah uses verbs whenever he describes them with لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ. Those who believe in the unseen, those who establish the prayer, those who spend from what we have given them, actions, praying, giving, giving increases your Imaan.
Giving increases your Imaan and praying Salah increases your Imaan. And so don’t say, “I will, once I get enough Imaan, I will do this because that is how you will get to Imaan”. Since mental health has become such an important topic this today, in this day, the therapists and mental health professionals are doing a lot of studies on the effects of spirituality on mental health. And it is without a doubt now, that young people who have religion are happier. They have more mental wellness, better mental health. They have more friendships. They have better friendships. They have more social health, and social wellness. There’s so many benefits associated, but do we need a therapist or a psychologist to tell us this? That is the question. Maybe we do just because our demands are a little low.
We need a little help from this psychologist. A little bit it’s okay.
But they say that the research is growing and keeps going. They did a study where they did therapy that was secular and they did therapy that was spirited and the effects were similar. And then they said, “what was the thing that impacted you the most?” and the people who did the spiritual type of therapy, said, “this was the reason because I felt closer to God”, and the people who did the secular therapy that was devoid of the spiritual connection said, “when I went home, I would try to connect what I learned in my therapy to God and I would pray”.
And that was the thing that impacted me most. Not the therapy, but what the therapy led to, which was a connection, and so do we know what we have, do we appreciate what we have? The concept of khushu‘ is mindfulness. That is focus. We live in a life where day and age where our attention span is 10 seconds. Snapchat, Instagram. A little bit of time. That’s all the attention I have. What’s next? What’s next? Scrolling and scrolling.
Our attention span is so short, but we can still watch hours of a Netflix series somehow. Right? So is it really that short? So can we take those five minutes in our Salah to practice some khushu’? Can we take those five minutes to think about, not all the things we could be doing, but the thing we are doing, which is our connection to all Allah in practicing that khushu‘?
So I ask Allah that He helps us to submit to him. I asked Allah that He helps us to submit to his will. I ask Allah that He enables us and helps us submit to his prescriptions that he has given us. And to appreciate what we have.
The last aspect is the submission of Tawheed. It is the interconnectedness of this universe that was created by one creator. It’s all connected. We are connected to the creation. We see the mountains. We glorify Allah. We say SubhanAllah. The mountains around us – have you seen them in Washington? They fill us with the tasbih and they fill us with Imaan. That’s when we know that we’re interpreting that event correctly in our life.
Tawheed – the oneness of Allah, the oneness of the universe, the oneness of the creation. It’s all connected. And it should increase our Imaan. Our body is not by itself. We can not only maintain the physical body. We must also maintain the spiritual body. Just like we take time to exercise, go to the gym, do whatever it must also take time for our spiritual self, we must also take time for the spiritual side of our body.
Isn’t it interesting that our Salah requires us to move? It requires the body and it requires the mind. It requires focus and, of course, regenerates the spirit. People ask, “what is worship?” It’s charity. It’s salah. It’s fasting. This is worship. It’s picking up something harmful off the street. The Prophet (pbuh) says, “Smiling at somebody is Sadaqah and sharing your joy is Sadaqah. Spending time with your family is Sadaqah.” That’s worship. When your coworker insults or offends you, your response can be worship. Your son, your child, your daughter drops something and it smashes. Now, how are you going to worship Allah with your response? When you enter the Masjid and you are with others, how is your worship? What is your Ihsan to those around you?
We ask Allah that He fills our hearts with Imaan. I ask Allah that He connects us to the Quran. We ask Allah that He fulfills the needs of those that are in need. We ask Allah that He gives us good in this life and in the next. We ask Allah that He enters us into the highest levels of paradise. We ask Allah that He forgives those that have passed away, that He gives patients to their families. We ask Allah that He heals and cures the sick. We ask Allah that He accepts our good deeds and forgives our sins, our mistakes, our shortcomings .
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!