You can listen to Imam Adam’s Khutbah above (starts at 4:35), watch it below, or read the summary below. Delivered November 25th, 2017.
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ
wataAAawanoo AAala albirri waalttaqwa, wala taAAawanoo AAala alithmi waalAAudwani
And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.
(Surah Al-Ma’ida, Quran 5:2)
Many of you probably came here expecting me to talk about Thanksgiving and giving thanks. This morning, I learned that over 200 people were killed in Egypt. May Allah have mercy on them. Ameen. May Allah protect their families. Ameen. May Allah give them patience. Ameen. Last week 50 people were killed in Nigeria at a Masjid after Fajr. The week before that near San Antonio, Texas 50 people were shot at. That is the state of the world today. SubhanAllah. May Allah have mercy on all of these people, all of these worshippers. Ameen.
I could just talk about Thanksgiving and food, whether Turkey is Halaal or Haraam. But actually last week, we went to dinner held by the faith action network. It’s an interfaith group where a bunch of communities are getting together to act together. At that meeting, Alhamdulillah, MAPS actually won an award for interfaith leadership under the direction of sister Aniela. Alhamdulillah. Over there, one of the speakers was a native American leader, and I had never seen a native American leader before. I have met native Americans, but not a leader like a chieftain who represents them. That was amazing. That was interesting. He was talking about the history of native Americans in this.
They actually asked native Americans about Thanksgiving and they asked, what do you think it represents? What does it represent in one word? What do you think they said? Did they say a Turkey? Did they say football? Did they say giving thanks? Actually, they said, “lies.” They said, “sadness.” They said, “try to forget it. Try to have some good food and forget about the past. Try to move on.” Those are the things they were saying about Thanksgiving and the truth of Thanksgiving.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about what went on at that event, where you had people from all the faiths coming together and you had the Muslims being a part of- Not just showing up, but leading Subhan Allah. Allah says
جَعَلْنٰكُمْ اُمَّةً وَّسَطًا لِّتَكُوْنُوْا شُهَدَاۤءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ
jaAAalnakum ommatan wasatan litakoonoo shuhadaa AAala alnnasi
And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people
(Surah Al-Baqarah, Quran 2:143)
That what Allah has made this Ummah for, is to lead. I ask Allah that we continue to lead, that Allah shows us the right way, and He guides us and He directs us.
In my second week, sister Aniela called me and said, “you’re going on NPR on the radio.” I said, “I’ve been here for a week.” She said “it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to hit the ground running.” So I was on NPR and I was there with a rabbi and a pastor. The discussion was around the shootings in San Antonio. They were saying that thoughts and prayers are not enough. The religious leaders are saying that we need to act and we need to change this country. We need to change the way things are. And then you have politicians that are saying thoughts and prayers.
So the people that are supposed to be acting, are saying “thoughts and prayers,” and the people that are supposed to be praying, are saying, “we need to act.” On the radio, I wasn’t actually able to expand on this concept, but it’s something that I wanted to take the opportunity to expand on today. That our religion is not a religion of thoughts and prayers, that our religion is not a religion of simply having faith.
Just two weeks ago, an interfaith group came and they wanted to know about Islam. We gave them a tour of the masjid. We gave them a tour of MAPS. In the Q and A Imam Jabban was presenting, one of the people asked, “In your religion, do you believe that you are guaranteed salvation?”
Do you believe that you are guaranteed the kingdom of God, meaning Jannah or Paradise. What is our response to that? Are any one of us guaranteed to go to Jannah or any one of us guaranteed to go to paradise? Are any of us promised to go to paradise? None of us are promised to go to paradise because in our belief, in our Islam, Allah tells us that having faith is not enough. Simply believing is not enough.
A man came to the Prophet’s (pbuh) masjid and he left his camel outside. The Prophet (pbuh) asked him, “why did you leave your camel outside untied? Why did you just leave it like that? It might run away.” The man was a Bedouin man. He said, “Allah will take care of my camel.” And what did the Prophet (pbuh) reply? He said, “tie your camel and place your trust in Allah.” So that is our belief.
Anytime you read the Quran, what does Allah say about the true believers, the righteous people, the pious people, the good people, the men and the women. What does he say about them?
He says, إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَمِلُوا۟ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ – never does He say they believe and that’s it. Every time He says, they believe He follows that up with, they do good deeds. They do righteous acts. Another meaning of Saluha means to reform. They do things that reform society. They do things that make things better. The Muslims, when they go to a place, they make it better. They don’t go to a place and make it worse. That is what Islam teaches us. That is what Allah tells us in the Qur’an. That, don’t just believe, but what is your action going to be?
A good example I like to give, being from Texas, is imagine that you knew that a hurricane or a tornado was coming. Some catastrophe was going to happen. The scientists are saying an earthquake is about to happen. Imagine that was happening and you watch the news and you learn all the details. That it’s a category four or a category five, but you didn’t do anything about it.
The government is telling you to evacuate. The government is telling you to stock your supplies, to board your windows, take the necessary precautions. But you decide to do nothing. You decide to just wait, even though you know it’s coming. What will be said about you in that case? What can be said about such a person. In the same way, my brothers and sisters, we know the reality of life. We know what the purpose of our lives is. The purpose of our lives is to please Allah and for us to know that and to not act, that would be the greatest tragedy. That is why our belief is not enough.
There’s some extreme secular forces that say, you know what? Belief is just something you have in your heart. You don’t have to do anything about it. Actually, you should keep it hidden away. No one should see that you believe. No one should see that you are any different from anyone else. Everyone is the same in their beliefs. We should not see it. Religion should be completely out of sight.
But as Muslims, we don’t believe that Islam is just something that we believe in our hearts and khalas, no one needs to see it. Islam is not something that we should keep hidden. Islam is not something that we should shy away from. Islam is not something that we should be ashamed of. Rather, Islam is something amazing. Islam is mercy to mankind. Islam is for everyone for every time for every place.
The question we need to ask ourselves is, as a community, do we have each other’s backs? Are we United or are we different? If my Muslim brother is in trouble, am I there to back him up? Why are Muslims ashamed of their faith? Why are young Muslims ashamed at school? We need to get together. We need to unite more and more than we have ever before.
This is why today, I’d like to talk about the verse in Surah Ma’ida, verse number two. Allah says, وَتَعَاوَنُوا – usually translated as help each other; cooperate, but actually it goes further than that. It goes a little further than that. تَعَاوَنُوا. The ع و ن – the root letters, عَاوَنُ historically the Arabs used it to describe a herd of zebras, one of the meanings.
What is the purpose of a herd of zebras? A zebra by itself? You can see it. But a herd of zebras is just as squiggly set of lines, moving across Subhan Allah. If any one zebra gets left behind, what happens to that one zebra? He gets taken down by predators. He gets taken down by lions, by cheetahs, by hyenas, so many different predators that exist.
But when the zebras stick together, you can’t differentiate one from the other. They have each other’s backs. No one can take them down. Subhan Allah. تَعَاوَنُوا help each other, cooperate with each other unite together, to make sure no one is left behind for the predators. First thing Allah says عَلَى الْبِرِّ that be like that herd of zebras. To do بِرِّ . What is بِرِّ ? It is usually translated as righteousness. بِرِّ comes from the word بِر – is land as opposed to bahr, which is the sea.
Can you stand on the sea? The disbeliever is described in Surah An-Noor, as being in the middle of the sea, being in the middle of the ocean. No firm ground to stand on. But the believer is described as being on land, on being firm, on being stable. Help each other be stable. Do good deeds and you will be stable if you feel unstable. Do good deeds. Pursue good.
Right now we’re in the holiday season right? Today is black Friday. We are all ready to shop. We are all ready to wait in line. We’re all ready to get all those gift cards and free this and free that. But the thing is my brothers, I’m not saying those things are wrong, but that pursuit- it never ends. The iPhone 10- next year, we don’t even know what’s going to happen, nine or 11. We don’t even know, but whatever happens it’s just going to keep coming.
We can either be consumers and we just consume and consume to a point that we are sick. To a point that we are never satisfied. Or we can try to pursue something greater. We can try to pursue something that’s worth our time and our money. Something that’s worthy of our existence. Are we on this earth just to spend? Are we on this earth just to consume?
Are we on this earth just to get the next nice thing? The next car, the next house, the next this, the next that, this upgrade, that upgrade, this gadget, that gadget. I’m not saying those things are wrong. I’m not saying those things are Haraam. I’m saying there’s something outside of those things and anyone who seeks satisfaction in those things will realize or should realize that those things will never satisfy you.
I remember when I was young, I would go to my friend’s house and I would play a video game and I would love that video game. “Man, this new Nintendo smash bros, it’s the best thing ever.” I would go home and beg my mom, “I need this Nintendo and I need this game and I need this and I need that.” We bought the game. I played it for a day. Didn’t play it again for a month. As soon as I had it in my hands, it just wasn’t as important anymore.
The next month I went to another friend’s house, we played an Xbox and the next day I’m coming to my mom and, “I need an X-Box and I need this and I need that.” And this time she said, “no, that’s not gonna happen.” But that childhood experience, I’m sure many of us we’ve experienced this over and over and over again. You get the latest iPhone, you know what this face ID, my brother can actually unlock it as well. It doesn’t even work that well. I can put on a mask and someone else can unlock it for me. It’s not even that great.
That is the Dunia, my brothers. It will never satisfy us. My brothers and sisters, it’s not meant to satisfy us because Allah did not create us for this world. Allah created us for the akhirah. Allah created us for jannah and that is the place where we will be satisfied. That is where anything we asked for will be given to us. That is the greatest reward. Actually you could say even greater than that is of course the pleasure of Allah. So, help each other towards the بِرِّ towards good. Be stable.
Another meaning of بِرِّ is guilt-free. When you’re pursuing other things, you’re always guilty. I should be doing this. I should be doing that. I shouldn’t spend my time making more money. I should spend more time with my children, with my family. If you pursue good, then you get to be guilt-free.
عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَىٰ – Now تَّقْوَىٰ , is a very mistranslated word. It’s usually translated as fear Allah. I would say that isn’t a misuse of this word. Taqwa means God fearing. It does not mean fear God and there’s a difference. A hundred years ago when people said someone was God-fearing, what did it mean? It meant that that person was a good person. It meant that that person did not cheat. It meant that that person was aware that God was watching him or her. That’s what Taqwa means- to be mindful of Allah. Another meaning of Taqwa is to protect, help each other, to protect each other, to be conscious of Allah, to be mindful of Allah. Help each other. Have each other’s back.
On the other hand وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا – do not cooperate, do not help each other in what? عَلَى الْإِثْمِ ism is usually translated as sin. It also means guilt. It means consequence. Do not help each other to commit sin. Do not help each other towards something that will make you guilty. Do not help each other towards something that will make you blame worthy on the day of judgment.
عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ and do not help each other. وَالْعُدْوَانِ, what is وَالْعُدْوَانِ? The عُدْوَانِ many meanings. The main meaning is to cross a limit, do not help each other to cross the limits that Allah has created. Do not help each other towards animosity, do not help each other be enemies, rather you should unite. So that is my message to all of us today is that we need to unite.
We need to cooperate. We need to do things together. That is the only way to move forward, that every single one of you is somehow involved in your community. Now is the time more than ever. Imagine if your child today went to school and was bullied by a teacher and imagine you would be afraid of trying to pursue something because the school might take action against your child and you’re afraid. Imagine if you were in such a position. There are people that have been in such a position, but imagine if you knew that everyone had your back. Imagine if you knew that the people around you would support you. Imagine if you knew that the people around you would not back down.
Imagine if you knew that the people around you did not only care about their jobs and their nice house and their nice car and their nice this, and their nice that. Imagine if you knew that they had your back, that they wanted to help you, that they wanted to make sure that your child was safe going to school. That is the kind of environment that we need. Have each other’s backs.
What was the British colonizing countries strategy? When they came to many of our countries. Many of us were born here. I understand that many of us were not. So those of you that were born in Muslim countries, or your parents were from Muslim countries. What was the strategy? The strategy was divide and conquer. The Pakistanis have their own place. The Indians have their own place. Egyptians have their own place. The Somalis have their own place. The Turkish have their own place. The Bosnians have their own place. I’m not saying those things are wrong. You want to have your common language, that’s okay. But there are moments and there are times when we need to come together for the greater good.
So I ask Allah that He helps us to come together for the greater good. I ask Allah that He helps us to be like that herd of zebras and no one can get to them. I ask Allah that He guides us, our families, and our communities. Ameen.
The last thing I would like to mention is something that has stuck with me ever since I read it 12 years ago. It was a narration coming from Omar (May Allah be pleased with him). It was after the death of the Prophet (pbuh). It is an authentic narration. He was with his companions, with his people, the people closest to him. And he said to them, “if you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?” Has anyone asked you that question? What would you wish for?” A Ferrari? What would you wish for? A red camel in those days was the Ferrari of the desert. The red camel that was pregnant so you could have another camel. What would you wish for? So one of the people in his audience amongst the group said, “I wish that I could fill this room with gold and I would give all of it in the path of Allah.”
And Omar, he said again, “make a wish.” If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for? Another man, he thought he could beat the other one, he said, “I wish I had pearls and gems and all kinds of rubies and emeralds. I would fill this room up with all those rubies and emeralds, and then I would give it all away for the sake of Allah.”
If I were to ask you today, if you were to fill this room up with something, to give it all away for the sake of Allah, what would you say? If you could fix one thing, what would it be? Would it be a nice new dome for the masjid? Would it be a minaret because Allah knows we need a minaret to give the Adhaan nowadays. What would you wish for? What would you ask?
Omar (ra) said, “I wish I could fill this room with people, with men.” Not men as in males, but men as in people. People like who? Like Ubaydah, who gave his teeth away. Who took the armor out of the Prophet’s (pbuh) cheek. He used his teeth to take the armor out and he lost his teeth. Everyone was jealous of him that he sacrificed his teeth because every time he smiled, everyone remembered his sacrifice.
Omar said, “I wish I could fill this room with people like Ubaydah, I wish I could fill this room with people like Muadh ibn Jabal.” The one who the Prophet (pbuh) sent to Yemen to lead the Muslims in Yemen. The scholar, that is what Omar (ra) wanted. He wanted to fill the room with people. So here we are today. We are so many people Alhamdulillah.
The question is, how can we be a part of that? How can we give ourselves up in the way of Allah? Not just our money, but our time. And not just charity, but investment, investing in our future and working together. That is the big question. I will be giving a presentation insha Allah after the Salah. So those of you that want to join in and give me your thoughts, I would love to hear them, inshaAllah.
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.