Walk the Walk 

Arshad Gamiet/Royal Holloway College/Univ. of London /UK.  6th August 2004

“As-salámu 'alaikum wa rahmatul láhi wa barakátuh!”  [Wait for adhán]

“A-úthu billáhi minash shaytánir rajeem.  Bismilláhir rahmánir raheem.

Al hamdu lillahi nahmaduhu wanasta’eenahu, wanastagh-firuhu, wanatoobu ilayhi, wana’oothu Billaahi min shuroori an-fusinaa, wamin sayyi aati a’maalinaa.

May- Yahdillahu fa huwal muhtad, wa may- yudlill falan tajidaa lahu waliyan murshida. Wa ash-hadu an Laa ilaaha ill-Alláh, wahdahoo laa shareeka lah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhoo warasooluh”

 All Praise is due to Alláh, We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our own evils and our own bad deeds.

Anyone who is guided by Alláh, he is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him.

I bear witness that there is no god but Alláh, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad, sws, is His servant, and His messenger.

My Dear Brothers and sisters in Islam

This week, at least three stories concerning Muslims have been in the news. First, there is the violence committed by Muslims on Muslims in Sudan. Then there is the personal account of brutality and torture suffered by detainees in Guantanamo Bay. And now we heard of the arrest and detention of several young Muslims around the UK. We can assume that they are probably being interrogated as terror suspects. If these young people were really part of a terror network, we need to ask, how, as a community, have we failed? What failure of leadership has left young Muslims so vulnerable to desperate and dangerous actions that are explicitly forbidden in Islam? Alláh alone knows the truth and significance of all these events. One thing is certain. From the viewpoint of growing numbers of ordinary people in this country, when Islam and Muslims are in the news, it’s bad news! The joke about the policeman asking a suspect, are you innocent or are you a Muslim? Just doesn’t sound funny any more.

My last khutbah dealt briefly with the growing danger of Muslims becoming an isolated and marginalised minority here in Britain. I want to expand on this important subject. We do not have to be alarmists, and there’s no reason for panic, but we must face the realities out there. Unless we put matters right, there is now a real risk that we might be victimised like the Jews were in Nazi Germany. Their loyalty and patriotism was questioned, like Muslim loyalty to Britain is being questioned. Jews were stereotyped as scheming and manipulative people, exploiting others; here the far right wing describes Muslims as scrounging asylum seekers who live off state benefits, too lazy to work. We could easily ignore these allegations as the work of the lunatic fringe. But what if today’ s lunatic fringe becomes tomorrow’s majority, mainstream attitude?  There are already signs that anti-Muslim rhetoric is spreading from the tabloid press to broadsheet newspapers like the Daily Telegraph.

The Jews became scapegoats for everything that was evil and wrong in Europe. Their enemies promoted the idea that they were the cause of all Europe’s problems, and getting rid of them would cure the continent’s ills. If you follow the line of thinking in today’s popular press, you will notice a disturbing similarity with attitudes to Islam. It’s very similar to Germany in the 1930’s, and we all know what fate awaited Jewish people then. Britain in 2004 is not Germany 1930, but we must learn from history, if history is not to be repeated.

There is only one way we Muslims can avoid becoming victims of hatred and violence. The Holy Qur'an advises us in Sura Al Baqara [s2:v153]:

“Ya ay-yuhal-latheena 'aamanus ta’eenu bis sabari was-salaah. Innal-laaha ma’as saabireen.

O you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer. Truly Alláh is with those who patiently persevere.”

We must firstly seek the help of Alláh, with sincere prayer, supplication and remembrance: Salaah, Du’ah, and Zhikr. Then we must use our God-given intelligence, knowledge, [‘ilm,] and work out a plan, a practical programme. How should we deal with the flood of lies and distortions that are poisoning the minds of ordinary people towards us and towards our way of life? How do we deal with the restless and angry Muslims who see violence as the only way to redress injustice?

When we’ve done our thinking and planning, we must put our wonderful ideas into practice. As they would say in the United States, after talking the talk, we must Walk the Walk. We must strive hard to become the living examples of what Islam really stands for.

Forget about the fancy intellectual discourses. Ordinary people today just want to feel safe and secure, they don’t want to feel threatened. Nobody wants to live with fear and uncertainty. And why should our presence here as Muslims in Britain, be the cause of fear and uncertainty? Why should our neighbours look upon us with suspicion and loathing? Is it because the right wing press is tapping into dark, subconscious emotions? Are there other factors? Do we share some of the blame? Does our own attitude, our own daily habits and actions, have something to do with the negative feelings others have towards us? Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that Islamophobia is purely the work of Islam haters. Our own conduct towards our host community can also either promote or prevent their friendship.

Last week I gave just one or two examples, where we can make a big difference. Far too many of us walk around looking so miserable, so unfriendly and unapproachable. And many of us do not even bother to return a greeting. If we simply get into the habit of greeting each other properly, and also greeting strangers with a smile and a pleasant disposition, that alone will start to make a difference. The subject of greeting is not just a trivial matter. It is so important that The Holy Qur'an reminds us explicitly in Sura Nisa verse 86:

When a courteous greeting is offered to you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or at least of equal courtesy. Alláh takes careful account of all things.”

What may seem to us as being a trivial matter can really be of monumental importance. How many of us know that the Mongol invasion of the 13th Century was triggered off by an insult? Genghis Khan’s ambassador was bearing gifts to the Caliph in Baghdad when Muslims murdered him. As a result, Mongol armies swept across Asia, raping and plundering everything in their way. Magnificent Baghdad was destroyed with all its palaces and libraries. Millions were murdered, including women and children. The Caliph himself was rolled up in a carpet and trampled to death under horses’ hooves. When Genghis Khan was asked, why have you done this? He replied: ”Because you Muslims were unjust. I am the wrath of God, sent to punish you for your sins.”

Brothers and sisters, Let us not belittle even the smallest of good deeds, like accepting a greeting or a gift, courteously.

If others can see us as a visibly happy people, outwardly radiating an inner peace, people whose love for Alláh overflows into a love for all his creatures, and letting it show on our faces, then we can begin to change the host community’s impression of us.  Again in verse 165 Sura Al Baqara tells us that “… those of Faith are overflowing in their love of Alláh ...” and it is our love for Alláh, our obedience to Him, our eagerness to please him, that will really make the difference.

Iman, faith, does not enter the heart of a believer, without beautifying it, and it does not leave the heart of a believer, without darkening it.” Let us make sure that our iman actually beautifies our hearts, and that this beauty shines outwards in our behaviour, like it shone in the living example of Prophet Muhammad sws.

The Holy Qur'an tells us that “Truly, in the Messenger of Alláh, you have the best of examples.” “uswatul hasanah,” the finest of role-models.

Here is a human being, chosen by God to reveal His completed message to mankind. Those who take the trouble to study his life, will find that besides being a prophet, a military leader, a diplomat and negotiator, a legislator and a head of state, Muhammad sws was also an honest trader, a trustworthy associate, a loving father, a loyal friend, a devoted husband, a pleasant and helpful neighbour. In short, he was just a wonderful human being. The most perfect human being that ever lived. What an honour it must have been, even to spend five minutes in his presence! One of his contemporaries described the Holy Prophet Muhammad sws in these words:

“He was neither tall, nor lanky, nor short and heavy set. When he looked at someone he looked at them in the eyes. He was the most generous hearted of men, the most truthful of them in speech, the most mild tempered of them, and the noblest in lineage. Anyone who would describe him would say, I never saw before or after him the like of him"

When Alláh tells us that Prophet Muhammad sws is the best of examples for us, what does it mean? It means that whoever we are, whatever our station in life, whatever our professional calling, we have a point of reference, a role model in the Prophet of Islam. He was the last of the prophets, khaataman nabiy-yeen. We cannot be prophets ourselves, but we can benefit immensely by following his practical example. By studying his character, his noble conduct, we can improve ourselves in so many areas and live more complete lives. By taking Prophet Muhammad’s example in our business dealings, in our family affairs, and in our very important relations with the wider communities here in Britain, we can, insh-Alláh, turn the tide of negativity and hatred towards us.

There is an excellent film biography that was shown on the History Channel recently, entitled ‘Muhammad, Legacy of a Prophet.’ This documentary took 4 years to make, and employed the best talents in the movie industry, with the help of well-known scholars and advisers. I also noticed that some anti-Muslim websites strongly criticised the film, and Public Service Broadcasting [PBS] network for its involvement in what they called ‘good public relations for Islam. Well, if this film upsets the Islamophobes, it must be good. Perhaps we should all buy the video and show it to our friends and neighbours, especially to those outside the Muslim community.

But don’t forget, the best video and biggest award-winning movie is our own practical example. Let’s start living Islam! We’ve talked the talk, now let’s walk the walk…

 “Alhamdu lillahi Rabbil ‘Aalameen. Was-salaatu was-salaamu alaa Khairil mursaleen.

 Muhammadin-nabeey-yil Ummiy-yee, wa-‘alaa aalihee, wasah-bihee, aj-ma’een.

Ammaa ba’ad:

Innalláha wa malaaikata yusallúna alan nabi. Yá ay yuhal latheena ámanu sallú alayhi wasalli mú tas leema.

Allahumma salli alá Muhammad, wa ala áli Muhammad, kama salayta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali Ibrahim. Allahumma barik ala Muhammad, wa alaa áli Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali ibrahim. Fil ála meen, innaka hameedun majeed.”

 

All praise is due to Alláh, the Lord of all the Worlds; may the greetings and peace be upon the best messenger, Muhammad, the unlettered prophet; and upon his family and upon all of his companions.

Behold, Alláh and his angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O you who believe! Ask for blessings on him, and salute him with a worthy greeting.

O Alláh! Send your greetings upon Muhammad and his family,  just as you sent your greetings on Ibraheem, and his family. O Alláh, send you blessings on Muhammad and his family, just as you blessed Ibraheem and his family. In both worlds, you are praiseworthy and exalted.

Second Khutbah:

 Sub’ hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata illah billah yu althi yual theem.

 

 “All glory is for Alláh, and All praise is for Alláh; and there is no power nor strength, except with Alláh."

Dear Brothers and sisters,

 The poet John Keats wrote: “Beauty is truth, and truth, beauty. That is all you know on earth, and all you need to know.”

 The Holy Qur'an says that “Alláh is beautiful, and He loves beauty…”

 The Holy Qur'an also says that the Most Beautiful Names belong to Alláh. Surely, we who worship Alláh, and follow the religion of Alláh, must become people of beauty; we must cultivate beautiful manners, we must personify beautiful behaviour. We must become the kind of people that others will want to emulate: noble, dignified, worthy of respect. How can we even be remotely associated with ugliness and repulsive behaviour? This is not just a theoretical question. The implications are a matter of life and death for us.

 We Muslims in Britain have a simple choice. Should we leave the hate-merchants and Islamophobes to set the agenda, to rubbish the good name of our faith? Should we, by our silence, allow them to make us outcasts in this country? The failure of our leaders, and our collective failure of leadership has left scores of angry young men believing they can restore the honour and dignity of Islam only through acts of terror and violence. Should we let our angry young men be left to commit acts of terror?  And should we, through our silence, let others think that Islam is a religion of miserable and angry fanatics who aim to conquer the world by terror and violence?

 Of course not! It is our sacred duty to show the world the real Islam, the true Islam, the way of peace with justice and compassion. Brothers and sisters, it is time we show, by our living example, that we Muslims have an important role in building a multicultural, multi-ethnic Britain.

 There are a few simple but important things we can do, to begin the process of changing attitudes and changing perceptions, improving the status of Muslims and Islam in the eyes of our neighbours.

bulletFirstly, we must politely and firmly answer those who publish misleading articles and programmes about Islam. We must reply in writing and pick up the phone. We must present our case with elegance and honesty. Impartial readers and viewers will be convinced that we are truthful. We must maintain our dignity, and show that even when we are being abused, we ourselves do not become abusive.
bulletSecondly, we must use be more aware, more critical in the use and abuse of language, and we must convince others that labels like ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘fundamentalist Muslim’ and ‘secular Muslim’ are contradictory, unhelpful and meaningless. Journalists in the print and electronic media must be made aware of the careless use of language that reinforces stereotypes.
bulletJust like Prophet Muhammad sws is our ‘grand exemplar’ Uswaltul hasanah, so we must become the role models for others in the wider community. This is a big responsibility, but the stakes are high, and the future of our children and grandchildren here in the West may depend on it.

 Brothers and sisters, we have to bring practical Islam into our lives. The road ahead is going to be rough, but the road to Alláh’s pleasure is never an easy one. Just study the lives of the Prophets and the Awliyah, friends of Alláh. None of them enjoyed an easy life. On the contrary, they all suffered extraordinary hardship. Noble character is forged in the furnace of adversity.

 After this khutbah and the Jumu’ah prayer, we will have a collection for the flood victims in Bangladesh. All the money collected will be sent to Islamic Relief for emergency Aid.

  Let us pray to Alláh, to help us become better Muslims, devout believers and true ambassadors of Islam. O Alláh, help us to neutralize the mischief of hate merchants, help us to make a positive contribution to the wider communities in which we live, help us to provide good leadership to our youth, and help our angry youth to find correct guidance, and to avoid the temptations of violence and terror. O Alláh, keep us vigilant so that we do not commit any injustice to anyone. O Alláh, grant us your wisdom your guidance and your protection. O Alláh, help all those who suffer hardship in Bangladesh, Sudan, Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya and elsewhere.

Ameen!           Aqeemus salaah!

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