FROM THE MIMBAR
The Sacred Platform of Truth
By Sheikh Abduragmaan Alexander
“ The woman is right and Umar is wrong….” said the Caliph Umar from the Mimbar during a sermon.
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise be to Allah, the Supreme Creator, Nourisher and Sustainer of the universe. We beseech the Almighty to bestow His choicest blessings on our illustrious Master, Nabi Muhammad (peace be upon Him), on His pure family, His noble companions and all believers in every era.
Oh Muslims ! The Glorious Qur’an exhorts us to be ever conscious of the Omni-presence of Allah, our beloved creator, Who gave us the precious gift of life and bestowed on us His countless Favours and Mercy. In accordance with the divine injunctions,
“to rejoice the Favour and Mercy of Allah” (Surah 10:58),and
“to publicise the Favour of Allah” ( Surah 93:11 ), This universal Mercy and Favour, in the person of Prophet Muhammad ( P.B.U.H ), the global Muslim community joyously commemorated and celebrated the noble birth and advent of the Prophet in the blessed month of Rabi-ul-Awwal. His illustrious birth was was more radiant than the glorious sunrise onto a world steeped in the darkness of animalism, superstition and ignorance. But, we find that in a short span of 23 years, He achieved the most glorious and comprehensive success, and accomplished what stands up to this day as “the noblest and most profound revolution in human history”.
Reflect ! oh servants of Allah, how the Prophet led mankind out of the abyss of moral and spiritual degradation, to the highest pinnacle of civilization, through the processes of “Iqra’!”(read), constructive critical thinking and dialoque. It is for this reason that the Almighty endowed us with the faculty of intellect, which distinguishes us from the brute creation. The Holy Qur’an bears testimony to this :
“Most certainly the worst of animals in the sight of God are the deaf and dumb who do not apply their Aql ( faculty of intelligence).” ( Surah 8:22 )
“None will grasp the message, but people of intellect.” ( Surah 2:269 )
Muslims must be proud and thankful to Allah for providing the world with the divine and all-comprehensive Shari’ah Law, of which one of the basic objectives is “the preservation of Aql”.
The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said : “Whoever allows his vain desires and lust to control him, is considered lower than the beast , and whoever applies his aql (intellect), is considered higher than the Angels in the estimation of Allah.”
One of the primary sources on which our Islamic legal system is built, is the principle of Ijtihaad, which means “to exert oneself” through applying your Aql on the premise of profound knowledge. The Prophet is reported to have advised Mu’adh Ibn Jabal, on dispatching him to Yemen to lead the new Muslim community there, to judge by the Qur’an and Sunnah. On being asked how he would judge if he cannot find an answer in Qur’an and Sunnah, Mu’adh replied that “I will apply my Aql” (ijtihaad). The Prophet then praised him.
Oh servants of Allah. Is it not crystal clear that Islam came to save us from all kinds of bondage, especially intellectual slavery. We are not bound by blind following like sheep, nor to just swallow everything “hook, line and sinker”, but rather act on informed decisions. We have the right to dialoque, constructive critical thinking and freedom of speech. Let me remind you of the incident when Hazrat Umar, the second khalifa of Islam, one day delivered a sermon against the practice of settling large sums as Mahr (dower-money), it was a woman who stood up and objected, saying: Oh Ameerul Mu’mineen, how dare you oppose the Qur’anic dictate that even a heap of gold may be settled on the wife as dowry? Umar did not resent this, but on the contrary showed appreciation for this woman’s courage of her conviction and right to freedom of speech. He exclaimed:
“The woman is right and Umar is wrong.”
This is the product moulded by the blessed hands of Rahmatu-lil-‘Alameen. I urge you, from this mimbar ,the sacred platform of truth, not to live our lives striving only for physical pleasure like the animals, but rather ponder, reflect and apply our God-given Aql in every venture we undertake. Modern challenges demand that our Darul-Ulooms and religious institutions not only educate our youth through mere memorization of religious texts, but compliments it through encouraging independent thinking.
In conclusion, I urge you to note, that peaceful dialoque is conducive towards harmonious co-existence and constructive critical thinking leads the way to the advancement of every field of arts and science. Indeed the Prophet of Islam said:
” Allah has decreed excellence in everything”
Praise be to Allah and choicest blessings on our beloved Prophet. Jumuah Mubarak !!!
Sheikh Abduragmaan Alexander
Imam – Bridgetown Masjid, Cape Town, South Africa
President – Cape Mazaar Society
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