In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Synopsis of the Friday Sermon delivered by Ameer Mustapha Elturk on July 15, 2022
Muslims obtain their guidance from two primary sources; the Qur’an and the Sunnah (sayings and actions) of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Both sources assert that civic engagement is an obligation. In praising the last and final ummah, Allah (SWT) declares, “You are the best community (ummah) brought forth for (the good) of mankind.” (Aal ‘Imran, 3:110)
It is clear that we have been chosen to be of benefit to humanity i.e. to serve the community at large; Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Prophet (SAW) did inform, “The best of people are those who are most beneficial to people.” In another narration, he (SAW) said, “The most dear to Allah are those who are beneficial to people.”
Imagine if the Prophet (SAW) rejected the support of his uncle Abu Talib because he was a polytheist1. Abu Talib was responsible for not only protecting the Prophet (SAW) from physical harm but also for allowing him to freely preach Islam without the threat of intimidation coming from the leaders of Quraish led by Abu Jahl who vehemently opposed his message.
When the Prophet’s worldly protection Abu Talib passed away, his life was threatened and preaching the new faith came to a standstill. He fled to al-Ta’if to seek a new base for propagation (dawah). To his utter disappointment, he was rejected and driven out of the town. His only refuge was his home, Makkah, but he could only return under the protection of a notable from Quraish through ijarah. Ijarah is a tribal custom where the person offering ijarah, ensures one’s safety and protection from any harm. Although, he was not allowed to preach Islam, Mut’im bin ‘Adi agreed to protect the Prophet (SAW) and he accepted. Mut’im Bin ‘Adi was a polytheist.
The Prophet (SAW) sought the good will of people who didn’t accept his faith. He set the standard for seeking support from non-Muslims when necessary.
The League or Pact of the Virtuous, hilf al-Fudul, as it is called, is a great example of cooperating with non-Muslims on matters of justice. The Prophet (SAW), in his youth, was present in the house of Abdullah Ibn Jud’an where tribe leaders met and agreed basically on two main clauses. One; respect the principle of Justice and two; collectively intervene in conflicts to establish Justice. The pact was written and placed in the Ka’bah believing that God will protect the pact. Years later, the Prophet (SAW) in his admiration of the pact recalls, (on the authority of Aisha), “I witnessed in the house of Jud’an the pact of al-Fudul and if I were to be invited today (after the establishment of Islam) I would respond.”
The Qur’an and the Sunnah makes it clear that civic engagement with non-Muslims upholding universal values that include freedom, equality and justice and cooperating with them on matters of goodness is a religious obligation. Allah (SWT) commands, “Cooperate with each other in (matters of) goodness and righteousness, and do not cooperate with one another in sin and hostility. And Fear Allah, indeed Allah is severe in punishment.” (al-Ma’idah, 5:2)
And we too must respond to any form of alliance with non-Muslims as long as the objectives and the means to achieving the goals do not contravene the basic teachings of Islam.
With the ongoing ambush on Muslims and Islam in the West and America in particular, Muslims must rise to defend themselves and the faith they claim. We, as Muslims from across the globe residing in America, must come together for the sake of our religion and the future of our children. Challenges are inevitable. However, they can be overcome if we have the desire to civically engage. The Prophet (SAW) sought the support of non-Muslims. We have no choice but to work with and build alliances with individuals and organizations who are sympathetic to our cause and are willing to stand by our side. We must have a clear agenda that addresses the challenges we face today.
The civic engagement must be fundamentally based on justice. This must be the foundation of the framework. Allah (SWT) commands, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Justice as witnesses to Allah, even if it is against yourselves, your parents and close relatives…” (al-Nisa’, 4:135)
By the same token Allah (SWT) ordains, “O you who believe! Stand up for Allah as witnesses to Justice. And do not let the enmity and hatred of others make you swerve from doing Justice. Be just, that is closer to piety and fear Allah, for verily, Allah is well acquainted with what you do.” (al-Mai’dah, 5:8)
We have been granted an opportunity to stand up for justice/Allah as witnesses to Allah/justice. Being the source of justice, Allah (SWT), the Just (al-‘Adl), wants us to exercise our duty of ordaining good and forbidding evil. Should we fail to fight for and uphold justice, we will fail to be witnesses to Allah. Similarly, should we fail to stand up for Allah and the values/principles He (SWT), God almighty (SWT) imparted and doing His will, we will fail to be witnesses to justice.
We must personally be firm on justice while striving to see that others too are upholding justice.
Although there is much good in our societies, we can’t ignore the injustice of systematic and institutionalized racism, Islamophobia, racial profiling, police brutality, not to speak of environmental issues, killing and maiming of civilians with drones, occupation and usurpation of land. If we consider ourselves as part and parcel of the society, we then need to act. We simply cannot continue to remain silent. We must get out of our comfort zones and engage in the struggle for justice.
The Prophet (SAW) instructs, “Whoever among you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able, then with his tongue; and if he is not able, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.”2 (Muslim)
The word hand in this context denotes authority. Any injustice taking place in America may be challenged in the courts. Fortunately for us, there are civil/human rights organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), American Human Rights Council (AHRC), and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) among other organizations who challenge injustice and ensure that the rights of people are granted through the judicial system.
As things get better for the Muslim community in terms of action, there are three areas for improvement. They are: volunteerism, voting and simply being good Muslims.
Volunteerism: We must spare some time to serve and invest in the community. Become a volunteer. Government social services is but a small percentage of the social services rendered by non-profit organizations. Programs which include feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, blood drives, caring for the elderly, and free health clinics are but a few areas of much needed work. Without volunteers such endeavors would come to a standstill.
America strives on volunteerism and we must be part of that effort. The Prophet (SAW) informs, “A person who strives to take care of the needs of the widow and the poor man is like a knight, one who fights in the way of Allah (a mujahid), or like one who stands during the night to pray and fasts during the day.” (al-Bukhari)
We need to cultivate a culture of volunteerism. We must keep in mind that our primary motivation for helping others should be for the love and sake of Allah, “We feed you only for the sake of Allah alone. We seek neither recompense nor thanks from you.” (al-Insan, 76:9)
Volunteers must be aware that whatever good they do, their labor will not go unnoticed. “And Say (O Prophet), ‘Take action! God will see your actions- as will His Messenger and the believers- and you will be returned to the One who knows what is seen and unseen, and He will tell you what you did’.” (al-tawbah, 9:15)
The Prophet (SAW) narrates the story of, “A prostitute (who) saw a dog lolling around a well on a hot day and hanging his tongue from thirst. She drew some water for it in her shoe, so Allah forgave her.” (Muslim)
Voting: Another area of interest to us is exercising the right to vote. The narrative of whether Muslim American citizens are permitted to vote in the national or local elections has been debated and the overwhelming majority of scholars domestically and abroad have permitted the participation in the political electoral process. To be effective in this field, we must have a clear political agenda that serves the needs and rights of Muslims and the community at large.
There are nearly 8 million Muslims in America. African Americans make up anywhere from 23 to 30% of that number. The rest are from the Middle East, South East Asia, and East Asia among other nations. Therefore, 70% of Muslims, like all other US immigrants who left their homelands, immigrated to America for a better life. For most of us the economic opportunities here are much better than where we came from. We made that choice and we are enjoying the prosperity and success of living a good life.
Muslims in America are among the most affluent and most educated anywhere outside Muslim countries. Yet, we have no say in the affairs of our local governments what to speak of the national government. Unless we become involved in the electoral political process our conditions as Muslims are going to worsen.
As Americans it is our duty to face up to such challenges with wisdom. Participating in elections may not yield immediate results. However, with a clear long term strategy and agenda, participating in elections may very well help Muslims overcome their anxiety and possibly defeat Islamophobia in the long run.
Participating in local politics is just as, if not more important than participating in national politics. Challenges such as zoning when building Islamic centers and schools may be eased up when Muslims are familiar and engaged with State and Local governments and politicians. Muslims must consider running for the school board, city council, and a host of other positions.
Muslim voters exercising their right to vote especially when there is a sizable concentration of Muslims will make a huge difference. For those who are not registered to vote, we ask that you register and for all who are registered we ask that you do vote wisely.
And finally, simply:
Be a Good Muslim: Being a good Muslim will certainly enhance our image that has been tarnished by Islamophobes, hatemongers and bigots. It is, however, sad and unfortunate that some Muslims are acting repugnantly and contradictory to the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Muslim Doctors and business owners among others are jumping on the bandwagon of greed committing fraud and cheating among other illegal activities. Such activities are helping Islamophobes and the mainstream media justify their criticisms against Muslims and the faith they claim. Such actions are not helping our cause.
Muslim immigrants have pledged to uphold the law of the land and be good citizens. We must live our faith as ordained by Allah Almighty. Civic engagement that stands up for justice while upholding piety and righteousness will surely please our Lord and help us make a positive impression upon people who admire honesty and integrity.
May Allah (SWT) guide us to the straight path, ameen.
1 This is the opinion of the sunni school of thought. However, the shia school of thought believes that Abu Talib is considered from Ahl al-Bait, the family of the Prophet, and is a Muslim.
2 In an appeal to the Muslim community in the US, President Biden ran his campaign in 2020 on this slogan. One wonders, what has he done to the Uyghur Muslims detained in concentration camps in China, the onslaught and killing of innocent Muslims in India and Kashmir, the genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in Burma, or the plight of the Palestinians and the apartheid state of Israel, among a long list of human rights abuses in the US and around the world.
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Synopsis of the Friday Sermon delivered by Ameer Mustapha Elturk on Dec 10, 2021 Are You Ready for the Inevitable? Just as we swiftly come into this world, suddenly, the inevitable reality, death comes upon us. If any- thing is certain in life, it is death. Death is an undeniable truth that no one can deny nor escape from. Every sec- ond of everyday a person dies somewhere in the world. It is inevitable and unavoidable.
We will be returning to our Owner and Creator. Death is a subject people often avoid to talk about, much less remember it. The Qur’an, in many places confirms, “Every soul will taste death.” This repetition is to remind the believers of this reality allowing them to reflect on their lives and the life to come. Conscious believers who are firm on their belief in the hereafter will take heed of these reminders and prepare themselves for that moment of truth. Every soul shall go through this phase and there is no way out. “Say (O Prophet), ‘the death you are running away from will come to meet you and you will be returned to the One who knows the unseen as well as the seen and He will then inform you of what you used to do.’” (al-Jumu’ah, 62:8) More emphasis is made in the following ayah, “Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even if you are inside lofty towers.” (al-Nisa’, 4:78) “The Angel of Death” or “Malak al-Mawt.” is ever ready to claim our souls, “Say (O Prophet), ‘The An- gel of Death put in charge of you will reclaim you, and then you will be brought back to your Lord.’” (al- Sajdah, 32:11)
Some die suddenly while others undergo pain and suffering. According to prophetic traditions, sickness is a source of mercy and a chance for forgiveness. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) once said, “For every mis- fortune, illness, anxiety, grief or hurt that afflicts a believer – even the hurt caused by the pricking of a thorn – God wipes off his sins and his sins fall away from him as leaves fall from a tree.” This is God’s gift to the be- liever. Unfortunately, many people are heedless of death. The attraction of this world keeps them busy making money, competing for fame and seeking earthly pleasures. This tragedy leaves the soul hopeless and helpless. This weakness was profoundly expressed by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in a hadith when he warned the Muslims of a time when Allah (SWT) would cast “wahn” in their hearts. When he was asked about the “wahn,” the Prophet replied, “Love of the present world (dunya) and hatred of death.” Unfortunately, most people are deceived by the present life as Allah (SWT) recounts, “But you prefer the life of this world. While the hereafter is better and everlasting.” (al-‘Ala, 87:16,17)
What is life? Philosophers and thinkers have always been grappling with this question. Rather than dis- cussing their speculative thoughts, it is best to know what Allah (SWT) Himself says about life. “Know (O peo- ple) that the life of this world is (nothing but) play and amusement, an adornment and boasting among you, and 2 an increase in wealth and children…” (al-Hadid, 57:20). This is generally, the reality of man’s perception about this worldly life, whether that person is a Muslim, a follower of another faith tradition, an agnostic, or even an atheist. This life according to Allah, “Is like plants that grow after rain; (their growth) delights the till- ers, but then you see them wither away, turn yellow and become stubble…” Indeed, Allah spoke the truth. We are born into this world as babies wanting to only play and have fun; compete with our peers in our teenage years; reach the prime of youth, get a degree, obtain a career or establish a business and spend the rest of our lives making money and children until we become old, frail, sick and even- tually die. What has one done for the next life, the real eternal abode, one might ask?
The ayah continues, “There is terrible punishment in the next life as well as forgiveness and pleasure from God…” Allah concludes the ayah by explaining that, “The life of this world is only an illusory pleasure.” (al-Hadid, 57:20). Allah (SWT) gives people chance after chance. “If God were to take people to task for the evil they do, He would not leave one living creature on earth, but He defers them to an appointed time: when their time comes they cannot delay it for a moment nor can they advance it.” (al-Nahl, 16:61). The term of one’s life span is predetermined by Allah (SWT) before birth. Only He (SWT) knows when and where each person will expire. Although, death is certain and inevitable, yet people tend to live as if they are going to live forever. Re- ality is, death will catch up with everyone and it knows no age. Often times it comes suddenly. Many die in the prime of their youth. It happens that sometimes the father has to bury his son.
I had to burry my son who died at the young age of 33. The mystery of life and death is not without purpose. The life of this world is a test from God. Humans are tested on the basis of the heavenly covenant Allah (SWT) took from them in the world of spirits. “Blessed is He in Whose hand is the dominion (of the universe), and He has power over all things. The One who created Death and Life that He may test you (to see) which of you is best in deeds: and He is the Almighty, the Forgiv- ing.” (al-Mulk, 67:1,2) People are constantly put to all types of tests. “Every soul is certain to taste death. We test you all through the bad and the good (things of life) by way of a trial, and to Us you will all return.” (al-Anbiya’, 21:35)
Believers are urged to be patient while facing trials and tribulations. “O you who believe! Seek help through patience and prayer, for God is with the patient.” (al-Baqarah, 2:153) Believers throughout their entire lives anticipate hardships and difficulties. They are aware of Allah’s promise, “We shall certainly test you with fear, hunger, loss of property, lives, and crops. But, give good news to those who are patient. Those who, when inflicted with a calamity say, ́We belong to God and to Him we will return.’ Those are the people who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord; they are the ones who are guided.” (al-Baqarah: 156,157) Believers do not complain but resign themselves to God’s will. They remain patient in the face of adversity knowing that they belong to God and to Him they will return. Believers are not afraid of death. What is the reality of death? The word ‘taste’ in the ayah, “Every soul shall taste death” is similar to its usage when used with food. Good and wholesome food will taste good and sweet while bad, sour and bitter food will always taste bad and bitter. Similarly, a good and righteous soul will taste the sweetness of death while a wicked and rebellious soul will taste the bitterness of death. When death occurs, the spirit (ruh) leaves the body. We learn through prophetic traditions that a good soul comes out of the body with ease, while an evil soul, which resists leaving the body is taken out harshly by the angel of death. The two types of souls are accordingly honored and dishonored in their respective journeys to the heavenly dimensions and back to the grave when they are questioned.
The souls will return to the grave for the final exam. A good soul will have no problem answering simple questions such as who is your Lord? Who is your Prophet? And, what is your Book? As simple as they may sound, a wicked soul that lived in rebel- lion against Allah (SWT) will have a terrible time in the grave and will not be able to answer the posed ques- tions. May Allah (SWT) bestow His Mercy upon all of us, ameen. We must recognize that people take nothing with them to their graves. We learn through a prophetic 3 saying, “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things, perpetual charity (Sadaqah Jari- yah); knowledge which is beneficial; or a righteous descendant who prays for him (the deceased).” Such admonitions remind us that we should hasten in performing good deeds lest our time expire and our book of deeds be closed forever. The Prophet (SAW) in a hadith said, “An intelligent wise person is one who controls his desires (nafs) and works for that which come after death.” The following admonition speaks volumes, “O you who believe! Be mindful of God, and let every soul look to what it sends for tomorrow (Day of Judgment) and fear God, for God is well aware of everything you do.” (al-Hasr, 59:18) Indeed, “Every soul shall taste death and you will be paid in full (but) only on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever is kept away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise will have triumphed.
The present world is only an illusory pleasure.” (Aal Imran, 3:185) Death is an inescapable reality that everyone must acknowledge. What are we to do about it? How are we going to prepare for it? We should be ready for what is to come after death i.e. the afterlife, resurrection, and Judgment Day. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) in his first public speech stressed, “By Allah! You will die just as you sleep, and you will be resurrected just as you wake up from sleep. You will be recompensed on account of what you do, earning good for good and evil for evil. Verily, it is either Paradise for eternity or the Fire for eternity.” May Allah (SWT) make our good deeds heavy on the Day of Judgment and bestow His Grace and Mercy on all of us, ameen.
The duty of Ordaining Good and Forbidding Wrong is our duty Allah (SWT) in Surat Aal ‘Imran made it very clear, “You are the best nation (ummah) evolved for (the service of) mankind, ordaining good and forbidding evil.” (Aal Imran, 3:110) It is on the basis of this responsibility Allah (SWT) praised the last nation of the last Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Muslims bear dual purposes, to serve Allah (SWT) and humanity. Serving humanity may transpire in many ways. One of the ways that is most beneficial to the welfare and wellbeing of the society is through the duty of amr bilma’ruf and nahy ‘an al-munkar. What is amr bilma’ruf and nahy ‘an al-munkar? Amr bilma’ruf literally is the ordainment of what is generally known to be good and nahy ‘an al- munkar is the forbiddance of what is despised. The Arabic word ma’ruf from the root word ‘A Ra Fa means, that which is commonly known or acknowledged. The Arabic expression “‘amal ma’ruf, إعمل معروف” means, “do me a favor,” or “do a good deed.”
As a Qur’anic term the meaning varies according to its usage. It may mean fair, reasonable, equitable, kindness, or good. The word munkar from the trilateral root Na Ka Ra, means anything that is disapproved, unrecognized, unpleasant, strange, injustice, denied, or rejected. Munkar is anything a sound mind would rule out to be ugly, unpleasant, nasty, horrible, awful or despised by the sharia and declares it to be prohibited haram or disliked makrooh. Munkar is the antonym of ma’ruf. The exhortation amr bilma’ruf and nahy ‘an al-munkar, means to, “Enjoin what is right and forbid what is reprehensible.” To command or ordain what is good, amr bilma’ruf, is also to call to it, to promote it, and to persuade and convince others about it. Similarly, in addition to being disapproved by the sharia and abhorred by Allah (SWT), nahy ‘an al-munkar is to obstruct the munkar, to deter and prevent people from doing munkar, and to take every measure to resist munkar so it does not 2 become the norm.
“Verily, Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and generosity towards relatives and He forbids what is shameful, (all that is munkar) evil, and transgression. He admonishes you, so that you may take heed.” (al-Nahl, 16:90) Allah does not like to see munkar spread. Muhammad (SAW) was not the only Prophet who received Divine Guidance and sharia. Musa and Isa, may God’s peace and blessings be upon them, were recipients of sharia also, “To each of you We have ordained a code of law (sharia) and a way.” (al-Ma’idah, 5:48) Sharia evolved over time. It started with Nuh (AS) and the final Divine Guidance and sharia received by the last Prophet and Messenger Muhammad (SAW) until the end of time came at a time when the social evolution reached its climax. The final Divine Order for humanity or sharia elucidates what is right and wrong, good and evil, desirable and undesirable. It ensures those who follow its guidance a good and happy life in this world and salvation in the next world for those who have attained faith. Islam is indeed a blessing. In one of the greatest and shortest chapters of the Qur’an regarding salvation, Allah made it very clear that enjoining one another to the truth is one of four criteria to success and salvation. “By the fleeting time, verily, man is in a state of loss indeed. Except those who believe, do good deeds, enjoin one another to the truth, and enjoin one another to patience.” (Al-Asr, 103:1-3) “Enjoining one another to the truth” necessitates “amr bilma’ruf and nahy ‘an al-munkar.” Muslims in the West and the United States enjoy unrestrained freedoms that led to many munkars.
The moral and ethical biblical values that shaped Europe and the US have decayed and the spread of evil has prevailed. What was once ma’ruf became munkar and vice versa. What was once a virtue became a vice and what was once a vice became a virtue. Munkar has become the norm. Case in point, tattoos became body art, homosexuality and same sex marriage is now being taught in schools as natural, gambling is a form of entertainment, cohabitation is preferred over marriage, extramarital affairs is an accepted norm, etc. and on a grand scale evils such as racism, poverty, environmental injustice and militarism still persist. Muslims bear the responsibility of caring for the welfare and well-being of our fellow human beings. We must exercise our duty of promoting all that is good and forbid evil to be worthy of the title “the best ummah,” “You are the best nation (ummah) evolved for (the service of) mankind, ordaining good and forbidding evil.” (al-Baqarah, 2:143) The survival of good is possible only through the process of eradicating evil. This duty is very much similar to the duty of dawah. It is an individual as well as a collective duty. At the individual level, Allah (SWT) calls on, “The believers, both men and women, support each other; they order what is right and forbid what is wrong; they keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed alms; they obey God and His Messenger. God will give His mercy to such people: God is almighty and wise.” (al-Tawbah, 09:71) Devout believing men and women who, each within his or her sphere of influence, exercise this duty will ultimately receive Allah’s Mercy and be granted their promised Heaven. “God has promised the believers, both men and women, Gardens graced with flowing streams where they 3 will remain; good, peaceful homes in Gardens of lasting bliss; and- greatest of all- God’s good pleasure.
That is the supreme triumph.” (al-Tawbah, 09:72) At the collective level, Allah (SWT) enjoins upon the ummah this duty, “Let there be a group from among you who call ˹others˺ to goodness, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong. And it is they who will be successful.” (Aal ‘Imran, 3:104) Salvation indeed depends on the fulfillment of our obligations and duties. It may be easy to promote good and virtuous acts through word and deed, but how does one eradicate evil. The process of eradicating evil may be achieved in three distinct ways according to the Prophet (SAW); the hand, tongue and heart. He (SAW) instructs, “Whoever among you sees evil (munkar), let him change it with his hand. If he is unable to do so, then with his tongue. If he is unable to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest level of faith.” (Muslim) The Hand: The word hand used in the hadith and within the context of the Qur’an denotes authority.
Allah (SWT) in Surat al-Mulk says, “Blessed is He in Whose hand is all authority, and He has power over everything.” (al-Mulk, 67:1) If one is in a position of authority, one should destroy the evil he or she recognizes. If not, then one may go through the judicial system and electoral process to eliminate evil. Evil may be abolished through the courts or voting. It requires hard work, persistence and patience. The Tongue: If we fail to eradicate evil through authority, the second step is through the tongue. One must speak out and express his/her displeasure against evil plaguing society. Case in point; racism and poverty. One must stand with the oppressed against the oppressor and challenge the system through organized protests, rallies, speeches, slogans and media. The Heart: In the event one is unable to eradicate evil through authority and tongue due to lack of courage, the last step is to feel it in one’s heart. The heart should throb. One should be disturbed and lose sleep over the evil that surrounds our lives. Such feelings reveal that faith (iman) is still alive. Otherwise, the heart is dead and void of faith.
Abdullah Ibn Masoud (RAA) reports, “The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Never had Allah sent a Prophet before me to a nation who had not among his people disciples and companions who hold unto his tradition and carry out his directive. Then, they were succeeded by their descendants who preached what they did not practice and practiced what they were not commanded to do. Whoever strives against them with his hand is a believer, whoever strives against them with his tongue is a believer, and whoever strives against them with his heart is a believer, and beyond that there is no faith not even (the weight of) a mustard seed.’” (Muslim) Therefore, let us take heed and do what we can, individually and collectively, to uphold our duty of enjoining good and forbidding evil solely for the pleasure of Allah and the good of people. To be effective in carrying out this duty, one must take heed of the following: 1) One must be pious, upright, God fearing and possess good character. 4 2)
Sincerity: One must be genuine in his/her endeavor and the motive must always be for the sake and pleasure of Allah and out of love for His servants, not for any worldly gain and/or fame. 3) One must possess the basic knowledge of the Lawful and the Unlawful (halal and haram). The Messenger of Allah states, “Verily, the lawful is clear and the unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which many people do not know…” (Bukhari and Muslim) Common Muslims may exercise forbidding the wrong on trivial prohibitions such as cheating, stealing, drinking, gambling, illicit relationships, etc., however, one should not get involved with issues of jurisprudential nature (fiqh issues). Concerns of such nature should be deferred to trained jurists and scholars. 4) One needs to be wise in his/her approach. Although it is a duty, it must be carried out in the most gentle and kind way to ensure good results. The prophetic approach is, “Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Give glad tidings and do not frighten them away.” (Bukhari & Muslim) Use persuasion over arguments and begin with the way the Prophet would when addressing Muslims, “O Muaz, I love you for the sake of Allah…” It is important to win the heart of the person you are addressing in order to achieve good results. 5)
One needs to be patient. This work requires much patience. Results are in the hands of Allah. One must endure the negative reaction be it verbal or physical coming from the person one is trying to correct. Pay heed to Luqman’s golden advice to his son, “O my dear son! Keep up the prayer; command what is right; forbid what is wrong; and bear with patience whatever befalls you. Surely, these matters require great resolve.” (Luqman, 30:17) 6) Remain connected with Allah (SWT) for there is a direct connection between prayers and the noble duty of enjoining what is right and forbidding the wrong. The best way to remain connected with and seek Allah’s help is through the daily obligatory and supererogatory prayers. The Prophet (SAW) said, “The servant is closest to his Lord during prostration, so increase your supplications therein.” 7) Remember you are on the truth (haq), never surrender or reconcile with injustice, wrong and oppression (batil). Always pray that Allah (SWT) gives you tawfeeq and accepts your noble actions. May Allah (SWT) enable us to uphold the duty of enjoining good and forbidding wrong, ameen.
1 بســم الله الرحمن الرحيــم In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Synopsis of the Friday Sermon delivered by Ameer Mustapha Elturk on May 21, 2021 “Save Masjid al-Aqsa” Surat al-Isra (The Night Journey) opens with the words, “Glory be to Him who took His servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram (in Makkah) to al-Masjid al-Aqsa (the farthest mosque in Jerusalem) whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the all-Hearing, the all-Seeing.” (al-Isra’, 17:1) The first ayah of surat al-‘Isra mentions the night journey followed by a quick shift to the 2000-year old history of Bani Israel. Incidentally, the surah is also called Bani Israel (The Chidren of Israel).
The mention of Bani Israel is not a coincidence. It has a significant message. Jerusalem was the first scene of the night journey and the message is directed toward the Jews. The event suggests that the leadership will be rein- stated by Allah’s messenger, Muhammad (SAW), and that the two sanctuaries of the Abrahamic faith (the Ka’bah and Bait al-Maqdis) will be under the jurisdiction of Muslims. After a brief introduction to the blessings Allah (SWT) bestowed upon Musa (Moses) and his nation in the form of a Book that contains guidance with the admonition that they take no one in worship besides Him (17:2), Allah (SWT) mentions the rise and fall of Bani Israel. “And We decreed to the Children of Israel in the Scripture, that you will cause corruption (and disorder) twice on Earth, and that you will rise to a great height.” (al-‘Isra, 17:4) The origin of the Israelites appear to be of nomadic Semitic tribes in the Mesopotamian region (Iraq) from 2300 through 1550 BCE.
Yaqub (Jacob or Israel), son of Ishaq (Isaac) and grandson of Ibrahim (Abraham), had 12 sons. Jacob was known to display favoritism among his children, particularly Yusuf (Joseph) and Benjamin. Out of jealousy, the brothers plotted against Yusuf; they failed in their plan to kill him, however, they succeeded in throwing him in a well. Yusuf was sold to al-Aziz and eventually he is given authority in Egypt. He invites his father and family to Egypt where they resided and eventually over time and after the passing of many generations the Israelites become enslaved by the Pharaohs. After some time, Musa (Moses) is born. His life is spared when it was declared by Pharaoh to kill the male off- spring of the Israelites. Instead, he was placed in a basket and set to sail in the Nile river. The wife of Pharaoh finds him, and he eventually grows up in the palace of Pharaoh. Moses is chosen as a messenger of God and was assigned to deliver the Israelites from the enslavement and op- pression of Pharaoh. The Exodus, also known as the departure from Egypt is the story of freedom from the bondage of the Pharaohs and wanderings in the wilderness up to the border of Canaan.
They were delivered from slavery by God, where- upon they made a covenant with God. The main covenant was that they worship none except God, “Be careful that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God that He made with you; do not make an idol for your- 2 selves in the form of anything He has forbidden you.” Deuteronomy 4:23 “And so We took a covenant from the children of Israel, ‘Worship none but Allah; be kind to parents, rela- tives, orphans and the needy; speak kindly to people; establish prayer; and pay the poor-due.’ And yet, save for a few of you, you turned away and paid no heed.” (al-Baqarah, 2:83) A synopsis of the history of the Children of Israel is captured in surat al-Baqarah. Seventy-Six ayat are dedicat- ed to the Israelites, their good and bad deeds. The entire discourse begins and ends with, “O children of Israel! Remember My blessings I bestowed upon you, and how I favored you above all other people.” (al-Baqarah, 2:47 & 122) “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;” Exodus 19:5 “You have today declared the Lord to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice.
The Lord has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the Lord your God, as He has spoken.” Deuteronomy 26:17-19 Allah (SWT) favored the children of Israel due to the subjugation and oppression they faced for centuries in Egypt. The children of Israel indeed were chosen by Allah as He is always on the side of the oppressed. How- ever, when the oppressed breach covenants with Allah and act arrogantly and defiantly, Allah’s wrath pours up- on them. Taking anything or anyone for worship besides Allah is a breach of the grand covenant, “that you worship none besides God.” The first and worst crime of the children of Israel is the worship of an idol; a calf, the golden calf. “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them.
They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” Exodus 32:7-8 “And indeed, there came unto you Moses with all evidence of the truth. And thereupon, in his absence, you worshipped the (golden) calf, and you did wrong.” (al-Baqarah, 2:92) Such a grand sin draws Allah’s anger. “Also in Horeb (Sinai) you provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry with you to have destroyed you.” (Deuteronomy, 9:8) “Therefore, the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of His sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.” (2-Kings, 17:18) Other crimes that drew the wrath of Allah, according to the last scripture, the Holy Qur’an, include rejecting parts of their scripture and the killing of God’s prophets. “And they were struck with humiliation and disgrace and have incurred the wrath from Allah.
That was be- cause they rejected Allah’s revelations and wrongfully killing the prophets. That was because of their disobedi- ence and transgression.” (al-Baqarah, 2:61) A similar ayah in surat Aal ‘Imran (3:112) mentions Allah’s wrath upon the Israelites citing the same charges. The above ayat are aligned with the Bible. Elijah (Elias in the Qur’an), one of the most notable prophets from scripture who defended the worship of the Hebrew God over that of the Canaanite deity Baal, and sought to re- store God’s kingdom in a time of wicked rulers, is quoted in Kings of the Old Testament, “He (Elijah) said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn 3 down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.’” (1-Kings, 19:10) Such behavior incurred the curse of their great prophets, David and Jesus. “Those of the Children of Israel who defied God and denied the truth, were cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus, the son of Mary, because they rebelled and persistently overstepped the limits. They did not forbid one another from doing evil. Evil in- deed was what they did!” (al-Ma’idah, 5:78,79) Of course, this does not apply to all Children of Israel as God reveals, “They are not all alike. Among the Peo- ple of the Book are upright people, who recite Allah’s scripture throughout the night and prostrate (in prayer).
They believe in Allah and the Last Day, they command the good and forbid evil, and they hasten in doing good deeds, and indeed, they are among the righteous. And whatever good they do, will not be rejected of them for Allah knows well those who are conscious of Him.” (Aal ‘Imran, 3:113-115) Indeed, there are those who have conscience, who stand by and uphold justice for all, who speak out against occupation, oppression and evil. Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Bernie Sanders are among many intel- lectuals, journalists and politicians and Jews of conscience who resist and speak out against the oppression of the Zionists against the Palestinians and the apartheid state of Israel. The Rise and Fall of the Children of Israel, “And We decreed to the Children of Israel in the Scripture, that you will cause corruption (and disorder) twice on Earth, and that you will rise to a great height.” (al-‘Isra, 17:4) The First Rise Following the miraculous deliverance from the bondage of Pharaoh in Egypt and the 40 years they spent in the wilderness came God’s prophecy of the establishment of God’s kingdom in Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. Joshua identified as, يُوشَع ُ بْن ُ نُون, Yūšhaʿ ibn (son of) Nūn, although not mentioned by name in the Qur’an, is believed to be one of the two “God-fearing men” on whom Allah bestowed His grace (see surat al-Ma’idah, 5:20-23).
After the death of Moses, Joshua led the Israelite tribes in the conquest of Canaan and distributed its lands to the 12 tribes. His story is mentioned in the Old Testament Book of Joshua. The First Fall God sent many Prophets to warn the Israelite kings of the destruction that would come their way if they didn’t return to Him in worship and obedience. Due to continued idolatry and syncretism (mixing elements of true and false worship), failing to honor the covenant the Israelites made with God, and allegedly burning their sons and daughters as offerings and the practice of divination and sorcery, among other sins, divine wrath first ap- peared in the form of Babylonian forces marching into Judah in 604 B.C. The armies of Nebuchadnezzar entered the Holy City on March 15, 597 B.C., and plundered the Temple of Solomon. The wall of Jerusalem was breached on July 9, 587 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar decided to make an exam- ple of the city, and his orders were carried out with cruel thoroughness.
The city walls were demolished. The Temple and the palace were stripped of all valuables and burned to the ground. Thousands were killed, and a large part of the population was taken as captives to Babylonia, more than 500 miles away. The kingdom of Judah itself became a Babylonian province, which presented at that time a deeply scarred look. Everywhere, towns were ransacked and burned, crops destroyed, and villages deserted. The following ayah elucidates this brief history, “Hence when the prediction of the first of those two (periods of iniquity and decline) came true, We roused against you servants of Ours of great might who ravaged (your) country, and so the prediction was fulfilled.” (al-Isra’, 17:5) The Second Rise 4 The Israelites while in captivity repented and God’s mercy came in the shape of Cyrus, king of Persia, who, brought the Babylonian Empire to her knees in 539 B.C. The very next year, Cyrus authorized the Jews in Mesopotamia to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple at the expense of the royal treasury. The sec- ond Temple was completed in 515 B.C. “But then (after your repentance) We allowed you to prevail against your enemy and increased you in wealth and offspring and made you greater in number.” (al-Isra’, 17:6) The Israelites lived in prosperity and were informed, “If you act rightly, it is for your own good, but if you do wrong, it is to your own loss…” (al- Isra’, 17:7) The Second Fall The Israelites zeal and commitment to God began to fade with the passage of time. The love of God was gradually and eventually replaced by the love of the material comforts and possessions.
The spirit of worship of the One God turned into empty forms of rituals, and moral and ethical values declined. The Roman General and political leader, Pompey, who took on the Seleucids in Syria was called to settle internal conflicts by the Jewish people who were fighting over the control of Judah. Pompey decides to take the Holy City by force. Thousands of Jews were killed during the three-month long siege of Jerusalem. Pom- pey breaks into the walls of Jerusalem. After desecrating the temple, Pompey allows the priests to continue their religious practices in the temple. The Romans occupied Jerusalem and the Jewish people had to accept the terms of Rome.
They became a province of the Roman Empire in 64 BC. A century later, in 70 CE, the Romans under the Roman General Titus, and later Emperor, ransacked the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the second temple in retaliation for an ongoing Jewish revolt. Although Jews continued to inhabit the city, at the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE, many of the Jewish people were massacred and Jews were banned from living inside Jerusalem. Indeed, a scriptural prophecy fulfilled, “…And when the prediction of the last (of those two periods of iniqui- ty and decline) came true, (We permitted your enemies, the Romans) to disfigure your faces and to enter the masjid (temple of Solomon) just as they entered it the first time and utterly destroy whatever fell into their power.” (al-Isra’, 17:7) For centuries Jews lived in diaspora. It was during the reign of Omar (RA) in 638 CE, Jewish families were allowed to return to Jerusalem and live in the city. “And We decreed to the Children of Israel in the Scripture, that you will cause corruption (and disorder) twice on Earth, and that you will rise to a great height.” (al-‘Isra, 17:4)
The last statement of the ayah, “and that you will rise to a great height,” or to become elated with extreme arrogance, is what we see today, world domination through the control of media, social media, entertain- ment, political and economic policies. In terms of the plight of the Palestinians, the Zionist regime is oppres- sive. They have no regards for human rights and dozens of UN resolutions for breach of the peace and/or acts of aggression are ignored. Sadly, Jerusalem, the city that was besieged by the Muslims in 636 A.D. and was offered to Omar (RA) by the Patriarch Sophronius, was captured by the Zionists in 1967. Israel’s annexation of occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem is declared illegal by the international communi- ty, including UN Security Council Resolutions 478 (Jerusalem). In 2017, former President Donald Trump, in a historic move officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In case one wonders how Jerusalem vis-à-vis Palestine was lost to the Zionists, the colonial powers with the aid and influence of the Zionist agenda who saw the Ottomans crumble from within seized an opportunity to not only destroy the institution of the Ottoman Caliphate but pave the way to the creation of the State of Isra- el in Palestine in 1948. And in 1967 it gained East Jerusalem in the Six-Day war with Arab states. 5 The rise and fall of Bani Israel’s discourse ends with, “It is still possible that your Lord may show mercy to you but if you return (to sinning) We will return (to chastising). Indeed, We made Hell a prison for the disbelievers. Surely, this Qur’an guides to that which is most upright and gives the believers who do good deeds glad tidings that for them is a great reward.” (al-Isra’, 17:8,9) The conflict between Israel and Palestine is not only political, but also religious. It is a conflict over land. The following verses from the Bible among other verses are usually cited to claim the land of Palestinians. Genesis 15:7 of the Old Testament explains, “He also said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chal- deans to give you this land to possess.’” Also, “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.’” (15:18)
Similarly, chapter 17 of Genesis asserts, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your de- scendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:7-8) The conflict is indeed over land and the Zionist regime’s plan is to control not only Palestine but the entire region between the Euphrates in Iraq all the way to the Nile river in Egypt. They desire to destroy Masjd al-Aqsa and rebuild their temple that was destroyed two millenniums ago. The architectural plans for the reconstruction of Temple Solomon are ready to be executed. The recent attacks on worshippers and the provocations at Masjid al-Aqsa is not the first time and will not be the last. The exercise of attacking the masjid is partly to see the response of the Palestinians, original inhabitants of Palestine and the ummah, Muslims at large. Facts reveal that neither the natives of the land, the Palestinians, nor the ummah have forgotten about the al-Aqsa mosque and the Holy Land. The believers are ready to sacrifice themselves for the protection and preservation of the third holy and sacred mosque, masjid al-Aqsa. Facts also reveal that the oppression of the Zionist regime will not endure. There is a shift in public opinion partly due to independent media and social media. The world is wit- nessing the oppression of the regime and the plight of the oppressed Palestinians, and people of conscience around the world are rising in solidarity with these oppressed. The provocations at Masjid al-Aqsa are a rehearsal for the final show.
The Zionists who are bent upon executing their plan have an option; either turn to righteousness and seek peace with the Palestinians, return the stolen lands beyond the Green Line, pre 1967 border, to their rightful owners, and allow the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland or else face the final blow. “It is still possible that your Lord may show mercy to you but if you return (to sinning) We will return (to chastising). Surat al-Isra ends with a profound conclusion. “Thereafter, We said unto the Children of Israel: Dwell in the land; but when the last (akhira) of the warnings comes to pass, We shall bring you as a crowd gathered out of various nations.” (al-Isra’, 17:104) Most exegetes of the Quran understand the statement, “the last (akhira) of the warnings,” to mean the hereafter. There are, however, some scholars who have a different interpretation. “The last (akhira) of the warnings,” is understood to mean when Isa (Jesus) returns to earth. The current situation in Palestine and the influx of Jews coming from all over the world to settle in Palestine could be an indication of the end of times and the great war between Truth and Falsehood that will soon take place. Soon is subjective. It could mean years, decades or centuries, God only knows. However, such a claim may be considered as a divine prophecy waiting to be fulfilled.
Oppression is a great sin. The Jews must take lessons from their own history. When they were oppressed under the Egyptian Pharaohs, God stood by the side of the oppressed and eventually liberated them as they enjoyed God’s blessings in the form of security and prosperity. However, when the oppressed becomes the oppressor, God’s manner doesn’t change. He (SWT) remains on the side of the oppressed regardless of who it is. “Never will you find a change to the way of Allah and you will never find any deviation of Allah’s way (of deal- ing).” (Fatir, 35:43) 6 Additionally, the Divine axiom regarding land is, “And, certainly, We wrote down in the Psalms as We did in (earlier) Scripture: ‘My righteous servants will inherit the land.’” (al-Anbiya’, 21:105) We must do whatever we can within our means to ensure Masjid al-Aqsa remains standing until Judgment Day. Jerusalem is ours and we will defend it forever. The Masjid is our third holiest Masjid after Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and the Prophet’s Masjid in Madinah. Muslims and people of conscience are speaking in one voice, “End the apartheid state.” Apartheid is legalized systemic oppression of a racial or cultural group. Call it what it is. Israel is an apartheid state. Human rights watch and Betselem, a Jewish human rights organiza- tion, have called it apartheid. The Irish government has called it apartheid. Jimmy Carter called it an apartheid state. Politicians here and abroad are calling it an apartheid state. It is an apartheid state. May Allah (SWT) save and protect the Palestinians and all people; the souls of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and all people are precious and sacred. May there be an end to the oppression and bloodshed in Palestine and may our Masjid remain standing until the end of time, Ameen. END