Kutbah By Dr. Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan
“And I have chosen for you Islam as your religion”
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Praises be to Allah – praises that would match His blessings and equal His bounties! O our Lord! Praises, as great as your glorious Face and great Sovereignty, be to You. O Lord, the Exalted! I can’t number eulogies as due to You as You eulogize Yourself. I testify that there is no god but Allah Alone, Who has no partner, and that our master and prophet, Muhammad, is His bond-servant and messenger, His chosen one and His dear friend, and the best of the prophets He had ever sent. He was sent by Allah to the whole world as a bearer of good tidings and warner. O Lord! Have perpetual blessings upon our master, Mohammad, and upon his kinsfolk to the Day of Judgement. I counsel my sinful soul and you, O Muslims, to fear Allah, the All-High.
Dear bond-servents of Allah! The blessings which Allah (The Almighty, the All-Glorified) reminds His bond-servants of are multiple and diverse. But you cannot find any blessing of which Allah (The All-Glorified, the All-High) reminds His bond-servants and through which He shows His love and bountifulness to them like that blessing which you can find in the Saying of Allah (The All-Glorified, the All-High) which He addresses to all His bond-servants: “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Al Ma’idah, 5:3].
If we contemplate these words, in their own style and make-up, we will see something extraordinary through them – i.e., extraordinary signs of the love which Allah (The Almighty, the All-Glorified) bears His bond-servants - as if He is saying to them: “I have loved to favour you with this costume, this path! I haven’t found anything better for the good of your life both in this world and in the hereafter. I have made a choice among all courses of action, paths and philosophies, but found nothing that would bring you happiness and ameliorate your situations like this path – the path of Islam. Accordingly, I have loved to favour you with this path.” Then He says: “(I have) completed My favour upon you.” This means that all blessings that Allah has favoured His bond-servants and pleased them with, including the blessings of good health, of property, of knowledge and suchlike – all being named by Allah (The Almighty, the All-Glorified) – had remained incomplete untill the blessing of Islam came along to crown them and to make them perfect: “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.”
Should a bond-servant who believes in Allah (The Almighty, the All-Glorified) not be disobedient, and should he be faithful to Allah (The All-Glorified, the All-High) in so far as he reciprocates Allah’s love, he will know how great the blessing of this religion which Allah (The All-Glorified, the All-High) has bestowed on us is, and he will pride himself highly upon this religion untill he meets Allah (The All-Glorified, the All-High) already winnig His satisfaction. Perhaps you all notice that Allah hasn’t chosen for us this religion, with which He has honoured us, to serve His own interest – Allah forbid that any bond-servant of Allah may think so! Instead, Allah states that He has loved to favour us with this religion and has chosen this path for us, because it will ensure us good consequences and realize all elements of happiness which man aspires to and dreams of,in both this life and the hereafter. However, there is no man who believes in Allah and places his trust in Allah’s Wisdom and Truthfulness, but does not discern from these words which Allah is saying to us that Islam is really the sole path to the happiness of this Islamic nation, especially ourselves [Arabs] whom Allah (The All-Glorified, the All-High) has honoured by making His Messenger, Muhammad (pbuh), a member of the Arab nation and by making His Book [the Qur’an] speak to us in Arabic language. This fact should not be overlooked by any discreet man who knows Allah (The All-Glorified, the All-High) and knows himself as a bond-servant of Allah (The Almighty, the All-High).
O brothers, at present we live for and foster dreams regarding our own affairs which we want to improve, to rectify and to ameliorate. But is it not high time we correlated the problems which we want to solve with Islam which Allah has chosen fo us? Is it not high time we knew that there is only one cure – i.e., Islam which Allah has chosen for us – for the social, economic and cultural ailments which we suffer from? Queer indeed is the sitution of Muslims, O brothers! They read these Words and behold this love which Allah (The Almighty, the All-Glorified) shows His bond-servants, yet they pay attention to nothing beyond their own problems with which they are almost suffocated, without noticing the necessity for making this religion which Allah has chosen for them a means for tackling such problems. It is a queer and very strange behaviour! O brothers, we suffer from economic problems, and our community is raising a dust about all the various ways for solving them. We suffer from diverse social problems, and we are all - with our different categories and classes - restlessly searching for any means that would solve them. We suffer from scientific problems, while the world is moving forward. We are restlessly searching for any ways to solve our problems and to rid us of our backwardness. We are trying day and night to look for the remedy that would enable us to acquire strength after this weakness. We talk about the problems of our dispersion, and we are restlessly searching for the remedy that would bring us together after this separation and reunite us again as we were once in the past. However, we don’t notice, at all levels, that Allah has made a remedy available within our reach and told us that he had chosen this religion for us as a remedy for all these problems.
So, is it reasonable for a man, who knows himself well and who really believes in his Lord, to maintain this peculiar practice – i.e., senselessly separating between the ailment which he keeps in the east and the cure which he removes away from himself and places in the farthest west? Certainly, Allah (The Almighty, the All-Glorified) has associated the ailment with the cure and put them both close to one another. Therefore, as we are Muslims, nothing can solve our economic, scientific, cultural or social problems, or other problems manifested in disunity, save Islam which Allah (The Almighty, the All-Glorified) has chosen for us.
Here is, however, the logical evidence which speaks – not for what I am telling you, but for what Allah (The All-Glorified, the All-High) tells us: all such problems about which we are restless today require cooperation, in the first place. Thus, solving any problem you hear about, read about or raise a dust about requires a first step represented by realising cooperation to be taken. However, prevalence of trust is an indispensable requisite for cooperation, and any set of three persons cannot cooperate with one another unless the network of trust extend among them, since without trust cooperation will never be realized at all. Now then, how can trust be realized? Trust cannot prevail among those persons, or among that small set, unless it has been established on a ground of good ethics. Good ethics, as such, are the soil for trust among those people, and trust is the soil for cooperation. So, when good ethics exist, the network of trust will extend onward; when the network of trust exists, cooperation will be realized; and when cooperation established on this path is realized, then all problems (such as economic problems and the problems of scientific, educational and cultural backwardness) will be solved.
However, I should ask some questions here. Wherever could good ethics be acquired? Under which umbrella will such values be realised? What is the way to make the members of this community acquire such ethics that you are aware of (i.e., to make them selfless instead of being selfish, to make them willing to sacrifice for others, to make the network of love and fraternity extend between them and their brothers, and to make them reciprocate intimacy)? Where do these values come from? How can the warmth of firmly-established good ethics extend among hearts? How can this be achieved? It cannot be achieved, O brothers, save by drawing from only one spring – one source – that is the spring of true creed, the spring of faith and the spring of submission to the Will of Allah (The All-Glorified, the All-High) – i.e., Islam. So, should those persons – whether numerous or few – be dyed-in-the-wool adherent to the religion of Allah (The All-Glorified, the All-High), and should this religion subdue their sentiments after subduing their minds, in the form of absolute credence, then bad morals will be eradicated from among them and will be superseded by good ones, due to the fact that the Supervision of Allah (The Almighty, the All-Glorified) will be present, and because hearts will become replete with love and veneration of Allah. All this will root out bad, crooked profligate morals and undoubtedly replace them by good ones.
Why and wherefore has Allah favoured us with this religion? Allah has favoured us with this religion in order that good morals dwell in the hearts of this nation “I have been sent just to perfect good morals”. So, if religion disappears, righteous morals will also disappear; for should religion be missing from my soul, I will never treat you but in concordance with the exegencies of my immediate personal interest. I will lie to you, betray you, resort to deception and cheating in my dealing with you, place obstacles and pits in your way – actually, ways of deception are various and diverse. You will also treat me in the same way if your soul completely lacks religion and lacks its precepts. Consequently, as ethics become missing, trust will be missing too, and neither will I trust you, nor will you trust me at all.
So, where will cooperation come from? Whoever is ignorant of this fact, O brothers? Is there any sane person who does not know the meaning of what I am saying? There is no body in the world who does not know this meaning! The true religion is closely correlated with good, humane social morals; and such morals are the first and foremost fruits of this religion. Therefore, should religion be missing from the Arab nation, in particular, then this nation will never find any other substitute that would lift it up from its fall. The case being so, why don’t we return again to our Islam which we have left behind our backs? Yes, we have left it behind our backs! Why don’t we return to it again and deal with it honestly? Why don’t we fulfil reconciliation – a genuine reconciliation, that is, not a customary one – with Allah, at all levels? We are sincere in our wish that our economy flourish again after reaching the current situation which you are all aware of; so, let us be sincere in using the remedy. We are sincere in our complaint about the scientific and cultural backwardness which we are all aware of and which we suffer from, while other nations have advanced forward; so, why we don’t be sincere in using it? We suffer from disunity, and this disunity has made us weak after being strong, while the cure is before us if we are sincere in our search for a genuine means for realising unity; so, why we don’t hurry to the remedy? You would say: “Is there any doubt that we are – thank Allah – still Muslims? Aren’t these mosques, which are replete with worshippers, an evidence showing that we are still in a good situation? Aren’t these pulpits, which are surrounded by onlookers who come in to receive sermons and advice, a proof that we are still Muslims?”
Yesterday I said, and I say now: “ O brothers! Don’t pause before separate and detatched scenes! Don’t pause before partial images! Look at the whole! Look at the stream as a whole. Don’t pause before tableaus or partial scenes. For if you comceive the whole, you will see things counter to what you are imagining. If you conceive the social stream altogether, what will you see? You will see strange and afflictive ignorance of religion. As matter of fact, most Muslims don’t know anything of their religion, as their connection with Islam is limited to sheer membership. So, if you ask anyone of them about the postulates of this religion, regarding its beliefs and observances, he will retort haughtily: “I am not specialized in theology.” Isn’t this the ststus quo? Isn’t this the actual position of most Muslims among the entirety of our communities today? If you look at the social stream as a whole, throughout and at all levels and categories, you will see great many persons who hold this religion in derision and who believe that its days has come to an end, that its sun is on the brink of set, that people have become bored and got fed up with it, that we are required to progress forward and changee over – i.e., to become subservient followers of other nations. Don’t you notice that that is what is said? Don’t you notice that its echoes are striking our hearing? How numerous the images you will see, if you look at the general social stream, are – images, I won’t say of shunning this religion, but of fighting against it and of opposing its ethics and principles. I would like to ask one question here: how many are those who stand in prayer five times every day and night before Allah, as He enjoins in His exact Revelation: “Prayer is prescribed upon believers at fixed times.” [Al- Nisa’, 4:103]. What is their percentage? You all know the answer! I would rather ponder within myself: how numerous those people who hold prayer in derision are! Or rather, how numerous those sectors in which prayer is fought against are! Yes, when we want to inquire about the actual situation of Islam in connection with us, or about our actual situation in connection with Islam, we should not confine our visions or ourselves to only pausing before such partial images that are taken from the actual situation of our community. I would rather we conceive this community as a whole; then you will see the image of the crisis, and you will know that there’s no smoke without fire, whether you see it or not.
The smoke which I mean is our economic backwardness; it is our educational and scientific backwardness; it is our weakness after being strong; and it is our afflictive and queer separation after solidarity. Of course there is a reason for that smoke; so, what is that reason? The reason is that we have shown boredome about the greatest blessing of Allah which He has loved to favour us with, or rather about that blessing through which Allah has paid court to us. And I never feel having my fill of pausing before the Saying of Allah, the Al-High: “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” Don’t you see the manifestations of that courting process? Don’t you feel them? Don’t you recognise them? Don’t you recognise how Allah (The Almighty, the All-High) says to us “I have loved to favour you with this religion, out of My love and compassion for you, in order that you would not suffer hardships, lest you should fall in ditchs of backwardness and in order that no nation would be able to attak you and overpower you in the dark of night. Isn’t it afflictive that, after this courting, we turn away from that Saying and that our current situation is as I have just told you?
Dear brothers, some of you would say: “Look at other nations how their economies flourish, how they rally in upholding one word, and how they are mighty and sturdy without needing this religion.” I said to you yesterday, O brothers (and you have probably forgotten that): “Don’t forget the Practice of Allah (The Creator, the Almighty, the All-Glorified)”. Allah (The Almighty, the All-Glorified) says: “Of the bounties of your Lord we bestow freely on all – these as well as those: the bounties of your Lord are not closed (to anyone).” [Al-Isra’, 17:20]. As a matter of fact, those nations have been sweating it out from ancient times uptill now in order to get stronger, to acquire knowledge and to mount onto the throne of civilization. They have done, achieved, and sacrificed great many things. Old history speaks for that, and you all read history and know this fact. This is applicable to the Roman empire whose track bears on the present situations. So could be said about the Greek empire and also about all western nations.
With respect to us ourselves – Arabs – whom Allah has favoured with Islam which He made a ladder to development, I would ask a question: when did Arabs show the same interest and exert the same effort as those nations have done for realizing civilization, acquiring knowledge or achiecing advancement? When Muhammad (pbun) came to waken the Arab nation from its dormant state of backwardness, had this nation had any encyclopedia on law like that of Justinien? Had the Arab nation, at that time, been competing with other nations in technology, science and the like? In fact, it had been fast asleep in one of the lowest ditchs of backwardness, of all forms. Then Islam – and nothing but Islam – has raised it from the lowest ditchs of backwardness up to the highest levels of development within only twenty years. All other nations have opened their moths with surprise at that marvellous puzzle! Therefore, what is applicable now to the Arab nation cannot be applicable to other nations. Allah says: “Of the bounties of your Lord we bestow freely on all – these as well as those.” Had the history of this nation stated that Arabs have exerted efforts, taken measures or strived for acquiring science or knowledge, for achieving civilization and for developing economy, then they would have resumed, tody, what they have done before with a view to accomplishing such achievements and to restoring the fruits of their efforts. But where are the efforts of which they could restore fruits? In fact, their fruits are exvlusively the fruits of Islam! And should they leave off Islam, hold it in derision, turn away from it or show boredome with it, then the logical result will be that they will return back to their former situation which was prevalent before it.
So, bear this fact in your minds and perceive the practice of the Lord of all mankind which we read repeatedly and recite absent-mindedly in His Exact Revelation.
Having said that, I ask forgiveness of Allah (The All-Great).