Imams should be free to speak their mind

Imams (Muslim clerics) are getting arrested in Bangladesh for refusing to read government issued Khutba (sermon)!

I remember one Friday one of the directors of the Mosques in London where I lead Friday prayers requested that I should submit to him my sermon in advance. I arrived with the copy of my speech and gave it to him. He told me to wait while he checked through the text. He took a pen and crossed off various parts of my speech. He did not approve of all my points. When he had finished editing my speech he handed the pages back to me.

I told him that he could keep the speech as it was printed for him. I had the speech in my memory and I was planning to deliver it without the notes. I thanked him politely, greeted him nicely and I walked away from his office. As I was leaving the office I could see his face turning pale in disbelief, red in anger and then frowning with frustration.

I took up my position at the pulpit and delivered my sermon as I had planned originally. It didn’t please the management but it was an important message the congregation needed to hear. The purpose of Friday sermon is to address issues that concern people, provide spiritual and practical solutions to the problems and uplift people’s spirit with hope and aspirations.

The Imam should speak in the local language of the people so that they could understand. I have always believed that Imams should be free to speak their mind. I would simply resign if I were given a gagging order. As an Imam I am already given clear and defined parameters by God and His messenger and as long as I abide by those principles no human being should have the right to silence my right to free speech. That is what I have done for the last 25 years and I pray I can continue doing this until I breath my last breathe.

In today’s Bangladesh, the current secular fundamentalist government of Hasina is writing the religious speeches for the Friday prayer sermons to be read out by its many “scholars for dollars” across the country and if you dissent you risk being arrested, harassed and sacked from your job. If I were in Bangladesh I would have been arrested long time ago for speaking the truth. Under this monstrous government and its murderous party I would have been lynched.

These militant secular fundamentalists have no shame in Bangladesh. They are trying to spin a brilliant web of lies and deceit in the eyes of the international community by blaming the 95% of the population who are religiously minded as terrorists. If an Imam speaks his mind about the political murder and mayhem that has gripped the country he is labelled as a terrorist and anyone who opposes their foul status quo gets arrested, abducted, disappeared, tortured and even killed in the line of crossfire while the international community turns a blind eye.

These are the same tricks successive military junta and despots of Egypt and Algeria have used against its own people for decades. Bangladeshi government has simply borrowed the same subjugation techniques to terrorise its own citizens. However, in the mean time they have been awarded international aid, monetary incentives, red carpet welcome, access to intelligence, military hardware, security training and specialist consultancy by various western backed agencies and governments.

Freedom of Imams to think, speak and explore the deeper theological and philosophical issues of Islam is essential to its culture of organic contextualised jurisprudence. It is paramount to the development of knowledge and training of local people to become more conscientious citizens. Their role is vital is teaching people the need to becoming economically independent, to strive for excellence, to become more socially and spiritually productive and most importantly to become ambassadors of peace and justice in the world. True Imams play moderating role if given the freedom and resources.

Bangladeshi government, just like the Egyptian dictator Sisi, is afraid of people thinking for themselves. They are afraid of educated masses who also competent and confident with their faith. They are happy to have puppet Imams who would proliferate their political message of madness. They would rather have people immerse in deep ignorance of their religion and practice superstitious mumbo jumbo including veneration of saints, graves and relics.

Hasina has an army of Imams who would be happy to sell their soul for a bit of grace from their paymasters. She has cleverly trained enough secular Imams who would join her secular fundamentalist intellectuals to socially engineer religionless in Bangladesh. She wishes to create a secular paradise in Bangladesh and banish any religious sentiments to hell of her own making.

I have bad news for Hasina. Many foolish and arrogant people have tried to silence genuine Imams in the past, Islam, as a religion did not recede, if anything, the reverse happened. Today Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Hasina and her cronies can create a smokescreen, arrest, and torture and execute as many Imams as her bloodthirsty heinous demand. The truth is Islam will remain a religion for peace and justice in the world and it will continue to grow attracting people who are truly looking for inner contentment and balance.


Think Green Khutbah Campaign 2012: Friday, 20 April 2012

Think Green Khutbah Campaign
Think Green Khutbah Campaign

In commemoration of Earth Day, has launched the ?Think Green Khutbah Campaign? to take place on Friday, April 20, 2012. The goal of this campaign is to challenge Muslims to become stewards of the environment by making changes to their daily routines.

To mark this event, we are encouraging mosques, schools, universities and Islamic Institutions to devote their Friday Khutbah to celebrate the blessings, graces and beauty of all of Allah?s creation and to raise awareness on the environmental challenges facing humanity.

This year?s ?Think Green Khutbah Campaign? challenge is to request all Muslims to live according to the 3 S plan:

  • live a simple life
  • live a sustainable life
  • live as stewards of the environment

Please visit the website,, for more information and where you will find links to resources which can provide you with ideas and information to prepare the Khutbah or to engage your congregation.

Please sign up online if your organization will join the campaign and if you will be delivering a Khutbah on the environment on Friday, April 20th, 2012.

Patience is a virtue

Assalaamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh

I pray that this message finds you all to be in the best of health and highest of spirits.

During times of trial, despair, and sadness, Muslims seek comfort and guidance in the words of Allah in the Qur’an. Allah reminds us that all people will be tried and tested in life, and calls upon Muslims to bear these trials with “patience, perseverance and prayer.” Indeed, Allah reminds us that many people before us have suffered and had their faith tested; so too will we be tried and tested in this life.

This email is a reminder to everyone to ensure that we revise our intentions and ensure that we feel like we are worshipping Allah Almighty with every task performed and completed. Failure to earn rewards and build our paradise doing this is a failure in both this world and the next. It is important to have patience whilst working on dawah projects, we will face trials and go through difficult times whilst completing projects, in our daily lives, however we must ensure we are patient throughout thus earn the pleasure of Allah.

There are many verses that remind us to be patient and have trust in Allah during these times of trial. Among them:

“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah] .” (2:45)

“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (2:153)

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient. Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” (2:155-157)

“O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.” (3:200)

“And be patient, [O Muhammad], and your patience is not but through Allah.” (11:115)

“Be patient, for your patience is with the help of Allah.” (16:127)

“So be patient, [O Muhammad]. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth. And ask forgiveness for your sin and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord in the evening and the morning.” (40:55)

“But none is granted it except those who are patient, and none is granted it except one having a great portion [of good].” (41:35)

“Indeed, mankind is in loss. Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (103:2-3)

The sunnah as well is filled with pertinent advice about the topic to hand, and for purposes of this email, I would like to draw your attention to just one narration- as it not only teaches us the importance of patience, but also how a believer is always in a win-win situation!

Suhayb (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ?How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.? [Muslim]

Laa ilaaha illallah! and Alhamdulillah for Islam…

Also, ?Umar ibn ?Abd al-?Azeez (may Allah be pleased with him) said: Allah has not bestowed any blessing upon His slaves then taken it away and replaced it with patience, but what He has compensated them with is better than what He has taken away.

And Sufyan Ath-Thawri (rahimahullah) said: “Be patient at all times and in all places, for patience leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. Do not become angry and furious, for those two emotions lead to wickedness, and wickedness leads to the Hellfire.”

As Muslims, we should not let our emotions get the better of us. It is certainly difficult for a person to look at the tragedies of the world today and not feel helpless and sad. But believers are called to put their trust in their Lord, and not to fall into despair or hopelessness. We must continue to do what Allah has called us to do: put our trust in Him, perform good deeds, be patient, and stand as witnesses for justice and truth.

May Allah Almighty make us among those who are patient and place our efforts on our scales of good deeds in the hereafter. Ameen.

I love you all for the sake of Allah.

And Allah knows best.

Wasalaamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh
Sajid Umar
Director of Islamic Development
Mercy Mission World
2011 – Let’s talk MERCY MISSION!