Friday Khutbah (02 March 2007): Reviving the individual
Alhamdulillah. Thanks to the Almighty for everything that He provides. Nothing in this world can replace the feelings of holding on tight to Him. Found an article from islamonline. Very inspirational and motivating. Enjoy~
By Arshad Gamiet
Individuals committed to serving Islam, are like building bricks fused together to form a solid wall. Each individual, like a brick, must be strong and capable of withstanding the loads and stresses that he or she is called upon to bear. Just as each brick must be fully burnt and purified in a kiln and pass certain minimum standards, an individual also has to go through a process of training and development in order to be an effective ambassador of Islam. But what is involved in this construction of the individual? What has the individual got to do in order to prepare for this God-given role? These are fundamental questions because a prerequisite to the revival of Muslim society is a revival of the individual or the self.
The starting point in this process is what the Qur’an calls the human heart. Look at yourself and you will find inside you a whole universe â?? emotions, desires, urges, and instincts â?? which motivates you from within. The heart does not mean the pump which pushes blood around the body; it means the center of the personality that pumps motivations, desires, and urges and which makes us do what we want to do. The Qur’an goes on to explain that this is the key to ourselves. Our success depends not on what we are physically nor on what we do, but on what lies at the center of our personality.
On the Day of Judgment, successful only is (the one who comes to Allah with a sound heart ) (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:89)
A hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says:
Beware,there is a piece of flesh in the human body. If it is right, then the whole body is right and sound; and if it is corrupted then the whole body is corrupted. Look, this is the ‘heart’.(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
According to the Qur’an, the basis of corruption stems from within ourselves. The social institutions may be corrupt, there may be exploitation and abuse in the economic and politics spheres, but the basis of all these diseases lies inside our hearts.
What is it that stops mankind from seeing right and doing what’s right and turns them blind? The Qur’an explains, (It is not the eyes which go blind but it is the hearts within breasts which go blind) (Al-Hajj 22:46)
Then, the heart is the basic starting point for any positive change or any effort to improve our current situations. We have to purify the heart and then summon it to the service of Allah, through service to mankind, whether it be in a professional career, in government, in political institutions, or in economic ventures. Our whole attention must be focused on this continuous refinement of heart. All the rites that have been prescribed by the Qur’an reach out to purify the deepest regions of our self.
The Qur’an says,
(It is not their meat nor their blood (the sacrificial animals), that reaches Allah: it is your taqwa (piety) that reaches Him) (Al-Hajj 22: 37)
If the individual is the primary building block of society, then the heart is its foundation within each person. The important question therefore is how should we set about preparing this most basic element. First we must understand that the heart must submit totally and exclusively to its Creator. It cannot be compartmentalized â?? we cannot dedicate one piece of it to Allah and another to some other “god,” like our wealth, our status, our career, our families, and so on.
Allah is One, indivisible, and wants our service to be undivided to Him. So long as we remain divided within ourselves, so long as our hearts lie in a 100 places, so long as our eyes are set to 100 directions, so long as our destination is not one but many, we shall never be able to achieve that first condition for building a strong and pure Islamic personality.
We should remember that nothing of this world is going to be of use to us when we die however hard we may have striven for it and however valuable it might seem to us. We must recognize that the prizes we should want are not the worldly possessions received from human beings like ourselves. It is only our Creator who can put a real value on our striving and bestow the real reward.
In the Qur’an, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is told to ask [Shall I tell you of a business which will save you of painful torment?] (As-Saff 61:10).
This “business” amounts to people person committing their whole undivided being to Allah alone and selling themselves in order to seek His pleasure. This is the first step towards the building of the individual. The second step is to love Allah.
The Qur’an says (And there are some among men who take for themselves objects of worship besides Allah, whom they love as they love Allah, and those who believe are stronger in love for Allah) (Al-Baqarah 2:165).
It does not say that one must love only Allah and no one else. Love is a blessing given to us by Allah, which is manifested in so many aspects of life. In Islam, however, love must be foremost for Allah and the Prophet.
What is love? Perhaps it cannot be defined in terms that adequately reflect its nature and importance in people’s lives. It is not possible to define it by a formula as we define a scientific fact, nor can we define it by a mathematical equation. But still each one of us knows what love is and can tell, from personal experience, the powerful force it is once it comes to reside in the heart. It becomes the overpowering force in life. It captivates you, it grips you, it moves you and it makes you prepared to do anything for the sake of it. Once love is there, what you do is not something that has to be imposed upon you, because you need imposition only for the things you do not love.
Iman is something that must penetrate deep in our heart and generate love for Allah and His Prophet more than for anything else. Unless that happens inside you, you cannot get the real taste of iman. According to a famous hadith, nobody can taste iman unless Allah and His Prophet are more beloved to him than everything else. But we must remember that this love for Allah and His Prophet is not of a kind to take us into the seclusion of a monastery. It is a love that makes us do our duty to Allah while we are in the street, at home, or at work â?? everywhere we live as servants of Allah, willingly making every sacrifice required of us. Whether or not we have that love is something for each one of us to closely examine. One of the criteria is that if you love something, one of your most intense desires is to get nearer to it. Now we have a way in which we can come nearer to Allah and talk to Him, and that way is the prayer. When someone performs prayer, they actually comes nearer to Allah and talks to Him.
If you look at how you pray five times a day, you will have a barometer in your hand to find how much you love Allah. Once you are praying to Him, you are in front of Him, you are near to Him, you are talking to Him, you are responding to Him in gratitude, you are asking for His forgiveness. Prayer is not just a ritual in which you go through certain postures. The soul has to surrender itself exclusively to Allah and love Him. This love is like a seed that, as it grows, envelops the entire personality. This will make us the sort of person Islam needs today.
The next question is how to nurse and cultivate this seed of faith. The most important nourishment for it is the Qur’an. We know that the first workers for Islam got their training from the Qur’an. It was their guide, their light, their leader. It is a treasure house of soul-stirring inspiration and wisdom. We should spend much effort in trying to understand the Qur’an. But we must know that the real test of benefiting from the Qur’an lies in translating those divine words and ideas into action in our own daily life.
The Qur’an says that when people really listen to it, their faith will increase. The eyes of those who truly listen to the Qur’an, allowing their hearts to be affected, will well up with tears that trickle down their cheeks. Sadly, many of us listen to the Qur’an or read it, but our hearts are not moved, nor do our lives change. It is as if water is falling on a rock and flowing away. Our task is to replace this hard rock with soft absorbent soil so that the Qur’an may nourish the seed that has been planted. We should always study the Qur’an as if it were being revealed today. One of the greatest injustices we do to the Qur’an is to read it as if it were something of the past and of no relevance to the present.
The next method of sustaining the seed of iman is to develop a strong bond of brotherhood. Brotherhood reinforces people’s lives like nothing else. The Qur’an says (Withhold yourself with those who call upon Allah in the early morning and nightfall) (Al-Kahf 18: 28). As soon as you have planted the seed of iman in your own heart, you will recognize it in others. You find that there is some sort of harmony between you and them.
The final method to nourish the seed of iman is da`wah â?? to strive and invite others to the path of Allah, the same path as you are following yourself. Again, if the faith is there inside you, this is a necessary outcome of it. As iman increases you get aroused and you want to go out and tell everybody what you think is right, or call upon them to join your mission and your group. Moreover, as your group grows, your iman grows as well, each reinforcing the other, and that is how the whole of life becomes integrated and turns into a path to what pleases Allah. To sum up, you, the individual, are the key to the Ummah, and your heart is the key to you.
* Based on a Friday sermon delivered at the Royal Holloway,University of London, UK, on April 30, 1999. Courtesy of http://www.khutbahbank.org.uk. Arshad Gamiet is a South African writer living in the United Kingdom. He is a co-founder of the Khutbah Bank.