“Indeed, God commands justice, doing good to others, as well as courtesy to close relatives. He forbids indecency, wickedness, and aggression. He instructs you so perhaps you will be mindful.” (16:90 )            “For every day on which the sun rises, there is a (reward from God) for the one who establishes justice among people.” (al-Bukhari)            “And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that [with your lives] you may bear witness to the truth before all humankind. . .” (2:143)            “Dispensers of justice will be seated on pulpits of light beside God.” (Muslim)            “Do not spread corruption in the land after it has been set in order. And call upon Him with hope and fear. Indeed, Allah’s mercy is always close to the good-doers.” (7:56)           “Even an ant in its hole and fish (in the depth of water) invoke blessings on someone who teaches people goodness.” (al-Tirmidhi)            “O believers! Remain conscious of God, and be with those who are truthful in word and deed.” (9:119)           “God does not judge you according to your bodies and appearances, but He looks into your hearts and observes your deeds.” (Muslim)            “The parable of those who spend their possessions for the sake of God is that of a grain out of which grow seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains: for God grants manifold increase unto whom He wills; and God is infinite, all-knowing.” (2:261)           “Charity does not diminish wealth.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “Let there be a group among you who call ˹others˺ to goodness, encourage what is good, and forbid what is evil-it is they who will be successful.” (3:104)           “Avoid cruelty and injustice...and guard yourselves against miserliness, for this has ruined nations who lived before you.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “Do not forget to show kindness to each other. Surely God observes your actions.” (2:237)           “(Allah) has revealed to me that you should adopt humility so that no one oppresses another.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “It is We who sent down this Reminder (al-Quran) and it is We who shall preserve it.” (15:9)           “The best among you are those who learn the Quran and teach it (to others).” (al-Bukhari)            “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” (2:152)           “There are two blessings that many people lose -- health and free time for doing good.” (al-Bukhari)            “Say: 'O My servants who have transgressed against your own souls, do not despair of God's mercy, for God forgives all sins. It is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.'“(39:53)           “Happy is the man who avoids dissension, but how fine is the man who is afflicted and shows endurance.” (Abu Dawud)            “And you love wealth with immense love.” (89:20)           “Being rich does not mean having a great amount of property, but (it) is being content (with what one has).” (al-Bukhari)            “Every soul is held in pledge for its deeds.” (74:38)           “Make things easy and convenient and don't make them harsh and difficult. Give cheer and glad tidings and do not create hatred.” (al-Bukhari & Muslim)           

Friday Khutba Synopsis

The Hajj and the Legacy of Ibrahim (AS)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

The Hajj and the Legacy of Ibrahim (AS)

Every season of Hajj reminds us of the legacy of Ibrahim (AS), who, along with his son Ismail (AS), raised the Ancient House (al-Bayt al-Ateeq) or Ka’bah from its foundations to restore the worship of the One God.
Ibrahim (AS)’s search for truth began when he was a teenager living in the household of Azar—his father, who was engaged in the making and worshipping of idols. Guided by his pure nature, sound intellect, and rational mind, Ibrahim (AS) questioned his father about idol worship, pointing out that he and his people were clearly in error. “Mention (O Prophet, when Ibrahim said to his father, Azar, ‘Do you take idols as gods? I see that you and your people are clearly misguided.’” (al-An’am, 6:74)
Testifying to Ibrahim (AS)’s firm belief in tawhid, Allah (SWT) likens him to an entire nation or community (ummah), affirming more than once that he was not among the polytheists (mushrikeen). “Ibrahim was a community in himself, devoted to Allah and true in faith. He was not one of the polytheists” (al-Nahl, 16:120). Ibrahim (AS)’s unwavering stance eventually led him to distance himself from his household and his people. “When brahim said to his father and his people, ‘I am free of everything you worship, except for Him who brought me into being. He will certainly guide me.’” (al-Zukhruf, 43:26-27)
Allah (SWT) blessed Ibrahim (AS) with a discerning mind, enabling him to clearly distinguish between the Creator and His creation. By keenly observing the heavenly bodies—particularly the stars, the moon, and the sun—and using his intellect, Ibrahim (AS) reinforced his faith in the Creator of everything, who alone should be worshipped.
Possessing an intuitive and unwavering faith in Allah (SWT), Ibrahim (AS) discovered God through his rational faculty and could not help but proclaim, “I have set my face with single-minded devotion towards Him who has created the heavens and the earth, and I am not one of the polytheists” (al-An’am, 6:79). To those who argued with him, he responded, “Are you arguing with me about Allah, while He has guided me?” (al-An’am, 6:80).
As evident from the Qur’an, Ibrahim (AS) faced severe trials and tribulations in his quest for truth. He succeeded in all the tests he encountered, and as a result, Allah (SWT) made him the leader of humanity (Imam unNaas).
Disgusted with idols and idol worship, and eager to teach his people a lesson about the powerlessness of their false deities, Ibrahim (AS) smashed the idols. Similarly, we must examine whether we have enslaved ourselves to modern-day idolatry—consumerism and materialism in all their forms. Our salvation lies in freeing ourselves from the grip of these contemporary idols and becoming true, humble, and obedient servants of Allah (SWT) alone.
In his youth, Ibrahim (AS) used his power of logical reasoning when confronting Nimrod, the king, in a debate about the existence of God, leaving Nimrod dumbfounded. Islam is a faith that aligns with reason, with no conflict between reason and revelation. There are occasions when we must rely more on our logical reasoning than on our intuition.
Among Ibrahim (AS)’s trials was being thrown into a blazing fire. In His infinite mercy, Allah (SWT) ordered the fire to become cool and safe for Ibrahim, miraculously leaving him unscathed.
Another severe trial for Ibrahim (AS), in compliance with Allah (SWT)’s orders, was to leave his wife Hajar and his infant son Ismail in the harsh, desolate desert land of Mecca, where there was no water, cultivation, or human presence. Once again, in His infinite mercy, Allah (SWT) saved both mother and child by making the spring of Zamzam gush forth from that desert land. The seven rounds (al-Sai’) between the hillocks of Safa and Marwa that Hajar took in search of water for her baby son have become one of the essential rituals (manaasik) that pilgrims perform during Hajj.
Finally, Ibrahim (AS) faced one of the most severe tests when he was commanded by Allah (SWT) to sacrifice his young son Ismail. Both father and son, displaying complete obedience and steadfastness, willingly complied with Allah (SWT)’s command. Miraculously, Allah (SWT) replaced Ismail with a ram, which was sacrificed instead, establishing the offering of a sacrificial animal as an important ritual of Hajj.
In reality, the Hajj season traces back to the legacy of Ibrahim (AS) and his quest for truth. He established the center of tawhid, which remains to this day the Qibla for all Muslims around the world.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

Standing in Solidarity with Gaza - A Call for Justice, Peace, and Hope

“Say (O Prophet), ‘By the Grace of Allah and His Mercy let them rejoice, it is better than all they accumu- late.’” (Yunus,10:58)
We, at IONA, extend our warmest congratulations to you, your families, and loved ones on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr. May this Eid be filled with blessings, happiness, and the abundant mercy of Allah (SWT).
During this special time, let us reflect on the spiritual journey we embarked upon throughout Ramadan. We dedicatedourselves to fasting, prayer, and acts of worship, seeking closeness to our Creator. As we celebrate Eid, let us carry for- ward the spirit of devotion and commitment beyond the blessed month.
Remember, Eid is not just a celebration but also a reminder to continue our journey towards righteousness and piety.Let us strive to maintain the good habits and practices we cultivated during Ramadan, including regular prayers, recita- tion of the Qur’an, and acts of charity.
As we gather with family and friends to celebrate, let us not forget those who are less fortunate, particularly our broth- ers and sisters in Gaza and other parts of the world facing hardship and adversity. Let our joy be tempered with com- passion and solidarity as we remember them in our prayers and extend a helping hand to those in need.
In light of the ongoing genocide unfolding in Gaza and the immense suffering endured by its people, particularly during this blessed occasion of Eid al-Fitr, we urge our Muslim brothers and sisters to remember them and feel their pain and suffering.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) narrates, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When a limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever,” thus, we cannot ignore the suffering of our fellow Muslims.
The situation in Gaza demands our immediate attention and action. As members of the global Muslim community, it is our duty to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Gaza and to show our unwavering support for their plight.
We stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza and condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing genocide that is taking place there. The loss of tens of thousands of innocent lives, predominantly women and children, along withthe systematic destruction of residential buildings, schools, hospitals, churches, and mosques, as well as the forced dis- placement of Gazans, is a grave injustice that cannot be overlooked.
As the IDF prepares to attack Rafah, the world has witnessed a disturbing wave of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and egre- gious war crimes in Gaza, leaving a lasting impact on the collective conscience of humanity. The toll is staggering,with nearly40,000 martyrs mostly children and women, and more than 100,000 injured becoming victims to the devas- tating force exerted by the Israeli military machinery.
Homes numbering in the hundreds of thousands have been razed to the ground, and essential structures such as2mosques, churches, schools, and public spaces have been obliterated. Even hospitals, meant to serve as sanctuaries for the afflicted, have not been spared, forcing the evacuation of patients from intensive care units.
The two million inhabitants of Gaza endure relentless day and night bombings. The suffering extends beyond the immedi- ate impact of air strikes, tanks, and artillery, reaching a grim climax with intensified starvation.
We urge all members of the community to join us in this critical moment and to demonstrate compassion and solidarity with the people of Gaza.
As members of the global Muslim community, we stand with our brothers and sisters in Gaza against the injustices in- flicted upon them.
The following are some ways supporting our brothers and sisters in the Holyland.
  1. Through prayers: Praying for the people of Gaza is a compassionate and meaningful way to offer support during diffi- cult times. Pray that Allah (SWT) with his might and power brings an end to the war and alleviate the sufferings en- dured by our brothers and sisters in Gaza and Palestine.
  2. Through financial contribution: Contribute to reputable humanitarian organizations that provide aid and support to Gaza, such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), among other chartiable organizations such as Mercy USA and Rahma Worldwide.
  3. Advocate for Peace: Use your voice to advocate for peaceful resolutions to the conflict in Gaza and support diplomat- ic efforts to address the root causes of the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
  4. Raise Awareness: Raise awareness about the situation in Gaza by sharing information, stories, and resources on social media, organizing community events, or writing to elected officials to urge action.
  5. Foster Solidarity: Show solidarity with the people of Gaza by attending rallies, vigils, or demonstrations, and by standing up against discrimination, injustice, and human rights violations.
  6. Additionally, staying informed about the situation in Gaza and continuing to support long-term solutions to the under- lying issues of the conflict is crucial for creating lasting change and promoting peace and stability in the region.
We call upon the international community to take immediate action to end the violence and oppression in Gaza and to hold those responsible for these atrocities accountable for their actions. Only through collective efforts and unwavering commitment to justice can we hope to bring about meaningful change and ensure a better future for all.
As we rejoice in the blessings of Eid, let us also pray for peace, justice, and prosperity for all. May Allah (SWT) grant relief to the oppressed, alleviate the suffering of the needy, and shower His mercy upon the entire ummah.
“O Allah, bring peace to the land of Gaza and all areas affected by conflict. Protect the innocent civilians, children, and families who are suffering. Guide the leaders and decision-makers to work towards peace, justice, and reconciliation. Grant strength and resilience to the people of Gaza during these challenging times. Ameen.”
“O Allah, alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza who are facing hardship and adversity. Provide them with food, water, shelter, and medical care. Comfort those who have lost loved ones and grant them patience and solace. Shower your mercy and blessings upon the people of Gaza and grant them relief from their trials. Ameen.”
“O Allah, protect the people of Gaza from harm and danger. Shield them from violence, oppression, and injustice. Sur- round them with your divine light and safeguard their homes, schools, and places of worship. Grant them safety and secu- rity, and guide them towards a future of peace and prosperity. Ameen.”
“O Allah, unite the hearts of people around the world in support of the people of Gaza. Inspire compassion, empathy, and generosity among individuals and communities to come together and provide aid and assistance to those in need.Strengthen the bonds of humanity and solidarity, and empower us to work towards a world free from conflict and suffer- ing. Ameen.”
“O Allah, send your healing mercy upon the wounded and injured in Gaza. Grant them swift recovery and restoration of health. Ease their pain and suffering, both physical and emotional. Bless the hands of the medical workers and caregivers who are providing care and treatment. Bring healing and wholeness to the people of Gaza and grant them strength and resilience. Ameen.”
Eid Mubarak to you and your families. May Allah (SWT) accept our fasting, prayers, and good deeds, and may He (SWT) bless us with joy, prosperity, and guidance in the days ahead. Ameen
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

Charity in Ramadan and Common Zakat Errors

Ramadan is indeed a special month. We are grateful to Allah (SWT) for such a blessed and holy month where a fasting person enjoys the physical and spiritual benefits among other blessings. Ramadan is indeed a purifier. It draws one nearer and nearer to his Creator. “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before, so that you may be mindful of God.” (al-Baqarah, 2:183) In essence, the main goal of Ramadan is taqwa, God-consciousness.
Ramadan engages the believers in many religious activities for an entire month. It has a profound effect even on those who culturally fast or fast for wrong reasons. They too become more aware of Allah (SWT).
As our iman and taqwa increase during Ramadan, we become more and more dependent on Allah (SWT). While we recog- nize our short comings, mistakes and sins, our supplications for forgiveness are amplified. After all, Ramadan literally means, scorcher. It is the month that extinguishes sins. Allah (SWT) invites, “And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden as vast as the heavens and the earth prepared for the God-conscious.” (Aal Imran, 3:133) Ramadan is when we frequently supplicate, “O Allah! You are the One who pardons and love to pardon so pardon me.”
The ayah that follows describes the God-conscious believers. They are the ones, “Who spend in times of prosperity and hard- ship, control their anger and pardon people. Indeed, God loves those who do good.” (Aal Imran, 3:134) So let us pardon those who wronged us, control our anger and spend for the sake of Allah (SWT).
It should not be difficult for those who have the means to share their wealth with others. As for those who don’t have the means, the Prophet (SAW) insists that even such people should give a very small amount that may equal to a half a date, “Save yourself from the Hellfire even with half of a date in charity. If he cannot find it, then with a kind word.” One never knows how far such a small charity goes. Because of it, Allah (SWT) may very well open up the gates of goodness for the believer. Quality is what counts, not quantity, as it is the intention behind the act of giving that determines the outcome.
Many people tend to believe that giving in charity will diminish wealth. One may rationalize this concept using logic. However, divine law does not hinge on logic. What we need to understand is that, “Whoever is conscious of God (gives with the purest intention solely for His sake), He will find a way out for him and provides him sustenance from ways he could not have imagined.” (al-Talaq, 65:2-3) The Prophet (SWT) is certain when he said, “Charity does not decrease wealth.”
Wealth is decreed by Allah to each person prior to breathing their first breath. God gives some in abundance and restricts it for others. Wealth is a means of testing. Will the poor endure the trials of insufficient funds and remain grateful to God even 2 at subsistence levels? Similarly, will the wealthy share the poor-due portion of his/her wealth with the less fortunate? Allah (SWT) informs, “And in their wealth is a due share for the beggar and the deprived.” (al-Zariyat, 51:19)
Among the many qualities God-conscious believers possess is that they spend in times of prosperity and in times of hardship. The Prophet (SAW) was very generous throughout the year and most generous in Ramadan.
There are two types of charity, the obligatory and supererogatory charity. The obligatory charity is called zakat. Zakat is one of the main modes of worship in Islam. It comes after the five daily prayers. Zakat is due on Muslims who have sufficient means with an accumulation of wealth that equals or exceeds the equivalent of three ounces of Gold (85 grams). Every year Muslims who have the means must fulfill their obligation of zakat by distributing 2.5% of their wealth to those who qualify. “Alms (zakat) are for the poor, the needy, those who administer them, those whose hearts are inclined (towards Islam), to free slaves and help those in debt, for God’s cause, and for travelers (in need). (This is) an ordinance from God; God is all knowing and wise.” (al-Tawbah, 9:60)
There is another type of zakat that was instituted by the Prophet (SAW) called zakt al-Fitr. This type of charity is given to the poor at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. This duty is required of every Muslim, male and female, minor or adult as long as one has the means to do so. Typically, the head of the household pays the equivalent of a one Saa’ (~6.5 lbs) of dried dates or barley (roughly $10) on behalf of every member of his household including babies, parents, grandparents or whomever he may have under his care.
Unlike fasting where an entire section, found in surat al-Baqarah, is dedicated to the concept, objective, wisdom and rules of fasting, zakat is mentioned throughout the Qur’an thirty times mostly together with prayer. If prayer is that important, so is zakat. Unfortunately, most Muslims are oblivious of this mode of worship as if it does not exist when in reality, it is the central mode worship among the five pillars of Islam. How can one offer daily prayers and remain heedless of zakat?
Another mistake some Muslims are guilty of is considering the tax they pay to the government as zakat. Sadly, this notion is found among some wealthy Muslims too. They defend their position by claiming that the government through its welfare system helps the poor and since zakat is to help the poor, taxes are considered zakat. This perverted logic doesn’t work with Allah. This justification as a means to avoid paying additional sums of money and enjoy hoarding wealth is indeed improper and imprudent.
The taxes we pay to the government is not a substitute for zakat. Zakat must be calculated and paid separately. Additionally, only Muslims qualify for receiving zakat funds with the exception of the one category that describes those whose hearts are inclined towards Islam. Non-Muslims who are poor and needy are also worthy of our charity and indeed they have a right over it. The Prophet (SAW) taught us, “Indeed, there is an obligation on wealth aside from zakat.” This optional charity is to help all people who are needy regardless of their faith or religious affiliation. That being said, one is encouraged to take advantage of the tax-deduction by claiming his/her zakat and other charity.
The third error many Muslims commit is not calculating the correct zakat. They simply write a check or give away cash to poor and needy people. How does one know exactly how much he/she owes? An estimated amount is not good enough. Just as it is our responsibility to make sure that our tax returns are prepared before April 15 of each year by filling out many forms disclos- ing everything we own and possess, we must assume the same responsibility and prepare our zakat as best as possible. The tax- returns may help you identify your assets, be it 401K, IRA, mutual funds, stocks and other investments including gold and silver.
It is our duty to include all liquid (cash) and non-liquid assets. One may deduct any fees, penalties and taxes on any invested amount of money if one were to withdraw or cash in on the investments. The net amount is zakatable. Similarly, an owner of a business must take into account all inventory items designated for sale, while capital equipment is exempted. Furthermore, money lent to others shall be included in the zakat preparation if one expects a payment within the next year. On the other hand, one may deduct any amount owed and to be paid within the next year. To ease the calculation of zakat, forms may be obtained from the internet. Ignorance is not a valid excuse before any court of law what to speak of the court of Allah (SWT). Check with your local Imam in case you have any question about zakat.
Lastly, many Muslims ignore and neglect the poor and the needy among their relatives thus depriving them from their legitimate claim and ties of kinship. There may be a conflict or family feud, but that is not a valid reason to deprive the deserving relatives from one’s zakat. Zakat is the right of Allah (SWT) and it is more meritorious to give to relatives before giving to non-relatives. One not only enjoys the reward of zakat but also the reward of joining womb relations.
Islam is quite stringent on maintaining ties of kinship. The Prophet (SAW) once said, “Whoever desires for Allah to multiply his provision and increase his age, he should maintain good relations with his kin.” To safeguard the dignity of the recipient, one may not boast about their giving. And remember, fathers, mothers, grandparents, etc. are not eligible for zakat. It is the responsibility of those in charge to care for them.
Paying zakat is a means of earning the mercy of Allah (SWT). The Prophet (SAW) informs us that unless Allah (SWT) be- stows His Grace and Mercy upon us, our deeds alone will not help us enter Paradise. There are many ayat in the Qur’an that discuss ways to earn the mercy of Allah. The obligatory charity, alms or zakat is one of those ways. “My mercy encompasses everything. I will therefore decree it for those who are righteous, give zakah and those who believe in Our revelations.” (al-A’raf, 7:156)
Zakat is the legal form of charity. There is, however, another form of charity, or spending at the spiritual level. Unlike zakat where the percentage on zakatable wealth is 2.5%, optional or supererogatory charity has no limit. “They ask you (O Prophet) how much they should spend, say: all that is surplus.” (al-Baqarah 2:219) The more charitable a person is the more blessings he/she receives from God. Indeed, charity is a means to purify our souls and wealth.
The Prophet (SAW) was asked, “Which charity renders the best reward?” The Prophet (SAW) replied, “The charity you give while you are in good health and feeling miserly, fearful of poverty and wishing you become rich.” It is an undeniable fact that people, in general, are greedy and desire wealth. “Attractive for people are the love and desire for women, children, heaped up treasures of gold and silver, branded horses, cattle and farmland. These are the pleasures of this life, but God has the best place to return to.” (Aal Imran, 3:14) Allah (SWT) informed us how much we love money, “And you love wealth immensely.” (al-Fajr, 89:20)
This obsession and passion for hoarding wealth may indeed ruin a person. “Woe to every slanderer, backbiter, who amasses wealth and keeps count of it, thinking that his wealth will make him live forever. Nay! He shall most certainly be thrown into the Crusher. And what do you know what the Crusher is? It is the kindled fire of God, which rises above the hearts. It closes in on them, in extended columns.” (al-Humazah, 104:1-9)
Therefore, it is noteworthy to acknowledge that all we have including all the material possessions in the world belong to Allah (SWT), “And to Allah belongs the treasures of the heavens and the earth.” (al-Munafiqoon, 67:7) We should never for a moment think that what we have is from our own earning. Rather, it is a bounty. In reality, it is a favor from Allah. “And when the (jumu’ah) prayer is concluded, disperse in the land and seek from the bounty (fadl) of Allah.” (al-Jumu’ah, 62:11) What 4 we have is a trust (amanah) from Allah. Hence, one needs to be faithful to the owner of this trust.
Ramadan is the month of charity. The Prophet (SAW), speaking on behalf of Allah (SWT), instructed, “Spend O son of Ad- am and I will spend on you.” Let us be more generous during Ramadan as the Prophet (SAW) was. Support your relatives, charitable organizations, and your Islamic centers among other deserving institutions. Give with an open heart and the best of intentions. Give for the sake and love of Allah (SWT).
Please consider donating to IONA’s budget and expansion project. No amount is too small. It is the quality that counts. Of course, don’t deprive us from your dua during this holy and blessed month. May Allah (SWT) accept our fasting, prayers, and all righteous deeds. May He (SWT) forgive us all, guide us to what pleases Him and bestow His Grace upon us all, ameen.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

Purity - Part 1

Purification and Glorification

Despite being unlettered, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was endowed with a special gift. He (SAW) said, “I was given jawami' al-kalim or the concise speech.” His gems of wisdom were concise yet comprehensive and meaningful. The following insightful hadith narrated by Abu Malik al-Ash’ari (RAA) demonstrates the Prophet (SAW)’s eloquence of speech.
The Prophet (SAW) said, “Purity is half of faith; the praise of Allah (al-hamdulillah) fills the scale; the glory of Allah and the praise of Allah (subhanallah walhamdulillah) fill together – or each fill – what is between the heavens and earth; prayer is light; charity is proof; patience is illumination; and the Qur’an is either an argument either for or against you. Everyone goes out in the morning selling himself. He either emancipates it or destroys it.”
The Prophet (SAW) concisely mentions eight gems of wisdom that can be elaborated at length; however, a simple sentence was enough to convey simple yet poignant points.
The hadith opens with the main theme of purity or purification, a subject of great importance to every Muslim. The scholars of Islam contemplated on what the Prophet (SAW) meant by, “Purity is half of faith.” Purity or cleansing may refer to both the internal spiritual and external physical state.
The internal purification is the cleansing of the heart that is the abode of iman and taqwa, from all types of polytheism (shirk) including pretentiousness (riya’) and worshipping the self (ego/caprice), and from false ideologies and beliefs. Love of this ephemeral world (dunya), lust, gluttony, envy, deception, and the urge to dominate are among other dreadful traits of a sick and polluted heart. Lack of trust in Allah (SWT) and doubt (rayb) in the hereafter are other signs of a diseased heart. These hearts can only be cleansed through prophetic supplications (azkar) and recitation of the Qur’an.
The external purification, on the other hand, is the cleansing of the limbs (al-Jawarih) that move in the direction (worship) of Allah (SWT). This external purification may be of two types, the physical and legal purity.
The physical purity is the cleansing of the body from filth, sweat and bad odor. It is also the cleansing of clothes and keeping one’s place, be it home, office, or masjid clean. Islam promotes being clean through and through. The Prophet (SAW) was instructed, “Purify your garment, and keep away from all filth” (al- Muddaththir, 74:4-5). It is important to keep in mind that although a person may be clean, he/she may not be in a state of legal purity for worship.
The legal purity are prescribed rituals of physical purification that precede acts of worship such as daily prayers, funeral prayer, touching the Qur’an, etc. The legal purity is also of two types: purity from both minor and major impurities. The former is to be in a state of ablution (wudu) before getting ready to pray or doing any other act of worship that requires ablution, while the latter is to take a full bath or ghusl after janabah (sexual intercourse with one’s spouse).
It can be argued that the expression, “Purity (tuhur) is half of faith,” means that ablution (tahara-wudu) or ritual purification is half of the salah (prayer). In the second year after migration (hijrah), the Prophet (SAW) was instructed to pray facing the Ka’bah in Makkah instead of Jerusalem. The change of the direction of the Qiblah left the believers skeptical, wondering if their prayers while facing Jerusalem for nearly two years were accepted. Allah (SWT) in surat al-Baqarah revealed, “God would never let your faith (prayers) go to waste, for God is most compassionate and most merciful towards people” (al- Baqarah, 2:143). – The word faith in the ayah clearly means salah (prayer) and prayer without wudu or tahara is not accepted. Thus, tahara or wudu is half of salah, consequently “Purity is half of faith.”
Performing and perfecting ablution (wudu) or the legal purity is a means of expiation of sins. This prerequisite prepares a believer for prayer (salah) which is a means of cleansing the heart. According to a prominent companion, Uthman bin Affan (RAA), the Prophet (SAW) said, “Whoever perfects his wudu, his sins will leave his body until they fall from beneath his fingernails” (Muslim).
The second gem of the Prophetic gems of wisdom is the glorification and praise of Allah (SWT). According to the hadith, “The praise of Allah (al-hamdulillah) fills the scale; the glory of Allah and the praise of Allah (subhanallah walhamdulillah) fill together – or each fill – what is between the heavens and earth.”
The first statement, “The praise of Allah (al-hamdulillah) fills the scale,” may be incomplete. Abdullah Bin Amr (RAA) in the collection of Imam al-Tirmidhi narrates a hadith that may shed more light on the statement. The Prophet (SAW) said, “Glorification (tasbih or saying Subhanallah) is half the scale and praising Allah (saying Alhamdulillah) fills it.”
Saying subhanallah (often Muslims say subhanahu wa ta’ala (SWT) whenever Allah’s name is mentioned,) implies that Allah (SWT) is high and above every imperfection and need. He is pure and perfect. Glorifying Allah (SWT) is half the gnosis of His majesty and magnificence. The other half is the praise of Allah or the phrase al-hamdulillah.
The prophetic phrase, “We have not known You as You deserve to be known,” indicates that no one in the world can comprehend the Being and Essence of Allah (SWT). His perfection is beyond our limited imagination and understanding. We can only know Him through His names and attributes which is the essence and basis of our faith and belief in Allah. Iman al-Mujmal or the Iman in brief defines Iman or faith as, “I believe in Allah as He is (understood) by His names and His attributes (asma’ and sifat)…”
For instance, no one can comprehend the extent or degree of Allah’s power. It is indeed beyond our imagination, “For verily, Allah has the Power to will anything,” (al-Baqarah, 2:20); “Do you not know that Allah has Power of everything?” (al-Baqarah, 2:106). His power extends beyond the physical laws of nature, “And We said, ‘O fire be cool and gentle on Ibrahim’” (al-Anbiya, 21:69). He is so powerful, all He has to say is ‘Be’ and it is, “Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, ‘Be’, and it is! Limitless, then in His glory is He in whose hand rests the mighty dominion over all things, and unto Him you all will be brought back” (Ya Seen, 36:82-83).
It can also be said that His vast knowledge is beyond our perception. No one can realize the extent of Hisknowledge, “And Allah has full knowledge of everything” (al-Baqarah, 2:282). He knows our past, present and future, including our thoughts and speech that have not yet occurred. “He knows all that is in the heavens and on earth; and He knows what you conceal and what you reveal; And Allah has full knowledge of what lies hidden in the hearts (of people) (al-Taghabun, 64:4). Not a leaf that falls of a tree escapes His knowledge (al-An‘am, 6:59).
Our intellect will never be able to realize the limitless attributes of Allah (SWT). He is Omniscient, Omnipotent as well as Omnipresent, “And He is with you wherever you may be; and Allah sees all that you do” (al-Hadid, 57:4).
Hence, if anyone desires a life of contentment and peace, let him find it in Islam. While at the same it must be clear that, “Whoever desires a deen (way of life) other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him, and he will be one of the losers in the Hereafter” (Aal Imran, 3:86).
To understand the essence of glorification (tasbih), one needs to investigate the meaning of the root word of which the word subhanallah comes from. The trilateral root word of tasbih, is Sa Ba Ha, and sabaha, yasbahu, means to keep afloat, whereas, the pattern, sabbaha, yusabbihu, means to make something afloat. Allah (SWT) mentions this concept in surat al-Anbiya’ when He described the planets floating through space, “Each floating (yasbahun) in its orbit” (al-Anbiya’, 21:33).
It may be said that tasbih is to keep Allah (SWT) floating at His own level. We should not bring Him down to the level of His creation, “Allah is but One God, far exalted is He (subhanahu) above having a son, everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him and sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs” (al- Nisa’, 4:171). Therefore, tasbih is half of the gnosis of Allah or understanding the spiritual truth. The other half is al-hamdulillah.
The phrase “Al-Hamdulillah” means that all good attributes are present with Allah (SWT) to the utmost. It also connotes that all praise and gratitude are His alone. It is noteworthy to understand that Allah (SWT) is independent, self-sufficient, and self-praised. It was made clear that Allah (SWT) is indeed free from any need when Musa (RAA) said, “Indeed Allah is self-sufficient and praiseworthy should you and whoever is on earth be thankless” (Ibrahim, 14:8).
Hamd can only be realized when one contemplates the countless favors Allah (SWT) bestows upon His creatures. Among many bounties, He feeds, clothes, and provides for us. In fact, the entire creation was meant to be a gift for man. There are numerous ayat that explain this notion. “(And remember that) it is Allah who created the heavens and the earth, and who sends down water from the sky and thereby brings forth [all manner] of fruits as a provision for you; and who has made ships subservient to you, so that they may sail through the sea at His behest; and has made the rivers subservient to you; and has made the sun and the moon, pursuing their courses, subservient to you; and has made the night and the day subservient to you” (Ibrahim, 14-32,33). The first fourteen ayat of surat al-Nahl (16:1-14) mentions other favors. No words can ever express the magnitude of gratefulness one may have for Allah (SWT).
We can never thank Allah (SWT) enough. Among many things, we thank Him for allowing us to worship Him, the Lord and Master of the Universe, “All praise is due to Allah alone, the Lord of all the worlds” (al- Fatiha, 1:1). Secondly, for guiding us to Islam, “Praise be to Allah, who guided us to this: had it not been for His guidance, we would never have found the way” (al-‘Araf, 7:43). Thirdly, we thank Him for His Book, the Qur’an, and His messenger, Muhammad (SAW), who showed us the way, “Praise be to Allah, who sent down upon His messenger the Book devoid of all crookedness” (al-Kahf, 18:1). Therefore, subhanallah and al-Hamdulillah, referring to the hadith, “Tasbih is half the scale and al-Hamdulillah fills it,” complete the scale of the gnosis of Allah (SWT).
The two statements Subhanallah and al-Hamdulillah are dearest to Allah (SWT). The Prophet (SAW) haseloquently said, “Dearest to the most Merciful are two words (statements). They are very light on the tongue but heavy on the scale (of rewards), Subhanallah wa bihamdihi (All Glory and Praise be to Allah who is far above any imperfection or want), subhanallah al-Azim, (Glory is to Allah the Great).” The more we comprehend Allah (SWT)’s attributes, the more we become attached to Him. The closer we get to Him, the more sincere we become.
Allah’s favors upon us are colossal. Let us give thanks to Him and keep our tongue moist with the sincere dhikr of Allah (SWT) while reaping the maximum blessings and rewards.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

Purity - Part 2

Prayer, Charity, and Patience

Part one of the “Purity” sermon dealt with purification and glorification. In continuation of the profound hadith on purity; part two deals with three very important aspects of our faith. They are prayer (salah), charity (sadaqah) and patience (sabr). The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in his concise speech eloquently stated, “Prayer is light, charity is proof, and patience is illumination.”
Prayer is light (nur). Just as the statement, “Purity is half of faith,” left the scholars dumbfounded, similarly the statement, “Prayer is light,” left the scholars wondering about the nature of light the Prophet (SAW) refers to. Some say it is spiritual light while others believe it to be physical light. However, it is agreed that there is a spiritual dimension to the statement. Perhaps the “light” here may refer to the inner spiritual light or basirah. In other words, the light of salah providing for the light within, the spirit or ruh.
Human beings are composed of two separate fully conscious entities joined together in a mysterious way. They are the spirit (ruh) and the body. After a mother conceives, the fetus goes through many different distinct stages and develops rapidly. According to an authentic hadith, the Prophet (SAW) informed us that the spirit is blown into the fetus in the womb of its mother after 120 days of its conception. This unification of body and spirit make up what the Qur’an describes as al-Nafs or the soul.
The body, we are informed, came from the crust of the earth, “And of His signs is that He created you from dirt (earth) and then you became bashar (spiritless species).” (al-Rum, 30:20). The source of the human spirit on the other hand is God’s own spirit, “And (mention) when your Lord said to the angels, ‘I am creating a bashar (spiritless species) from baked clay, so when I fashion him and blow into him from My spirit, fall then in prostration before him’” (al-Hijr, 15:28,29).
Unlike the body where its physical and chemical properties are known to man, the spirit remains a mystery. Man possesses very little knowledge about the spirit. The only certainty we know about the spirit is that it was originated by the command of Allah and of Allah’s fundamental nature, spirit (ruh), “They ask you (O Prophet) about the spirit, say, ‘The spirit is by the command of my Lord and you have been given very little knowledge’” (al-Isra’, 17:85).
The body receives its nourishment from earth, the very same source it came from. Similarly, the source of nourishment of the spirit comes from the divine Himself. Since the Qur’an, the speech of Allah (SWT), dominates a major part of salah, one may conclude that salah is the primary source of nourishment for the soul. “And thus, have We, by Our Command, revealed a spirit to you (O Prophet) you knew neither the Book nor the faith, but We made it (the Qur’an) a light, guiding with it whomever We will of Our servants. And indeed, (O Prophet) you guide to the straight path” (al-Shura, 42:52).
The ruh, which is in reality a divine spark, is ignited with salah. Hence, salah is light. Salah makes us feel like nothing else can. It is that spiritual light which illuminates our path to true happiness and salvation. “Alif, Lam, Ra, (this is) a Scripture which We have sent down to you (O Prophet) so that, with their Lord’spermission, you may bring people from the depths of darkness into light, to the path of the Almighty, the Praiseworthy One” (Ibrahim, 14:1).
This spiritual light is a guiding light on the Day of Judgment. “On the day when you (O Prophet) will see the believing men and women; their light proceeds in front of and to the right of them” (al-Hadeed, 57:12).
Salah in the life of a believer is very crucial. Among other things, it helps one identify evil and stay away from sins and transgression, “Recite (O Prophet) what has been revealed to you of the Scripture and keep up the prayer for verily, the prayer prevents one from indecent (shameful) and wicked (detested) deeds” (al-‘Ankaboot, 29:45). Recitation of the Qur’an and azkar among other acts of worship will help the soul sustain its spiritual existence avoiding it from decay and rot.
Prayer is indeed light. It glows on the faces of the true God-fearing, God-conscious, sincere slaves and servants of Allah (SWT), “Their mark (of faith) is on their faces from the trace of prostration” (al-Fath, 48:29).
The next gem of wisdom is, “Charity is proof.” What did the prophet intend when he (SAW) said charity is proof? Proof of what? One may ask. The scholars agreed that charity (sadaqah) is proof of one’s truthfulness (sidq). Charity is evidence sufficient to establish one’s true faith. It is proof that one is a true servant of Allah (SWT).
The Qur’an confirms the true nature of man vis-à-vis wealth and riches. “Alluring unto man is the enjoyment of worldly desires through women, and children, and heaped-up treasures of gold and silver” (Aal ‘Imran, 3:14). People tend to adore wealth passionately. “And you have an insatiable love of wealth” (al-Fajr, 89:20), “He is truly excessive in his love of wealth” (al-‘Adiyat, 100:8).
Anyone who can part with his wealth and money solely for the pleasure of Allah (SWT) is considered among the truthful ones (al-siddiqeen) who rank next to the Prophets in the sight of Allah (SWT), “Whoever obeys Allah and His messenger, they are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors from among the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the righteous, and what excellent companions they are!” (al-Nisa’, 4:69).
Only genuine servants of Allah (SWT) have passion to help and assist the less fortunate, “And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive.” They say, “We feed you, for the sake of Allah only. We seek neither recompense nor thanks from you” (al-Insan, 76:8 9). This good deed, among other great deeds proves that such people have real conviction in their lord and that only Allah (SWT) can reward them. They understand that having complete trust in Allah (SWT), who is the source of all provision, is the only way to help them sustain a good and content life in this world while awaiting for a greater bounty in the hereafter.
Charity is not restricted to disbursing money or other commodities. Less fortunate ones give their share of charity by other means and that will be proof of their faithfulness and they will be considered among the truthful ones on the Day of Judgment. According to the Prophet (SAW), the glorification and praise of Allah (SWT) is a form of charity as is repeating, “La ilaha illalah, there is no god but Allah” or saying, “Allah is Great.” Enjoining what is right and forbidding evil is another form of charity, as is smiling atyour brother. Charity is indeed a proof of one’s faith.
Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgment will undoubtedly question us about the wealth, property and assets we possess in this world. The Prophet (SAW) in a hadith collected by al-Tirmidhi said, “A person’s foot will not move on the Day of Resurrection until he is asked about his life and how he spent it, about his knowledge and how he acted upon it, about his wealth and how he earned it and spent it, and about his body and how he used it.” Knowing that Allah (SWT) is pure and that He accepts nothing but purity, believers who are cognizant of the afterlife make sure that every penny they spend for the pleasure of Allah (SWT) is earned from a pure and clean source. They spend from Allah’s provision generously.
Believers also understand that wealth and material possession is only a test and trial. “Your wealth and your children are only a trial (fitnah). And Allah has with Him a great reward” (al- Taghabun, 64:15). Regrettably, the heedless ones avoid giving lest their wealth is diminished, while others give strictly for showing off (riya’). They will have a hard time proving their charity on the Day of Judgment.
According to the Prophet (SAW), among the first to be judged on the Day of Judgment is a man whom Allah (SWT) blessed with plenty of wealth and made affluent. Allah (SWT) will remind him of this blessing and inquire about it. The man will say, “I spent it for Your sake and Your pleasure.” Allah (SWT) replies, “You are a liar, you spent it with the intention of being called generous, and that was said.” He will be ordered to be dragged to hell on his face. What a dreadful day for such individuals.
Those who give the optional charity are aware of their obligatory charity, zakah. They give annually 2.5% of their accumulated wealth to deserving people or have Islamic institutions pay out the money on their behalf. This is Allah’s right and only He rewards accordingly.
The Prophet (SAW) informed us about another gem of wisdom, patience. He said, “Patience is illumination.” Illumination refers to the use of a light source to view other objects by the light reflected from those objects. It is said that illumination is the light of the mind. Patience gives off light to the mind. The statement, “Salah is light” can be interpreted as the spiritual radiant energy (Divine light – Qur’an) that is capable of exciting the soul to act righteously. Similarly, the statement, “Patience is illumination,” may be understood as patience acting as the virtue that reflects light off the divine light stimulating the mind to act sensibly. The light the mind receives through patience enables the person in distress to think clearly, and with the help of salah, one is in total control of any difficult situation.
Praying regularly and punctually as well as being patient is very difficult. Only the true and humble servants of Allah (SWT) appreciate the blessing of salah and patience. Allah (SWT) gives us a remedy to combat our laziness and impatience. He (SWT) says, “Seek help through patience and prayer – it is indeed difficult except for the humble ones, who know that they will meet their Lord and that it is to Him they will return” (al-Baqarah, 2:45,46).
There are three types of patience: patience regarding obedience to Allah (SWT), (sabr ‘ala al-Ta’ah), patience against committing sins (sabr ‘an al-Ma’siyyah), and patience in times of distress (sabr ‘ala al-Bala’).
The first type, patience in obeying Allah (SWT) includes praying under conditions that are not conducive,fasting for very long hours and deprivation of sleep to ensure one’s dawn prayer is offered are some examples. The second type, patience against committing sins, means to restrain oneself from disobeying Allah (SWT) no matter how desirable or attractive the sin may be. One needs to have patience to be able to fight against the soul (nafs) that invites one to evil. “Man’s very soul incites him to evil” (Yusuf, 12:53).
The third type of patience is patience in times of trials, (sabr ‘ala al-Bala’). Believers know that the life of this world is full of trials. They do not complain, rather they endure them patiently. Knowing that all trials in life come from Allah (SWT) and having full trust in Him, the true believer can overcome anxiety, anguish and mental torture. They are the ones whom Allah (SWT) will bestow grace and guide. “We shall certainly test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property, lives, and crops. But give good news (O Prophet) to those who are patient, who say, when afflicted with a calamity, ‘We belong to God and to Him we shall return.’ It is they upon whom their Lord’s blessings and grace are bestowed, and it is they who are on the right path!” (al-Baqarah, 2:155-157).
It is not easy to overcome impatience. Patience helps control oneself and become the master of his own self. Exercising patience is a sign of real virtue and piety. We must keep in mind that Allah (SWT) will always support the patient ones. “Have patience. Verily, Allah is with those who are patient” (al-Anfal, 8:45).
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

Purity - Part 3

The Qur’an is an Argument

Parts one and two of the “Purity” sermon dealt with purification, glorification, prayer, charity, and patience. In continuation of the profound hadith on purity; part three deals with the Qur’an. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) eloquently stated, “The Qur’an is an argument either for you or against you.”
One of the main articles of faith is to believe in the Scriptures. Hence, all Muslims believe in the Qur’an. Not only do we as Muslims believe in it, but we also cherish and revere the Qur’an. We even keep it up on a high shelf with a protective covering like a treasure. Often, as a sign of respect and adoration, we kiss it. Unfortunately, with most Muslims, the Qur’an has become an ornament, a piece of decoration in homes, offices and even cars.
While some recite the Qur’an to gain maximum benefit of its guidance, many others seldom read it, and one should not be surprised to learn that some have never opened a Qur’an. Of those who seldom read it, they do so on special occasions such as Ramadan (for thawab, reward), death events (Qur’an Khawani) or for a cure, etc.
Those who truly appreciate the Qur’an; where hidden treasure and gems of divine wisdom and knowledge are found, seek its guidance, and make it their leader and light, shall find the Qur’an speak and intercede on their behalf on the Day of Judgment. The Qur’an becomes an argument for them. Otherwise, it will be an argument against those who didn’t read the Book or read it for the wrong intentions and purposes. The Prophet (SAW) eloquently stated in the hadith on purity, “The Qur’an is an argument either for you or against you.”
We are informed of another hadith found in the collection of prophetic traditions in Musnad Ahmad (RA) where the Prophet (SAW) said, “The fast and the Qur’an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say, ‘O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.’ The Qur’an will say, ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.’ And their intercession will be accepted.”
On the Day of Resurrection, the Qur’an will complain to Allah (SWT) and testify against those who only gave lip service to it. It will speak and complain, “I was there for him to answer his questions, to heal and guide him, but he never bothered to read me. He made me a piece of decoration in his home.” Such people will be very disenchanted, disillusioned, and let down. What excuse will such people make on that dreadful day? Excuses such as, “O Allah I intended to read it but didn’t have time!” or, “O Allah my family and business kept me too busy” will not produce good results. What will one do when he/she finds him/herself drowning in his/her own sweat from the scene of that horrific and gruesome day, when there will be no turning back?
There is no third option. The Qur’an will either speak favorably on behalf of the believer or protest against him. The ayah from surah al-Isra’ makes it very clear, “We send down the Qur’an as healing and mercy to those who (truly) believe; while, to the unjust ones, it only adds to their loss” ( al-Isra’, 17:82).
The true believers who genuinely believe in the Qur’an read it and ponder over its signs (ayat) with the aim to live by its philosophy and wisdom, to implement its instructions, to follow its principles and guidance and to become righteous and God-conscious servants of Allah (SWT). They are always hungry and thirsty for more knowledge. For them, the Qur’an is a source of comfort and healing when in distress and a guiding tool to becoming better human beings rising above their baser self. In this way, the Qur’an becomes a source of mercy to the faithful in both worlds.
With the increase of social media and reciters of the Qur’an (Qaris) than ever before, Muslims have resorted to listening to Qaris as a substitute for reading or simply for pleasure. We are encouraged to listen to beautiful recitation of the Qur’an as a substitute for the traditional music that may contain vulgar and obscene language. The Prophet (SAW) commanded that we beautify the Qur’an with our voices. He (SAW) considers those who do not nicely recite or sing (with proper rules) the recitation of the Qur’an as not one of us.
Divine composition is sufficient to satisfy one’s urge for music. As there is nothing wrong with listening to others recite the Qur’an in a beautiful voice, one needs to probe his or her intention. We should consider stopping at its amazing parts and let not only our head move with it but also our hearts. Allah (SWT) instructs us to pay close attention to every word being recited and reflect on its meaning. “So, listen quietly and pay attention when the Qur’an is recited so that you may receive mercy” (al-A’raf, 7:204).
The Qur’an as the speech of Allah (SWT) is all about people and their guidance. We are informed by Allah (SWT) of His Book while targeting the believers, “That is the Book, let there be no doubt about it. It is guidance for those who have taqwa” (al-Baqarah, 2:2). It is intended to guide all humanity, “The Qur’an, revealed in the month of Ramadan, is guidance to humanity” (al-Baqarah, 2:182).
While the Qur’an guides the individual, it provides guiding principles for our collective political, social, and economic affairs. It is a complete guidance. The Qur’an offers the road map for success. It is the blueprint for a complete way of life. “Verily, this Qur’an guides to the straightest way and gives the faithful who do good deeds the glad tiding that they shall have a great reward” (al-Isra’, 17:9). Indeed, it is they, the faithful, who make the Qur’an the spring and light of their hearts who will cheer the testimony of the Qur’an on the Day of Judgment.
The purpose of the Qur’an is to guide humanity to a good, happy, and peaceful life in this world and to eternal bliss in the world to come. It is about achieving real salvation. Only the true believers, the God- conscious and God-fearing people who want to save themselves from doom on the Day of Judgment may avail themselves.
How can we achieve the intended purpose of the Qur’an if we don’t read and comprehend its message? How can we achieve peace amongst ourselves if we don’t implement its teachings? How can the world be guided if we don’t act as an example? It makes Allah (SWT) exclaim, “Do they not ponder over the Qur’an? And had it come from a source other than Allah they would surely have found many discrepancies in it” (al-Nisa’, 4:82). Surely, we have blocked our hearts from its guidance, “Do they not ponder over the Qur’an? Or are there locks on their hearts?” (Muhammad, 47:24).
It is amazing that we employ the faculties of hearing, sight and most importantly the intellect Allah (SWT) bestowed upon us in ways that prove we are capable of learning and comprehending. We use these faculties competently to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers among other complex fields ofscience and philosophy. Often, one finds Muslims having to learn another language to obtain their education and careers in the fields of medicine, science and technology. We use our intelligence effectively for worldly concerns.
However, we have failed to take time out to learn the mother tongue of the Qur’an, Arabic, and invest in the most important Book in the world. What would be the fate of such people? Is it any wonder the Qur’an will prosecute such intelligent beings who neglected to fulfill its rights? The sad part is, on the Day of Judgment, not only will the Qur’an become an argument against such people, the messenger of Allah (SWT) will complain, “O my Lord! Verily, my people have deserted this Qur’an” (al-Furqan, 25:30).
Time is precious and short.  We can truly be among the best. The Prophet (SAW) described such individuals when he (SAW) said, “Best among you are those who learn and teach the Qur’an.” Let us begin this journey of learning and teaching the Qur’an and be among the best in the sight of Allah (SWT). We can succeed in both worlds.
Imagine each one of us begin to embody the Qur’an. We would become role models everyone would want to emulate. We would become the tools for good and effective dawah. We would be on top of the world. Unfortunately, our state of affairs as an ummah is the exact opposite. Our condition is pathetic and the answer lies within. We have treaded the footsteps of our predecessors, the children of Israel, “Some of those who had received the Scripture before (the people of the Book) threw the Book of Allah behind their backs as if they didn’t know” (al-Baqarah, 2:101).
To understand the essence of glorification (tasbih), one needs to investigate the meaning of the root word of which the word subhanallah comes from. The trilateral root word of tasbih, is Sa Ba Ha, and sabaha, yasbahu, means to keep afloat, whereas, the pattern, sabbaha, yusabbihu, means to make something afloat. Allah (SWT) mentions this concept in surat al-Anbiya’ when He described the planets floating through space, “Each floating (yasbahun) in its orbit” (al-Anbiya’, 21:33).
Muslims are at their lowest ebb. We are receding and the Qur’an is disappearing. The Prophet (SAW) had the foresight to predict our times. He prophesized, “There will come a time when there remains nothing of Islam except its name and nothing of the Qur’an except its script.” Indeed, the Prophet (SAW) spoke the truth.
No one can deny that we as an ummah are in turmoil and going through trials and tribulations (fitan.) What is the way out? The Prophet had the answer. He (SAW) replied, “The Book of Allah, in it is the news of those who came before you, and the information of what will come after you. It is the judge (by which you rule) among you. It is the decisive speech (that distinguishes between good and evil, truth and falsehood) not a joke. Allah will destroy the arrogant tyrant who forsakes it. Whoever seeks guidance from other than it Allah will lead astray. It is the firm rope of Allah. It is the wise reminder. It is the straight path. It is that by which the desires do not deviate, nor the tongues become confused.
Hamd can only be realized when one Scholars are never satisfied with it. It never becomes tiresome with repetition. Its wonders never end. It is that (Book) which the Jinn did not hesitate to declare, when they heard it, ‘We have heard an amazing recital which guides to what is right, and we believe in it.’ He who utters it speaks the truth. He who upholds it is rewarded. He who judges by it has done justice. And he who calls to it guides to a straight path or is guided to a straight path.” The Qur’an is our only Hope. The Qur’an will be an argument either for or against us.contemplates the countless favors Allah (SWT) bestows upon His creatures. Among many bounties, He feeds, clothes, and provides for us. In fact, the entire creation was meant to be a gift for man. There are numerous ayat that explain this notion. “(And remember that) it is Allah who created the heavens and the earth, and who sends down water from the sky and thereby brings forth [all manner] of fruits as a provision for you; and who has made ships subservient to you, so that they may sail through the sea at His behest; and has made the rivers subservient to you; and has made the sun and the moon, pursuing their courses, subservient to you; and has made the night and the day subservient to you” (Ibrahim, 14-32,33). The first fourteen ayat of surat al-Nahl (16:1-14) mentions other favors. No words can ever express the magnitude of gratefulness one may have for Allah (SWT).
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

Purity - Part 4

Selling Your Soul

The hadith on “Purity” is concluded with the statement, “everyone leaves in the morning selling himself. He either emancipates or destroys himself.” It is quite evident that people of all faiths and backgrounds whether consciously or unconsciously leave their homes every morning selling themselves. Some do for material gains while others for spiritual benefit.
Strictly speaking, Muslims also leave in the morning to make a living, study, worship, etc. In each instance everyone is either sincere, truthful, and honest, or deceitful, disingenuous and dishonest. Those belonging to the first category are in essence freeing their souls from annihilation, while those belonging to the second category are destroying themselves. Our actions lead us either to freedom from or destruction in Hell. This concept of emancipation/destruction of one’s soul is beautifully depicted in surat al-lail.
“Certainly your endeavors have divergent ends (different aims and purposes.) As for him who gives and keeps his duty to Allah and believes in a reward (from Allah), We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness). But he who is greedy and thinks himself self-sufficient, and belies the good reward, We will make smooth for him the path of hardship (evil)” (al-Lail, 92:4-10).
The Qur’an has on several occasions informed and warned us about satan being our sworn enemy in addition to his ways of deception. His old tricks of convincing people that the life herein is the only life have been skillfully repackaged to suit the level of intelligence of modern-day people. They claim, “In fact, the life of this world is the only life. We die and live and we shall never be resurrected” (al- Mu’minoon, 23:37). Such people have no idea or knowledge of the true reality of our existence. In another claim, “They say, ‘There is nothing beyond our life in this world. We die as we come to life, and nothing but time destroys us.’ They have no knowledge of this; they only follow guesswork” (al-Jathiyah, 45:24).
Satan’s skillful mastery has led many people to consciously sell themselves and become subservient to him in exchange for provisional sensual gratification employing various means including the most popular, music, sex and drugs, wealth, power and lust. “(satan) makes them promises and creates in them false desires, but satan’s promises are nothing but deception. They will have hell for their abode and will find no escape from it” (al-Nisa’, 4:120,121). Such are the people who sold themselves to this worldly life and became masters of their own corporeal desires.
Others, who may not have consciously sold out themselves to the devil, may be influenced by his genius philosophies and principles that are diametrically opposite to the Islamic ideology and worldview. As good as they may be at heart and intelligent in mind, they succumb to defeat. They invent false ideologies and dogmas such as communism, socialism, and secularism and hence fell victims to satan’s plan. The paths of satan are obvious. They all lead to utter destruction.
Conversely, the Qur’an declares, “But there is (also) a kind of individual who would willingly sell his own self in order to please Allah, and Allah is most compassionate toward His servants” (al-Baqarah, 2:207). A crucial imperative is mentioned in the very next ayah to all who pay heed, “O believers, enter intoIslam (submission to Allah) wholeheartedly and do not follow in satan’s footsteps, for he is your sworn enemy.”
Accepting Islam entirely implies that one has no choice but to become wholly subservient to Allah (SWT). Muslims who adopt an attitude of selectively choosing from the Qur’an and Islam what suits their desires, while willfully rejecting some parts, are labeled as hypocrites in the Qur’an. They may appear to be pious and God-fearing, praying in congregation and breaking fast with other Muslims. They may even profess their faith in Allah (SWT) and the hereafter in public. Allah (SWT) informs us that such people are in fact disbelievers. “And there are people who say, ‘We do believe in Allah and the Last Day,’ but they do not (really) believe. They seek to deceive Allah and the believers, but they only deceive themselves, though they do not realize it. In their hearts is a disease, and so Allah let their disease grow; and for them is a painful punishment for lying” (al-Baqarah, 2:8-10).
The disease concealed in their hearts is disbelief and rejection of the truth. They have deprived themselves of spiritual perfection for the sake of petty worldly gains. In reality, they traded the next world with this world. “They purchased misguidance in exchange for guidance, so their trade yields no profit, and they are not guided” (al-Baqarah, 2:16). More profoundly, “They purchased misguidance in exchange for guidance, and punishment in exchange for forgiveness. How shall they endure the fire!” (al- Baqarah, 2:175).
There are, however, sincere believers who without any hesitation consciously sell themselves to Allah (SWT) and dedicate their lives for His cause pledging, “Verily, my prayer and offerings (in acts of worship), my life and death are for the Lord of the Worlds who has no partners and for this I have been commanded and I am the first to surrender” (al-‘An’am, 6:162,163). The pledge is the outcome of perfect faith and sincerity. As they are aware that Allah (SWT) does not lose sight of them, they too do not lose sight of their Creator, Cherisher and Provider. Their hearts, thoughts, movements, and actions all move in His direction seeking His good pleasure. In other words, He alone is sought, and He is the goal.
Reflecting on the ayah, the noble companion Abu Musa al-Ash’ari used to say, “I honestly wish that every Muslim would keep reciting this ayah time and again, almost making it the constant formula of his or her life.” Only genuine believers who are free from all types of shirk, hypocrisy and have a strong desire for the next world would make such a commitment, i.e. live and die for the sake of Allah (SWT).
Such a decision is in essence based on a bargain that was offered by Allah (SWT), “O you who (profess to) believe! Shall I show you a bargain that will save you from painful torment? Have faith in Allah and His Messenger and struggle for His cause with your possessions and your persons––that is better for you, if only you knew” (al-Saff, 61:10-11). Those whose hearts are attached to the next life and are anxious to return to their permanent home have willingly and without delay struck a deal with Allah (SWT), “Surely, Allah purchased from the (true) believers their souls and possessions in exchange for Paradise” (al-Tawbah, 9:111).
The sirah of the Prophet (SAW) is rich with examples of noble companions who sold themselves to Allah (SWT). Not only former slaves and oppressed companions like Bilal, Sumayyah, and Yasir (RAA) traded their souls in exchange for the priceless Paradise. Affluent and well to do companions such as Abu Bakr, Uthman Ibn ‘Affan and Abdul Rahman Bin ‘Awf among many others (RAA) also chose the hereafter over this temporary world. How can one not be touched and motivated by the teenage youth, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Mus’ab Bin ‘Umair, who abandoned the riches of this world in exchange forthe eternal bliss of the hereafter.
They are indeed the ones who sold their souls for the sake of an ultimate truth, “there is no god but Allah” thus emancipating themselves from doom and destruction. It requires real and unwavering faith in Allah (SWT) and His messenger Muhammad (SAW) as well as the commitment to struggle for Allah’s cause, i.e. solely make Him Supreme and establish His system of Justice making the Qur’an reign over all the constitutions of the world.
The last statement in the “Purity” hadith, “everyone leaves his home in the morning selling his soul. He either emancipates or destroys it,” in connection with the other gems of wisdom in the same hadith makes clear that one who has gone through the process of purification, physical as well as spiritual (both are equally important), understands the meaning of praise (hamd) and glorification (tasbih) having solid conviction in and comprehends Allah’s attributes, appreciates salah and is very charitable, one who is patient and frequently resorts to the Qur’an for constant guidance is likely to sell him/herself to Allah (SWT), thus emancipating his/her soul from doom on the Day of Judgment.
Our intellect will never be able to realize the limitless attributes of Allah (SWT). He is Omniscient, Omnipotent as well as Omnipresent, “And He is with you wherever you may be; and Allah sees all that you do” (al-Hadid, 57:4).
While those who are heedless of those great gems of wisdom of the Prophet (SAW) and follow their own whims and vain desires are forcing their souls to ruin.
There is only one path to salvation. Every morning we have a choice, either to pursue the path of destruction or the path to salvation. Our souls are more precious than anything this world has to offer. Let us not sell eternal, permanent, and perpetual bliss for temporary and short-lived pleasures.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

Purity - Part 5

The Bargain

The concluding sermon on the subject of “Purity” deals with the practical manifestation of selling oneself for Paradise. The hadith ends with the words, “everyone leaves in the morning selling himself. He either emancipates or destroys himself.” The noble companions affirmatively responded to a deal that was negotiated with the Prophet (SAW). They sold themselves and their properties in exchange for Paradise. Ayah 111 and 112 of surah al-Tawbah discuss this bargain in detail.
Although surah al-Tawbah is a Medinan surah, ayahs 111 and 112 are Meccan. They were revealed in the 13 th  year after Muhammad (SAW) became a Prophet. The deal, purchase agreement and the legal contract of what is sold and for what price between Allah (SWT) and the believers, are included in these profound ayat.
“Verily, Allah has purchased from the believers their souls and their properties in exchange for Paradise. They fight in the way of Allah; they kill and are killed. [This is] a true promise binding on Him in the Torah (taurat), the Gospel (Injil) and the Qur’an. And who is more faithful to his promise than Allah? So, rejoice then in the bargain which you have concluded. For that indeed is the supreme achievement. [They are] those who turn to Allah in repentance; who serve and praise Him; who (do siyahah) fast; bow down and prostrate themselves; who enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong and who preserve the limits of Allah. And give [O Prophet] good news to such believers” (al-Tawbah, 9:111,112).
Understanding the context of these ayat will help us make sense of the prophet’s statement, “everyone leaves in the morning selling himself. He either emancipates or destroys himself.” The year after the Prophet’s utter disappointment with the people of al-Ta’if, six men from al-Madinah (then, Yathrib) who heard about Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad (SAW) and his message met with him in a place called al- Aqabah after the Hajj season (al-‘Aqabah is where pillars representing satan are situated in Mina today). After accepting Islam, they pledged to spread the word in al-Madinah. True to their promise, Islam and the Prophet of Islam became the talk of the town.
The following year (12 th  year after prophethood) after the Hajj season, five of the six men in addition to seven others met with the Prophet of Allah (SAW) at the same place, al-‘Aqabah, and accepted Islam. Before leaving for al-Madinah they requested from the Prophet (SAW) that he send someone with them to teach them the religion. Mus’ab Bin Umair (RAA) was chosen by the Prophet (SAW) to be his ambassador in al-Madinah and taught the Qur’an and the message of la ilaha illallah, there is no god but Allah, to the residents of al-Madinah.
Once again at al-‘Aqabah and in the following year the Prophet (SAW) received a delegation of 70 men from the Yathrib tribes of Aws and Khazraj. They pledged their oath of allegiance to the Prophet (SAW) on two conditions: one; that they worship Allah alone and not associate anything with Him, and two; that they support and protect Muhammad (SAW) as they would protect their own lives, property, and children. They inquired, “What will we get in return if we fulfill these two conditions?” The Prophet (SAW) replied, “You will get Paradise.” They exclaimed, “This is a profitable transaction. We will not revoke it, nor will we resign it.”
The Madinese struck a deal with the Prophet (SAW). The two ayat from surah al-Tawbah were then revealed in the form of a barter transaction, i.e. a trade agreement using business terminology. “Verily, Allah has purchased from the believers their souls and their properties in exchange for Paradise… So, rejoice then in the bargain which you have concluded. For that indeed is the supreme achievement.” Selling oneself to Allah (SWT) in return for Paradise is indeed the biggest success.
In the second year after hijrah (migration), those who pledged themselves to the Prophet (SAW) had to prove their loyalty to the contract. They had to face the polytheists at a place called Badr outside of al-Madinah. “Permission [to fight] is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged and, verily, Allah has indeed the power to succor them” (al-Hajj, 22:39). The first battle to be fought solely in the path of Allah (SWT) came to be known as the battle of Badr. Those who fought in the ranks of the believers and were killed went straight to Paradise cashing in on the bargain they made.
Over 14 centuries have passed since these events took place. One may ask, are we ready to make such a bargain with Allah (SWT)? And if so, what are the practical steps one needs to take to cash in on the bargain? The first thing we must do is consciously probe ourselves and determine what we really want out of this earthly life then ask, “Do I want material or real success?” Unless we reflect, assess, and be loyal to ourselves and honestly answer that question we will continue to fall prey to the ploy of satan. We think, ‘because I am a Muslim I am going to Paradise.’ The Qur’an calls this mindset wishful thinking. Paradise is not to be wished for. Paradise is to be earned. We must earn it if we desire it. The noble companions did, and we can too.
If one genuinely wants Paradise then the surest way that guarantees the attainment of felicity and success in the hereafter is to simply sell himself to Allah (SWT). Once this decision is taken the rest is a matter of delivering the goods to the seller, i.e. Allah (SWT).
There are three main installments in the transaction. One; change in attitude, two; devotion through worship, and three; serving Allah’s cause. These three categories, each with three subcategories, are explicated in the following ayah, “[The believers are] those who turn to Allah in repentance; who serve (make Ibadah) and praise Him; who (do siyahah) fast; who bow down and prostrate themselves; who enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong and who preserve the limits of Allah. And give [O Prophet] good news to such believers” (al-Tawbah, 9:112).
In other words, the seller must possess all nine attributes discussed in the ayah. They are grouped as follows:
  1. Change in attitude: This is the most essential of all. It is the very foundation and basic requirement of a faithful believer.
    • a) Repentance (Tawbah): Repentance is not only the act of saying, “I seek forgiveness from Allah” repeatedly, rather it is an attitude. It is about ones feelings and thoughts toward his/her actions. Recognizing our shortcomings and sins, one’s attitude should be, “I seek forgiveness from my Lord and I turn back to him in repentance with utmost sincerity.” Such an attitude reflects the acknowledgment of one’s own sins, full remorse of the heart, repetitive requests for forgiveness from the almighty Allah (SWT), immediate cessation of sins and the intention to never return to sinning again.
    • b) Devotion or servitude (Ibadah): The term Ibadah is often mistakenly translated to worship. It is indeed more than just the modes of worship (Ibadaat). Ibadah or servitude, more accurately slavery, is about one’s relationship with and feelings toward his/her creator. The correct attitude is that one should be a humble loving slave of Allah (SWT). One must realize that he/she is owned by Him and must completely and willingly submit to His will and be subservient to His commands. One must accept Islam in its entirety, not partially. One must recognize that he/she was created strictly to obey the Master, “I have not created the Jinn and humans except to serve (make Ibadah to) Me” (al-zariyat, 51:56)
    • c) Praise (Hamd): The inevitable result of a sincere servant of Allah (SWT) who goes through the promised trials and tribulations is always hamd, al-Hamdulillah, praise be to God. Again, praise or hamd is not the act of saying, al-Hamdulillah, rather it is how the soul feels about Allah (SWT). Not only should the tongue praise Allah (SWT), the heart and every joint in one’s body must glorify and praise Him. We must be grateful for everything he has given and not given us. He alone deserves to always be thanked and praised.
  2. Devotion through worship: after a change in attitude or inward reverence to the Creator, we move to outward modes of worship often referred to as actions of the limbs.
    • a) Optional fast: The ayah mentions the word al-Sa’ihoon, translated literally as those who journey. The Prophet (SAW) mentioned that, “the journey (siyahah) of my ummah is fasting.” The believers in al-Madinah were requested by the Prophet (SAW) to keep an optional fast, a custom that was not only new but difficult. Fasting strengthened the believers, taught them self- restraint and helped them endure long hours without food, particularly when they had to engage the idolaters of Makkah in war on the seventeenth day of Ramadan in the second year A.H. This is when fasting the entire month of Ramadan became a compulsory act of worship.
    • b & c) Bowing and Prostrating: These two attributes which occur frequently in the Qur’an denote the mandatory devotional acts of worship such as salah, zakah, sawm, and hajj. The formal acts of worship connect one with his/her Creator, strengthen the bond of mutual love and develop constant awareness of God. Fulfilling these religious duties give the believer the spiritual growth and strength necessary to carry out higher aims to serve Allah’s cause.
  3. Serving the Cause of Allah: serving Allah’s cause entails serving humanity while protecting the rights of the almighty Allah (SWT).
    • a & b) Enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; (Amr bil-Ma’ruf wa nahy ‘an al- Munkar): This doctrine is essential to public order. Promoting all that is good and virtuous while simultaneously rooting out evil from society promotes peace of mind and a safe community, society and country. This duty of serving humanity is placed on the shoulders of Muslims, “You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah” (Aal Imran, 3:110). The authentic hadith of the Prophet (SAW) mentions that, “Whoever among you sees an evil, he must change it with his hand; if he is unable to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is unable to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest form of Faith” (al-Bukhari and Muslim).
    • c) Preserving the limits of Allah (SWT): The boundaries set by Allah (SWT) that define our shar’iah must never be crossed. The Qur’an asserts, “These are the limits ordained by Allah; so,do not transgress them. And those who transgress the limits of Allah are the unjust ones” (al- Baqarah, 2:229). Allah’s limits must be protected and defended with lives and possessions. Anyone who disturbs the peace, causes mischief, or usurps the rights of Allah (SWT) should be brought to justice. A just social order based on divine injunctions deserves Allah’s favors and bounties, “These are the limits set by Allah. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted to gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide there forever, and that is the supreme success” (al-Nisa’, 4:13).
A believer who is willing to strike a deal with Allah (SWT) must agree to deliver the above detailed agreement of sale to the Purchaser, Allah (SWT), in return for the priceless Paradise. Unlike a cash bargain where one immediately cashes in on a business deal, this trade appears to be a credit bargain. In other words, one must deliver the goods here in this mortal life in order to be compensated in the hereafter.
To remove any doubts from the minds of those considering such a trade, Allah (SWT) says, “[This is] a true promise binding on Him in the Torah (taurat), the Gospel (Injil) and the Qur’an. And who is more faithful to his promise than Allah?” (al-Tawbah, 9:111). In other words, a similar bargain was made with the former nations, the followers of Moses (AS) and was mentioned in their scripture. Similarly, the bargain was made to the followers of Jesus (AS) and was mentioned in their scripture, and now in the Qur’an as well, for the followers of Muhammad (SAW) to consider.
Those whose hearts and minds are attached to this provisional world will have no one to blame but themselves on a day when neither wealth nor children will be of any use. Those who render their lives and wealth for the eternal bliss will have a different account. “Rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded, for that indeed is the supreme achievement” (al-Tawbah, 9:111).
The sage Hasan al-Basri (RA), once said, “Behold, what a profitable business is this that Allah has thrown open to every believer.” He also said, “It is Allah who has blessed you with wealth and property. Spend a little out of it and buy Paradise.”
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

How to Taste the Sweetness of Iman?

In a hadith narrated by al-Abbas Bin Abdul-Muttalib (the Prophet’s uncle – RAA) recorded by Imam Muslim, the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Indeed he who is pleased (and content) with Allah as his Lord (Rubb), Islam as his Deen and Muhammad as his Messenger has tasted the sweetness of faith (iman).” (Muslim)
How can one taste the sweetness of iman?
We perceive taste through sensory organs called taste buds located on top of the tongue. The taste sensation and flavors are produced and determined when a substance in the mouth reacts with the receptors of taste buds. Thus, sweet and bitter tastes can be experienced by the tongue.
Iman is neither a food nor a substance that can be tasted by the tongue. How would one then taste iman and which organ is responsible for that? The organ responsible for the taste of iman is the heart. The Prophet (ﷺ) once pointed to his chest declaring taqwa is here; indicating that iman is in the heart. We know from an ayah in surah al-Hujurat where, in response to the Bedouin Arabs who came to the Prophet (ﷺ) claiming iman, Allah (ﷻ) rejected their claim saying, “You have not yet come to believe, all you may say is ‘We have surrendered,’ and not until iman enters your heart” [al-Hujurat, 49:14].
This ayah is a clear proof that the organ responsible for iman is the heart. If the heart is sound one may experience the sweet taste of iman. Otherwise, one’s iman is either weak or the heart is so corrupt and damaged that there isn’t a mustard seed’s weight of iman in one’s heart.
The tongue among other functions is used to articulate one’s thoughts. One may express his faith by saying I believe, however it is the heart that may or may not confirm that profession of faith. To patiently endure the trials one goes through as a test of one’s faith is a sign of a sound heart. Allah (ﷻ) says, “Do people think that they will be left alone on saying, ‘We believe,’ and not be tried? We have certainly tried those who came before so that Allah may for certain know the truthful ones and the liars” [al-Ankabut, 29:2,3].
To taste the sweetness of iman, one must be convinced of Allah’s existence having a firm belief in Him as the only Supreme Being and Deity who is worthy of worship.
One must put his full trust in Allah (ﷻ) and accept Him as his Lord and Master (Rubb). Thus the statement, I am pleased (raditu) with Allah as my Lord, (رَضِيتُ بِاللَّهِ رَبًّا).
The word, raditu (رَضِيتُ), in the hadith comes from the root (Ra Da Wa, ر ض و), which carries several meanings. It means, to acknowledge, to accept, to confirm, to approve, to be satisfied with, to be content with and to be pleased with, among other meanings.
The statement Raditu Bil-Lahi Rubba (رَضِيتُ بِاللَّهِ رَبًّا), conveys all these meanings and the implications of such a statement are:
  1. Rida bil-Uluhiyyah (رضى بالأ لوهية): To accept, be content and pleased with Allah (ﷻ) as the God, Ilah. In other words, nothing in the heavens nor on earth deserves or is worthy of worship except Allah (ﷻ). This is called Tawhid al-Uluhiyyah ((توحيد الأ لوهية, or Unity of God, i.e. to single Him out in worship with utmost sincerity.
  2. Rida bil-Rububiyyah (رضى بالربوبية): To accept, be content and pleased with Allah (ﷻ) as the Lord or Master, Rubb. It is also to recognize Him as the sole Creator and Sustainer of everything and to firmly believe that He alone has the power to manage all affairs. Furthermore, to depend solely on Him and to seek help from no one else other than Him while accepting the Divine Decree He decreed for us. This can be summed up as Tawhid al-Rububiyyah ((توحيد الربوبية or Unity of Lordship.
  3. Another implication is to accept all His commands. One must be happy and content with Allah’s final rulings and judgments for He is the true Ruler and Sovereign.
  4. Finally, to be pleased with Allah (ﷻ) as the Master (Rubb), one must have extreme love, respect and reverence for Allah (ﷻ). In describing the believers, Allah (ﷻ) says, “Those who (truly) believe, love Allah most passionately” [al-Baqarah, 2:165].
The outcome of this love and contentment is for one to be happy and pleased with Islam as the only way of life Allah (ﷻ) decreed for His slaves and servants to follow; which confirms the statement from the hadith mentioned above, “I am pleased with Allah as my Lord and with Islam as my Deen (رَضِيتُ بِاللَّهِ رَبًّا وَبِالإِسْلَامِ دِينًا).”
To claim to be pleased with Islam as one’s deen means that one accepts Islam as the only legitimate way of life with the purpose of genuinely guiding individuals and societies. In other words, one is to accept the final divine legislation, the Shariah of Allah (ﷻ) in its entirety. Allah (ﷻ) favor upon humankind is complete.
This declaration appears in surat al-Ma’idah, “Today, I have perfected for you your Deen, completed My blessing upon you, and am well-pleased with Islam as your Deen (way of life)” [al-Ma’idah, 5:3]. If Allah (ﷻ) is happy and pleased with Islam as our way of life, why can’t we then be happy with it as our way of life? After all it came from the One who knows and is Wise (Hud, 11:1).
It is noteworthy to mention that the progression of Shariah started with Nuh (AS) and then Ibrahim (AS). Musa (AS) received the Torah (al-Taurat) filled with guidance and light, the divine commandments and legislation, and the do’s and don’ts. “Indeed, We sent the Torah, containing guidance and light, by which the prophets, who had submitted to Allah, judged the Jews by it.” [al-Ma’idah, 5:44] The Prophets, Rabbis and scholars were entrusted to uphold and implement the Torah, so that the children of Israel may live with one another in peace and harmony and may prosper. They were warned, “Those who do not judge according to what Allah sent down, then it is those who are disbelievers.” [al-Ma’idah, 5:44] They were warned again, “Those who do not judge according to what Allah sent down, then it is those who are unjust.” [al-Ma’idah, 5:45]
Ending the legacy of Musa (AS), Isa (AS), the last messenger sent to the Children of Israel, was given the Injil or Gospel, which encompassed the Torah and confirmed the Shariah of Musa (AS). The Injil was again complete guidance to be followed. “Let the people of the Gospel (Injil) judge by what Allah revealed in it. And those who do not judge by what Allah had sent, then it is those who are rebellious.” [al-Ma’idah, 5:47]
Allah (ﷻ) declared that those who don’t judge by that which Allah (ﷻ) had sent (the divine law) are disbelievers, unjust, and rebellious.
Muhammad (ﷺ), Allah’s final Prophet and Messenger, receives the last complete book of guidance, the Qur’an, that contains the final Shariah (law), from the Supreme Law-Giver Allah (ﷻ). This was the ultimate manifestation of Allah’s grace and mercy upon His servants. “And We sent to you (O Muhammad) the Book with the truth, confirming the Scriptures that came before it, and with final authority over them: so judge between them according to what God has sent down.” [al-Ma’idah, 5:48]
Allah (ﷻ) promises those who follow His guidance to never fall in despair, be in a state of fear or be grieved. When guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance, no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.” [al-Baqarah, 2:38]
Whoever upholds and adheres to Allah’s commands shall never go astray or be depressed, while those who turn away from His guidance, Allah (ﷻ) has assured them a miserable life. “Then when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance will neither go astray nor fall into misery. And whoever turns away from My Remembrance (Guidance) will certainly have a miserable life.” [Ta Ha, 20:123,124]
Hence, if anyone desires a life of contentment and peace, let him find it in Islam. While at the same it must be clear that, “Whoever desires a deen (way of life) other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him, and he will be one of the losers in the Hereafter” (Aal Imran, 3:86).
Our faith and way of life should bring us utmost contentment and happiness. This joy comes only when we accept Islam in its entirety, “O you who believe enter into Islam totally” [al-Baqarah, 2:208].
A true believer will never reject any of Allah’s commands despite his infallibility or inability to enforce all of Allah’s commands. While recognizing our weaknesses one should never despair from Allah’s grace. One must implore Allah (ﷻ) for help believing that He alone can help. One develops the sense of conviction (yaqin) and confidence that He, the almighty, will take care of him or her. The sweet taste of iman comes from the constant struggle against one’s baser self for the sole purpose of obeying Allah (ﷻ).
Sadly, God has been stripped from His authority. The sweetness of iman may be tasted through the strenuous struggle exerting maximum effort to re-establish Allah’s authority in this world making Islam a concrete historical reality.
Surah al-Shura lays this responsibility upon the believers, the same responsibility that was once enjoined upon the great willed and determined messengers. “In matters of faith, He ordained for you that which He enjoined upon Noah, that which We have revealed to you (O Muhammad), as well as that which We had enjoined upon Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, that you establish the deen and divide not therein.” [al-Shura, 42:13] Conscious believers do their very best to uphold Islam in their lives wherever they may be.
Believers who are mindful of their duties promote and disseminate the ideology and worldview of Islam to the masses sharing this great blessing as our Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and his noble companions did. It is through such efforts; treading the footsteps of Allah’s last and final noble, upright, honest, and truthful Prophet and Messenger Muhammad (ﷺ), one may taste the sweetness of iman. Thus, I am pleased with Muhammad (ﷺ) as a Messenger (وَبِمُحَمَّدٍ رَسُولاً).
  1. Complete obedience to him: Allah (ﷻ) has commanded the believers to obey Muhammad (ﷺ). “O you who believer, obey Allah and obey the messenger.” [al-Nisa’, 4:59]. Similarly, “Say (O Prophet), ‘Obey Allah and the Messenger.’” [Aal ‘Imran, 3:32] As a matter of fact, obeying Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) is in essence obedience to Allah (ﷻ). “Whoever obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah.” [al-Nisa’, 4:80] Believers who obey Allah (ﷻ) and His Messenger (ﷺ) will be in the best company in the hereafter. “And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger will be in the company of those whom Allah has blessed among the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs, and the righteous. And what an excellent companionship!” [al-Nisa’, 4:69]
  2. Unconditional love for him: It is incumbent upon the believers to love Muhammad (ﷺ) more than anyone including oneself besides Allah (ﷻ). In an agreed upon hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah found in sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim, he (ﷺ) says, “None of you attains faith until I become dearer to him than his own son, father and all mankind.” Another authentic hadith found in the two sahih says, “[There are] three traits and whoever possesses them shall experience the sweetness of iman; to love Allah and His Messenger more than anyone else; to love people only for the sake of Allah; and to hate to return to disbelief after Allah has saved him from it as much as he hates to be thrown into Fire.”
  3. Follow his example: Contrary to obedience, one who is truly pleased and content with Muhammad (ﷺ) as Allah’s Messenger would want to follow him in every aspect of one’s life including the arduous journey he undertook to making His Lord Supreme. In one of His instructions, Allah (ﷻ) says, “Say (O Prophet), ‘If you love Allah, follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins,’ for Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” [Aal ‘Imran, 3:31].
  4. Defend him: It is not a choice to defend our noble Prophet (ﷺ). Allah (ﷻ) commanded us to do so, “O you who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger and do not turn away from him now that you hear (his message)” [al-Anfal, 8:20]. The Prophet of Allah survived many attacks in the past and will continue to triumph over the bigots and hate mongers who slander him and attack Islam. We must be proactive in our approach to dawah. The least we can do is convey to the masses one ayah on his behalf as he (ﷺ) instructed.
Therefore, in order to taste the sweetness of iman, one must unconditionally be pleased and content with Allah as the Master and Lord, Islam as the only true deen and way of life and to be pleased with Muhammad (ﷺ) as the seal of all prophets and Messengers who continued the legacy of his predecessors, preached, there is no god but Allah, and established Islam as a concrete historical reality.
The Prophet (ﷺ) instructed the believers, “Whoever says, when one hears the call to prayer (adhan) I testify that there is no god except Allah alone with no partners and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, with Muhammad as my Messenger, and with Islam as my deen, his/her sins will be forgiven” (Muslim).
May this statement move our hearts whenever it is uttered. ameen
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

The Ideal Muslim Family

Islam places great emphasis on the importance of family and the relationships within it. Family is considered a fundamental unit of society, it is the nucleus and heart of society and plays a crucial role in shaping the moral, social, and spiritual development of individuals.
Islam places great emphasis on the importance of family and the relationships within it. Family is considered a fundamental unit of society, it is the nucleus and heart of society and plays a crucial role in shaping the moral, social, and spiritual development of individuals.
The Qur’an and teachings of Prophet Muhammad(ﷺ) give us the framework as well as the complete guidance on various aspects of family life, including marital relationships, parental responsibilities, and the treatment of family members.
The human family began with the first couple Adam and Hawa’ (Eve), “O people! Be mindful of your Lord Who created you from a single soul, and from it He created its mate, and through both He spread a multitude of men and women. And remain conscious of Allah, in whose name you request of one another—and (observe the) family ties. Surely Allah is ever watchful over you.” [al-Nisa’, 4:1]
Humanity began to multiply through the process of procreation. “And among His signs is that He created spouses (husbands and wives) from among yourselves for you to live with in tranquility and has placed affection and compassion in you. Surely, in that are signs for a people who reflect.” [al-Rum, 30:21]
The ayah emphasizes marital harmony. Islam encourages harmony, love, and mutual respect between spouses. The Qur’an describes the relationship between husband and wife as one of companionship and comfort, with each partner serving as a source of support for the other.
In order to ensure a healthy marriage, the husband and the wife need to be familiar with their mutual rights and responsibilities.
Husbands are responsible for providing for the family’s financial and other needs, while wives are entitled to respect, kindness, and protection. “Men shall take full care of women, a preference Allah made of some over others and because they spend out of their wealth (to support them).” [al-Nisa, 4:34]
Husbands are entrusted with the responsibility of providing comprehensive care for their wives, as Allah (ﷻ) has distinguished certain individuals by granting them a preference due to their capabilities and willingness to expend their wealth in support of them.
The Prophet (ﷺ) in his farewell sermon (hajjatul-wada’) instructed, “It is true that you have certain rights in regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives, only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right, then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.”
While Islam outlines different roles and responsibilities for men and women, it emphasizes the equal worth and value of both genders. At the moral and spiritual level both husbands and wives are equal before Allah. “Surely, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous.” [al-Hujurat, 49:13]
Husbands and wives are blessed with children. Parents are responsible for the physical, emotional, and spiritual upbringing of their children.
Parenting is considered a sacred and important duty. The physical needs of children, including food, clothing, shelter and healthcare, is a fundamental responsibility parents bear. Parents should ensure their children’s well-being and safety.
Parents should create a loving and supportive environment for their children. Offering emotional support, listening to their concerns, and expressing affection are elements of parenting.
Parents are responsible for disciplining their children in a fair and balanced manner. This involves setting boundaries, enforcing rules, and teaching them self-control and responsibility.
Treating children with respect and kindness is important. Islam prohibits harsh treatment, abuse, or neglect of children. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was known for his gentle and compassionate treatment of children.
Parents should prepare their children for adulthood by teaching them life skills, responsibilities, and the importance of contributing positively to society.
Parents are responsible for providing education and knowledge to children. It is an essential duty of parents. This includes not only secular education but also Islamic teachings, the Qur’an, and the life of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). Sunday school will only complement and reinforce what the children learn at home.
Parents are expected to lead by example, by living according to Islamic principles. Indeed, children learn by observing their parents’ behavior and actions.
Parents will learn that each child is unique, with varying strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. Parents should strive to understand and address the individual needs of each child.
As children grow older, parents play a role in guiding them toward making informed and suitable choices in marriage partners.
Parents are encouraged to make dua for their children’s well-being, guidance, and success. A parent’s dua is powerful and will be answered by Allah(ﷻ) .
Islam stresses the importance of nurturing children’s faith (iman) and character, instilling strong moral values in them. This involves teaching them the principles of Islam, the importance of prayer, honesty, kindness, and respect for others with the primary focus on iman. “Mention (O Prophet), when Luqman said to his son while instructing him: ‘O my dear son, do not commit shirk (associate anything) with Allah, for verily, shirk is the greatest injustice.” [Luqman, 31:13]
The aim is to raise righteous, upright, educated, responsible Muslims to lead the community in righteousness and good deeds, promoting what is good and forbidding what is evil.
Likewise, children are instructed to show respect and obedience to their parents. The Qur’an emphasizes the importance of treating parents with kindness, gratitude, and obedience. “And We have enjoined upon man (kindness) to his parents. His mother carried him with weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years, that you be grateful to Me and your parents. (Ultimately,) you will return to Me.” [Luqman, 31:14]
A similar ayah further explains the attitude of a righteous son or daughter, “And We have enjoined upon man, (good treatment) to his parents. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and (the period of) carrying him and weaning is thirty months. (He grows) until, when he reaches maturity and reaches (the age of) forty years, he says, ‘My Lord, enable me to (always) be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do good deeds of which You are pleased, and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I repent to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.” [al-Ahqaf, 46:15]
These ayat highlight the importance of treating one’s parents with kindness, respect, and good behavior. Only mothers know and are familiar with the hardships they endure during pregnancy and childbirth, underscoring the sacrifice and effort involved in bringing a child into the world. As the child grows and matures, they are to express gratitude to Allah for His blessings and to be grateful to their parents for their efforts and sacrifices.
When children reach the age of psychological maturity they pray for guidance and righteousness. They seek Allah’s approval and ask for the ability to lead a life that is pleasing to Him, to their parents, and to future generations.
The ayat from Surah Luqman and Surah al-Ahqaf emphasize the significance of gratitude, kindness, and righteousness in one’s relationship with both Allah (ﷻ) and their parents.
The fruit of the parent’s labor is righteous children taking good care of their parents in their old age, “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none except Him, and good treatment to parents. Should one or both reach old age (while) with you, never say to them ‘uf/ugh’ and do not repel them, rather (always) speak gently to them. And spread the wings of mercy in humility to them and pray, ‘O my Lord, be merciful to them as they have raised me when I was a little child.” [al-Isra’, 17:23,24]
Similarly, the above mentioned ayat also highlight the command to treat parents with kindness, respect, and obedience provided that the parents’ instructions do not conflict with Islamic teachings. Even in moments of disagreement or old age, children should not show impatience or annoyance toward their parents. Instead, they are instructed to address their parents with noble and respectful words, reflecting the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with parents throughout their lives.
Active listening and open communication between parents and children is essential. Children should take time to understand their parents’ perspectives, concerns and advice. While parents’ decisions are to be respected, children can offer guidance and share their opinions respectfully, especially in matters where their expertise or perspective is relevant.
Children are commanded to treat their parents with kindness, compassion, and empathy. This includes showing affection, offering help, and tending to their parents’ needs as they age. They should avoid actions or speech that may cause embarrassment or harm to their parents’ dignity and reputation. Children should provide emotional support and companionship to their parents, especially in times of difficulty or loneliness.
When they are financially capable, children are expected to contribute to their parents’ financial needs, especially in old age or in times of necessity. This obligation extends to providing for parents’ necessities, including food, clothing, and shelter. This principle also extends to providing for family members who may be less fortunate or facing hardships.
They should prioritize their parents’ health and well-being, ensuring they receive proper medical care and attention. They should pray for their well-being, health, and success. Making dua for their parents’ forgiveness and blessings is considered a virtuous act. “Our Lord be merciful to them as they have raised me when I was a little child.”
Even after marriage and establishing their own families, children should continue to maintain strong relationships with their parents. Regular visits, phone calls, and expressions of care help nurture these ties.
When they pass away, remember them, and supplicate for them. Ask Allah(ﷻ) to forgive them and be merciful to them. Children have responsibilities related to the proper distribution of their parents’ inheritance in accordance with Islamic law.
By fulfilling these responsibilities, children not only honor their parents but also contribute to the harmonious functioning of families and society. Islam places a strong emphasis on valuing and caring for parents throughout their lives, reflecting the importance of family bonds and the compassionate teachings of the faith.
The Prophet Muhammadﷺ) ) emphasized the importance of obedience to parents and the gravity of disobedience in the following hadiths.
According to Abdullah bin ‘Amr (RAA), the Prophet(ﷺ) said, “The pleasure of the Lord is in the pleasure of the parent, and the anger of the Lord is in the anger of the parent.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
Abdullah bin Mas’ud (RAA) said, the Prophet(ﷺ) said, “The major sins are to believe that Allah has partners, to disobey one’s parents, to commit murder, and to bear false witness.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Similarly, Abdullah bin Omar (RAA) said, the Prophet(ﷺ) said, “The parent is the middle door of Paradise (i.e., the best way to paradise), so it is up to you whether you take advantage of it or lose it.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
Abu Huraira (RAA) narrates: “A man came to Allah’s Messenger and said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?’ The Prophet said, ‘Your mother.’ The man asked, ‘Who is next?’ The Prophet said, ‘Your mother.’ The man further asked, ‘Who is next?’ The Prophet said, ‘Your mother.’ The man asked for the fourth time, inquired, ‘Who is next?’ The Prophet said, ‘Your father.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
These hadiths emphasize the significance of respecting, obeying, and being dutiful to one’s parents. Disobedience to parents is mentioned as one of the major sins in Islam, reflecting the high status that parents hold in Islam. The Prophet’s words further emphasize the importance of recognizing the sacrifices and care parents provide, and the obligation to treat them with kindness, respect, and obedience throughout their lives.
Islam teaches the importance of resolving conflicts and disputes within the family through communication, patience, and seeking mediation. It is discouraged to let conflicts escalate and disrupt family harmony.
Islam also encourages maintaining relationships with extended family members (silat al-rahm), including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Treating extended family with respect and kindness is an important aspect of Islamic etiquette.
Additionally, Islam promotes treating in-laws with kindness and respect. The Prophet Muhammad(ﷺ) emphasized the significance of maintaining positive relationships with the families of one’s spouse.
While Islam permits divorce in certain circumstances, it is considered a last resort after all efforts for reconciliation have been exhausted. Steps should be taken to protect the well-being of both spouses and any children involved.
In Islam, family is viewed as a means to attain spiritual growth, fulfill responsibilities, and support one another in both temporal and eternal aspects of life. The teachings of Islam promote compassion, love, respect, and a sense of shared responsibility within the family unit, fostering an environment of emotional well-being and social harmony.
May Allah (ﷻ) help us be good to our parents and make righteous of our offspring, ameen.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

Civic Engagement is Our Duty

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.
2In 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.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

Are You Ready For The Inevitable?

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.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

Enjoining Good and Forbidding Wrong

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.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Synopsis of Ameer Mustapha Elturk

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