Juma Khutba Friday 23/08 – Shaykh Jaffer Ladak (video + summary)

In: Education, Jum'a

Video here

In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful

How do we study Islam? 
Maximising our sitting in sermon’s and what happens after them: Part 1
How many sermons do you listen to in one year? Thursday nights; Friday Khutbas; birth and death anniversaries of the great Prophet’s and saintly figures; weddings; funerals; Islamic TV shows; WhatsApp clips; social media; email; conferences… the list goes on.
It would not be an underestimation if we said a person has 200 days of the year where lectures, sermons and keynote speeches all furnished with Islamic wisdom are available to us. That’s around two thirds of the year!
But also it needs questioning how much of it do we absorb, act on and make use of, such that it truly impacts the development of our souls. There is no shame in admitting it, there is a great gap between how much we take in and how much we apply. This will always be the case, especially in the ‘Information Age’ we live in.
We can also admit that we wan’t to benefit more from the sermon’s we listen to. Especially in this period over Dhu al-Hijjah, Muharram and Safar when the fragrances of the revolution and sacrifice of Imam al-Hussain (a) are in the air; when the number of lecture’s will increase and the fervour of recommitting ourselves to personal development is at the forefront of our minds, it befits us to think abouthow we maximise these gatherings. Hence this series of Friday Sermon’s will ask ‘How do study Islam?’ 
It has always been the case that the Prophet’s of Allah (swt) have had goals. Amongst the primary is Islah – reformation of the community. As Prophet Shu’ayb (a) said in the Qur’an (11:88) “I want to achieve reformation as to the best of what I can” إِنْ أُرِيدُ إِلَّا الْإِصْلَاحَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ
This too was the mission statement of Imam al-Hussain (a) who when leaving Medina for the last time stated, “I am not rising for fame, or adventurism, nor to create mischief, or for oppression. But rather I rise for the sole purpose to create reformation in the Nation of my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah Muhammed (s)” إني لم أخرج أشراً، ولا بطراً ولا مفسداً، ولا ظالماً، وإنما خرجت لطلب الاصلاح في أمة جدي
Hence over this period of Muharram and Safar, ‘the days of al-Hussain’, our goal of attending sermon’s and lectures and conferences should match this lofty goal of reformation otherwise that movement of sacrifice and saving Islam goes in one direction whilst my intention and participation goes in another.
The Qur’an mentions two groups of people. Those who benefit from Islamic reminders and the Sign’s of Allah swt and those to whom those same things add aversion and darkness to.
The first are mentioned as “The ones who believe are only those whose hearts took notice when God was remembered. When His signs were recounted to them, their belief increased and they put their trust in the Lord” (8:2)
The second is he “He hears the signs of God recited unto him, then persists arrogantly as if he did not hear it. So give him glad tidings of a painful punishment” (45:8).
It is for this reason that there are three stages to learning and maximising what we come across from our sermons and books and clips. In a phenomenal narration, Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a) said, “The one who learns for the sake of Allah (swt), and then acts for the sake of Allah, and then teaches for the sake of Allah, he would be invited to the grand kingdoms of the heavens.”  مَنْ تَعَلَّمَ لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ وَ عَمِلَ لِلَّهِ وَ عَلَّمَ لِلَّهِ دُعِيَ فِي مَلَكُوتِ السَّمَاوَاتِ عَظِيماً It is this seamless motion of learning, applying and spreading what we have achieved that is the barometer of success from the sermon’s we attend.
The great companions were of this nature. They made do with the little they received – not 200 sermon’s a year! The companion Ibrahim al-Karkhi narrated, “Once I came to visit Ja’far ibn Mohammed as-Sadiq. While I was with him his son Musa al-Kadhim came in. He was a young boy. I got up and kissed him and then I sat down. As-Sadiq began to tell me: Allah will derive from him the best of the people on the earth… He who waits for the Mahdi and fights with him is as if he has fought with the Prophet (s) and defended him.”
Then a man of the Umayyads came in and as-Sadiq had to stop talking. I visited him eleven times wishing that he might complete his speech but I failed. In the next year I came to him he said, “O Ibrahim, al-Mahdi (a) will relieve his followers from their grief after a long period of affliction and oppression. Blessed is he who will attend to that time! Oh Ibrahim, this suffices you.”
The response from Ibrahim is profound. He takes this little from the gathering and maximises it. He says, “I have never come back with something more pleasant to my heart and more delightful to my eyes than this!”
We too want to maximise our gatherings and study of Islam. In this series InshaAllah, we will discuss how to be able to do so.
By: education

Juma Khutba 26/07/19 – Shaykh Jaffer Ladak

In: Jum'a

In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful 

Friday Sermon 26/07/19, video here – starts at 36.19
How to speak to non-Muslims about the Hajj pilgrimage
With the Hajj season upon the Muslim world again, it is normal that broadcast and social media will share images and write ups about the beautiful spectacle that is millions of people flocking to the House of God in order to participate in the rituals. Sharing these images often evokes questions and interest into this journey of a lifetime be it from friends or work colleagues.
It is necessary therefore, to review the objectives of the Hajj pilgrimage beyond those who are going for Hajj itself and understand its relationship to the non-Muslim audience and how we might present those benefits to them. This comes from the wider understanding of the purposes of Hajj itself being for all of mankind and though its rituals may be limited to Muslims, its aims are universal. Such a concept is derived from the Qur’an itself when Prophet Ibrahim (a) is commanded to announce Hajj to mankind – not believers or Muslims only – but to all mankind. And those who would flock would witness the benefits – spiritual, material, political and economic. 
وَأَذِّن فِي النَّاسِ بِالْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًا وَعَلَىٰ كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِن كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ “And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path” لِّيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ “That they may witness advantages for them” (22:7-8).
This sermon focuses on the benefits to those who do not attend and how we might represent those to the wider world.
First Allah (swt) introduces Prophet Ibrahim (a) as a unifying individual. In Surat al-Baqarah, the chapter is divided into multiple subtopics: Purpose and creation; The Children of Israel; relationship to other faiths. From around verse 130 the Qur’an brings in the story of Ibrahim (a) and that there being an agreement of the previous peoples to worship that which Abraham worshipped and to follow his path. The Qur’an mentions
إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ إِذْ قَالَ لِبَنِيهِ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن بَعْدِي قَالُوا نَعْبُدُ إِلَٰهَكَ وَإِلَٰهَ آبَائِكَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ “when death visited Yaqoub, when he said to his sons: What will you serve after me? They said: We will serve your God and the God of your fathers, Ibrahim” (2:133)
This is followed up by telling the believers to announce their belief and following of Ibrahim (a) too and that we do not make distinctions amongst prophets, following some but not others, like some have chosen to do. Moreover, if the other religions were to follow this way they too would be rightly guided.
Say: We believe in Allah and (in) that which had been revealed to us, and (in) that which was revealed to Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq and Yaqoub and the tribes, and (in) that which was given to Musa and Isa, and (in) that which was given to the prophets from their Lord, we do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit. If then they believe as you believe in Him, they are indeed on the right course, and if they turn back, then they are only in great opposition” (2:136-137).
These verse then tell us that from the Islamic perspective, Hajj is not only about following the rituals of Prophet Ibrahim (a) but to use him as a point of return, unity and cohesion amongst faiths. To enliven and share in his story would bring proximity between the faiths and encourage – as Abraham did – the worship of One God, alone, the very essence of Islam. 
Second Religion today has often become watered down, extremely secularised or infused with liberal ideas. Spirituality is often conflated with things like meditations or yoga as replacements for prayer and rigorous self-development. Some religions promote running away from the world or self-denial as means of growth. In the Islamic perspective, it is to participate in society where you will engage with people of different maturity levels who will bring out the best and worst in you that would help your growth.
In business for example, if a person has the characteristics of a cheater, he will use contracts or negotiations to be a means of cheating; business will be the tool of his conniving self. In marriage, for example, if a person is compassionate and empathetic, he will use these to navigate the challenges of their partner or families. 
Hajj has a multitude of rituals, condensed into five days, in the heat and crowding of Mecca, Mina, Muzadalifa and ‘Arafat. It will be a lifetimes worth of challenges in the space of 120 hours with people from all cultures, languages and sects. The purpose of this is to discover your real self; to understand why you are the way you are, how you react and what you are capable of in those circumstances – especially when 25 things are prohibited to you in the state of Ehram.
In a famous narration, Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Hussain Zain al-Abideen was performing Tawaaf of the Ka’ba with a blind companion who began to comment on how crowded it seemed to him this year. The Imam prayed to God to return his vision but with spiritual insight and for a moment the man was bewildered by what he saw exclaiming, ‘Oh Son of the Messenger of Allah! Why are there so many animals here performing Tawaaf?! I see snakes and dogs and donkeys!’ He replied, ’These are the inner realities of the people you are seeing!’
Third The Muslim Ummah partakes in many events together throughout the year. The month of Ramadaan allows us to engage in one act together, fasting. In Hajj, the Muslim world throws off the shackles of its differences, from sect to creed to colour to wealth to position and demonstrates its capability to unite for a grander purpose. This is awe-inspiring and cannot be easily replicated. This should demonstrate the potential that people have when pettier differences can be put aside and the essential purposes of creation are put at the forefront of human endeavour. It is for this reason Imam ‘Ali (a) said والحَجَّ تَقْوِيَةً لِلّدينِ “The Hajj is a means of strengthening the religion.
With these three areas – interfaith unity under the banner of the Father of Monotheism, Prophet Ibrahim (a), the ability to discover one’s true self and the ability to discover the potential of a united Muslim community, can we introduce the Hajj pilgrimage to others. It may be that it illuminates the heart of another and bring them closer to Islam for as the holy verse says
إِنَّ في ذلِكَ لَذِكْرى لمَنْ كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أوْ ألْقى السَّمْعَ وهُوَ شَهيدٌ “Most surely, there is a reminder in this for him who has a heart or he gives ear and is a witness. (50:38)”
By: education

Jum’a Khutba summary & video 19/07/19 – Sh. Jaffer Ladak

In: Education, Jum'a
Special Character Building (Akhlaq) Techniques
Part 5: Richness of the Heart: An evidence of having peak moral character 
In our first sermon we took the principle of making ones private practises excel their public behaviour. The second reminded us to learn from the faults of others. Week three discussed how certain acts cause deficiency in the intellect and last week expanded on being blessed wherever we may be. 
Our fifth discussion, the conclusion to the series, is from amongst the supreme qualities in an individual. It has been left till the end because although seemingly so simple and obvious, it can be the hardest to manifest in ourselves. It is known as سعة الصدر or to have ‘a rich heart’ or ‘open hearted’ or even ‘soft hearted’. Although they all have nuances, their features are similar and maybe richness of heart is the closest translation to its Arabic term. 
One of the golden principles of Islam is that if you wish to know the real religion of a person, do not look at how much they pray or fast, but look at how they treat people. This is the topic of having a rich heart.
The Qur’an introduces this in different ways:
1) وَاخْفِضْ جَنَاحَكَ لِمَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ”And lower your wing for any who follow you of the believers” (26:215) meaning be humble, kind, soft and merciful.
2) فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْThus it is due to mercy from Allah that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hard hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you; pardon them therefore and ask pardon for them” (3:159) which tells us that being soft hearted – not hard hearted is something which is from Allah (swt) and therefore needs to be sought from Him as a light in us. There is also a relationship between not being hard hearted and seeking forgiveness for a person, which we will return to shortly.
Having a rich heart has many benefits mentioned by the scholars. These include the following:
A) Having the ability to bear the mistakes of other people 
B) It helps to trivialise or temper the difficulties you encounter
C) Aids you in being flexible and malleable to situations
D) Helps to reform others through your soft nature
E) Builds empathy for others and the way in which they practise their religion 
This last one is important as in sects and between them there are multiple ways to express religion, be it the practises of Milad an-Nabi (s) or the martyrdom of Imam al-Hussain (a) etc.
Let us now look at how to gain and build on the richness of the heart. In order to make clear what is meant by ‘richness’ and its positive effects, like point (D) above, we will provide a powerful example of it.
In one of his speeches, scholar Sheikh Hamza Yusuf mentions being in Mecca. Each morning, leaving his hotel for morning prayers, he would enter into the same door and each morning the same guard was sitting outside. On the first morning, as entering he greeted the guard ‘as-Salaamun Alaykum!’ the guard responded gruffly ‘Alaykum Salaam’. The second morning again he greeted the guard cheerfully ‘as-Salaamun Alaykum!’ and received a less gruff ‘Alaykum Salaam.’ The third day greeting the same he received an ‘Alaykum Salaam’ with a small smile. On the fourth day he again greeted ‘as-Salaamun Alaykum!’ and finally received as cheerily ‘Alaykum Salaam!’.
It took four days but the guard’s entire demeanour changed! And sometimes we don’t realise that people are icicles that need melting! And the Prophet Muhammad (s) encouraged building love between us so much that he guaranteed it as a means of paradise saying, None of you will enter into paradise until you believe and none of you will believe until you love one another. Shall I tell you something that if you do it, love will grow?” The companions replied, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (s) responded, “Spread peace amongst yourselves.”
As mentioned above, there is a relationship between not being hard hearted, forgiving and even seeking forgiveness for them from God. Forgiving and then asking forgiveness is evidence that a person does not retain rancour in his heart for another and is even willing to put them first. The Prophet (s) would say to his companions, “Why can’t you be like Abu DhamDhamm?! When someone speaks ill of him and the person who’s doing the backbiting has his own days good deeds given to Abu DhamDhamm, he returns those deeds back as charity!”SubhanAllah how much of a wide heart this companion had for others!
Our richness of heart to others is rooted in respect for ourselves and others. This is important because non-Muslims, countries or governments cannot be expected to respect the Muslim world if Muslim’s cannot respect each other. Having a rich heart will build strong communities and bridge broken ties.
May Allah swt help us to practise the lessons from these five Friday Sermon’s.
By: education

Juma Khutba: Sh. Jaffer Ladak (summary & video): 28/06 & 05/07

In: Education, Hujjat, Jum'a
In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful 
Friday Khutba summaries 28 June & 5 July (video here)
Special Character Building (Akhlaq) Techniques
Part 3: Why do we perform a sin whilst knowing it is wrong?: The deficiencies of the ‘Aql and how to overcome them
In the first sermon we took the principle of making ones private practises excel their public behaviour and in the second, how looking at the faults in others should be a sufficient lesson to working toward ensuring those faults are not in us.
This sermon will help us to understand why our decision making often becomes blurred and though we know something may be wrong or forbidden, why we end up performing that act anyway. We will then mention some ways that is manifesting itself in our regular lives and then focus on the remedies to this challenge.
The Qur’an introduces that people knowingly distort or consciously do wrong. Examples include: 
1) وَلاَ تَلْبِسُواْ الْحَقَّ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتَكْتُمُواْ الْحَقَّ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
(2:42) And do not mix the truth with falsehood and suppress the truth while you know (are aware of what you are doing)
2) الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقًا مِّنْهُمْ لَيَكْتُمُونَ الْحَقَّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
(2:146) Those who were give the Book, they recognise him (the Messenger of Allah) just as they know their own sons. But a group from them cover the truth which they themselves know
3) ثُمَّ يُحَرِّفُونَهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا عَقَلُوهُ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
(2:75) Then they perverted it after having understood it and they know what they are doing
Why is this the case? What causes this conflict between knowledge and action? The narration about to be quoted is the central principle of this sermon: Imam Mohammed al-Baqir (a) is narrated to have said, If any amount of arrogance enters the heart of a person it will bring about deficiency to the intellect with the same amount of what entered it, whether it be a little or a lot.” الباقر ع ما دخل قلبَ امرئٍ شيءٌ من الكبر الا نقص من عقله مِثلُ ما دخلهُ من ذلك قلَّ ذلك او كثُرَ
This means that if a particular sin carries a weight of distorting or weakening the ‘Aql by 20% it will reduce the power of the ‘Aql to 80%. Worse still if the power of the ‘Aql has been reduced more and more, further acting on these types of sin’s will result in the ‘Aql’s strength being ever reduced until eventually enveloping and puncturing it from all sides rendering it useless. 
A famous story at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s) was that a Rabbi and his son were discussing the sign’s of the Prophet’s (s) foretelling in their scriptures. The father told the son to sit with the Prophet (s) and assess whether those signs truly were in the Prophet (s) or not. Having done so the son returns to his father and checks off each off the signs. The Rabbi responded, ‘I still will not accept him because he is a gentile’. 
This tells us that so long as personal desires and biases’ are not in check, the volatility of the heart and process of the maturing of the mind will always be subject to these deficiencies; the ‘Aql, which is a pure light, gifted by Allah (swt), used to navigate the world, will be unable to guide the person properly.
How does this manifest itself in some of the regular challenges facing the Muslim community?
Imams of Mosques are often asked questions like, ‘Can my son/daughter go to Prom?’ despite being aware of the prohibited environment, actions there and putting people in potentially compromising positions. Despite knowing all this – and what the right answer is, what often happens is due to pressure or seeking a justification, the question is asked anyway. Similarly, this week during ‘Pride Month’, parents mention that schools have a ‘dress-down’ day and students are invited to pay £1 to celebrate the LGBTQ+ movement – they ask if their children could participate. How is it that whilst knowing the celebration of the act of homosexuality is a sin in Islam, parents still ask if their children can participate in this? It is because the ‘Aql, the tool for navigating right and wrong, is made deficient through sin blurring our moral compasses.
What then is the Qur’anic prescription for this? The answer lies in the deeper meanings of Tazkiyyah or purification of one’s actions. Let us look at the example of Prophet ‘Isa (a). When introducing himself to his mother’s accusers, he says (19:31) “And He has enjoined upon me prayer and zakaat as long as I live”  وَأَوْصَانِي بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا 
Zakaat here, according to commentators, does not mean just religious charitable taxes. Zakaat means to purify; one form of this is to purify one’s wealth by paying a tax on it. In the spiritual sense, there is however, Zakaat or tax on everything we own and do. This is mentioned in the hadith literature where Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a) said, “The tax on knowledge is to spread it” زَكَاةُ الْعِلْمِ نَشْرُهُ The more knowledge we gain, the more upon us it is to share it. There is Zakaat on your capacity and physical strength; to help people who are less physically capable and so on.
There is also a Zakaat or tax on your A’maal or actions to ensure their freedom from corruption. These Zakaat purify the acts and return the ‘Aql to its full capacity. This is because it protects the ‘Aql from the sins that distort it or help return it to a purer state. Let us look at two types of Zakaat on your actions:
The First is Before any act, something akin to being taxed at source.
One of the great scholars was addressing his students about their actions on the pulpit. He said, ‘Before you advise people to do a good deed, make sure you are doing that deed yourself, especially that day. If you’re going to advise people to give charity, ensure you have given charity that day, even if it be the little amount. That way no hypocrisy can enter into your heart and reduce the action by that amount.’
The Second is After the act, something akin to a tax return.
It is often the case that a degree of pride or arrogance enters into an act; it is performed with some hope of recognition or reward or compliment from people or a particular person. This needs to be realised, caught and stopped. Even though it has been caught that amount of arrogance still remains either in the act or generally in the heart and needs purifying from; needs to addressed so that it no longer remains a problem that may grow.
The tax on this after the act is to re-perform the act (or similar act) without that degree of pride OR perform a similar act in private in which it is not possible to be contaminated by pride, training the heart toward full service for Allah (swt). For example, the person who serves at the Mosque may practise his service elsewhere knowing that he will not be observed by those he seeks attention from training his heart.
These two acts assist in remedying the deficiencies that lie in the ‘Aql created by sins that render the purity of it contaminated. Its restoration toward purity will ensure the ‘Aql remains the strong tool for the person to use when thinking through other matters in life. Ultimately the sin’s we perform knowingly would, InshaAllah be reduced by virtue of a stronger, purer ‘Aql.
InshaAllah next week we will continue to look at Akhlaqi principles that will strengthen our characters.
By: education

Juma Khutba Sh Jaffer Ladak (summary and video) – 14/06 and 21/06

In: Education, Hujjat, Jum'a

Friday 14 June [Link here]

In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful
Special Character Building (Akhlaq) Techniques
Part 1: Make your private behaviour better than your public behaviour 
In this series of Friday Sermons, we shall be focused on improving our character and mannerisms. Each week we will pick one Akhlaqi principle and delve into some of its features, the idea being that from one week to the next we make a special and dedicated intention to implement this particular practice. God-willing over the week, this one practice will help us to improve that element of our moral nature, preparing us for the following weeks principle.
This of course is based on the noble character of the holy Prophet Muhammad (s) who the holy Qur’an tells us, “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah, you have an excellent model for the one who seeks God, the Day of Judgement and remembers God unceasingly” (33:21).
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا

Our first Akhlaqi principle is to make our private behaviour surpass our public behaviour. It is often the case that our public behaviour is better than our private behaviour. This is because when we are in public, we want the best version of ourselves to be seen and so we become very aware of how we act; when in our private circles however, we revert to default behaviours or are less concerned with how people see us.

This manifests itself in many ways: In public, I may never swear but in private I may. In private I will watch things I would never watch in public. In public the length of my Salaat is very long but in private it is extremely quick or with the TV still on. In public I will smile and talk nicely to people at the Mosque but when I return home, I am grumpy and would never spend time talking to my family and so on.
This is problematic because of the hypocrisy it builds within us and normalises this dichotomy, entrenching its practises further. The narrations specify that when our inward state is corrupted so too will our outward behaviours be, as we will not always be able to control ourselves and these inward states will manifest themselves. But similarly when our outward behaviours are problematic such as acting differently, it will corrupt our inward realities. For example one narration states, “When the outward gets corrupted, the inward also gets corrupted.”  عِِنْدَ فَسادِ العَلانِيَةِ تَفْسُدُ السَّريرَةُ
Amongst the qualities of Allah (swt) is that He is aware of what transpires in our hearts. This is mentioned in numerous Qur’anic verses, examples of which are:
1) “Say: Whether you conceal what is in your hearts or bring into the open, God knows it, for He knows all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth” (3:29) 
قُلْ إِن تُخْفُواْ مَا فِي صُدُورِكُمْ أَوْ تُبْدُوهُ يَعْلَمْهُ اللّهُ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأرْضِ وَاللّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
2) “And Allah knows what you conceal and what you reveal” (16:19)
وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تُسِرُّونَ وَمَا تُعْلِنُونَ
In the Islamic ethical system there are multiple spheres of privacy. In the discussion at hand there are two private spheres:
i) The inner circle of family and friends who get to see our private forms of behaviour
ii) The heart and mind which no one other than Allah (swt) and I know the truth of (although a third form of the private space is the phone/laptop etc which is often not known by even the spouse but is known by the FBI/MI5!)
For this reason, the hadith mentions “Blessed is the one whose inward thoughts are good, whose outward [character] is righteous and who does not harm the people.” طُوبى لِمَنْ صَلُحَتْ سَريرَتُهُ، وحَسُنَتْ عَلانِيَتُهُ، وعَـزَلَ عَنِ النَّاسِ شَرَّهُ.
Let us now look at these two spheres and how we can improve our private actions to be purer than our public ones
The central reason for acting differently in certain spaces is usually due to placing more sanctity in one place or another (e.g. the Mosque is ‘holy’ whilst the house is ‘normal’); or one group of people are worth more effort and respect than another (e.g. those in the Mosque are more deserved than family for mercy). This of course is in contradiction to the Islamic worldview: Allah (swt) is present everywhere for “He is with you wherever you are” (Qur’an 57:4) and that all human beings have equal dignity (17:70).
The fact that one acts differently in some spaces or with some people needs to be addressed within himself as to what has led him to think and act this way. Often it is out of ignorance or bad behaviour that has not been checked for so long. Take the example of the man that goes to Mosque and when tea is served to him he will thank the server. When he returns home his wife will make him tea but never say thank you. His public behaviour is better than his private. Why? Because of a false sense of entitlement and imagining his wife to be duty bound to him as opposed to her volunteering herself out of kindness, just like the server at the Mosque is also volunteering out of kindness. The hadith recognise this internalised problem and different treatment for some saying, “Let not your family or those whom you love be the most miserable of people because of you.”  لايَكُنْ أهْلُكَ وذُو وُدِّكَ (ذُوُوكَ)أشْقَى النّاسِ بِكَ.
What then is the Akhlaqi prescription for this? The hadith says, “When the consciouses are being reformed, the hidden rancour becomes evident.” عِنْدَ تَصْحيحِ الضَّمائِرِ يَبْدُو غِلُّ السَّرائِرِ.
This means that the more one observes how the same action manifests itself in two different places or with two different sets of people etc the more conscious one will be of the gap in quality of action between the two. He will note how high a bar he sets for himself in one sphere or what he is capable of in one setting and compare it to how low a bar it is in another setting and therefore aim to implement his highest bar in all other spheres such that his private actions end up surpassing even how he is in the public eye.
The second private sphere was that of the heart, which only yourself and Allah (swt) knows of what transpires. It might be the case that when we do a good action, deep down we are hoping someone watched us or will compliment us or we will receive some worldly reward for it. Externally the action is flawless, seen as being done for God; internally it is wretched and filled with attention-seeking, for example. 
What then is the Akhlaqi prescription for this? One of the spiritual masters was probed by his student, “Whenever I do a good deed, inside me there is showiness; I secretly hope someone would recognise what I have done. Can you advise me how to stop this?”
The reply came, “Increase your showing off! Show off more and more! Just change whom you are showing off to! If you want the attention of someone, seek it from Allah (swt). Talk to him and hope that Allah (swt) noted the length of your prostration or the charity you gave etc. Ask him, ‘Allah! Did you see what I did for your sake?!’ and in this way your attention-seeking will be rewarded and not diminish your act.”
Many of us ensure our public persona or public interactions are of the highest standard, and this is good. But if we are to compare those same actions with how they are performed in private there would be a large gap in their quality. 
In order to develop ourselves, we aim that these private acts, which are often a truer reflection of the self, to be better than what people see of us. With a little reflection, we realize what we are capable of; this is the potential of self-control or good mannerism or worship that exists within me as I conduct myself like this in public already! If I were to uphold or improve on this when alone, it would remove the dual standards and in fact raise both my private and public practices. What Allah (swt) knows about me in public and private would be praiseworthy, not just one.
InshaAllah next week we look at another Akhlaqi principle to build on this.

Friday 21 June

In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful
Special Character Building (Akhlaq) Techniques
Part 2: Seeing your own fault
In part one we looked at the principle of aiming for our private actions to surpass in quality our public ones. This is because often our public image is the best version of ourselves whilst our default in private is not as good. If our default was to be at the level of our public or better even, our Akhlaq would God-willing be supremely improved.
Part two proposes the principle that when you notice a fault in a person, this should be enough of a lesson for yourself to take note and ensure you do not practice that act yourself. This principle is mentioned in the hadith by Imam Mohammed al-Baqir (a) who stated, “Sufficient is a person’s own defect (in himself) that he tries to pick and look for faults in other people when he himself has those same faults in himself (and does not recognize them.”  كَفى بِالْمَرْءِ عَيْـباً أَنْ يُبْصِرَ مِنَ النٌّاسِ مٌا يَعْمى عَنْهُ مِنْ نَفْسِهِ
It is often the case that when a person does a bad act we notice it. It can be anything like how a person reacts to traffic on the road, or whether they keep in touch with their family members, a face they make when asked to do something, how they eat. All of these may be innocuous acts but they do not go unnoticed by ourselves and in fact may often grind or irk us or make us wish they did not act like this. However, it is also the case that more often than not we also have the same or similar trait – but just don’t realise it!
The Qur’an tells us not to laugh at others nor fault find: “O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not fault find amongst yourselves” (49:11). يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِّن نِّسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ

Expanding on this verse, narrations warn us about keeping company with fault-finders. For example “I warn you about keeping relations with people who look for faults in others, since surely there is not a single person who will be safe from such people.”   إِيٌّاكَ وَ مَعٌاشِرَةَ مُتَتَبِّعِي عُيُوبِ النٌّاسِ! فَإِنَّهُ لَمْ يَسْلَمْ مُصٌاحِبُهُمْ مِنْهِم

This narration warns us that whilst we are targeting our fault finding at another person, the moment I leave that group, I will be targeted by their ridicule and fault-finding just as I was earlier doing.
Although we are commanded not to fault find, it is natural that when a prohibited or insensitive or inappropriate action is performed we would notice it. This is because Allah (swt) has placed within us a nature that dislikes evil. This innate moral compass is a blessing and divine evidence [Hujjat] for us.
The narrations however emphasise how easy it is to find that we dislike something in others but in fact perform that very same act ourselves! For example, “The person who busies himself looking into the faults of others should start by looking into the faults of his own self (first).” مَنْ بَحَثَ عَنْ عُيُوبِ النٌّاسِ فَلْيَبْدَأْ بِنَفْسِهِ
One of the great scholars was addressing his students telling them, “If you see in me any error I demand that you point it out to me.” He then began to tell a story about how easy it is to dislike in someone an act yet find yourself doing the same. He continued, “One day on pilgrimage I walked toward the door to enter. Yet standing there was a man blocking the crowds entrance causing a nuisance. I was annoyed and in my mind wondered how this person could be so oblivious to the right of others. No sooner had he moved, I found myself doing exactly the same act of standing at the door engaged in my own thoughts but also blocking others from easy entrance and exit! We do not realise how quick we are to do what we dislike in others!”
The scholars of Akhlaq add the following prescriptions to remedy or navigate this sort of heedlessness. When a person sees an act they dislike, either they truly do perform that act themselves or truly they do not.
i) In the case where they do not, they should first thank Allah (swt) for having purified them that they do not commit that act. This is because guidance success is from Allah (swt) in the first place and so He is the prime cause of one’s goodness. In sincerely thanking Allah (swt) he would keep you protected from this and improve you even further, as He states, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you further [in favour]” (Qur’an 14:7).
If one is not humble to this, certainly they will soon fall foul and perform that act themselves.
ii) In the case where they do perform such an act, it is most likely that Allah (swt) has covered that act such that most people will have never seen it performed. Allah (swt) indeed is the concealer of defects. The books of supplication are replete with lines of du’a that should be recited at this moment. For example
يَا إلهِي فَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ، فَكَم مِنْ عَائِبَةٍ سَتَرْتَهَا عَلَيَّ فَلَم تَفْضَحْنِي
My God, so to Thee belongs praise! How many of my flaws Thou hast covered over without exposing me!
وَكَمْ مِنْ ذنْبِ غَطَّيْتَهُ عَلَيَّ فَلَمْ تَشْهَرْنِي
How many of my sins Thou hast cloaked without making me notorious!
وَكَمْ مِنْ شَائِبَة أَلْمَمْتُ بِهَا فَلَمْ تَهْتِكْ عَنِّي سِتْرَهَا
How many faults I have committed, yet Thou didst not tear away from me their covering
iii) And also In the case where they do perform such an act, one may entreat Allah (swt) to remove that practise in themselves for just as you dislike to see it in others, you should dislike it for your own self.
It is normal to notice and dislike a bad trait or reaction in someone else; this is a sign of a healthy conscious and an awareness of inappropriate behaviour. However, it is just as normal that though we dislike something in others, we may find that same practice in ourselves. This noticing it in others and our own reaction to it should be sufficient as a means of self-improvement.
After noticing it in others and in our own selves, the aware and God-conscious (Muttaqi) person takes himself to account greater than he would take another person to account. He holds himself to a greater responsibility for removing that action before expecting another to stop it. In this way he is more focused on his own development than finding faults with another.
InshaAllah next week we will build on this principle with another Akhlaqi formula. 
By: education

‘Dealing with post Sh Ramadhan blues’: Juma Khutba 07/06 – Sh. Jaffer Ladak

In: Jum'a
How does Imam Ali (a) recommend to deal with ‘post Sh Ramadhaan blues?’  [video here] One of the common phrases we hear after finishing a journey or interval from somewhere is ‘I have post holiday blues’. This is because after returning to normality or worse still, the rat race, we feel a low compared to the fervour and pace of what what before. We also hear this type of phrase of ‘post Ziyarat blues’ and ‘post Shahr Ramadaan blues’ for this same reason: So much enjoyment from the spirit and efforts of the month become replaced by a return to our daily grind and so we feel a disconnect or shortfall in our spirituality. Why does this occur and how do we navigate this? The Qur’an gives a clear reasoning for this low feeling. وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَن ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَىٰ “And whoever turns away from My remembrance, his shall live a depressed life, and We will raise him on the day of resurrection, blind” (20:124) In the context of the Month of Ramadaan, we build up so many good practises and God-consciousness by virtue of creating a new environment for ourselves personally and communally, that a return to what it was like previously will certainly leave a deficit. The verse gives both a worldly and next-worldly outcome of turning away from Allah swt’s reminders: In this world, one will live miserably but worse still in the next world be raised blind. The subsequent verses explain such a person will ask on the Day of Judgement قَالَ رَبِّ لِمَ حَشَرْتَنِي أَعْمَىٰ وَقَدْ كُنتُ بَصِيرًا “He shall say: My Lord! why hast Thou raised me blind and I was a seeing one indeed?” The reply enforces the warning of not turning away from Allah swat’s remembrance: قَالَ كَذَٰلِكَ أَتَتْكَ آيَاتُنَا فَنَسِيتَهَا وَكَذَٰلِكَ الْيَوْمَ تُنسَىٰ “He will say: Thus it is so, Our communications came to you but you had forsaken them; thus shall you be forsaken this day.” (20:125-126). Narrations indicate to the necessity of holding onto that environment that has been created and especially its people, those who will retain the good practises of the holy month such that you would too. Imam Ali (a) is narrated to have said, لا تَتَمَسَّكَنَّ بِمُدْبِر، ولا تُفارِقَنَّ مُقْبِلاً “Never hold on to one who turns back and do not separate from the one who moves forward.” This means that he who turns back into his normal practises, as he will feel those lows, one should not hold onto him as you will partake and absorb from him whilst those whom you find keep up their fervour, we are instructed not to separate from him. But Imam Ali (a) tells us to have a watchful, discerning eye stating, لَرُبَّما أقْبَلَ المُدْبِرُ، وأدْبَـرَ المُقْبِلُ “It may be that sometimes the one who turns back moves forward and the one who moves forward turns back”. In this occasion the one who turns back, means he who turns back to God such as through Tawbah. It may be that he regrets not maximising the blessed month and has vowed to improve thereafter while he who thinks he is moving forward may not be due to something corrupting his service such a pride or impatience. May Allah swt make us amongst those who uphold the accomplishments of the Month of Ramadhaan and allow us to witness it again next year.
By: education

Juma khutba 19/04/19 Shaykh Jaffer Ladak: Summary and video

In: Education, Jum'a

In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful 

Adab al-Ikhtilaaf: The etiquette of dealing with differences of opinion part 3 [Video here]

In our first two parts we discussed the following points:
1) The Qur’an mentions people were one. When divine knowledge came to guide them, they used this as a means of misguidance against each other..

2) Differences in any one issue show the depth of that matter and how much knowledge it may contain

3) Scholars advise to keep their differences of opinion private before going public 

4) Differences emanate from two places: i) Ignorance and ego ii) Newscasters; news-hounds; and news consumers 

5) The Maraji’ welcome challenges (within reason, obviously)

In this weeks discussion we will look at the question of our attitudes toward people who have differences with us.

Karen Armstrong has written one of the most important books of our generation: ‘Muhammed: Prophet for our time’. At the onset of the book she says it was disturbing to her to see the Prophet (s) denigrated as a militant Prophet, when this is a man who spent his entire life trying to solve the problem of human conflict. He was born into a society of perpetual cycles of violence. An example of this is the famous 40 year war over a horse race called ‘Harb al-Dahis was Ghafra’, referring the names of the horses between the tribes of Abs and Dibyan. The man who started the war became a monk because he could not bear to look at the faces of those whom he’d been the cause of injury or death to. 

We can see how the Qur’an addresses the attitude of believers to be amongst themselves

(48:29) Muhammad is God’s Apostle; and those who are [truly] with him are firm and unyielding towards all deniers of the truth, [yet] full of mercy towards one another.”مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاء عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاء بَيْنَهُمْ

This is why the Prophet (s) had to warn, “Do not turn back after me as ingrates striking at the neck of one another” لا ترجعوا بعدي كفاراً يضرب بعضكم رقاب بعضٍ

The Qur’an is critical of those who use their extremism in personal beliefs to be a means of dividing the community. This is mentioned twice in the Qur’an:

فَتَقَطَّعُوا أَمْرَهُم بَيْنَهُمْ زُبُرًا كُلُّ حِزْبٍ بِمَا لَدَيْهِمْ فَرِحُونَ(23:53) “But they (who claim to follow you) have torn their unity wide asunder, piece by piece, each group delighting in [but] what they themselves possess.”

مِنَ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُوا دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُوا شِيَعًا كُلُّ حِزْبٍ بِمَا لَدَيْهِمْ فَرِحُونَ(30:32) “Among those who have broken the unity of their faith and have become sects, each group delighting in but what they themselves hold.”

What is the attitude of our Maraji’ toward differences between them? I was present in the lesson of Grand Ayatollah Syed Mohammed Taqi al-Modarresi when he categorically stated, ‘Whichever Marja’ you follow you are guided’. He also said, “Syed as-Seestani is my friend. Syed Khamenei is my friend” when talking about how people wanted to create differences between them.

In a famous lesson, during the intellectual battle between the Akhbaris and Usulis, when the groups had vast differences, the leaders of of those periods kept their unity. When Sheikh Wahid Behbehani, head of the Usuli movement, died, he willed that Syed Yusuf al-Bahrani, head of the opposition Akhbari movement, should lead his funeral prayers. This shows the differences are academic but the responsibility of protecting the community was tantamount. And these are the examples set for us.

In our last part next week we will ask how do we respond when emails and video clips are circulated within the community.

By: education

Juma Khutba 12/04/19 – Sh, Jaffer Ladak: Summary & Video

In: Jum'a

Adab al-Ikhtilaaf: The etiquettes of dealing with differences of opinion part 2 [Video here]

In part 1 we introduced the importance of this topic and how we would navigate the series. We mentioned that we will look at verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith around the topic, give scholarly opinions and stories of how the scholars themselves deal with differences of opinion.

In the first discussion we mentioned the opinion of Sheikh Ahmad Zarrooq who said, “The difference of opinion about one reality, when those differences multiply, indicate toward the depths of understanding the totality of that thing (meaning it is so deep).

We also mentioned the story of ‘Allama Tabataba’i and Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi debating in private before going public with their differences of opinion.

This week we ask the question, ‘Why do differences of opinion occur? Allah (swt) mentions that divine books and Messengers (a) were sent to remove differences and unite us, but envies and jealousies caused abuse of those blessings and to were used as means of division: 

“Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it – after the clear proofs came to them – out of jealous animosity among themselves.” (2:213)

Another reason for differences is peoples’ ignorance which they then convey onto others. Some narrations that mention this are:
“Ignorance is the [primary] source of evil” اَلجَهْلُ مَعْدِنُ الشَّـرِّ and “Ignorance corrupts all matters” اَلجَهْلُ فَسادُ كُلِّ أمْر

How do I know if I have an ignorance that contributes to misguidance and inappropriate opinions? Narrations also provide guidance on this: “The ignorant person feels aversion towards that which the wise person feels at ease with”  اَلجاهِلُ يَسْتَوْحِشُ مِمّا يَأنَسُ بِه الحَكيْمُ , meaning that whilst the wise person feels it normal to read lengthily, reflect, not speak or choose his words particularly, the ignorant person feels averse to all of this and therefore does not do it. In turn his opinions are usually less or devoid of value, creating unnecessary differences of opinion.

“The ignorant person does not understand the learned because he [himself] was never learned before” اَلجاهِلُ لايَعْرِفُ العالِمَ لأنَّهُ لَمْ يَكُنْ قَبْلُ عالِماً, meaning that the ignorant person often speaks thinking he has encompassed a matter understanding it well, but in reality, because he has not taken time to learn, he cannot see past his own ignorance.

Again this person provides opinions which would be followed by some who share the same delusions causing differences. Another reason why differences of opinion exist are in each community there are those who are sources of sedition; they cause the differences to spread and exacerbate.

Sunni scholar Abu al-Qasim as-Samarqandi said the following: “All fitnah comes from three places: Those who spread news, those seeking to hear news and those who consume news. And none of the three are free from blame.” تنشأ الفتن عن ثلالثة نفر: قائل الأخبار ، قارب استماع الأخبار ، و متلقي الأخبار – لا يخلص احد من الثلاثة من الملامة

A question is therefore raised: Do the scholars welcome or abhor differences of opinion amongst themselves? The book ‘The Ways of the Righteous’, seventy-two stories of our Maraji’, published by The World Federation, narrates a meeting with Grand Ayatollah Syed Mohammed Taqi al-Modarresi who mentioned meeting Ayatollah Hadi Ma’rifat in Iran, both of whom are known as great commentators of the Qur’an. The latter praised the former’s commentaries as outstanding. When Ayatollah al-Modarresi conveyed this story he asked the narrator, ‘What do you think about my commentaries?’ to which the commentator says he of course praised the works too.  Ayatollah al-Modarresi replied, ‘I have not told you this for you to praise me too. I am asking you to point out where the work needs improving or is no longer accurate. I wrote this work reflecting a particular period in society which changes every few years, therefore if the works no reflect the needs or circumstances of the society, the works need updating.’

In this way, we can see that scholars are not fearful of constructive criticism or differences being presented to them, rather they welcome them.

By: education

Jum’a Khutba 08/03/19 – Shaykh Jaffer Ladak (summary)

In: Education, Jum'a

In the name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful 

Jum’a Khutba 8/3/2019:
Adaab al-Ikhtilaaf: The etiquettes of dealing with difference of opinion Part 1

Our first Friday series looked at ‘effective listening’ and the second at ‘Where and where not to gain knowledge from’. In this series we will look at how to navigate differences of opinion. This is because increasingly there is a trend that when differences arise, be they in the family unit, political issues of the jamaa’at or between scholars, people sometimes resort to sending out communications to defame one another, often with little knowledge of the facts. 

This of course is intolerable, especially as the Prophet Muhammad (s) said, “I was raised to bring morality to its peak.” How then can we as a community learn to deal with differences of opinion maturely?

Our series will focus on three things: 1) What the Qur’an & Ahl al-Bayt (a) have said about differences of opinion 2) What the scholars themselves have said about differences of opinion and 3) What examples they give us about navigating differences of opinion. 

1) The Qur’an introduces where differences of opinion came from:
“Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it – after the clear proofs came to them – out of jealous animosity among themselves.” (2:213)

This explains that differences existed and then Prophets and Revelation was sent to judge between said differences. However, because jealousy and animosity lay within some people, they weaponised this knowledge and used it fuel discord. This is why Allah swt told the Prophet (s) to purify people first and then teach them, for without removing their ill natures, knowledge would just add to differences, stating “reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book” (62:2)

2) Scholastic differences of Ijtihadat demonstrate the depth of that matter and emanate from from various knowledges and experiences. Sheikh Ahmad Zarrooq stated
الاختلاف في الحقيقة الواحدة، إن كًًَثر، دلّ على بعد إدراك جملتها، ثمّ هو إن رجع لأصل واحد، يتضمن جملة ما قيل فيها كانت العبارة عنه بحسب ما فهم منه، وجملة الأقوال واقعة على تفاصيله. واعتبار كلّ واحد له على حسب مثاله منه علماً، أو عملاً، أو حالاً، أو ذوقاً، أو غير ذلك”

The difference of opinion about one reality, when those differences multiply, indicate toward the depths of understanding the totality of that thing (meaning it is so deep, it is hard to grasp it in any one articulation). If you go back to one source that contains a summation of what has been stated about it, that articulation is based on what was understood by that thing. And its expression by each individual is on account of his knowledge, experience, state, taste and other matters.”

3) The scholars themselves allowed for differences of opinion but ensured their Akhlaaq in dealing with those differences. These included keeping their debates in house as much as possible. Ayatollah Nasir Makarem Shirazi narrates, 

“One day ‘Allamah Tabataba’i called for me and said, “I would like Al-Mizan to be translated and I believe you should do this”. I accepted the offer and translated the first volume which was in Arabic – and contained very precise and condensed information – into two volumes [of Farsi]. One day I visited him and said, “Agha! You are a learned scholar but I am someone who cannot resort to others (taqlid) in certain matters. Therefore as I translate your discussions, do I have your permission to write any difference of opinion I might have in the footnotes?” He replied with one meaningful sentence, “Let us discuss and criticize between ourselves first, and not among the public.”

By: education

Jum’a Khutba 22/02/19: Shaykh Jaffer Ladak (summary)

In: Education, Jum'a

In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful 

Jum’a Khutba 22/2/2019 – video here

‘Where do I go for my knowledge? Whom do I trust when there are so many opinions out there?’

Part 3: Whom are we prohibited from taking knowledge from and why?

2 + 2 = 4

Water boils at 100`c

Grass is green

Mixing red and blue makes purple

The world was created 6,000 years ago

Angels are present in the Majlis of Ahl al-Bayt (a)

Liverpool will win the Premier League this season

Each of these statements represent a different type of claim. Where are they rooted? One claim is from mathematics, one is from physics and chemistry, others are by trial and observation. One is from the Bible, one is from the books of Ahadith and the last is a belief.

But what makes us claim these and why should they be believed? What happens when the Bible tells us the world is 6,000 years old but archeology or carbon dating may tell us the world is 4 million years old, for example. Whom do we believe, when do we create a hierarchy of beliefs and why?

In our previous two Friday Sermons we addressed the question: ‘Why is there a problem finding sound knowledge?’  This is because firstly, there are so many people claiming expertise yet all claiming different positions and secondly, because we live in a time when truth is purposefully convoluted with falsehood.

ابْنَ مَسْعُودٍ ، إِنَّ مِنْ أَعْلَامِ السَّاعَةِ وَأَشْرَاطِهَا أَنْ يُؤْتَمَنَ الْخَائِنُ ، وَأَنْ يُخَوَّنَ الْأَمِينُ. و ان يُصدِّق الكاذب و ان يُكذِب الصادق 

O Ibn Mas’ood, from amongst the signs and conditions [of the end of times] will be that people will trust treacherous people and consider trustworthy people treacherous and the truthful one will be called a liar and the one telling the lie will be called truthful.

This week, I will present the first set of verses in which the Qur’an provides us with categories of people we are forbidden from taking our knowledge from – whether this be religious knowledge or political knowledge – because they are not qualified, worthy or trustworthy in order for us to lend them our ears. Each of these categories mention qualities of people who should be abstained from.

First Category
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يُجَادِلُ فِي اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّبِعُ كُلَّ شَيْطَانٍ مَّرِيدٍ
And among men there is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge and follows every rebellious Shaitan. (Qur’an 22:3)

In this verse it mentions there is a person who a) himself has no knowledge and b) also follows the opinions of every rebellious devil. These are two characteristics that tell us because he is devoid of knowledge, he will be willing to follow any and every type of devilish idea. What happens if we follow such a person?

كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ مَن تَوَلَّاهُ فَأَنَّهُ يُضِلُّهُ وَيَهْدِيهِ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ
Against him it is written down that whoever takes him for a friend, he shall lead him astray and conduct him to the chastisement of the burning fire (Qur’an 22:4)

If we follow such a person, they would a) lead us astray and b) to the chastisement of God.

Second Category
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يُجَادِلُ فِي اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَلَا هُدًى وَلَا كِتَابٍ مُّنِيرٍ
And among men there is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge and without guidance and without an illuminating book (22:8)

This verse begins identically in that he too does not have any knowledge, but instead of him following every rebellious satan, the person a) neither is grounded in proper guidance nor b) has a divinity such as the Qur’an from which to work. Who is such a person?

ثَانِيَ عِطْفِهِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ لَهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا خِزْيٌ
Turning away haughtily that he may lead (others) astray from the way of Allah (Qur’an 22:9)

An evidence of knowing his character is that he is a) arrogant and b) is clear in leading people astray. Allah does not need to repeat the outcome of following such people as it is the same as mentioned in verse 4.

Third Category
مِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ حَرْفٍ فَإِنْ أَصَابَهُ خَيْرٌ اطْمَأَنَّ بِهِ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ فِتْنَةٌ انقَلَبَ عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهِ خَسِرَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةَ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْخُسْرَانُ الْمُبِينُ
There are among men some who serve God, as it were, on the verge: if good befalls them, they are, therewith, well content; but if a trial comes to them, they turn on their faces: they lose both this world and the Hereafter: that is loss for all to see! (Qur’an 22:11)

The third category of people not to be listened or bought into are those who themselves are without conviction or certainty. They live “as it were, on the verge”, an edge, teetering this way or that, blown in any direction. When goodness comes they are satiated for a while; when a test comes they turn away.

If they do not have conviction nor know how to respond to life events, how can we take them as our guides?

يَدْعُو لَمَن ضَرُّهُ أَقْرَبُ مِن نَّفْعِهِ
He calls (one) who – his harm (is) closer than his benefit (22:13).

So not only is he living a life of indecision and internal apprehension, he calls out to he who will actually harm him more than benefit him! A real example of this was Boris Johnson, who on the eve of the Brexit Referendum had written two articles ready for publishing in the Telegraph; one to Remain and one to Leave. Was it political expediency that guided his decision as to which to choose? And what about those who trusted him when he himself was so indecisive?

These are the first three categories of whom we are obliged to refrain from trusting and should refuse to entertain their views on religion or politics according to the Qur’an.

By: education