In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful
For a video of today’s Khutba, please click here.
فَتَوَلَّى عَنْهُمْ وَقَالَ يَا قَوْمِ لَقَدْ أَبْلَغْتُكُمْ رِسَالَةَ رَبِّي وَنَصَحْتُ لَكُمْ وَلَكِن لاَّ تُحِبُّونَ النَّاصِحِينَ
(7:79) “Then he turned away from them and said: ‘ O’ my people! verily I have delivered to you the Message of my Lord, and advised you sincerely; but you do not like sincere advisers’.”
Why do two people hear the same thing and understand it so differently? Why do two people have one conversation and react uniquely to the same words shared between them? Even to the extent that they may have a shared experience or family unit?
Previously, we said our Friday Sermons format would be to look at verses in the Qur’an regarding the Prophetic mission, personality and relationship between prophetic call and those called upon (us). The idea is each week we take a verse, discuss it and take it home with us as homework to reflect on and implement.
I have chosen this verse to begin with for two reasons: First, because the New Year spurs in us a desire for renewed development and second because our forthcoming series will be focused on the stories of Prophet’s Hud (a) and Salih (a).
The theme of the verse is ‘effective listening’, that is to maximise what we listen to. We spend 60% of our communication listening yet only 25% or less is retained.
Listening not limited or reduced to listening to lectures but refers to being attentive and allowing for deeper truths to penetrate. The bones and flesh of the ear are just the tools for listening, but effective listening requires a state of observance to what around you. To this end Imam Ali (a) is narrated to have said, “’Whoever listens effectively reaps its benefits immediately.’ الإمامُ عليٌّ (عَلَيهِ الّسَلامُ): مَن أحسَنَ الاستِماعَ تَعَجَّلَ الانتِفاعَ. (Ghurar Al-Hikam, No. 9243). We can appreciate here the difference between listening and hearing.
The sequence of verses start from verse 75 when the chiefs mockingly asked the believers, “Do you know that Salih is sent by his Lord?” “Those who were haughty said, ‘Indeed we are deniers of what you believe in.” The verses continue, “Then the earthquake overtook them so they became motionless bodies in their abode.” This means Prophet Salih (a) was addressing dead bodies!
He (a) was a sincere advisor to them. He spoke to them about things which should be readily acceptable: Truth, justice, goodness, reform. Yet isn’t it strange to see people who react so aggressively or stubbornly to a call of Amr bil Ma’roof. One might say to their friend or family member, “Don’t listen to..” or “Don’t watch..” and you will often find obstinance or even a hostility toward sincere advice.
What is the reason a person would be hostile toward beneficial advice? The verse explains, they “Did not love good advice.” As a result, whatever advice they heard could not do more than just reach their ears. This also means the opposite would be true, that had they loved good advice, they would have been receptive to it and benefitted from it.
There are three reasons from them not loving or disliking religious advice:
- Hearing it shook them; it made them introspect and forced them to think about their lives and practises. Hearing such truths made them adverse to listening any further.
- They did not love to
learn, preferring slumber, time wasting and just existing without direction
The Prophet (s) lauded those who love to learn saying, “The seeker of knowledge is the pillar of Islam and is given his reward with the Prophets.” طالبُ العلمِ ركنُ الاسلام ، و يُعطىٰ أجرهُ معَ النّبيين (The Scale of Wisdom, Hadith no. 4485)
- They were arrogant. This was mentioned in verse 76, that they were proud and haughty. As a result it was a block on their ability, not to listen but to hear the advice that was being given to them.
This verse teaches us the foundations of ‘Effective Listening’. To re-read it, reflect upon it and think about whether, when and how we love to receive religious advice is this week’s homework.
May Allah swt make us the humble, attentive and truth seeking. Ameen Ya Rabb.