Osamah Salhia – Muslim American Society of Charlotte
May 20, 2016
All praises belonging to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) our Creator, and our Sustainer. May the peace and blessings be upon the gift of mercy, our dearly beloved Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wassallam). Oh Allah, shower your peace and blessings upon Rasulullah (SAWS) and upon his family and Companions in entirety. Oh you who believe, be conscious of Allah, and let every soul look at what they have prepared for tomorrow, for the Day of Judgement. Be conscious of Allah, indeed Allah is acquainted and knowing of all that you do, amma ba’ad.
Brothers and sisters, with Ramadhan at our doorstep, we often discuss the notion of change, and we often refer to Ramadhan as the month of change. The concept of change, positive change, is something that is emphasized in the Qur’an, and in the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). In this khutbah, I would like to discuss some of the aspects of change, and how Ramadhan specifically is critical to change, its historical significance to change. Starting off, Allah (SWT) states in His Book,
“Allah does not change the condition of a people until they themselves change that which is within.” (Holy Qur’an – 13:11)
Allah (SWT) also states,On the other hand, Allah (SWT) states,“As such Allah will not change the status of a blessing that He has bestowed upon a people.” (Holy Qur’an – 08:53)
He has given you a blessing, that blessing will not be taken away unless you change what is within yourself, meaning negatively, and you do not thank Allah (SWT) for that blessing.
You see from these two verses, our deen, brothers and sisters, teaches us personal responsibility. Our deen teaches us that this world is governed by universal laws. These laws maybe circumvented by miracles that are given to prophets and messengers, or by karamat, by extraordinary circumstances, or occurrences that are given to certain righteous people Allah (SWT) chooses. However, the usual is that the causes lead to their effects. This is something very, very important that our deen emphasizes throughout the life of our Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). Karamat do exist, but they are not the default. The default is that this world is governed by universal laws, and causes lead to their effects to the extent that one of the geniuses of recent history, Albert Einstein, he said something very telling, “What is insanity?” He defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Indeed that is insanity, to divorce causes from their effects is something completely contrary to the Islamic legacy. Allah wanted His Prophet and the Companions to endure, to grow from their difficulties, to gain resilience, to set the example for generations to come. Those who await a miracle to descend from the heavens to smite their enemies, and to give them victory, or a miracle to come down from the heavens, and to change everything about my life, there are so many things I need to change. Oh, I’m waiting for Allah to change it for me. No, Allah (SWT) teaches us that you need to own up to the responsibility of your own change.
Brothers and sisters, those who wait for miracles to change their lives around have gravely misunderstood the legacy of our dearly beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). Allah (SWT) says in His Book, (Holy Qur’an – 04:123) Allah (SWT) tells us one of the universal laws that governed this universe, we don’t ask favoritism in the sight of Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) does not have a chosen people who are inherently better than others. Allah (SWT) states in this verse, “It is not by your wishful thinking, or that of the people of the Scriptures. Whoever does something wrong will be compensated for that wrongdoing, and he will not find for him besides Allah (SWT) a protector or a helper.” Allah (SWT) also emphasizes in His Book, (Holy Qur’an – 09:16). “Did you think that you will be left when Allah has not yet made apparent those who have not taken other than Allah and His Messengers, and the believers as their intimates?” The problem with many people in accepting the message of the prophets and the messengers was they were waiting for something miraculous. They wanted something superhuman to come. They did not want a normal person just like them to carry this message. Although the prophets did come with miracles, that was not enough for them. They wanted something that was beyond human nature to bring them the message. They said, (Holy Qur’an – 25:07) . They said, “Who is this prophet? He eats, and drinks, and walks about in the markets. Why wasn’t an angel sent with him as a warner?” Now how does this have to do with change?
Brothers and sisters, I emphasize again, the seerah of our dearly beloved Prophet (SAWS) carries a very, very unique human experience. The seerah of our Prophet (SAWS) teaches us how our deen encourages us to positively transform our lives. This is partly why Ramadhan is referred to as the month of change. If you look at Ramadhan throughout history, you will find that it was a hub for major events in the Islamic timeline. Whereas many of us treat the blessed month of Ramadhan as a month of stagnation, I repeat, as many of us, may Allah forgive us and guide us, may treat Ramadhan as a month of stagnation. “I’m not eating. I’m not drinking, so what do I got to do? I got to sleep as much as I can. I got to eat as much as I can. Yes, I’ll go pray Taraweeh in the masjid.” As many of us may have this attitude towards Ramadhan, if you look at our early predecessors and the Prophet (SAWS), you’ll find that the month of Ramadhan was a month of due diligence for them. So many of our Prophet’s (SAWS) actions emphasize this meaning. His qiyaam throughout the whole night, he would not do it except in Ramadhan. His charity, he would give so much charity during the month of Ramadhan unlike any other month. His itikaaf, he would distance himself from his worldly connections for a period of time during the month of Ramadhan, really, really working hard on strengthening that connection with Allah (SWT).
As he said (SAWS), As I say to you, brothers and sisters only about two weeks away, the month of Ramadhan has come to you. What a blessed month Allah has made required upon us all. It’s fasting. The Gates to the Heavens are open, and the Gates to Hellfire are sealed shut. The devils are chained. Why? Chained for us to be stagnant? For us to fulfill our desires and our lust to eat and sleep? No, no. Stagnant for us to excel , to express diligence in our relationship with our Creator (SWT). The other major reason, brothers and sisters, why Ramadhan is a very critical aspect in the identity of the believer is because of its historical significance and this is very important. If we understand this, we will understand why Ramadhan is part and parcel of the Muslim identity. Ramadhan came at a very critical and decisive turning point in the prophetic timeline. Ramadhan was at the forefront of events to our inauguration. Inauguration? What are we elected to something? To our inauguration as an ummah, as a nation, our independence in our path and our objective. How so?
Ramadhan was mandated in the second year after Hijrah, and it came at a very critical time in the life of the Prophet (SAWS). Soon before the mandate of Ramadhan was the changing of the qiblah. The scholars have deferred when was the direction of prayer changed from Jerusalem to Makkah. Some of them say it was in the 15th of Sha’ban, which is about a day or two away. The majority of them say that it was actually in the 15th of Rajab, about one month ago. Ramadhan came, whether a month or two months later, as a new mandate for this ummah. During Ramadhan came the Battle of Badr on the 17th of Ramadhan on the second year after Hijrah, the first year that fasting in the month of Ramadhan was mandated upon the Muslims. If you know the history of the Battle of Badr, Yawmil Furqan, the Day of Distinction, you will know how significant these few months were in the history of Islam.
Suratul Baqarah goes in detail explaining Ramadhan as part of our inauguration and independence as an ummah. First off, a large part of Suratul Baqarah, the beginning part of it discusses the condition of the nation preceding us. A nation Allah has conferred His favor upon and chosen over all others. A nation that was continuously led by prophets and messengers. (Holy Qur’an – 02:40) “Oh Sons of Israel, remember the blessing that I have conferred upon you, and fulfill your covenant unto me, and I will fulfill My promises unto you, and fear Me alone.” There are many verses that tell us throughout the Qur’an how Allah (SWT) chose Bani Isra’il. Allah (SWT) says in His Book, (Holy Qur’an – 28:05) “And We seek to confer Our favor upon those who are oppressed in the lands,” that was Bani Isra’il at the time, and Allah chose them, and Allah gave them the prophets and messengers, and then the first verses of Suratul Baqarah about the 100 odd verses in the beginning of the surah all explained how they breached the Covenant. They did not fulfill their promise to Allah (SWT). They did not fulfill their responsibility as carrying this mantle for humanity.
Soon after that, the verses of Prophet Ibrahim (alayhis salaam) and Prophet Ismail building the Ka’bah (Holy Qur’an – 02:127) “Oh Allah, accept from us, You’re the one who hears all of the prayers, and You are the All-Knowing,” and indeed Allah (SWT) answered their prayers by the coming of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), and this ummah. Very interesting, Allah points out to Bani Israil (Holy Qur’an – 02:133) Allah shows us in this verse as a response to those among Bani Israil, to those among Bani Israil who breached the Covenant. He shows them that their predecessors were upon a different belief. Their predecessors revered Sayyidina Ismail, and that’s why one Sayyidina Ya’qub who’s also known as Israil, gathered his sons. He asked them, “What will you worship after me?” They said, “We will worship your Lord, and the Lord of your forefathers.” Who did they mention first? Ibrahim, the grandfather, and then they mentioned Ismail. Who was Ismail? The father of Sayyidina Ya’qub? No, he was not. Sayyidina Ismail was the uncle, and then they mentioned Ishaq showing them that they have abandoned the path of their forefathers, the sons of Ya’qub.
After this comes the verse, the verses that detail the changing of the qiblah, the direction of prayer, and this is so significant because before this, the ummah of Muhammad (SAWS) prayed towards the very revered and respect holy site, Jerusalem. After this, Allah (SWT) clarified to us, “Do not follow in the path of those who have breached the Covenant. Beware because I am conferring the great responsibility upon you.” He has given the qiblah of Al Ka’bah, and then soon after that He has given us Ramadhan. During the story of the changing of the qiblah, brothers and sisters, the changing of the qiblah was a very interesting occurrence in the history during the life of the Prophet (SAWS). It was a challenge. It was a test for those who are really sincere and faithful in their Covenant as Allah (SWT) says, (Holy Qur’an – 02:143).You’ll find that this is the first point in Suratul Baqarah. Allah refers to us as a nation when the qiblah was changed, when the direction of prayer was changed. Allah (SWT) says (Holy Qur’an – 02:143).”We have only made this change in directions of prayer, so that We may see who will follow the Prophet (SAWS), who will be faithful to His Covenant to Allah (SWT), and who will fall back on his heels.”
Brothers and sisters, the Companions of the Prophet (SAWS) passed this test. They excelled in this test. There was a masjid during the time of the Prophet (SAWS) that still stands to this very day, Masjid Al Qiblatain, and it was said that there were Companions in this mosque praying at the time of the change of directions of prayers, and the man came calling out saying that the direction of prayers has changed by the command of the Prophet (SAWS), and the Companions being who they are always ready for change, always ready to hear and obey the commands of Allah and His Prophet. They immediately changed directions during prayers, and that’s why this mosque was known as the mosque of the two qiblahs.
Brothers and sisters, this is the historical significance that lead up to the month of Ramadhan, the month of Qur’an, the month of change, the month that is central to our identity. Ask Allah (SWT) to give us all taufiq.
Brothers and sisters, positive change is something so important in the life of the believer. As we are getting ready to receive the month of Ramadhan, every one of us should think about what we need to change. Everything, brothers and sisters, in our faith promotes positive change. We must own up to that change, and make a difference in our lives seeking Allah’s (SWT) aid. As Allah (SWT) says, (Holy Qur’an – 91:07-10) Allah (SWT) speaks about this nafs, the human being, and the One who has created it, He takes an oath by the One who has created by Himself (SWT) takes an oath, and then He says, “The successful one is the one who purifies it, cleanses it, and then the one who is a loser is the one who corrupts it.”
Identify what needs to be changed. Be honest with yourself. Every single one of us should try to change something in our lives especially during this month of Ramadhan. What do I need to change? There’s always something that needs to be improved. Is it the relationship I have with my parents perhaps, or with my children, or with my siblings? Have I cut off some of my siblings? Have I not spoken to some of them for years? That happens with some people? Is it ongoing conflicts with my spouse? Is it my spiritual connection with the Qur’an or with the mosque? Is it perhaps with the rights of others? Perhaps some other character flaw? Is it perhaps learning more about what makes me a Muslim? Is it perhaps about learning about my identity as a Muslim? What is it that I need to change? Something we really need to sit down and think about on by ourselves? Also sit down with our children, inspire them to think with this attitude. Look at life with this attitude. Always living life with an attitude of positive change, not an attitude of stagnation and simply accepting your status quo(Holy Qur’an – 33:23)
There are those among the believers who are true, and honest, and sincere with what they have promised to Allah (SWT), and then there are those who have already passed on to Allah, and to the Hereafter, and there are those who are waiting but they have not alter. Ask Allah (SWT) to make us of those who are honest and sincere in their belief, who are honest in their endeavor to positively change their lives. Oh Allah, forgive us all. Forgive us for our shortcomings. Oh Allah, forgive the males and the females, the young and the old, those in attendance, and those absent. Oh Allah, whomever You have willed to have a long life then make it upon faith. Whomever You have willed to leave this dunya then make it upon Islam. Oh Allah, make the best of our deeds the last of our deeds, the best of our days, the last of our days, the best of all days, the day we meet You, and You are pleased and content with us. Oh Allah bless us to drink from the hand of your Prophet (SAWS), a drink we will never feel thirst thereafter. Oh Allah, bless us to witness Ramadhan. Oh Allah, bless us to pray the month of Ramadhan, to fast the month of Ramadhan, to remember You much in the month of Ramadhan, and help us bring positive change to our lives in the month of Ramadhan. Ameen, ameen.