[ Note: The following is an edited version of a Friday Khutbah given July 22, 2016 at The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo[ICGT] in Perrysburg, Ohio. The opening Hamd has been omitted.]
This week I gave a lecture entitled "Towards becoming Full time Muslims" [url] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V_aAxmp0J0[/url] . As the title suggests, we explored some practical ways to become stronger in our submission to Allah Almighty. One of the reactions to this presentation was, in essence, that it is easier said than done.
Events both here and overseas have influenced me to ponder upon that response. In particular, the political discourse we are seeing in recent days is very concerning. Thus, it is understandable that there would be difficulty to become "full time Muslims".
Observing the reports on the attack in the French city of Nice', the attacker, a reported drinker and even consumer of Pork, was said to have been "radicalized". Evidence of this so called radicalization was his weeks worth of beard growth [url] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/18/nice-attack-premeditated-mohamed-lahouaiej-bouhlel-beard-prosecutor[/url].
Politicians have in recent days called for Sharee'ah to be banned [not even knowing the meaning of this term] and its practitioners deported.
So the argument that these forces are making is that the stronger Muslim you become, the more dangerous to society you become.
Islam is not an identity
It is important to remember that Islam is mot an "identity". Rather it is the title or the summary of that guidance which came forth through all the Prophets and Messengers of God. We must remember that almost all of the Prophets experienced character assassination, jealous foes, scapegoating and other pressures, all designed to prevent a fuller manifestation of God's guidance in society.
So know that these pressures are going to be there, just as they were in the lives of the Prophets [upon whom be peace]. Yet, these pressures should only make us better qualified.
Pressure is character building
When you jog, lift weights, or play sports or do some other exercises, you will experience some level of discomfort. You will feel sore during and afterwards, perhaps for quite a bit of time, and look and smell bad. However, it is worth it.
So we look at the Prophets to give us guidance in terms of dealing with those pressures as well as predicting the future.
Ibrahim [The Prophet Abraham 'alayhis salaam] is a good example of this. He doesn't seek to be domineering, he only preaches Tauheed [recognizing that Allah is one and alone in deserving worship] and seeks to make his audience think. He says "Do you not use your minds?" [Afala Ta'qiloon]. His foes respond by saying "Burn him" [Harriquhu].
Opponents of Truth are intellectually bankrupt
The foes of Abraham were intellectually bankrupt. Abraham was a Prophet that embodies logic, wisdom and even research. His foes find this threatening. They cannot respond to his logic, so they respond by gaining up, rabble-rousing, violence.
Look at Allah's Divine Hand at work. "We Decreed: O Fire! Be cool and peaceful for Abraham"[ Q 21:70].
So Abraham as a person went from being a potential victim of lynching to a miraculous saving of his life, which also means that his message was saved. The fire of hate was put out.
The evidence is strengthened by the fact that the three monotheistic religions[Judaism, Christianity and Islam] see themselves as connected to Abraham. They are all called "The Abrahamic religions" [Al Adyaan Al Ibrahimiyyah].
So don't let outside forces stop you from getting closer to Allah, from being better and more committed Muslims. We pray for Allah's mercy, guidance, forgiveness, and stronger hearts planted with Imaan.
Muslims who work with the wider public have greater responsibilities
Many of us are people who deal with the wider public in some fashion. It is upon such folks a bigger responsibility of being full-time Muslims in a way that is seen by the public.
Firstly, this means that Islamic ethics must be displayed, particularly in financial matters. That also means we cannot be shy as Muslims.
Look at Prophet Muhammad [Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam]. There was a lady who used to harass him by dumping trash in places where she knew he would walk. When she fell ill, he took care of her. When he ['alayhis salaatu was salaam] left Makkah for Madinah, he made sure to give back wealth that had been entrusted to him to its rightful owners.
Those of us in public should also be prepared to answer queries at all times. Keep Islamic pamphlets or literature in your offices, suitcase, bag, purse and car. Invite them to the Mosque. Have more open houses and be welcoming and invite the hard questions.
We have to be like Abraham. A mob wanted to burn him, yet Allah gave him immunity from that- and now-thousands of years later, the majority of humans see themselves as connected to him.
Indeed, in the Judeo-Christian tradition his name is known to mean "father of many nations" or "father of all nation", depending on which Bible translation [in English] you read.
We have to be strong, confident and closer to Allah.
God is not an intellectual point. God is real, and is active in the world of man. Allah be with you all, [Allah Ma'kum Jamee'an].