[ Note: the following is the Friday sermon delivered 11/20/2015, in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris. Note that we have in our formatting we have omitted the opening Hamd.]
Islam is the Deen which was preached by Abraham, Moses and Jesus. This process was completed with the coming of Muhammad the Prophet and the scripture sent to him, namely, the Qur'an.
All of these teachers, upon whom be peace, taught about God. Indeed, the Jewish tradition has what is called the Shema, which reads "Hear this, O Israel, the Lord Your God is One God." This is precisely the same message as Laa elaaha ill Allah, i.e. None deserves worship except Allah.
Thus, everything a Muslim does is supposed to be part and parcel of that acknowledgement, that none but God deserves our worship. The life of a Muslim is supposed to be a series of steps that brings that person closer to God. The Qur'an mentions that Deen is supposed to be especially or exclusively for Allah [Alaaa Lillaahid deenul Khaalis]. However, we live in a time when Islam is "represented" by those who don't even follow it's basic rules and principles.
We live in a time when "ego" is put out there as the spokesperson for this Deen, whose true representatives were the messengers of Allah.
Today, Islam is "represented" by murderous "leaders". If that's not bad enough, they also, according to the reports, neither pray nor fast, and even involve themselves in selling drugs and alcohol. These people speak about a Khilaafat [Caliphate]. They want to revive the Caliphate. How can people whose entire existence runs contrary to the Divine principles do anything on behalf of Allah's Deen? Frankly, it makes no sense!
Comquering the Ego
We have a hadeeth associated with the battle of Badr, that after the battle the Prophet [Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam] said "We have returned from the smallest Jihad to the greatest Jihad." It was asked "and what is the greatest Jihad?" The Prophet responds "It is the Jihad of the self [Jihaadun Nafs], the smallest Jihad was physical combat. [Wal As-gharu huwal Qitaal]".
In the Islamic discourse today, this hadeeth is declared Da'eef [weak]. Some even call this Mawdoo', a false narration wrongly attributed to Allah's Messenger by the Sufis. We could get into the technical details, but "weak" narrations do not equate false narrations. Even if this narration is "weak", it is strengthened by the Qur'an itself.
"Those who make Jihad [struggle] about God, God will guide them in our [i.e. Allah's ] paths [in life], and Allah is surely with those who [strive for] excellence." [Q 29:69]
Meaning, to attain nearness and pleasure of Allah, the calls of the ego, be it internal or influenced from the outside, those calls must be conquered. This goes hand in hand with the hadeeth cited earlier. There are atleast six other verses of the Qur'an we could cite, but hopefully this is enough.
I have to say directly that there are powerful forces out there, hidden behind the scenes. orchestrating plots to suit their own long and short term political goals, but even with that acknowledgement, those who are worshipping their own lusts, frustrations, and desires should not be seen as representing Islam, nor should they be listened to by either Muslims or Non Muslims!
It is important to remember that by and large, it is we Muslims who are the victims of these people. While Paris has received all the attention, just the day before the same organization took credit for a bombing in Beirut. The same types are currently creating havoc in Mali. So for us, their names are unimportant. They are still worshipping Nafs and serving the interests of Satan. May Allah give us the ability to see truth and to follow that, and the ability to see falsehood and give us the ability to avoid it.
These times are quite troubling for all humanity, so we have to be intelligent. We have to be observant, to develop the tools of analysis and to look beyond surface. Most importantly, we have to maintain faith. After all, Allah is still the God of all, and it is Allah's plans which ultimately prevails. Keep your mind and heart closely connected to the Qur'an, because it is the best source by which we can understand the world today. Never get diverted from that reality!