[ Note: The following is the Friday Khutbah from 2/5/16, at Toledo Masjid. It has been formatted into one article, and the opening Hamd has been omitted here.]
Among the things we see when we study religion, and by 'religion' I mean the doctrines and history of religions worldwide, we find that all of them attempt to create balance between competing needs. This can be stated in another fashion, i.e. these religions would seek to address pressing issues at the time these religions emerged. The solutions that these religions would give became outdated, meaning that the solutions no longer applied because the circumstances had since changed. A good example is that of divorce. In the Jewish Fiqh, [ Deut.24:1] when a man finds his wife displeasing, he gives her a certificate of divorce and sends her away. This was obviously abused. We can easily see how this can be abused, leading to destroyed families and homeless divorcees.
Jesus ['Isa , 'alayhis salaam] comes along, according to the New Testament [ Matthew 19:8] forbids divorce totally, the only exception being when adultery has been committed. The New Testament has materials that almost discourages marriage itself totally. Paul says :It is better for a man not to have relations with a woman" [ 1 Cor 7:1]. He also says "It is better to be like me" [1 Cor. 7:8], meaning to be unmarried, as he was.
The prohibition of divorce is only enforced in today's Christian world among the Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and some smaller sects such as the Jehovah's Witnesses. The wider Christian world has faced new circumstances which has forced them to abandon this edict!
The Qur'an now comes, six centuries after Christ. It comes to a universal Prophet [ Muhammad, Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam]. It comes as a scripture not only for the Jews, but for all humanity. In addition, it is the final scripture, sent to the final Prophet [Q 33:40]. Therefore all of its teachings has a place for all times to come!
As a student of religion, I can tell you in all fairness that this Deen, particularly the Qur'an, is for all places and all times. It's rules, edicts, are still relevant.
Returning to the example of marriage, Islam encourages marriage and discourages divorce, although it is allowed. Indeed, some people simply cannot get along, that's simply a reality. The sayings of the Prophet [Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam] and the scholars of Islam all point to marriage as being something that is very helpful in terms of the growth of the spiritual life. He says "Marriage is half of the deen" [ Bayhaqi]. Similarly, the family life, working for an income, are deemed in Islam helpful to the betterment of one's spiritual condition.
It is not our intention to go into the details of this subject, but rather to make a point. The Islam as found in the Qur'an is an Islam that, if understood and applied correctly, can remove most of the problems we face. It has the capacity to give us peace, balance, understanding and virtues in this life.
"We [Allah] have not sent the Qur'an to you to make you have stress, rather, only as a notice to those with the fear of God, a revelation from the One who has created the Earth and the Highest heavens." [Q 20:2-4]
The solutions are all here, if only we take some time to look at them, to internalize its teachings, to exemplify the light. May Allah be merciful to us with this Qur'an, make it for us a leader, a source of light and guidance.
How can a religion of 1400 years age give any solutions today?
A skeptic can raise the question that Islam is fourteen centuries old, how can it give any solutions today? This is a honest and fair question. We answer that by saying that what Islam gives is TIMELESS PRINCIPLES. Concepts or teachings that work in any context. The Qur'an tells us that Pork is forbidden, but it also tells us that it becomes lawful [Halaal] during a period of starvation. [Q 2:173 and 6:119]. This is not reasoning, this is an example of the principles in the text itself.
It is these principles that allow us to identify what is truly wrong in our lives or in our society today, and likewise to allow us to identify what is good and to build upon that good, so we won't be in confusion, drifting through life.
Rich or Poor, Black or White, we become a people of confidence, purpose, progress, deserving of Paradise.
"Deserving" of paradise is a strong claim, but look at the time of Prophet Muhammad. One hadeeth [Bukhari and Muslim] tells us that a man had done some sin, probably a sin that would require punishment in Islamic law. He came to the Prophet wanting to confess. The Prophet ['alayhis salaatu was salaam] kept ignoring the man. Finally, the time of prayer came, and they all offered the prayer. Afterwards, the man came again, trying to confess his sin. The Prophet asked "did you pray with us?". The man replies in the affirmative. The Prophet says to him "Then indeed, God has forgiven your sin or your action that would require punishment."
This is a beautiful hadeeth. This Islam created in the man the consciousness to strive to be one of the best, not to dodge responsibility. Such a person deserves paradise.
The Qur'an says "Indeed, prayer restrains [a person] from immorality and repugnant acts, the recollecting of Allah is the greatest [source of power and inspiration], and Allah knows what you manufacture." [Q 29: 46]
So the act of daily salaat is an act that generates the conscious, it pricks at our hearts to strive to be about what is right.
May Alkah keep us firm upon this Deen!