Friday, February 3, 2017

Considering the Day of Judgement: Is it close ?

[Note: The following is an edited version of Friday Khutbah delivered at Toledo Masjid Al-Islam. The opening Hamd has been omitted, the two sections of the Khutbah have been merged into one for the purposes of this article, and the Arabic quotations have been shared only selectively.]

Gratitude for Friday Prayer

We begin by expressing gratitude to Allah for Jumu'ah prayers, especially in a Non Muslim environment, because it provides a spiritual injection that is so needed in order to maintain a healthy spirituality.

We have a hadeeth, deemed 'hasan' in the hierarchy of tradition judgement, in which it is stated that Judgement day will occur on a Friday. Certainly, it is debatable if this means a literal "Friday", as the day after Thursday, or if it simply refers to a moment of great gathering [which is the essential meaning of "Jumu'ah" in Arabic, but is used now in Arabic and many other languages as referring to "Friday"], however, it should be enough of a foundation to generate an interest, an awareness, that judgement day is a reality!

As we read in the Qur'an: "Our Lord, Indeed, you will gather people (innaaka Jamee'un Naas) on a day in which there is no doubt, Indeed, Allah does not fail in his promise." (Q 3:9).

Serious social shifts

The knowledge of its precise moment is unknown to us, and our understanding of its signs can always be defective, nonetheless, we should think about the reality of a final day.

The Prophet Muhammad                   صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم      is reported to have said "Indeed, among the signs of the hour is (1) Knowledge being elevated [away]. (2) Abundance of Jahl [ignorance, in thinking and behavior]. (3) Abundance of Zinaa [improper sexual relations] [4] Abundance of the consumption of intoxicants [Khamr].
ان من اشراط الساعة ان يرفع العلم و يكثر الجهل و يكثر الزنا و يكثر شرب الخمر

We have another narration which has the words "Knowledge will be low and ignorance clearly visible." [Bukhari and Muslim] يقل العلم و يظهر الجهل 

These narrations present to us serious social shifts! In particular we should pay attention to the last narration quoted above, I believe these words don't simply refer to the disappearance of religious information, but rather, to historical knowledge, scientific information, being dismissed or downplayed, and, replaced with fictionalized, concocted falsehoods! In today's discourse this is called "alternative facts"!

Jahl [as appears in the original Arabic] is ignorance of knowledge, but also -in Quranic usage-refers to action. It refers to a culture that values hatred, stupidity, violence and xenophobia. The Prophet says that such a culture will be present and prevalent in the age that is close to the moment of Judgement. This seems to be a precise description of what is happening in today's world!

Returning to the first hadeeth, we have to say that there is no better place to be than the Masjid on Friday! Even if the Imam does not speak on the subject of  Judgement day, he does refer to Allah, The call to prayers refers to Allah, and Allah is called upon in prayer.

In another report, we have it that Abu Hurairah himself asks the Prophet "when is the hour?" He replies;" when the trust (Amaanah) is destroyed, wait for it then.". He was then asked "How is the trust destroyed?". The Prophet responds "When leadership is given to those other than its proper holders." اذا وسد الأمر الى غير اهله فانتظر الساعة

The Prophet speaks what God tells him to speak

There is doubt presented today as to the veracity of narrations like this, or even the whole hadeeth enterprise in general. However, for these particular narrations, the truth of them cannot be denied! Thus, they cannot be ignored because they really hit the mark!

The Qur'an says that "He [Muhammad] does not speak out of his own desires, nay, he only recites that which has been sent to him." [ Q 53:3-4]

We cannot understand fully subjects such as the Judgement day, because they are ultimately God's business. To seek to speed up or hijack God's will is an act of idol worship, arrogance in itself [Q 16:1].

We are not advocating anything firmly other than that we should be conscious of standing before Allah. Even if a person rejects the concept of Judgement day, they all accept that we will face death,
So be conscious of Allah, that we will have to face Him, be conscious of how you live your life and how you spend your time in this world,

Lessons from these narrations

These narrations should encourage us to become educated and refined in a better way. It has to be a continuous process.  Degrees mean nothing when the spiritual, moral and cognitive features are corrupted.

Progress by the use of prayer, and study. We are to study the Qur'an as well as the important subjects. We are to also be humble enough to recognize our limitations, and not do as people tend to do these days by speaking authoritatively on subjects they have no knowledge of. Thus, climate change is denied because of the words of politicians, and not according to physical facts.

Going out of our lanes of abilities is a sign of ignorance, which the Prophet asserted would be a sign of the coming day of resurrection. Let us not follow that trend, but rather, follow Allah's Book and Allah's final Prophet.