Khutbah – 12|09|2014 – “Not in our name” by Imam Noor Salie

Khutbah – 12|09|2014 – “Not in our name” by Imam Noor Salie

noor salieAlmighty Allah exhorts us in the Holy Quran: Those who believe and suffer hardships and difficulties with might in the way of Allah (JAAHADOE FI SABIE LIELLAA) with their wealth and their lives- They have the highest rank in the sight of Allah – they are the ones that will achieve salvation.  (9/20)

And: –Invite (others) to the Way of your Lord) with wisdom and beautiful preaching- and reason with them in ways that are best and most gracious-[Surah An-Nahl,16:125]

The Prophet (saw) stated: “The real Mujaahid is the one who constantly strives against his nafs/self – lower baser desires (his arrogance/egotism/bigotism) all in obedience to Almighty Allah,) [Tirmidhi, Ibn Mâjah, Ibn Hibbân, Tabarânî, Hâkim, etc.]… 

The Prophet (saw) also stated: “Most certainly this Deen is simple –and if you try to content with it — and be severe in it –the deen itself will overcome you.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) stated that the basis of this religion is nothing but sincere Council, advice and admonishment – And it is very interesting to note that the word NASEEHA also means sincerity in the Arabic language–So it simply means that advice that is not sincere in Islam is meaningless.

In this Khutbah today – I would like to deal with some aspects of the global perverse acts of terror done in the name of Islam, – Islam and Muslims have been heavily condemned and stereotyped  often over the past 13 years – ever since the tragic events of Sept. 11th, 2001. The media takes absolute delight in blowing any acts done in the name of Islam out of proportion and sensationalizing it.

The most prevalent Islamic stereotype is the radical Muslim insurgent, bent on waging jihad, or holy war. This stereotype usually represents violence as an inseparable part of being Muslim, as well as religion as justification for violent actions. The media representation of Muslims has drastically changed and shaped public opinion of Islam. The majority of Westerners perceive Muslims to be foreign and alien, fuelling the notion that Islam is a threat to Western culture and that Muslims are different from what members of Western society ‘should’ be and that violence is an inseparable part of Islam.

Having said all this –When we swing our sword of justice must also challenge those who speak and do terrible acts in our name. – Last week we have heard an academic perspective of the history of ISIS and the Horrific acts of torture, kidnapping and murder in the name of Islamic Jihad committed by them in Syria and Iraq.  They have carried out many executions, including beheadings, as part of its effort to establish an Islamic caliphate that stretches from Syria into Iraq. In many cases, they have videotaped the executions and posted them online.

ISIS is known for its extreme interpretation (or rather Misinterpretation) of the Islamic faith and Shariah law – and its brutal violence is directed at Shia Muslims, indigenous Assyrian and Armenian Christians, and Yazidis, in particular.   Each day ISIS seeks to carry out an act more barbaric than the day before, craving the oxygen of publicity to give credibility to their heinous acts. We condemn unreservedly their psychopathic violence, whether it is on minorities, on civilians, or on fellow Muslims.

The majority of Muslims around the world have agreed that ISIS does not speak for Islam, and has been repudiated by most Muslims. Their message only appeals to those who are easily duped by their twisted message purporting to be Islam. They seek to glamorize their violence, and unfortunately, the media has a part to play in adding to that glamour.

These are not actions of Islamists, but heinous acts of sectarian thugs. We also call on all peace-loving people to continue to work hard to address human rights issues affecting aggrieved communities so that legitimate grievances can be addressed in a peaceful and lawful manner, and leave no space for actions of extremists perpetrating these terrible acts of violence in the name of Islam.

At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have suffered at the hands of these terrorists. – We pray for Islam’s highest virtue, that of rahmah (benevolence/ mercy and compassion), to prevail.

Now when we look at what’s happening in Nigeria — the international as well as local media has also been dominated by the news of the extremist group calling themselves Boko Haram. Among some of their acts of terror – is the kidnapping and enslavement of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls and there has been much media exposure that has provoked unprecedented global outrage.

Boko Haram has threatened to sell the schoolgirls into slavery and “marrying” them off but has also offered to exchange them for jailed militants. The group wants to create a breakaway Islamic state in the Muslim and Christian country of 170 million people. The group’s leader said in a video seen on the internet –”Women are slaves. I want to reassure my Muslim brothers that Allah says slaves are permitted in Islam and we can do what we like with them,” he added, in an so-called reference to an ancient pre Islamic tradition of enslaving women captured during war.   —

All People of faith have condemned in the strongest possible terms the, kidnapping of the school girls and the violence and hate crimes that have been perpetrated by Boko Haram. This Islamist extremist group has killed thousands of people in a series of violent attacks in recent years. (The name Boko Haram means “Western education is sinful.”) The official name of the Boko Haram group is actually Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna –Lidda’awati –wal-Jihad,  which in Arabic means “People of the Sunnah (the practice and examples of the Prophet Muhammad’s life) for preaching and Jihad Group”.

The group was named a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the UN last November. Its membership ranges “from hundreds to a few thousand,” the group gets most of its funding from bank robberies and criminal activities like extortion or demanding ransom after kidnappings.

In February, Boko Haram attacked multiple villages, setting thousands of buildings on fire and killing more than 200 people, and most countries support the Nigerian authorities’ efforts to investigate these cowardly acts and to bring the perpetrators to justice,”

Then again in Pakistan, Afghanistan and in some other Countries (even some Western Countries among the Pakistani and Arab Communities – In excess of 500 women and girls are murdered in honour killings each year, in the name of Islam –  and  many more go unreported making Pakistan and Afghanistan some of the most dangerous countries for women.

Honour killings” most often involved women being murdered by their own family members to avenge the ‘so called shame’ brought on through infidelity or culturally unacceptable behaviour. “This is a very unique form of violence, the average age of honour killings in women was found to be between 15-54 years.

Islam strongly prohibits the killing of any person without lawful reasons. Islamic teachings do not allow any person to take the law into their own hands and to commit murder, no matter what justification is used. Islam does not condone, nor does it call for any such act as an honour killings. The act of honour killings is a pre Islamic cultural-tribal practice followed by backward criminals. These people’s acts and own rules have nothing to do with Islam; in point of fact – Islam came to eradicate such backward cultural trends.

When Islam was revealed it explicitly made forbidden such acts, primarily the act of burying daughters alive. The pagans used to practice this barbaric and heinous act, whenever they had a female daughter, they would be shamed, sad, disappointed, and so they would go and bury their daughters alive in the sand itself. Islam came and eradicated this act: When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it on (sufferance and) contempt, or bury it in the dust? Ah! what an evil (choice) they decide on (16:58-59)

Not only did Islam ban this heinous act, it also made it clear that the birth of a female was not something bad, nor something to be ashamed of, rather this was the will of God as the Quran teaches:”To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female children to whomever He wills and bestows male children to whomever He wills (42:49) So Almighty Allah bestows both female and male children to whomever he wills, the verse does not state that Allah only bestows female children to parents as an act of punishment, or an act of shame.

The prophet Muhammad (saw) also taught the following: “He who is involved in bringing up daughters, and accords benevolent treatment towards them, they will be protection for him against Hell-Fire” (Bukhari and Muslim) and:  “Whoever maintains two girls till they attain maturity, he and I will come on the Resurrection Day like this; and he joined his fingers” (Muslim)

There is absolutely no justification in Islam for “honour killings” of women or men. While women in many parts of the world have made advances in most areas previously closed to them, the problem of violence against women remains pervasive. Unfortunately, this violence takes many forms and occurs across national, cultural, racial, and religious borders.

Islam condemns all forms of violence against women. The basic Islamic premise of equality between women and men cannot be achieved so long as violence against women persists. There is also the assault on the status of women after the Taliban took power in Kabul  in Afghanistan . The Taliban closed the women’s university and forced nearly all women to quit their jobs, closing down an important source of talent and expertise for the country. It restricted access to medical care for women, brutally enforced a restrictive dress code, and limited the ability of women to move about the city.

There are the heinous reported acts of violence against women perpetrated by Taliban, including rape, abduction, and forced marriages. Some families resorted to sending their daughters to Pakistan or Iran to protect them. Afghan women living under the Taliban virtually had the world of work closed to them. Forced to quit their jobs as teachers, doctors, nurses, accountants and clerical workers when the Taliban took over, women could work only in very limited circumstances. A tremendous asset was lost to a society that desperately needed trained professionals.  This again has nothing to do with Islam.

Then there is the “holy war” concept, for which many non-Muslims (and some Muslims) use the word Jihad, It is also foreign to Islam.  Rather, it comes from a concept first used to justify the Crusades by the Christian Church during the middle Ages.  The concept of “holy war” may even go back to the time when the emperor Constantine the Great allegedly saw the vision in the sky with the inscription on the cross, (in this sign you will be the victor).

The Arabic term, as has been pointed out by many scholars, for “the holy war” would be al-harab al-muqaddas, which neither appears in the Quran or the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) (Hadith.)  Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) wars were defensive wars against groups who sought to eradicate Islam and the Muslims.

It is interesting and useful for social scientists and philologists to study how the meaning and usage of words differ in different communities.  Ironically, the word “crusade”, because of its association with the crusades in the middle ages, should have had a pejorative sense to it and yet the word has acquired an ennobled meaning in the West.  This, in spite of the fact that the Church itself, along with most historians, acknowledge the injustice of the Crusades and the atrocities done in the name of faith.  On the other hand, the word “Jihad” which means for Muslims, striving for the highest possible goal, has acquired the negative connotation of holy war.

It is clear from even a cursory study of the Quran that Islam does not permit, condone or promote violence.  Just the opposite, it abhors violence and allows it only in self-defense. A claim to the contrary is no more than bad fiction –

Both the Islamophobes and these “Muslim Terrorists” use Cherry picked quotations – A farrago of distortions / misinterpretations / exaggerations / misrepresentations / deviations / falsifications/misquotations and fabrications from the Quran and Sunnah to substantiate their cases.

It is important for us to add our voice of condemnation against all these perverse acts done in the name of Islam, and to urge each one of us to better inform ourselves about these events so that we can also be critical readers of the media hype that inevitably arises from events such as these.

Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness, and the majority have nothing to do with the extremely grave events which have come to be associated with their faith. —  We must also recognize that Islam’s very meaning and root is SALAAM- (peace) in the Arabic language – SALAAM and the same root in Hebrew  SHALOM – and comes from a Tripartheid radical SALIMA which means to be whole The nature of peace is wholeness– It’s an integrity that people must be allowed to live their lives holistically. It is the peace, which these terrorists and all of their kind have forgotten. The God in whose name they commit their atrocities is not the God of all peace-loving people. –  Their God is Anarchy, and the only message they know is how to destroy, not how to create.

Religious violence, like all violence, is inherently cultural processes whose meanings are    context-dependent.  . Overall, religious violence is perpetrated for a wide variety of ideological reasons and is generally only one of the contributing social and political factors that leads to unrest.

Secular regimes and leaders have used violence to promote their own agendas throughout the centuries. Secular governments will likely continue to use violence, oppression, and manipulation to further their own objectives, with or without the availability of religion as a tool. Wars that are secular in nature need no specifically religious endorsement and regularly operate with and without the support of non-religious ideologies. In addition, there exist very few examples of wars waged for specifically religious reasons

Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi, stated: All Muslims ought to be united against all those who terrorize the innocents, and those who permit the killing of human beings without a justifiable reason. Islam has declared the spilling of blood and the destruction of property as absolute prohibitions until the Day of Judgment. … [It is] necessary to apprehend the true perpetrators of these crimes, as well as those who aid them through incitement, financing or other support. They must be brought to justice in an impartial court of law and [punished] appropriately. … [It is] a duty of Muslims to participate in this effort with all possible means.” “You must know Islam’s firm position against all these terrible crimes. The world must know that Islam is a religion of peace and mercy and goodness; it is a religion of justice and guidance…Islam has forbidden violence in all its forms. And it forbids all acts that undermine the security of the innocent.”

We should call on all peace-loving people to continue to work hard to address human rights issues affecting many minority communities so that legitimate grievances can be addressed in a peaceful and lawful manner, and extremists are side-lined.

“Our hearts bleed for the violence that has been perpetrated in Iraq, Nigeria and other Countries. Islam, the religion of tolerance, holds the human soul in high esteem, and considers the attack against innocent human beings a grave sin, this is backed by the Quranic verse which reads: ‘Who so ever kills a human being [as punishment] for [crimes] other than manslaughter or [sowing] corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and who so ever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind’ (Al-Ma’idah:32).

We should also not underestimate the power of prayer (DUAH), solidarity and speaking out against injustice, oppression and tyranny. We believe that prayer (DUAH) draws human attention to things that need attention, and that Almighty Allah (God) hears our prayers, which can work to change human events and history.

Together I believe we should look at some Islamic insights into our precarious times and find solutions and suggestions on how peace can be restored, creating an environment whereby each individual is respected and his human dignity honored.

We should also remember that beneath all the misfortunes that we see around us, Allah is still firmly in control. We must not be distressed with what we see as the strength of some people, and the weakness of others. We are sometimes too inclined to see life only on the physical and materialistic level. We forget that there is a spiritual law that underpins everything.

CONCLUSION – In a world threatened by continued polarisation, division, and misunderstanding there can be no greater need for those with a universal interest in the affairs of humanity to join hands in making visible the beauty of human diversity and the potential for that diversity to realize, in a harmonious orchestration of elevated togetherness, the highest values that the human species is capable of.

Amongst these values we would count the essential oneness of humanity, respect for the dignity of all, tolerance for and the acknowledgment – in a spirit of engaged pluralism – of the God-given right and freedom to embrace and practice the beliefs of our choice.

“By their fruits shall ye know them,” said Prophet Jesus, Nabi Isa (AS). Let us work hard to improve the quality of life for all people in this beautiful country that has become our home.

Let us pray and seek Allah’s help us in this important task.  – “Rabbana aatina fid dunya hasanatan wafil aakhirati hasanatan waqeena athaaban naar.”

O My Lord, give us good in this world, and good in the life to come, and keep us safe from the torment of the fire.

“Rabbana la tuzigh quloobanaa ba’da ith haday tanaa, wahablanaa milla dunka rahma. Innaka antal wah-haab.”

O My Lord, do not let our hearts deviate from the Truth now that we have been guided, but grant us Mercy from Your very Presence; for You are the grantor of bounties without measure.

Rabbana la tu-akhithna in naseena aw akhtana Rabbana wala tahmil ‘alayna isran kama hamaltahu AAala allatheena min qablina Rabbana wala tuhammilna ma la taqata lana bihi wa’fu ‘anna wa’ghfir lana war-‘hamna anta mawlana fun-surna ‘alal qawmil kafireen.

“Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden Like that which You laid on those before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector; Help us against those who stand against faith.” (2:286)

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