Assalaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu my dearest brothers and sisters in Islam,
We are all at the conclusion of either our first, or yet another semester at (Trinity/Wesleyan) and we have all been facing extra pressure in order to meet deadlines and excel in our academics. Surely, excelling in our academics is one of our main priorities at this stage in our lives since, with the help of Allah, it will assist us in paving our future and contributing positively to the society we live in. Yet, we also can very easily get lost in this dunya thinking that the only way that I will ever be successful is to get straight As, get into a top notch graduate school and afterwards make a comfortable living. While none of these goals should be erased from our agenda we should ask ourselves if this is the proper definition of success.
Alhamdulillah we all gather together today as Muslims and inshaAllah as believers of this divine faith. We try our utmost to emulate the best of creation, Sayidna Muhammad (sas). Sayidna Muhammad (sas) was the best of the creation because he willfully submitted himself to Allah. He was known to be the walking Qur’an. Reflecting on this title, we can conclude that this means two things, the first being that he was able to recite the Qur’an whenever necessary in order to give advice or derive a law. The second important inference that we gather from this title is the fact that the Prophet Muhammad (sas) implemented everything found in the Qur’an- the guidance for humanity. We can therefore conclude that if the Prophet Muhammad (sas) was the best of creation and he was also the walking Qur’an success is found through implementing what Allah tells us to do in His Book.
When we embark on any journey, we end up facing many uncertainties and variables. We are not sure whether majoring in economics is the best thing for our future. We cannot be one hundred percent confident that pursuing a higher degree before working is the best decision. We are never really sure on even bigger decisions that we will have to make in our lifetime, like choosing the most compatible spouse. Since we are finite human beings, the future for us is unclear. Yet, we have immeasurable blessings because of the generosity of Allah (swt). Allah promises the believers success. In Suraht Al Mu’minoon (The Believers) Allah begins by saying:
Qad aflaha al mu’minoon which means Successful indeed are the believers. This means that Allah guarantees the believers success. We all want to be successful. We all want to have a meaningful existence and most of us will do anything within our power to avoid failure. Humans naturally strive to excel, and Allah is telling us how to do just that. We excel through being mu’mineen- believers.
In order for someone to be considered a mu’min, he/she must have Imaan. Imaan is to have unwavering faith in Allah, His Angels, His Messengers, His Books, The Day of Judgment and the Divine Decree…. but also more. It is what takes position in the heart, and actions are what prove that statement. It is more than just a claim, al mu’minoon speak through their acts not their words.
Let us take this opportunity to take an even closer look at this one aya. Qad aflaha al mu’minoon. Allah begins it with قَدْ “qad” and when this word appears before a verb (in this case, أَفْلَحَ “aflaha”, “he succeeded’) it shows two things:
1- It appears before an expected matter, a matter that will surely occur. This denotes the meaning of: certainty, it is definitely going to happen. Also, Qad could also denote the PAST tense…so this matter has already happened in the “time” of Allah. This should give us all hope…we ALREADY are victorious inshaallah.
2- ‘qad’ makes the verb after it in the past, present and future tense, so it will give the meaning: certainly, the believers will succeed and will be successful and are successful and were successful…subhanAllah.
The word Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala uses for ‘success’ is أَفْلَحَ “aflaha”, and a muflih is one who is successful. What does aflaha actually mean though?
Aflaha is derived from the root ف ل ح (fa-laam-ha) and it literally means to split something and cleave it. A fallaah is a farmer. How does success relate to farming? My dear brothers and sisters, a farmer is one who splits the earth, sows the seeds, waters it, watches it, and takes care of his farm, tending to it every day with great care. A fallaah is a person who puts in all the work. A person who wants to achieve his goals and breaks them down into tasks and milestones with determination and consistency.
The farmer cannot water his plants one week and leave them the next thinking they will still flourish properly without him doing anything else, So a Muflih is one who bears difficulty and hardship and puts in his maximum effort to achieve his aim and goal, effort is the most important aspect. What makes someone a success and one a faliure is how much effort they put in. Subhanallah, this is also true in anything in life (at work, in a relationship, etc) The farmer will go in the sun and heat, seven days a week and he will put in his highest effort until his plants are harvested properly.
A muflih is not just one who does a good deed here and there, but he does it until he reaches what he wants, consistently. Al-Muflihoon are the people who are successful and this success is not because of luck or good fortune, it didn’t just happen, but they became successful because they put in the work and effort to reach their goal which inshaAllah should be Jannah and receiving the pleasure of Allah.
However, this does not necessarily mean that the farmer will have the best of harvests for that year. There could have been a drought, or, at the other end of the spectrum, flooding. In one fell swoop, all of his effort could be gone. However, is it really gone? One’s answer can only be determined by asking ourselves what our ultimate concern is. Is our ultimate concern to live for this temporal life, fulfilling all our base desires and eventually passing that same mentality to future generations or, is it to live as believers knowing that this life is an exam for us, of which we are assured that those who believe will surely pass with flying colors?
Throughout the Qur’an, Allah gives us descriptions of what it means to be a believer. Believers are those who avoid vain talk, who guard their prayers, who have humility when they pray, who have chastity, who avoid backbiting and slander and who remain steadfast on the path of Allah. There is one particular aya my dear brothers and sisters that I wanted to focus on in today’s khutba which gives us three attributes of a mu’min.
In Suraht Al-Anfal verse 2 Allah says:
Innama al mu’minoon alladheena idha dhukirallahu wajilat quloobuhum wa idha tuliyat a’layhim ayaatuhu zaadat-hum imaanan wa ‘ala rabbihim yatawakkaloon.
Only they are believers whose hearts tremble when Allah is mentioned, and when His Signs are recited to them, their faith increases, and upon their Lord, they put their trust.
In just this one aya, we have three descriptions of the believers. The believers’ hearts are filled with fear (wajila) of Allah, their faith increases when they listen to the beautiful words of Allah and they have tawakul in Allah. The fact that Allah starts with Innama is key. This means that what is to follow will differentiate those who are believers to those who are not. Allah could have said believers do such and such, but rather, He uses innama which means that to be a believer you have to have these qualities.
– Just at the remembrance of Allah, their hearts tremble. Simply by saying alhamdulillah, or bismillah, or subhanAllah, there is a change in the Qalb, or heart. The qalb is a beautiful mysterious organ. Allah is Muqallib al Quloob (The turner of hearts) and we always ask Allah to thabit quloobina 3la deenahu, which means to secure our hearts on His religion. Not only are the believers’ hearts turned (root- qalaba, to turn) towards Allah but they are attached. Attached to the point that they are vulnerable at the mere mention of His name. My dear brothers and sisters, when you may have a slight hunch that your friend is upset with you, you become so worried.
We usually ask ourselves, “What have I done to upset him? How can I make it up to him?” We should ask ourselves if we feel this same worry towards our Creator. Do we think of Allah and pray that He is pleased with us and really take heed of what it means to be in a constant state of thikr? Thikr can be remembrance, but at the same time it can also mean mention. At the mere mention of Allah, we should have a trembling heart.
The second part of this aya describing the muminoon is the fact that they increase in faith when they hear the Qur’an. This is interesting to note because it shows us that we are always on an uphill climb to increase our faith. Believers are not born with the utmost faith automatically. This illustrates our purposeful need to struggle in increasing our faith. We cannot just ask Allah to be of the believers without attempting to do things that will make us worthy of that title. This also shows that all hearts have different levels of faith- some are at a very high level while others are struggling to keep afloat. We should take heed of this in our approach towards dawa. Oftentimes it is easy to assume that everyone is at the same level of faith as us because it is easy to forget where we once were. I think this aya helps us to remember that faith is never a constant point, but rather sways and oscillates (inshaAllah all the awhile gradually increasing). We should remember that Umar ibn al-Khattab’s heart turned away from hating Islam towards an almost blind love for this deen through listening to the recitation of the Quran. My dear brothers and sisters, how is our relationship with the Qur’an? Are we listening to it every day? Are we attempting to at least read a couple of verses and reflect on the meaning? In order for us to find success in this life and in the hereafter, we have to have a relationship with this Most Generous Book. The Qur’an has a very important position on the Day of Judgment. On that Day, this Guidance to Humanity will either stand as a witness for us or stand as a witness against us. There will be specific surahs such as Al Baqarah and Ale Imran that will be clouds providing shade from the unbearable sun to those who memorized them. Reading Suraht Al-Mulk every night will protect us from the punishments of the grave. My dear brothers and sisters, we cannot afford to not have a relationship with the Qur’an. Even if we feel that our imaan will stay the same after reading a few verses, we should continue to strive. A body builder doesn’t become a body builder after only one visit to the gym. Let us not get discouraged and make a concerted effort to link ourselves with the best blessing that Allah could have given us, which is the Qur’an.
The third part of this aya which describes the qualities of the mu’min pertains to having tawwakul. Tawakkul is not an easy thing to achieve. There is definitely a balance when it comes to tawakkul. We can’t take a back seat and say Allah will take care of everything for us. At the same time my dear brothers and sisters, we sometimes want to be in control of everything and this can be seen as a lack of trust in Allah. For example, in choosing a spouse, we pray istikhara (tawakkul) and yet we also ask all the necessary questions in order to feel like we are making a properly informed decision. We get married having very little real knowledge about the person, but we have tawakkul that Allah will put baraka in the union because we did it for His sake.
Akoolu kawli hadha wastaghfir Allah lee wa laakum
My dear brothers and sisters, we are nearing the conclusion of this khutba. Before we part, I want to leave you with a story, one of my favorite stories having to do with this important aspect of tawakkul.
Once there was an amazing hiker. This hiker was remarkably skilled at climbing mountains. He was never afraid to climb mountains by himself. One day he decided that he wanted to conquer the highest and steepest mountain. He began very early in the morning, and went by himself. He never lost his tenacity or determination to reach the top and conquer the mountain. As the sun set, he began to notice how steep the climb really was and he had only reached the middle of the mountain. He had the option to continue forward in the darkness or to climb down and attempt the climb another day. He resolved to continue on. As nighttime fell, the weather began to drop and it had suddenly become very cold outside. All of a sudden the skilled mountain climber lost his footing and fell, still holding on to his rope. His rope fell with him but stopped at a specific point. At this point however, the mountain was cleaved in and all around him was just empty space and nothing to hold on to. His hands began to bleed from holding on to the rope so tightly for dear life. He began to shout to God asking God to help him and save him from this situation. All of a sudden he heard a voice. The voice said, “Do you believe in me?” The climber, in his complete hysteria, responded, “I always denied your existence outwardly, but I know that you exist.” The voice said, “Do you trust me?” The climber responded, “Of course I do, You are the only one who can help me.” The voice then said, “Let go of the rope.”
The climber said, “That is insane. There is no way I can let go of the rope- it is the only thing that is keeping me alive.”
The next day a rescue team went out to look for the climber and they found his body still holding tightly to the rope. He had frozen to death.
When people saw the frozen climber, they could not help but ask, “Why didn’t he just let go of the rope? He was only two feet off the ground.”
My dear brothers and sisters, let us be of those who attempt and strive and work hard towards Allah, and still have complete trust in Him and only Him.
May Allah make us of those who have trembling hearts when He is mentioned.
May Allah make us of those who increase in their faith when His verses are recited.
May Allah make us of those who have a deep trust in Him and only Him.