New Challenges: Terror at home?

Arshad Gamiet. Royal Holloway University of London Wed. 9th April 2004

“As-salámu 'alaikum wa rahmatul láhi wa barakátuh!”     [Wait for adhán]

“A-úthu billáhi minash shaytánir rajeem.  Bismilláhir rahmánir raheem.

Al hamdu lillahi nahmaduhu wanasta’eenahu, wanastagh-firuhu, wanatoobu ilayhi, wana’oothu Billaahi min shuroori an-fusinaa, wamin sayyi aati a’maalinaa.

May- Yahdillahu fa huwal muhtad, wa may- yudlill falan tajidaa lahu waliyan murshida. Wa ash-hadu an Laa ilaaha ill-Alláh, wahdahoo laa shareeka lah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhoo warasooluh”

  All Praise is due to Alláh, We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our own evils and our own bad deeds.

Anyone who is guided by Alláh, he is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him.

I bear witness that there is no god but Alláh, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad, sws, is His servant, and His messenger.

 My respected Brothers and Sisters

Several young British Muslims were arrested recently, on suspicion of planning acts of terror. This, naturally, must be a matter of great concern to everyone. As yet, no one can say whether they are guilty or innocent of any crime. We can only hope and pray, that the due process of law will be observed impartially and that the courts will decide the outcome fairly.

 The present crisis confronts Muslims in Britain, as well as in Europe, North America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, indeed wherever Muslims are a minority. This crisis has several dimensions, and some serious questions have to be confronted:

What would you do, if you found some Muslims in your neighbourhood, making a bomb or planning an act of terror? Will you quietly walk away, pretending you didn't notice anything wrong? If some terrible loss of life occurred, and you knew it was being planned, does not your silence make you a part of the crime?

Islam does not allow us to look the other way, when we know that actions forbidden by Allah, are being planned, and innocent lives are put at risk. Muslims are not allowed to use unjust means in order to establish justice.

Let me say from the outset, that if we find anyone planning acts of terror, we have a duty to stop them, and report them to the police. We cannot allow criminal actions to be planned and executed, in the name of Islam, without doing our Islámic duty, our humanitarian duty to prevent such atrocities. Alláh commands us to be just, even to those who think we are enemies.. In Sura 4:135 Alláh says,

O You who believe, stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to fair dealing, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your family, and whether it be [against] rich or poor: for Alláh can best protect both. Follow not the lusts of your hearts, lest you swerve, and if you distort [justice] or decline to do justice, truly Alláh is well acquainted with all that you do.”

In the next Surah, we are ordered to be just, even to those who hate us. Allah says, in Chapter 5:v138  “O You who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and do not let the hatred of others towards you, make you swerve to do wrong and to depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety[taqwa’ ] and fear God. For God is well acquainted with all that you do.”

These verses are very clear and need no further explanation. Now, we need to go further, and ask ourselves some very basic questions. The answers will have a big impact on our future, and on the future of Islám in the West.

 Is harmonious co-existence possible between Muslim minorities and their host community? If the answer is No, then the future looks bleak for everyone. If the answer is Yes, then what can we do to make our presence at least tolerable, if not altogether welcome? And, while we constantly face historical prejudice reinforced by a hostile mass media, what can we do to dispel negative stereotypes and improve our host community’s perception of Islám and its followers?

 This khutbah can only touch on some of the main issues we need to focus on. And the best place to start is to seek guidance from The Holy Qur'án, and the prophetic Sunnah. An authentic Hadith, narrated by Abu Dawood, states that the Prophet Muhammad sws, said:

  “The best Jihad is saying a word of truth in the court of an unjust ruler.”

   The best Jihad, is saying a word of truth in the court of an unjust ruler. What a beautiful Hadith! It is so beautiful in its profound simplicity.

 And, in Sura Al Ahzaab 33:71 we read:

  Yaa ay-yuhal latheena aamanutaqul-laha wa quooloo qowlan sadeedaa. Yus-lih-lakum a’maalakum wayagh-fir lakum thunoo-bakum, waman-yuti’illaaha warasoolah faqad’ faaza fouzan atheemaa.”

   O you who believe! Be conscious of Allah, and speak a straightforward word. He will repair your deeds, He will forgive your sins, and whoever obeys Allah and His messenger, has surely gained the highest achievement.”

 Be conscious of Alláh, [have taqwa’], and speak a straightforward word…. Don’t hesitate and don’t be ambiguous. And, follow the Prophet’s example. We should never fear the consequences of speaking truthfully. Sometimes, people feel intimidated by others, so they say with their tongues what they do not feel in their hearts. Of course, we Muslims should be grateful to our host community, for allowing us to live peacefully in Britain. But we also have a duty as Muslims, and as fellow-citizens of this great country, to be truthful. We should never feel that we have to apologise for Islám. Nor should we be so grateful for being here, that we avoid telling the truth about our concerns. Allah orders us to be truthful, even if it puts us into some difficulty. But there is a way to be truthful without being offensive. We must be calm, persuasive and dignified at all times. We should never resort to abusive language, or violence, to impose our views on others. The Holy Qur'an reminds us, in: [Sura An-Nahl,16:125]

   Od’ ‘U ilaa sabeeli Rabbika bil hikmati, wal mow ‘idatil hasanah..”

   Invite to the Way of your Lord, with wisdom and beautiful preaching…”

Using our wisdom and beautiful preaching, we must convince our fellow-citizens in the wider community, that our concerns are reasonable and just. We are deeply concerned about the wisdom of our government’s foreign policy, which favours the rich, the powerful against the poor, the victims of oppression. The decision to invade Iraq was a monumental mistake. It has seriously damaged Britain's good name and long-term interests in the Muslim world. Our government also needs to address its historic responsibility in finding a just solution in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration was made here, in our Houses of Parliament, and we have an inescapable moral responsibility to resolve the disastrous consequences that followed it . 

We need to express these concerns lawfully, peacefully and persuasively. We need to engage with our fellow citizens, the host community. We must tell them how Islam regulates human behaviour, from good relations between individuals and families, to communities and nations.  Islam has guidance on all human problems, from delinquency, drug abuse and and divorce, to human rights, banking and economic systems. We must become the living example of an alternative, more complete and meaningful lifestyle than what secular materialism has to offer. Only by a sincere personal example can we show the living proof that the Islamic way is  a better way of living. We cannot become this proof, by sloganeering, by being arrogant, being rude and frankly, by being so miserable. How many of the self-styled spokesmen for Islám, look really happy and radiant? If we truly believe that Islam is the best religion for mankind, shouldn't we be the happiest people alive? Surely the best da’wah, is not only to be welcomed by the host community, but also to be what that host community might actually aspire to become. And if our practical example does not radiate peace, happiness and humanity in our faces, then there must be something wrong with us, personally. And there must be something seriously wrong with our understanding of Islám.

 Brothers and sisters, we have a lot of work to do. The events of the last few weeks have made it brutally clear, that we cannot be complacent about our condition. Starting with ourselves, individually, we have to improve our knowledge, our understanding and our behaviour, in short, our Islámic character. We must refine and perfect our Adab. We must prioritise things. It’s no use having completed a Ph.D dissertation on the minute legal differences of interpretation between the math-habs, when we cannot even get along peacefully with our neighbours. We are not going to win hearts and minds, if we are rude to our host community, calling them kafirs, [unbelievers], while we enjoy their hospitality, their charity, and some of us even still live  off the dole.

 British Muslims have a whole raft of problems that are interconnected: There is widespread poverty, unemployment, low educational achievement. We are victims of Islamophobia which leaves us marginalized, and demonised. We are increasingly being seen as the ‘enemy within’ as acts of mindless terror are being done in our name. We all know that Islám condemns terrorism. We have to deal with a hostile media, and with an increasingly worried and suspicious host community. No amount of writing wonderful articles and making fiery speeches will put matters right, unless we also provide practical, living proof that we deserve respect and that our presence here is a real asset to our neighbours.

 Let’s make one thing clear. If we Muslims are to have any future in the modern world, for our children and grandchildren, then that future will not come from alienating the very people Alláh wants us to invite to Islam. Our neighbours deserve  from us, nothing less than the utmost respect and courtesy. And if we don’t know how to do it, we will have to learn, very quickly, how to express our concerns using elegant words and equally gracious manners. Our future, and the future of our children here in the West, will depend on it. Alláh warns us in Sura 47.verse 38.

 “And, if you turn aside, if you disobey Allah, He will replace you with another people, and they will not be like you.”

 “Alhamdu lillahi Rabbil ‘Aalameen. Was-salaatu was-salaamu alaa Khairil mursaleen. Muhammadin-nabeey-yil Ummiy-yee, wa-‘alaa aalihee, wasah-bihee, aj-ma’een.

All praise is due to Alláh, the Lord of all the Worlds; may the greetings and peace be upon the best messenger, Muhammad, the unlettered prophet; and upon his family and upon all of his companions.

Ammaa ba’ad:

Innalláha wa malaaikata yusallúna alan nabi. Yá ay yuhal latheena ámanu sallú alayhi wasalli mú tas leema.

Behold, Alláh and his angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O you who believe! Ask for blessings on him, and salute him with a worthy greeting.

 Allahumma salli alá Muhammad, wa ala áli Muhammad, kama salayta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali Ibrahim. Allahumma barik ala Muhammad, wa alaa áli Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali ibrahim. Fil ála meen, innaka hameedun majeed.”

O Alláh! Send your greetings upon Muhammad and his family,  just as you sent your greetings on Ibraheem, and his family. O Alláh, send you blessings on Muhammad and his family, just as you blessed Ibraheem and his family. In both worlds, you are praiseworthy and exalted."

Second Khutbah:

 Sub' hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata illah billah yu althi yual theem.

"All glory is for Allah, and all praise is for Allah; There is no power and no strength except with Allah."

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

One of the great miracles of The Holy Qur'án is that its guidance is so relevant to every time and every place. If you approach the Qur'án with the right intention, to seek the guidance for some difficulty or to relieve some distress, you will find exactly what you seek. Let us see what The Holy Qur'án says about this dangerous and distressful situation that we find ourselves in today.

 In Sura Al-Baqara [2:v155] we read:

 “Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits of your toil; but give glad tidings to those who persevere, who say, when afflicted with calamity: ‘From God do we come, and to Him is our return.’”

 Brothers and Sisters, let us take this latest crisis as just another test from Alláh. He wants to measure our Iman, our commitment to Him. And let us make sure that in this test we will never be found wanting. Who else do we have to turn to, if not to Alláh? Who else do we have complete faith and trust in, if not in Alláh? Shouldn’t we depend on Him, serve him and look forward to our meeting with Him? Indeed, this is the whole point of our existence. We have been created, alongside the world of Jinn, to worship only Alláh. ~ [Arabic]

 In Sura Dhariyát, Allah says,

 "Wamá khalqtul jinna wal insa illá liya’ budoon."

"I have only created jinns and men, that they may serve Me"

Our Holy Qur'án tells us that we will face many hardships before we are ready to meet our maker, but we should never despair of His help, because the help of Alláh is always near:

Again in Sura Al-Baqara, [ch2:v214]

  “Or, did you think that you would enter the House of Alláh before you were tested? We will test you as we had tested those who passed away before you...

  Every age and every nation has its challenge. This is our time, and this is our challenge. We could have been born in another century, and we could have been living elsewhere, but by Alláh’s power and will, and by his infinite Wisdom, we are here, in this place at this time. We will have to take stock of our situation, and we will have to find creative, effective solutions to the challenges ahead.

 A word of warning: we will not find ready-made solutions on the bookshelves of the Islámic Movements of 50 years ago. Our solutions will have to grow out of our special conditions of today, which are quite different from half a century ago. In an excellent recent article, Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad of Cambridge says, and I quote:

 “… we need to acknowledge that confrontational readings of Islam, imported by some leaders from countries where confrontation with local tyrannies is often morally necessary, may not serve Muslims in the dangerous context of the modern West. It is already clear to many that Mawlana Mawdudi and Sayyid Qutb were not writing for 21st century Muslim minorities in America and Britain, but for a mid-twentieth century struggle against secular repression and corruption in majority Muslim lands. They themselves would, quite possibly, be startled to learn that their books were being pressed on utterly different communities, fifty years later.”

 For solutions, we will have to turn to wise scholars of today, who have a sound knowledge of Islám and the history, culture and dynamics of life in the modern world. Among these are great scholars like Shaikh Yusuf Qaradawi, as well as Shaikh Hamza Yusuf and Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad.  

 To summarise, we must do these things:

 We must ignore those who use the good name of Islám to preach hate and violence. We must engage with our neighbours in the wider community, to share the many aspects of British and Islámic life, that occupy the same space. Never forget that we Muslims in the West enjoy many rights and freedoms that most Muslim countries do not even offer their own people. Tolerance, cleanliness, good manners, concern for the less fortunate, and a love of justice and fairness, are just some of the common values we share with our neighbours in the wider community. Brother Amjud said in one of his excellent khutbahs, that many of our neighbours in this country are already more than 50% Muslim. Many of them already have the honesty and integrity that a true Muslim should have. Our good neighbours only need to acknowledge the kalima shahada, that there is no god except One God, and that Muhammad sws is His messenger, to complete their Faith. We have a big responsibility to help them.

  And most importantly, we, ourselves, must be the positive, shining, living examples of what Islám has to offer. We must stop talking and start doing, so that the warm light of Alláh’s love can illuminate in our face, just like it illuminated the faces our beloved Prophet Muhammad sws, and his noble, illustrious Companions.

Let us sincerely pray to Alláh, to help us through this most difficult of times. O Alláh, help us to remain true to our faith, to be steadfast in the face of provocation and danger. Let us live and die as Muslims, upholding the beauty and honour of Islám, being kind to our neighbours, being truthful, and serving You and seeking your Mercy and your Love.  

Ameen. Aqeemus salaah.  

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