Muslim Ummah: The Real Challenge
(Khutbah at ISOC – Dhul Hijjah 16, 1435/ October 10, 2014)
Last week was the week of huge gatherings of Muslims all over the world. Millions were in Makkah, Mina and Arafat, performing Hajj. They glorified Allah, praised him, asked for His forgiveness and pledged to follow the right path. May Allah accept their Hajj and return them safe, sound and blessed to their homes and families. All over the world Muslims also gathered in large numbers for Eidul Adha prayers and during the days of Tashriq we repeated together Takbirat after every prayer. Many people offered the sacrifices in remembrance of the Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim. May Allah accept these prayers and sacrifices. May He bless this Ummah and may He increase our faith, our devotion and our good deeds.
We must continue doing good things. This is our duty as believers and this is our mission as the Ummah of Muhammad –peace be upon him. Allah says in the Qur’an:
كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ ... (آل عمران 110)
You are the best community ever raised for mankind, you enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil and you believe in Allah… (Al ‘Imran 3:110)
When this ayah was revealed, it addressed primarily the Companions of the Prophet. Before Islam they were nothing but after accepting Islam they became the best community, because they did not only pray; they took the challenges of their time seriously and worked hard to fulfill their mission. We have to do the same things. We have millions of very pious and devout Muslims, but as an Ummah we are not fulfilling our purpose and our mission now. We do have the potential and we have enough spiritual, moral and intellectual resources to improve ourselves and to benefit the humanity. Gatherings of Hajj and large gatherings of Muslims in prayers and devotion fill the hearts of the believers with hope and expectations. We wish that these gatherings bring unity and harmony and help us to take right direction and fulfill our mission.
The world is facing many challenges: increasing gap between the rich and poor, new ailments and diseases, climatic changes, draughts and floods, family breakdowns, immorality, violence and wars. There are economic problems, environmental problems, social problems and political problems. There is corruption all over. The Qur’anic term for corruption is al-Fasad. It means spoiling the order, disturbing the balance of justice and equity. It means greed, self-interest, deception and double talks. The Qur'an has used this word about 50 times. Al-Fasad could be in beliefs, in morals, in social order, in family system, in educational policies, in economics, in politics or in environment and echo system.
Al-Fasad appears when people follow their lusts and vain desires, when they try to twist the truth and distort the facts. Instead of following the Truth and the Guidance of their Lord and Creator, they ignore and turn away from His message.
وَلَوِ اتَّبَعَ الْحَقُّ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ لَفَسَدَتِ السَّمَوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَنْ فِيهِنَّ بَلْ أَتَيْنَاهُمْ بِذِكْرِهِمْ فَهُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِهِمْ مُعْرِضُونَ(المؤمنون 71)
If the Truth had been in accord with their desires, truly the heavens and the earth, and all beings therein would have been in confusion and corruption! Nay, We have sent them their admonition, but they turn away from their admonition. (Al-Mu’minun 23:71)
Al-Fasad comes when people tell lies, break promises and do not care for the family ties and relations.
وَالَّذِينَ يَنْقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَنْ يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ أُولَئِكَ لَهُمُ اللَّعْنَةُ وَلَهُمْ سُوءُ الدَّارِ(الرعد 25)
Those who break their confirmed agreements made in Allah’s name, who break apart what Allah has commanded to be joined and who spread corruption on earth: theirs is the curse and the dreadful home (Al-Ra’d 13:25)
Al-Fasad happens when people cheat and deceive in business, deprive others of their rights and act in unfair and dishonest ways. Allah mentions Prophet Hud telling his people:
وَيَا قَوْمِ أَوْفُوا الْمِكْيَالَ وَالْمِيزَانَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا تَبْخَسُوا النَّاسَ أَشْيَاءَهُمْ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ(هود 85)
My people, in fairness, give full measure and weight. Do not withhold from people things that are rightly theirs, and do not spread corruption in the land. (Hud 11:85)
When the political order becomes unjust and people’s rights are denied then the cities and townships become corrupt and are filled with mischief and mischief-makers. The life then loses its meaning and purpose. People kill each other for no reason. The agricultural land, the livestock and the environment all suffer the evil of corruption and mischief.
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يُعْجِبُكَ قَوْلُهُ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَيُشْهِدُ اللَّهَ عَلَى مَا فِي قَلْبِهِ وَهُوَ أَلَدُّ الْخِصَامِ(204)وَإِذَا تَوَلَّى سَعَى فِي الْأَرْضِ لِيُفْسِدَ فِيهَا وَيُهْلِكَ الْحَرْثَ وَالنَّسْلَ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْفَسَادَ(205)وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُ اتَّقِ اللَّهَ أَخَذَتْهُ الْعِزَّةُ بِالْإِثْمِ فَحَسْبُهُ جَهَنَّمُ وَلَبِئْسَ الْمِهَادُ
There is [a kind of] person whose views on the life of this world may please you, he even calls on Allah to witness what is in his heart, yet he is the bitterest of opponents. When he leaves, he sets out to spread corruption in the land, destroying crops and livestock—Allah does not like corruption. When he is told, ‘Beware of Allah,’ his arrogance leads him to sin. Hell is enough for him: a dreadful resting place. (Al-Baqarah 2:204-206)
The rulers who rule their people without any care and consultation, they also make mischief. Pharaohs’ system in ancient Egypt was the paradigm of this mischief and corruption. Some of the Pharaohs used to mistreat their people and exploit one group against the other. Allah says:
إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ عَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلَ أَهْلَهَا شِيَعًا يَسْتَضْعِفُ طَائِفَةً مِنْهُمْ يُذَبِّحُ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيِي نِسَاءَهُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ (القصص 4)
Pharaoh made himself high and mighty in the land and divided the people into different groups: one group he oppressed, slaughtering their sons and sparing their women—he was one of those who spread corruption (Al-Qasas 28:4)
Al-Fasad brings violence, death and destruction. Allah warns people about the consequences of corruption here in this world before the Day of Reckoning in the Hereafter. He gives chance to people to repent, turn back from their evil ways, improve their condition and become better human beings.
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ (الروم 41)
Corruption has flourished on land and sea as a result of people's actions and He will make them taste the consequences of some of their own actions so that they may turn back. (Al-Rum 30:41)
We are at a time of severe corruption in the world. The world needs sincere and honest reformers:
- Those who care for all people; those whose interests are not racial, parochial or nationalistic
- Those who follow the path of justice and fairness towards all people
- Those who know how to work with wisdom and love, not with irrationality and hate.
We are not required to bring all the changes at once but we all must involve in this great and blessed task of reform. We should remember what Prophet Shuaib –peace be upon him- said to his people:
... وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُخَالِفَكُمْ إِلَىٰ مَا أَنْهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ ۚ إِنْ أُرِيدُ إِلَّا الْإِصْلَاحَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ ۚ وَمَا تَوْفِيقِي إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ ۚ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَإِلَيْهِ أُنِيبُ
I do not want to do what I am forbidding you to do; I only want to put things right as far as I can. I cannot succeed without Allah’s help: I trust in Him, and always turn to Him. (Hud 11:88)