Khutbas by Hajj Abdalhaqq
First Khutba Friday 27th October 2006
That is the Book, without any doubt. It contains guidance for those who have taqwa:
those who have iman in the unseen and establish salat and give of what We have provided for them;
The Messenger has iman in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and so do the muminun.
Each one has iman in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers. 2:284
Praise be to Allah, the Bringer into Being of the heavens and earth,
He who made the angels messengers, with wings – two, three or four.
He adds to creation in any way He wills. Allah has power over all things. 35:1
In a couple of days time across the whole of North America and a large part of Europe, and increasingly in other parts of the world as well including here, pumpkins with candles inside them will appear in windows and gangs of masked, strangely dressed children will roam the streets blackmailing irritated householders into giving them sweets. This, now known as Halloween, is all that remains of the celebration of the religious festival of All Hallows. It would have no significance for us whatsoever, were it not for the fact that it symbolises this society’s terrible trivialisation and almost inadvertent denial of one of the most important aspects of human existence – belief in the Unseen – and this has had a detrimental effect on Muslims along with everyone else.
People everywhere used to view themselves as living at the centre of the universe with the sun and moon and stars revolving around them, above which were the celestial spheres of unseen angelic activity all encompassed by the Throne of Allah, whose unseen Hand moved and directed the whole affair. This view may have been empirically questionable but it was in real terms a true picture of existence. The modern view is that we live on an insignificant mineral mass, a mere part of a minor planetary system, one of countless others lost in the unimaginable vastness of limitless space in which there is no sign of, or indeed room for, unseen realities of any kind. It does not matter whether we are Muslims or not, this is the picture which has been drummed into all of us from the time we were born. The pervasive nature of the scientific world view has had a profound and pernicious effect on human consciousness and its result has been devastating, preventing people from seeing existence as it really is, barring them from a true belief in the Unseen.
Moulay Hassan al-Bilghiti, rahimahu’llah, was a man of Allah we knew in Morocco. I remember him once saying, “I don’t know why people call this world dunya; they should really call it dweeniya – a tiny little world. In comparison with what Allah has created the size of this universe we inhabit is like one white hair in the hide of a black bull.” And he was speaking from his own direct experience. Moulay al-Arabi ad-Darqawi once said, making the same point, “There where this world is, there are the eighteen thousand worlds.” This is the truth but scientific materialism has erected an almost impenetrable barrier between us and it so that sadly the nearest that large numbers of the world’s population ever get to belief in the Unseen is grotesquely grinning pumpkins.
A serious consequence of all this has been its destructive effect on our second pillar of iman, belief in the angels. It means that something our ancestors had no trouble with at all can no longer be taken for granted. To have authentic access to belief in the angels we must firstly reject our scientific upbringing and completely revise our understanding of the way existence functions, of the way creation unfolds, the way the world we live in comes into being. Simply put there are three domains of existence known in arabic as Mulk, Malakut, and Jabarut. The last of these, Jabarut, is the domain of undifferentiated Divine Power, that indivisible Oneness which is at once the Fountainhead and Sustainer of all being and yet totally independent of it. The first of them, Mulk, is the domain of this world, the so-called material universe into which we emerge at birth and where we remain until we die, the space\time world of the seemingly solid objects of our day to day experience. The third term, Malakut, is the unseen realm between the two. It is the domain of Allah's Throne; the domain of the Mighty Pen and the Guarded Tablet whereby and on which all created things are written down; the domain of the Day of Judgement and all that happens on it; the domain of the Delights of Paradise and the Terrors of Hellfire; and, of course, the domain of the angels where they live and move and have their being.
All of this, and everything that happens in existence, takes place continually and instantly by the direct command of Allah. The angels are the means whereby Allah’s commands of are carried out and this is where the overall function of the angelic forces in existence lies. An example that is sometimes used to help explain this is the way the body works. Think what happens when you decide to stand up. First of all an act of will is necessary, a decision to move, a central command. And then automatically, instinctively, uncounted numbers of coordinated separate movements and adjustments and readjustments occur spontaneously and you find yourself on your feet. The body moves as a harmonious whole but the process by which this takes place requires the transmission of hundreds of discrete electrical impulses conveying the instruction to stand up to every one of the different limbs, muscles and faculties concerned, simultaneously, unresistingly obedient to the command to move. As these electrical impulses are to the body, so are the angels to existence as a whole.
The classical definition of the angels is that they are winged creatures created out of light, being neither male nor female, needing no external sustenance, and totally submissive to the will of Allah. I would add at this point as a kind of caution that the angels belong outside the space\time continuum of our ordinary experience and perception and are therefore, properly speaking beyond the scope of normal language to describe. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, once said that such things are: “What the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard and the heart of man cannot conceive.” But the fact is that we have no other access to knowing about them except through human language, and Allah in the Qur'an and the Prophet in his own statements use human language to tell us about realities which exist beyond space\time in the way that best indicates what they truly are.
We must, however, be careful on two counts. We must not imprison the descriptions within our own experience of material existence by taking them too literally but at the same time we must be careful not to etherialise them completely and so remove them from the realm of real things and make them abstract ideas within no reality whatsoever. We should realise that, when we meet them, the things involved will be unmistakably recognisable from the description we were given. It is a little like reading a map. You have a clear idea about what you will find when you arrive where you are going but the actual landscape of your destination is, of course, totally different from the lines and symbols on the map you consulted. What we can be absolutely certain of is that the angels are intensely beautiful or terrible winged creatures made out of pure light.
This general understanding of the nature and role of the angels is greatly amplified by the Qur'an and the words of the Prophet, salla'Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, so that we end up with a clear picture of the angelic world. It is not a complete and exhaustive description of the angelic realm. There are undoubtedly hierarchies upon hierarchies of innumerable angelic beings in existence whose splendour and magnificence are truly only known to Him who brought them into being. But one of the great blessings of Islam as man's final guidance is that we are only told of things on a need to know basis. We have been given neither more nor less than all the knowledge we need to allow us to successfully navigate the shoals and turbulences of the this world and ensure our safe arrival in the Next. The basic guidance of the Qur'an and Sunna contains all that is necessary to know for all human beings until the end of time and so we have to delve deeply into it and plumb the depths of our own hearts to find out all we need to know about the angels and how they affect our lives.
Second Khutba Friday 27th October 2006
Anyone who is the enemy of Allah and of His angels, and of His Messengers
and of Jibril and Mika'il, should know that Allah is the enemy of the kafirun. 2:97
So far we have looked in a general way at the role of the angels in the scheme of things. We should now look briefly at the way they manifest themselves in more individual and specific ways. First and foremost in the angelic domain are the four great angels who bestride the world of the angels: Jibril, Mika'il, Azra'il, and Israfil.
Of all the individual angels we know more about Jibril than any other. Jibril is the angel of revelation. In a general sense this means that he is charged by Allah with informing mankind about the Divine Reality. Were it not for Jibril we would know nothing about Allah or His Laws or the purpose of human existence on the earth. He is the means to all knowledge and awareness of Allah. Specifically, this meant, of course, that Jibril had an intimate connection with the Prophet, salla’llahu alayhi wa sallam, during his life. He transmitted to him the words of Allah in the form of the Qur'an over a period of more than twenty years and also acted as teacher and guide for the Prophet on many other occasions throughout his life.
Mika'il is over all natural processes. He is the angel of creation and has legions of other angels under him. He is, as it were, the translator of Allah's creational commands making sure that they are completely and perfectly carried out. This means, of course, that there is an angelic element, angelic participation, in everything that happens. The Prophet, peace be upon him, made this clear in several specific statements. Every drop of rain that falls has an angel accompanying it. Every blade of grass; every budding leaf; every opening bloom; every flourishing tree. Every beast that crawls and bird that flies. There is nothing in existence which is not in reality imbued with angelic presence indicating and declaring its Divine origin.
Azrail is the Angel of Death. At the appointed predetermined time he will visit every single one of us and draw our spirits out from our bodies. If we have affirmed Allah's Unity in our lives and followed His Messengers our spirits will slip from our bodies with no difficulty. But if we have rejected Allah and His guidance, then the spirit's emergence from the body is compared to a rusty nail being drawn with great difficulty out of a skein of tangled wool. May Allah protect us all from such an end.
Finally there is Israfil, the Trumpet-blower, the Angel of Annihilation. To him falls the task, when Allah's command is finally given, of causing the total annihilation of all existence so that the Face of Allah alone remains and then of calling it back again for the Final Account. There will be three blasts sounded by Israfil. The first will be a blast of terror announcing the arrival of the Last Day; the second blast will wipe out everything that exists; and the third will call back every human being to face their reckoning. The Messenger of Allah, salla'Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “How can I give myself to enjoyment when the one with the Trumpet has raised the Trumpet to his mouth and knitted his brow and is poised to blow?”
Along with these four great beings are others of similar magnitude and magnificence. There are the bearers of the Throne of Allah. There are eight of them and they are so huge that the distance between the neck and shoulder of one of them is described as being as far as the fastest horse could travel in seven hundred years. Near these are the Karubiyyun, angels near to Allah whose sole function is to bask in His presence unceasingly glorifying and praising Him. There is Ridwan, chief of the beautiful angels who are the custodians of the Gardens of Paradise and his counterpart Malik, chief of the terrible angels who are the custodians of Hellfire. And there are the two angels Munkar and Nakir who question us in the grave.
The angels we have been talking about up to now have all been cosmic beings of universal dimensions but there are also angels of a much more intimate personal kind. All of us have guardian angels who are with us continually. Their task is to protect us from harm and, whenever possible, to guide us to the good. This protection can vary from simple reminders, such as suddenly remembering we have forgotten something and many other similar things, which all of us experience on a daily basis, to more spectacular occurrences, such as when we narrowly miss being killed or escape unscathed from serious accidents, which happens to almost everyone at some time in their lives. Each of us also has recording angels who quite literally keep a record of every moment of our lives. This is the Book we will be presented with on the Day of Resurrection which constitutes the indisputable evidence on which our Reckoning will be based. Thus our ultimate fate in the Next World is made up of the texture of our lives in this world; we are either condemning or exonerating ourselves minute by minute every day of our lives.
There are many other ways in which the angels can and do directly impinge on human existence. One is by taking on human form. This dimension of existence simply would not be able to withstand the brightness of the angelic light so when Allah wishes angels to appear in this world they appear in human form. For instance the Qur'an mentions the angels who visited Ibrahim and Maryam. There were many occasions in the Prophet's life when Jibril appeared to him in human form. There are also many recorded instances when people have been helped by the sudden appearance of a person who has subsequently disappeared without trace and who may well, in some cases, have been of angelic origin.
Another way in which angels have a direct effect on human affairs is when angelic energy makes itself felt in this world. This can take various forms. It is known from the Qur'an, for instance, that the Muslims were helped militarily by receiving angelic support during several battles during the life of the Prophet. This appeared as lending an overwhelming violent force to the Muslims' efforts and as panic and terror in the hearts of their enemies. Examples of this particular kind of angelic reinforcement are very numerous. One such occurrence I was told about by someone who was actually there happened during the fighting in Afghanistan between the Russians and the Mujahidin.
A comparatively weakly held Mujahidin position (a few men with automatic rifles and a couple of mortars) was being attacked by a Russian tank platoon of greatly superior strength and seemed doomed to imminent destruction. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, all the tanks halted and their occupants got out and started running away as fast as they could in the opposite direction leaving the perfectly operational tanks they had been driving in Mujahidin hands. One of the Russians was captured and questioned about what had happened. He said that suddenly all of them had been simultaneously paralysed by a blind panic and could think of nothing but getting out of there as soon as possible.
There is another form of angelic energy people experience which is the direct opposite of this. That is the feeling of tranquillity that sometimes comes over the heart of the believer in the middle of the most tumultuous and stressful situations. This is called in arabic, sakina, which may be translated as serenity. An angelic presence can also often be clearly felt at some places of worship and at the tombs of awliya of Allah. In all of these and many other ways the angelic realm intersects with our world continually.
This has been a very brief glimpse at the angels and their interaction with our world but what is absolutely clear from it is that it involves us in a categoric rejection of the false, so-called scientific position which is the literally soul-destroying viewpoint of modern man. The world is vibrant with the energy of ceaseless angelic activity. Knowing this is dangerous. It means we have to change. It means we can no longer afford to be passive consumers in a society dedicated the destruction of people's spiritual well-being. We have to act on our knowledge and become true inheritors of the mantle of divine guidance which has been passed down to us. We have to re-implement Allah's deen inwardly and outwardly. If we do not we will poison and destroy our own hearts. If we do, we will truly live and die in the company of the angels, a bridge between the seen and unseen worlds, realising the splendour of what it is to be a real human being.