Khutbas by Hajj Abdalhaqq
Hudan lilmuttaqeen Khutba (26th May 2006)
First Khutba Friday 26th May 2006
Then when guidance comes to you from Me, those who follow My guidance
will feel no fear and know no sorrow. (2:37)
Guide us on the straight path, the path of those You have blessed,
not of those with anger on them, nor of the misguided. (1:5-7)
Right at the very beginning of His Book Allah ta’ala gives us what amounts to a definition of His final Revelation when He tells us that it is hudan lilmuttaqeen – guidance for the godfearing, the people of taqwa. As is so often the case with the Qur’an, in these three words Allah tells us a great deal with extreme concision. The word hudan comes from the root ha da ya and its great importance to the revelation can be seen from the fact that words derived from this root occur in the Qur’an nearly 320 times. The dictionary tells us that it means generally to guide, direct, show the way, lead to or on the right way, and has a specific meaning of bringing the bride and bridegroom together after their marriage. Reflecting these possibilities the Qur’an uses the word in two quite distinct ways. Allah ta’ala says about human beings in general:
Every people has a guide. (13:8)
And referring to our Prophet, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in particular:
Truly you are guiding to a straight path. (42:49)
It is clear that in this instance and others like it the type of guidance referred to is that of pointing out the way, of showing people the way they should go. “This is the way to go, not that way.” From other ayats, however, it is equally clear that there is another kind of guidance which involves people actually following the guidance, being led along the predicated path towards the intended goal, and this sort of guidance is the business of Allah alone. Allah ta’la says, for instance, indicating this.
That is Allah’s guidance. He guides by it those of His slaves He wills. (6:89)
And there are many other ayats bearing the same significance. And Allah clearly differentiates between these two types of guidance when He says to His Messenger, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
You cannot guide those you would like to but Allah guides those He wills. (26:56)
The two guidances are brought together for us in the words of the Fatiha we repeat so many times each day:
These words mean both guide us to the straight path and guide us on the straight path, in other words show us what the straight path is and also take us along it. This may at first sight seem a somewhat abstruse and academic point, but in fact it goes right to the heart of what it is to be a Muslim. Islam cannot be a theoretical matter it must be an implemented reality. Islam can only really be said to exist when knowledge and action are brought together in the life of the practising Muslim.
It is known that some of the Companions, radiya’Llahu ‘anhum ajma’in, used to take a long time to learn certain passages of the Qur’an. This was not because they found memorisation difficult it was because they would not move on to the next ayat until they had actually incorporated the previous one into their lives, until they were completely satisfied that they were practising what they knew. So guidance is as much in the doing as in the knowing or you might say that true guidance is a combination of knowing and doing and the two cannot be separated.
This first of all applies to the five pillars. While we must, of course, know the fiqh of purification, Allah’s guidance is just as much present in the vigour and thoroughness with which we apply the wet water to our limbs. Every Muslim has to know the rulings of salat, but Allah’s guidance is as much in our continual struggle to set aside our daily preoccupations as we stand before Him and bow and prostrate in His worship. It is not enough to know how much zakat is owed on particular kinds of wealth, Allah’s guidance is equally manifest in our detailed assessment of our own finances, our determination to source the gold we need to pay what we owe, and in our handing it over to the collectors appointed by the amir and his subsequent distribution of it to the neediest members of the community. Fasting is conditional on knowing that you must abstain from food, drink and sex during the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan but Allah’s guidance is as much in the pangs of hunger and thirst you feel and the feeling you have of being gradually weaned from this world during it. And on Hajj you have to know what to do and when and where to do it but it is in wheeling with that mass of people around the House of Allah, and rushing to and fro between to two hills, and standing dazed and dishevelled and tearful in the heat of Arafat that Allah’s guidance is most deeply experienced.
It is absolutely essential that Islam gets out of our books and our heads and into our bodies and our hearts; that we truly embody what we know; that the light of Allah’s guidance permeates every part of our being. This is certainly a necessary condition if we want to see our expressed desire to see Allah’s deen established and spread throughout this city and land become a living reality. But it also has an urgent personal relevance for every single one of us.
As you know the first 19 ayats of Surat al-Baqara, the beginning of which formed the basis of this khutba, are addressed in turn to three groups: the muminun, who embody Allah’s guidance in the way we have been talking about; the kafirun, who reject it outright; and the munafiqun, who accept it outwardly but do not internalise it. There is hadith from the Prophet, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, referring to them which speaks of some people being questioned by Nakir and Munkar in their graves. The two angels ask these people their usual questions: Who is your Lord? What is your deen? Who is your Messenger? But they are unable to answer and can only stammer in reply. The angels say to them, “How can that be? We saw you praying with the people who pray, fasting with the people who fast, paying your zakat like other people, and on Hajj with the other Hajji’s. They were able to answer so why can’t you?” The people reply, “We just did what we saw other people doing and said what they said.”
So I ask Allah ta’ala to make all of us people who take on His deen in such a way that it penetrates every fibre of our being so that we truly become those of whom He says:
They are the people guided by their Lord. They are the successful. (2:4)
Second Khutba Friday 26th May 2006
Take provision; but the best provision is taqwa. (2:196)
Have taqwa of Allah and know that Allah is with the muttaqeen. (2:193)
Race each other to forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the muttaqeen. (3:133)
Hudan lilmuttaqeen: guidance for the muttaqeen, the people of taqwa. We have taken a brief glimpse at the meaning of guidance and now we should look at the word muttaqeen because by mentioning them here Allah ta’ala makes it clear that they are the people best able to understand and take on the guidance He is giving. The muttaqeen are those people who have the quality of taqwa. Both words are derived from the root wa qa ya which has the basic meaning of guard, shield, protect and, in the reflexive form used most often in the Qur’an, to be on one’s guard against, to beware of, to protect oneself. The importance of this quality is again shown by the great number of occasions on which Allah ta’ala mentions it in His Book, more than 250 times in all.
So what then exactly is this quality of taqwa we are so urged by our Lord to acquire and which has so many benefits in it for the human being. One way to find out what it is, is to examine the way the word is used by Allah ta’ala in the Qur’an and certainly by doing this a clear picture of it will emerge. In one place He points out certain qualities of character possessed by people who have taqwa. He says about them that they are people…who give in times of both ease and hardship, those who control their rage and pardon other people – Allah loves the good-doers – those who, when they act indecently or wrong themselves, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their bad actions – and who can forgive bad actions except Allah – and do not knowingly persist in what they were doing. (2:134-5) And, of course, by studying of the life of the Messenger of Allah, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, we will gain a perfect picture of taqwa in action in every kind of situation.
A classical definition of it which has been passed down over the centuries is that taqwa means to carry out all the things which Allah has commanded and avoid all the things which He has forbidden. What is clear both from what Allah ta’ala Himself says and this definition is that taqwa is not just something you feel but that it always leads you to act in a certain way. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, radiya’Llahu ‘anhu, made a particularly vivid and existential metaphor about it. He asked Ubayy ibn Ka’b, radiya’Llahu ‘anhu, if he had ever gone along a narrow path through thorny bushes. “Yes,” replied Ka’b. “What did you do?” ‘Umar asked him. “I gathered in my clothes and was very careful not to get caught up.” “That,” said ‘Umar, “is taqwa.”
Imam al-Qurtubi says in his tafsir that the person with taqwa is someone who protects himself by right actions and sincere supplication from Allah’s punishment, on the basis that the word means protecting yourself from something you fear by erecting a barrier between you and it. He then quotes Abu Yazid al-Bistami as saying: “A person with taqwa is someone whose words are for Allah when he speaks and whose actions are for Allah when he acts.” And says that Abu Sulayman ad-Darani said that the muttaqeen are those from whose hearts love of this world has been stripped away.
Another understanding of taqwa was given to us by Sayyid Umar Abdallah, a man of Allah, originally from Zanzibar, who used to visit us in London. He said it is like a king who lives in a great palace and has many slaves there, all of whom work for him and do his bidding. Some of them obey him because they are afraid of being punished; others because they hope to be rewarded; others do so out of thankfulness to him; others because they trust in his goodness; others are simply happy to do whatever they are told; others are obedient because of their love for the king; and there are some who just say, “We obey him because he is the king and we are his slaves.” All these slaves, however, have one thing in common and in this they are different from those who live beyond the palace walls, for almost all of whom the king is a distant and somewhat abstract authority figure. All the palace slaves, however, are continually aware of the living presence of the king and of his absolute power over them at every instant.
Finally Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Ajiba sums up all that has been said by defining taqwa as having three degrees: the first is to avoid all wrong actions; the second is to remove all faults; and the third is to turn away from all that is other-than-Allah.
So I ask Allah to grant us the great gift of making us muttaqeen, people who truly understand and absorb and implement His guidance to the full, so that His deen may be established in us and re-established by us and so that the light of His guidance may once more illuminate this world which is so desperately in need of it.