Khutbas by Hajj Abdalhaqq
Tawhid Khutba (2nd June 2006)
First Khutba Friday 2nd June 2006
Your God is One God, there is no god but Him, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful (2:162)
Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him. (4:36)
There is no Muslim who does not daily affirm the basic formula of tawhid, la ilaha illa’Lllah; it is the door to Allah’s deen in this world and the key to the Garden in the Next; it is the core of the Message of all the Messengers sent by Allah to the human race and, indeed, Allah’s final Messenger, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said of it that if it was put in one pan of a balance and the whole of the rest of existence was put in the other, la ilaha illa’Lllah would be heavier. Yet despite its supreme importance and despite the fact that virtually every Muslim in the world can pronounce it fluently and knows the translation of it in their mother tongue, in all the history of Islam there has almost certainly never been a smaller percentage of Muslims who really understand what la ilaha illa’Lllah means.
The first two verses after the introduction of the Murshid al-Mu’in, the great poem of Ibn ‘Ashir which encapsulates all the basic knowledge of our deen, are uncompromising in their directness. They are:
The first obligation of every responsible Muslim is to know
Allah and His Messenger by the attributes with which the ayats describe them
He puts this before the salat and all the other obligatory actions of the shari’a. This is because a correct understanding of la ilaha illa’Lllah is essential to everything else we do and is in a sense the very purpose for which we were created. Allah, ta’ala Himself tells us that He only created us to worship Him and the Prophet, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, enlarged on this by saying, 'Do you know what Allah's right over His human creatures is? That they worship Him and do not commit shirk by associating anything else with Him.' What Ibn ‘Ashir is referring to specifically in his poem is Imam al-‘Ashari’s distillation of the Qur’anic material into his formulation of the Divine Attributes. He did this in order to protect the Muslims from committing shirk, which is, as we know, the one thing that Allah cannot forgive. Al-‘Ashari said that Allah has existence which is pre-eternal and goes on for ever; that He has absolute independence; that He is disconnected from everything in-time; that He is One in His Essence, His Attributes and His Actions; and that He has Life, Power, Knowledge, Will, Hearing, Sight and Speech. Although even a comparatively superficial understanding of this will definitely protect us from openly worshipping another god besides Allah, any real reflection on these Divine attributes reveals that the understanding of tawhid has very serious further implications for the way we view the world we live in.
If you study this matter in any depth you see that what la ilaha illa’Lllah actually means is that in reality nothing in existence has any effective power except Allah. La hawla wala quwwata illa billah. There is no power or strength except with Allah. La fa'il fi'l wujud siwa'llah. There is no active agent in existence apart from Allah. Allah ta’ala Himself makes this clear to us in His Book time and time again: Wa huwa ladhi anzala mina's-sama'i ma'an fa akhrajna bihi nabata kulli shay. "It is He who sends down water from the sky from which We bring forth growth of every kind." Rainfall and plant-growth are the act of Allah without intermediary. Alam yaraw ila't-tayri musakhkharatin fi jawi's-sama'i ma yumsikuhunna illa'Llah. "Do they not see the birds suspended in mid-air up in the sky? Nothing holds them there except Allah." Flight is by Allah without intermediary. Huwa ladhi khalaqakum min turabin thumma min nutfatin thumma min ‘alaqatin thumma yukhrijukum tiflan. "It is He who created you from earth, then from a drop of sperm, then from a clot of blood, then He brings you out as infants." Gestation and birth are the act of Allah without intermediary. Wa idha maridtu fa huwa yashfin. "And when I am ill, it is He who heals me." Healing is from Allah without intermediary.
We are very familiar with these words and we may well say, 'Oh yes, of course!' when we hear them. But when we look into our hearts to see what we in fact believe, a very different picture emerges. The problem is that all of us have, from a very early age, had precisely the opposite drilled into us. We have been taught that in the so-called real world Allah has nothing to do with what goes on and that, in fact, it is secondary causes which really make things happen. Do not underestimate how deeply the scientific materialist world view has penetrated into your consciousness. It is a thorough and continual indoctrination process with which we are being bombarded every day of our lives. In this view of existence rainfall is brought about the rain cycle; the cause of plant growth is the nitrogen cycle; flight occurs through the science of aerodynamics; our own birth is purely the result of the human conception and gestation process; illnesses are cured by the science of medicine; the examples are endless. But the result is that we in fact believe in the reality of cause and effect. What most of us do not realize is that seeing things in this way means that our understanding of tawhid is gravely deficient because by doing so we attribute effective power in existence to something other than Allah which is clearly shirk.
It is not that these things do not take place. They do. It is simply that in reality it is only the power of Allah that actually makes things happen in every instance. In His Wisdom, however, Allah has made things in this world appear to happen by means of cause and effect. Allah ta’ala elucidates the matter clearly for us in His Book. In the normal course of things if you put something combustible on a fire it burns and it appears that there is a causal connection between the fire and the burning. When the idolaters of his time wanted to punish Ibrahim, alayhi salam, for destroying their idols they built and lit a raging furnace and threw him into it but he emerged completely unscathed. In this instance Allah ta’ala removed the power He normally gives fire to burn and ordered it to be: bardan wa salaman ‘ala ibrahim “coolness and peace for Ibrahim” thus demonstrating conclusively that the power of burning belongs to Allah Himself and not to fire as such. The ‘ulama explain this matter by saying that in reality causes do not produce effects they simply accompany them and a clear statement of how we should formulate the matter to ourselves has been passed down to us. We should say: the means always exist but their absence in reality must be acknowledged.
Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Ajiba says in the course of a discussion about this matter, having acknowledged that things normally appear to happen through cause and effect: “Stopping at this outward appearance without paying regard to its inner reality is a dense veil and crass ignorance. Believing in the reality of cause and effect may even lead to kufr.” So it is clearly a serious matter and something we should put right in terms of our own understanding. The difference between us and our forebears is that they were from the beginning taught the truth, it was their starting point and default position, and it was, therefore, much easier for them to cut through appearances and see things as they really are. We, on the other hand, have been indoctrinated in a lie to such an extent that it has become almost impossible for us to see things as they really are. This inevitably affects the way we act.
A true understanding of tawhid gives those who possess it a quite different way of reacting to situations which confront them and there is an incident in the sira which illustrates this beautifully. Towards the end of his life the Prophet, salla'Llahu 'alayhi wa sallam, sent out letters to several neighbouring rulers, including those of the two great empires of the time the Romans and the Persians. The two Companions sent to the Persian emperor – and it is significant that they were two of the lesser known Companions of the Prophet – finally arrived at the Persian headquarters. The Emperor himself was not there but Rustum, who was the feared commander-in-chief of the Persian army and in reality the power behind the throne, was in residence. He heard of their arrival and condescended to see them. He had them brought to him making them pass through all the elaborate measures of protocol intended to induce a proper feeling of awe and submission. The two companions were unimpressed. When they arrived in the presence of Rustum, who was sitting in state on the imperial throne, they simply delivered the Prophet's letter as they had been asked to do. The letter called the Emperor and the people of Persia to Islam and Rustum was outraged at what he, in his arrogance and ignorance, considered the presumption of it. By way of a reply he tore the letter to pieces and to compound the insult scooped up a handful of dust from the ground, put it into a box and said, "Take that to your leader." But how different was the effect of his action on the two Companions than the one he had intended. As they left one said to the other, "How extraordinary! He has ripped his empire to pieces and handed it to us in a box." And within ten years of this incident the whole of the mighty Persian empire and all its vast wealth were in Muslim hands.
Second Khutba Friday 2nd June 2006
We do not ask you for provision. We provide for you.
And the best end result is gained by taqwa. (20:131)
One important way in which the knowledge of tawhid directly impinges on our day to day lives is in the matter of rizq – provision. Allah tabaraka wa ta‘ala is ar-Razzaq – the Provider. He alone continually nourishes and sustains everything in existence – including us. This means that the energy we expend to gain a livelihood, whatever form that may take, is not in reality the cause of our getting what we need. It is Allah who provides for us. It is vital for us, as Muslims, to understand the implications of this.
The culture we live in – and it is now clear that the kuffar have created a system which covers every part of the globe – is completely governed by the economic imperative. As we know, this present kufr system, which is certainly more wide-spread and dominant than any previous version of kufr in the whole of human history, has gained its hold by the unscrupulous use of usurious financial techniques which have now enmeshed the whole world in a web of banks, markets and financial institutions in which both nations and individuals are trapped in a spiral of unpayable debt. As a direct consequence of this human life everywhere in the world is now basically defined in economic terms and human aspiration in terms of economic goals.
Children are taught at school that their career, their future employment, is the only thing in their life that really matters and their whole education is geared towards that end. And the result is that anxiety about employment or lack of it, about income or shortage of it, is what in fact occupies most people's hearts and minds and what forms the subject matter of much of their conversation. And the whole way the kafir system has been able to hold everyone – Muslims as well as non-muslims – in its thrall is by convincing them that their livelihood is entirely dependent on the system as it is set up. It is only the sword of tawhid which can slice through this all-enveloping web and set us free. We simply have to remember that our livelihood is dependent on Allah alone and on nothing else whatsoever. As the ayat I started with makes clear, we do not have to worry about getting what we need, that is Allah's business. What should concern us should be our taqwa, our awarenes of and our obedience to our Lord.
At this point I can already hear people saying, 'Yes, but! What about...?" and talking about tethering camels and about not forgetting our portion of the dunya etc. etc. But in my experience this reaction, in the vast majority of cases, is due to the very anxiety we are trying to escape from.
I am not saying that we should not work or do what ever is necessary to obtain what we need to feed ourselves and our families. What I am saying is that we must be aware in the very depths of our beings that doing that is not what brings us our provision. Only Allah does that. In fact the truth is the opposite of what most people think. Far from lying back and doing nothing, the people I have known with the deepest knowledge that Allah alone is their provider have been more active in worldly terms than anyone else I can think of.
One actual example of someone like this is a Muslim businessman I know in England. At one point in the early 90’s his business became severely over-extended and he was very close to bankruptcy. How was he to deal with this situation? It was the time of the siege of Sarajevo and there were thousands of Muslim refugees with nowhere to go. He borrowed more money, hired several buses and drivers, sent them Bosnia, filled them with refugees, brought the refugees back to England, put them up in properties he owned, taking care of all their needs, until proper arrangements could be made for their future lives. He is still in business and now a very wealthy man.
The difference between those who really know that Allah is their Provider and those who don't is basically a hidden one although it is pretty well bound to make itself manifest at some point. But its crucial importance to our lives, and indeed to our destinies, is made very clear to us by what happened at the expedition of Hudaybiya. When the call to go came, the true muminun had no hesitation in dropping everything at a moment's notice and setting off with the Messenger of Allah, salla'Llahu 'alayhi wa sallam. But what did those who did not go say? Shaghalatna amwaluna wa ahluna. 'Our wealth and families occupied us.' And as Allah makes clear a few ayats later the fate of such people is one we should do anything to avoid.
No, our job as Muslims is to worship Allah and to establish His deen; any other project we have at work or at home must be subsidiary to this. If we do it, Allah will take care of our needs as He took care of the needs of all those who preceded us when they undertook this task. But we will never be able to do this until and unless we really grasp and embody the meaning of la ilaha illa'llah, until and unless we really do come to depend on Allah alone and are able to say hasbunallahu wa ni‘ma'l-wakil. 'Allah is enough for us and the best guardian,' from the very bottom of our hearts. But do it we will, by Allah's permission, for He has promised to preserve His deen till the Last Day and I ask Him to make us people whom He chooses for this task, which is the only object truly worthy of human aspiration and the only project in which true human fulfilment and happiness can in reality be found.