God’s Greatest Gift: Good Guidance
16 March 2009
“As-salámu ‘alaikum wa rahmatul láhi wa barakátuh!”
“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 Dear Brothers and Sisters
Good guidance is God’s greatest gift. We cannot do without His guidance. Our lives will be absolutely bereft of any meaning, unless we acknowledge Allah and worship Him as He alone deserves to be worshipped. We can do without wealth and without good health and many other things. Although life would then be quite challenging, As long as we have right guidance, we would know where we came from and where we’re going to when we die. As Muslims, we are so very lucky because we don’t even have to hunt and search for the right guidance. In our Holy Quran and the life of our Prophet Muhammad sws we find all the guidance we need to be successful.
Every time we recite Sura Fatiha, we begin by thanking and praising and glorifying Allah, not because he needs praise and glory, but because we are so forgetful, we need to remind ourselves of Allah’s greatness and irresistible power:
Alhamdu lil-laahi Rabbil aalameen. Ar-Rahmanir Raheem. Maaliki yawmid-Deen.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of All the worlds. The Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. King of the Day of Judgement.
The next line defines of relations with Allah:
Iy-ya kana’budu wa iy-ya kanas ta’een.
You [alone] do we worship and from You [alone] do we seek for help.
Then we come to the crux of the matter, the real core of Sura Al Fatiha:
“Ihdi nas Siraatal Mustaqeem!” “Guide us to the straight path!”
Siraatal latheena an ‘amta ‘alayhim, ghairil maghthoobi alayhim, waladd dhal-leen. Ameen.
“The path of those with whom you are pleased, not the path of those who make you angry, nor of those who go astray. Ameen”
Brothers and Sisters, Allah’s guidance is the greatest gift we can ever hope for. Pleading for it is the essence of Sura Al Fatiha, the first Sura of the Holy Quran. In the next Sura, Al Baqara, we read in the opening lines:
Alif, Laam-Meem. Thaalikal kitaabu la rayba fee, Hudan lil mut-taqeem.
A.L.M. This Book, there is no doubt in it, is a Guide to those who have Taqwa, [those who regard Allah with an awe-inspired sense of love, fear and hope].
So, the first Sura teaches us how to ask for Allah’s guidance, and, moments later, in the very beginning of the next Sura we are promised that Divine Guidance within the Holy Quran itself. But the Holy Scripture needs to be interpreted to us. It needs to be made visible within the human context of time, place and circumstance. So, the Holy Quran again tells us that, “Truly in the Messenger of Allah, we have the finest of examples,” Uswatul hasanah.
Allah’s guidance covers the whole spectrum of life, from personal cleanliness to inheritance laws and dealing justly with non-Muslims. Brothers and Sisters, never hesitate to ask Allah for help, even for the smallest thing. For many years, I made the big mistake of thinking that I shouldn’t bother Allah to ask him for silly, small things, only for the big important things. I imagined that He’s too busy to care about little things. Then, one day I realized that my attitude was completely wrong. By thinking he’s too busy, I had fallen into the dangerous trap of attributing human weaknesses to Allah. He’s never too busy. He keeps the planets in their orbits while feeding an ant under a black rock on a dark night in the middle of the desert. He’s cares for everything from the biggest to the smallest. And he never gets tired. As we read in Ayatul kursi, the verse of the Throne:
La ta’ khuthuhu sinatun wa la nawm. Slumber does not overtake Him, nor sleep
Wa la ya oothuhu hivthuhuma Guarding and preserving the whole cosmos does not cause Him any fatigue.” So if you need anything, big or small, ask Allah.
We often forget that Allah alone can help us overcome the many problems we encounter in our daily lives. The secret is to keep Allah in mind, constantly, so that when any difficulty arises, we can address it confident in the knowledge that Allah is aware of our situation. We should never face any problem on our own; Allah is with us and He inspires and authorises the solution.
I remember reading a story about a young man who was keen to be a spiritual leader. But his Shaykh said to him, “Before you can hope to be a leader, you must answer this correctly. Imagine you are walking through the fields, when suddenly you are attacked by several sheepdogs at once. What will you do?” The man replied, “I will grab a stick or some stones to throw at them, and defend myself. His teacher smiled and said, “That’s not the answer. You may hold off one or two dogs, but the others will get you. You cannot defend yourself against so many attacking you all at once. The wise answer is to call on the shepherd, call the dogs’ master, and ask him for help. He’ll call the dogs away and they will leave you unharmed.”
Brothers and Sisters, this is of course a deeply philosophical story with many layers of meaning. The dogs are the problems we face in life, every day. The Shepherd is Allah. Don’t try to defend yourself without Allah. You cannot win. Take Allah into your confidence. Make Him part of your life, part of every waking and sleeping moment. Allah loves it when we seek his help in big and small matters. This is another dimension of Taqwa, being constantly mindful of Allah, filling our hearts with a sense of love fear and hope. We love Allah, we fear His punishment and we are ever hopeful of His forgiveness and Mercy.
At the beginning of this khutbah, we heard that, May- Yahdillahu fa huwal muhtad, wa may- yudlill falan tajidaa lahu waliyan murshida. Anyone who is guided by Alláh, he is certainly guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him. The key word here is guidance. Think about it. We have many blessings from Allah. We enjoy good health, we live in comfortable homes. We have a good education. We value the love of family and friends. Health, wealth and happiness; we also have Allah’s guidance, through His sacred book, the Holy Quran and the life example of Prophet Muhammad sws. Which of these blessings is the most important? Which of Allah’s blessings are indispensible? Brothers and Sisters, without our health, with wealth or material happiness life would be challenging indeed. But Allah’s guidance would help us to endure hardship, to make suffering bearable. However, if we had no divine guidance, no matter how healthy or wealthy we were, we would be spiritually bankrupt and our lives would be empty of meaning.
Let us be truly thankful to Allah that we enjoy the great blessing of His guidance. We have no excuses. We have only to apply that guidance to our lives and to be good role models to others. That’s all. Let us pray that Allah accept our humble perhaps faltering, but essentially sincere efforts to follow His guidance, His Holy Quran, and His beloved Prophet Muhammad sws.
Alhamdu lillahi Rabbil ‘Aalameen. Was-salaatu was-salaamu alaa Khairil mursaleen. Muhammadin-nabeey-yil Ummiy-yee, wa-‘alaa aalihee, wasah-bihee, aj-ma’een.
Innalláha wa malaaikata yusallúna alan nabi. Yá ay yuhal
latheena ámanu sallú alayhi wasalli mú tas leema. Allahumma salli alá Muhammad,
wa ala áli Muhammad,
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,
There’s a saying that goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” You cannot appreciate something by just looking at it, admiring it but failing to experience it properly. Islam is no exception. There are many people, who admire Islamic art, study Islamic History, write beautiful books and give wonderful lectures about Islamic civilization, but they are not Muslim, and their hearts haven’t been opened to Islam. If they regard their extensive knowledge purely as a professional career, an intellectual exercise, it won’t be enough for their salvation. On the day of Judgement, Allah will not be impressed by our academic knowledge. He’ll want to know how we applied our knowledge to worship him and serve His creation. Therefore, a simple uneducated person, who loves and lives for Allah with a full heart, is really more successful than someone who may have acquired Ph.D’s and written scholarly books, but whose knowledge has not brought him closer to Allah.
The poet Jalaluddin Rumi asks: “Are you only going to admire the jug, or are you actually going to drink the water?” Brothers and Sisters, to make good use of God’s greatest gift, His divine guidance, we must know it in order to live it completely, wholeheartedly. Our thirst for spiritual knowledge will never be quenched by only admiring the jug. We must drink the water of Islam.
Allah says “And whomsoever Allah wills to guide, He opens his heart to Islam.” Brothers and Sisters, we have Allah’s guidance before us. Let’s take it up and live by it wholeheartedly. This is the way to appreciate Allah’s greatest gift.
Let us conclude our khutbah:
InnaAllaha, Yamuru bil adel, wal ihsaan, wa eetaa-i zil qurba; wa yanha anil fuhshaa-i, wal munkari walbaghi; ya-idzukhum lallakum tathak-karoon. (Sura 16:90),
“Surely Allah commands justice, good deeds and generosity to others and to relatives; and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, so that you may be reminded.”
Fadth kuroonee adth kurkum, wash kuroolee walaa tak furoon [2:152].
“and remember Me: I will remember you. Be grateful to Me, and do not reject faith.”
wala thikrul-Laahi akbar, Wal-Laahu ya’lamu maa tasna’oon.” [29:45].
“and without doubt, Remembrance of Allah is the Greatest Thing in life, and Allah knows the deeds that you do.”
Ameen. Aqeemus salaah!
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