Friday Khutba May 21 2010
I will talk today taking Surah 16 ( bees) Al Nahl as my inspiration for this talk. The sura focuses on how God has not only given life to a human but also the means to live that life. There is an abundance in nature for man to exploit and live life to the fullest. The example of the Bee is a good one, in that it collects nectar from nature and then produces a liquid which is beneficial for all mankind.
Having said that my talk today is about two other aspects from the Surah, one our relationship with Allah which is what life is all about and secondly how affluence can be a curse if we take God/Allah out of our affairs.
Surah 16 Verse 51
Allah has said: Take not ( for worship ) two Gods: For He is just One God: Then fear Me and Me alone.
To Him belongs whatever Is in the Heavens and on Earth. And to Him is duty due always : Then will ye fear other than Allah?
When there is a mention of two Gods, One is the One who has created everything and the other is the one that we have created, whether in the form of an idol or wealth or some other product of our imagination or superstition. This must be obvious to all those who profess to believe in One God, but even those who believe in One God take this belief for granted. This belief in one God defines our whole relationship with our creator.
What is our relationship with our creator? Our relationship with our creator is defined by submission. Submission means acceptance. Acceptance means acceptance with gratitude of all that has been given to us including a lifetime. Submission does not mean submission to the will of others. That is where one takes on others as partners of God. When Allah says Fear Me and me alone, He is not only saying fear me, He also saying that you need not fear anyone else.
We live in a world where we are full of fears, fears for our safety, and our future, fears for the safety and future of our loved ones, fears for our livelihood and fears of not being loved enough. If we are so full of fears then where is our trust in God, what is the meaning of our belief that there is only one God, that whatever is in the heavens and on earth belongs to him and that He has created us for a purpose. Why are we so fearful and what will make us fearless?
Our relationship with Allah should be such that it fills us with confidence and hope and not with fears and anxiety. Confidence is not something that comes from success, it is a sign of the strength of our relationship with our Creator.
And ye have no good thing But is from Allah: and moreover when ye are touched by distress , unto him ye cry with groans.
Yet, when He removes the distress from you, Behold! Some of you turn to other gods, to join with their Lord-
Our relationship with our creator needs to be independent of the world. It cannot be a see saw where we forget Him when we are well fed and remember him when we are in pain.
What is the meaning of an independent relationship? So what of this world which takes up all our time and energy? This is precisely the confusion that comes from serving two Gods. If the world is a test, then it must be a test of our belief that He who has created us, only created the world for us as an accommodation and not as a distraction. It is we who are easily distracted. We say we believe in God and yet we behave as if we equally believe in other things also. We kill, lie, cheat, usurp the property of others, create injustices and do everything that is in defiance of what Allah has ordered of us and we still say that we believe in one God.
And they assign daughters for Allah!-Glory be to Him!- and for themselves ( sons-the issue) they desire!
When News is brought to one of them of ( The birth of ) a female ( child ) his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief!
Such is the faith of man that he rejects the favors of Allah whatever form those favors take. So the two step approach to denying the existence of God is one to completely forget Him when all your needs have been taken care of and secondly to reject any favors that with our limited intelligence we have no understanding of.
Little do we realize that the more that we disassociate Allah from the affairs of our life the more we become limited in comprehending what is truly good for us. We start taking credit for our good fortunes and we swagger around full of false wisdom and arrogance in our own abilities. There can be no greater curse on us than to be affluent. I pray that Allah make us all affluent and at the same try I pray that we remain grateful to Allah for providing us with that affluence and by gratefulness I do not mean thanking Allah. By gratefulness is meant sharing your affluence with others. For who are you that Allah should give you more than you need. Allah only gives you greater than your need because He has chosen for you to be an agent for the needs of others. If you spend on yourself what was not meant for you, you are as good as a thief.
He has created man from a sperm drop and lo this same ( man) becomes an open disputer.
I want to talk to you today about the curse of affluence.
1. The biggest curse is that it makes us forget God. It creates worldly distractions. People flock to us for our favors. We are distracted by all the pleasures that we can now afford.
2. The second biggest curse is that it destroys our children. They become spoiled and dependant on the good things of life. They have no motivation to strive as everything is available to them.
3. The third biggest curse is that it creates waste. We will eat more than we need, we will live in larger houses and spend our resources keeping them furnished, warmed, cooled, cleaned and secure, we will have closets full of clothes that we will never wear more than once and we will buy and throw away things at great speed.
The US is today the most affluent country and we can see around us the creeping curse of affluence. There is an unbelievable arrogance that the US today is what it is because of its hard work, better systems and superior planning. No one recognizes, not even most of the people sitting in this congregation today that the US inherited a land so rich and full of natural resources that no nation in the world can ever hope to match it. The native American inherited the land and did nothing with it. The European settlers exploited its resources to the full and created a thriving nation but now you see evidence of a fatal disease. As the great consumer society intent on living it up, the US Is fast becoming a burden on the world. It has accumulated debts that it will never be able to pay and it has amassed an army to threaten people who want their money back. It represents 5% of the population of the world and it consumes 25 % of the world’s resources.
It is not my intent t run down the US. We all have a vested interest in making sure that it is a fit place to bring up our children but it provides a spectacular example of what can happen to each one of us if we lose our bearings with God.
Affluence does not lead to a satiation of our desires it creates an insatiable need to become more affluent, we become more addicted to the so called good things of life rather than less. We lose our relationship with God, we lose our children and we become wasteful, lazy and self indulgent.
And unto Allah leads straight the way but there are ways that turn aside: if Allah had willed. He could have guided all of you.
I am not advocating poverty but I am advocating poverty of the soul. When one day we stand before our Lord and account for what He gave us and what we did with it, How will we explain our excesses, how will we account for eating out of that which was given to us for others, how will explain how we refused guidance and lost our way and then committed even greater sins then we would have had we not taken the road prohibited to us.
It is the subject of another Khutba, where I can dwell upon how to be poor and dependant can be a curse greater than to be rich and affluent. I am not therefore saying choose the middle path be neither rich nor poor. We must all strive to do the utmost with our energies but we cannot give ourselves any credit for our worldly successes. All that we have is provided for us by our creator.
And (he has created ) horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and use for show. And He has created ( other) things of which ye have no knowledge.
One day you will be given credit for not foolishly taking the credit that only belongs to God. Why do we wish to cheat God. He does not need the credit but He would wish us to be wise enough to know that the surest way to lose our way is to delude ourselves.
Let us pray that we remain humble enough to continue receiving the guidance that will allow us to be good human beings, that we fulfill our duties without fear of others and that we remain poor in spirit even when we are rich and patient and committed even when we are poor.