`Asr / Book Event at Islamic Center
A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytaani 'r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmaani 'r-Raheem.
Nawaytu 'l-arba`een, nawaytu 'l-`itikaaf, nawaytu 'l-khalwah, nawaytu 'l-`uzlah,
nawaytu 'r-riyaadah, nawaytu 's-sulook, lillahi ta`ala fee haadha 'l-masjid.
Ati`oollaha wa ati`oo 'r-Rasoola wa ooli 'l-amri minkum.
Obey Allah, obey the Prophet, and obey those in authority among you. (4:59)
As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh.
Allah (swt) is our Lord; in Arabic we say “Allah.” I remember back home in Lebanon, we have Muslims, Christians, Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox, all of them use the same word, “Allah,” for God. In Arabic it is the same for everyone. I say this only to make a basis for discussion.
All major religions believe that God is the one and only Lord, the Creator, Who sent Jesus (a) with His Holy Spirit to deliver a message to humanity. We believe that Jesus (a) delivered a message that we accept, and the Prophet (s) delivered a message from God, Who doesn’t have different messages; all of them go back to Him and He is One. God sent the Holy Spirit to Mary, and Jesus (a) delivered the message of the Lord, the message of Moses (a) also.
All of them have a message coming from Heaven; these messages are respected and honored. We don’t disagree about anything in these messages and we have to know that all these religions end in One. I like to drive a Nissan, he likes to drive a Toyota, and he likes to drive a Renault. They are all cars, and everyone chooses the one they like. Likewise, you choose the religion that accommodates your needs. I do agree with Mr. Fernando (a previous speaker) about the lack of self-esteem. Islam says in the Holy Qur'an:
وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ
wa laqad karamna Bani Adam.
We have honored the Children of Adam. (al-'Israa, 17:70)
If Allah (swt) is honoring them, then we have to do the same. We must bring out the honor and respect that God has given to us. Therefore, those who don’t honor others and themselves as God wants, then we begin to have problems of hate, anger, and envy. There are hundreds of these bad characteristics that will begin to build up, and then we will run into problems.
I was at a conference in Malaysia about psychology and Sufism, and there were many professors of psychology there. The main idea was to build yourself up, to say that you are the best or that you are generous, for example, in order to make sure your ego is satisfied, then you can then pass that bridge. The Prophet (s) built his Companions (r) up by giving them something their egos were happy with. He told them, “You are going to Paradise, where there are rivers of wine and milk.” That is the same as in the Bible, and it is to give encouragement to worship. I agree with what the professor said, “You have to always give self-esteem.”
People are of different backgrounds and you cannot find two that are totally equal; they might have a different way of thinking. But in religion there are no differences. I am not seeing a difference except in the way we approach our Lord. That is what we say in the Sufi approach to Islam, that we accept everyone else. That is why one of the biggest Sufi poets, Jalaluddin Rumi (q), said in his poetry, “I don’t know myself. Am I Christian, or Jewish, or Zoroastrian, or Muslim? I don’t know. I am all of them, because God is in my heart.” We don’t see any differences except in the forms of prayers; one person might pray five times a day and the other, one time. But all of us are human beings and we must respect each other.
In our religion, we obey Prophet Muhammad (s). There are six pillars in the Islamic faith: to believe in God, to believe in His angels, to believe in His books, and this means all of them, including the Bible, Torah, Psalms, and the Holy Qur’an; we must also believe in His prophets, including Sayyidina Adam, Sayyidina Moses, Sayyidina Abraham, and Sayyidina Jesus (a); and to believe in the Day of Resurrection.
Sufism is the way to purify your beliefs, to bring you to moral excellence, and to reach enlightenment by acquiring good characteristics in the self. The Prophet (s) said in a hadeeth related by Abu Hurayrah (r):
آية المنافق ثلاث: إذا حدث كذب، وإذا وعد أخلف، وإذا اؤتمن خان
Ayatu’l-munaafiq thalaath, idhaa hadatha kadhib, wa idhaa wa`ada akhlaf, wa idha tu’mina khaan.
The signs of the hypocrite are three: if he speaks, he lies; if he promises, he breaks it;
and, if he is given a trust, he betrays the trust. (Bukhari)
Even if he prays and fasts, he is a hypocrite if he doesn’t leave these three bad characteristics.
Sufism teaches you to get rid of these bad characteristics and bad behaviors, and to do so is very well liked by God. This is where Sufism tries to implement that teaching.
I took a long time. (Mawlana Shaykh Hisham defers to the professor, who indicates for him to continue.) Allah said in Holy Qur'an:
رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Rabbanaa aatina fi 'd-dunya hasanatan wa fi ’l-akhirati hasanatan wa qinaa `adhab an-naar.
O our Lord, give us in this life goodness and in the other life goodness, and protect us from the punishment of the Fire. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:201)
It means, “Give us beauty in this life and in the Next.” He didn’t say anything about suffering and misery; He mentioned goodness. They are not mentioning guilt because when you commit a sin you feel guilty, but God has given you the opportunity, which Sufism implements a lot. Allah said:
قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
qul yaa `ibadiyalladheena `ala anfoosihim laa taqnatoo min ramatillah, innallah yaghfira dhanooba jamee`a.
Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surat az-Zumar, 39:53)
Always think to have a better community, a better country, and better relationships, not to look only at mistakes. God will forgive mistakes since God is Love.
One time when the Prophet (s) was in his mosque giving the Jumu'ah prayer service, a Bedouin came by the door. He came from the desert and didn't know anything about religion, not about Moses nor Jesus (a), but he heard about the Prophet (s) and he came. He stood at the door and said, "O Prophet of our Lord, when is the Day of Resurrection?" In every religion we know that when you say “Day of Resurrection” that is a time when we are going to be punished; that is why Jesus, Moses, and Prophet Muhammad came. Prophet said, “What are you preparing for that day? That is a long way to go and you have to think ahead about the long travel. What have you saved and prepared for that life? What do you have good, that when you see your Lord, you will present to Him?”
The Bedouin answered, “O Rasoolullah! I love you and I love my Lord! That is my treasure and that is what I am bringing.”
The Prophet (s) said, “That is enough for you to go to Paradise, your love is enough.”
O Believers! Love God, love Sayyidina Muhammad (s), love Jesus (a), love Moses (a), love Abraham (a), love everything that God gave to us in this universe. Everyone is running to Disney World. (laughter) Why? This world is better than Disney World; there is more nature. Go to the south from here and you will see Antarctica, going near the snow in Patagonia.
We agree that a healthy faith helps one to build self-esteem and creates a dialogue to know each others’ beliefs, to work with others and not to get isolated. That faith has to give us hope, to make us know we are going to spend an eternity with Jesus and that this Earth is a gift from God to humanity. From the Christian point of view, anyone can be a king, but God is the King of Kings.
They say, “King of Kings.” This is a prince; give him authority over his own kingdom. From the Christian point of view, God is King of the Heavens and is Eternal, and wants us to be created as kings. But after we die, He wants us to be kings from the Earth, and He gave us that ball which is the Earth. In the Heavens, God is perfect. From the Christian point of view, we understand we are here for God to give us a kingdom of power. In Sufism is there a similar concept, or not?
A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytani 'r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem. Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illa-Llah, wa ash-hadu anna Sayyidina Muhammadan (s) rasoolullah. According to the Holy Qur'an, to Sufi people and the Muslim scholars, Allah (swt) said to His angels:
إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً
innee ja`ilun fi 'l-`ardi khalifah.
Verily, I am making in the Earth a deputy. (Surat ‘l-Baqara: 2:30)
On Earth, the khalifah is higher than anything, it is the highest power. He said, “I am creating someone to be My representative on Earth, a king, a khalifah.” They said, “Are you putting on it someone who will shed blood?” He is the king.
قَالُواْ أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاء وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ
qaloo ataj`alu feehaa man yufsidu feehaa wa yasfiku’d-dimaa’ wa nahnu nusabbihu bi-hamdika wa nuqaddisu-lak.
Behold! Your Lord said to the angels, “I will create a vicegerent on Earth.” They said, “Will you place therein someone who will create mischief and shed blood while we do celebrate Your praises and glorify Your (Holy Name)?” (Surat ‘l-Baqara: 2:30)
They knew there might be problems when God said that to them:
قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
qaala innee `alamu maa laa ta`lamoon.
He said,“I know what you know not.”(Surat ‘l-Baqara, 2:30)
It means, “O My angels, with My respect to you, I know what you don’t know; you know only what I taught you. I am not giving you the secret of the one I am sending to be king on Earth.”
So yes, in Islam/Sufism, this is what we are saying: there is a king whom God knows but the angels don’t know. And we don’t know what kind of great superior human being has been given a trust from the Lord for this kingdom on Earth, to use it in the best way. That is why we say, these messengers, prophets, and revelations that came to us from God through his messengers indicate there is a king that God put on Earth.
That is why we see a lot of resemblance between Sufism, Islam, and different religions such as, Christianity and Judaism, which can bring us together in a good way and that is what has to be. It is a very nice story and there are many similar stories in our belief, especially in Sufism. I can count a lot, as Professor Fernando mentioned. It is not the time here to narrate them, but I would like to end with what the Prophet (s) said:
إِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّه وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ ألاَ وَهِيَ الْقَلْبُ
ُinna fil-jasadi mudtghatan idha saluhat salahul-jasadu kulluhu wa idha fasadat fasad al-jasadu kullahu alaa wa hiya ‘l-qalb.
There is a piece of flesh in the body that, if it is good the whole body is good, and if it is bad the whole body is bad: it is the heart. (Bukhari and Muslim)
If your heart is strong, you can live; even if you are sick or in a coma. But if the heart stops beating, you would die. So emphasis is on the heart and other parts of the body, as the Prophet (s) said:
ما وسعني سمائي ولا أرضي ووسعني قلب عبدي المؤمن
ma wasi`anee samawaati wala `ardhi walakin wasi`anee qalba `abdee al-mu'min.
Neither My Heavens nor My Earth contain Me, but the heart of My believing servant contains Me. (Hadeeth Qudsee)
So I think we are on the same line, although there are minor differences that suit the needs of every one of us. Discussions such as these must always happen, because I felt that in the beginning, Mr. Fernando was worried about differences and hate building up between individuals because of extremism and violence. Such events will show that the reality of Islam and tasawwuf is moderation and building bridges with other communities.
I don’t like to put it in a bad way, but I am really sorry to say there are some Muslims who did some acts of violence and extremism which they wrongfully attributed to the entire religion of Islam. So on behalf of the majority of Muslims and the Sufis, we don’t accept this kind of radicalism, violence, or these kinds of actions. We are a peaceful community trying to build ourselves up in the west and in Europe. We are trying to stand up and build bridges and we hope they will be strong bridges.
Thank you very much, and may God bless you.
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