Interfaith Address at The Church of the Holy Apostles
Welcome by Dr. Lucinda:
As-salaamu `alaykum. I am specialist in inter-religious affairs, and (..) I had group of Muslims with me in the church. I bring greetings from the rector and from the attenders here. This is our church, The Church of the Holy Apostles; it means not a particular saint but the whole crowd of worshipers who came before. And this is the normal way, we often have tables set up and we serve the Eucharist on Wednesdays, and we serve people everyday during the daytime, no questions asked. This is a place where people gather. I met your shaykh last year at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, DC, and it was a frank dialogue about interfaith issues. I was impressed by your shaykh, Shaykh Kabbani, and the followers who were with him. There were Christians, Jews, Hindus, Zoroastrians and Buddhists. And I am very happy to see those who embody the state of ihsaan. This is the holy week that culminates with Easter, and we are Episcopal "People of the Book," and the Book of Common Prayer, and it contains many short prayers for personal guidance. These are two that we hope you can say with me tonight:
Almighty and Eternal God, fill our minds and hearts so we may be wholly Yours, and we pray as You will, and for the welfare of Your people.
St. Francis of Assisi, who was a goodwill ambassador for both faiths, prayed:
Plant where there is faith, hope, where darkness, light. Grant that we seek not so much to be consoled, but to console, in giving we receive, in dying we are born to Eternal Life. And I hope you might all say, Ameen.
Moderator, Sana Nadim: (Introducing Shaykh Qassim)
Did you know Shaykh Qassim is my shaykh? And he wanted to share many things that happened in his life that changed when he met Shaykh Hisham.
Introduction by Shaykh Qassim:
Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illa-Llah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasoolullah. As-salaatu was-salaamu `alayka yaa Rasoolullah! As-salaamu `alaykum. I met Shaykh Hisham through a mutual friend, and at the time I was trying as a therapist to integrate mostly Islam in the practice of therapy. I found myself going into mostly secular forms of therapy and I was searching for a person who could inspire me. I belong to a Shadhili Tariqah. You can tell a spiritual personality when his influence doesn't just affect people around him, but affects many others, and I know many people affected by Shaykh Hisham. So some people are Shari`ah-oriented and don't look at irfaan and tasawwuf and it is very hard to find someone who combines these disciplines. Shaykh Hisham is a top scholar and he combines understanding to have fiqh and tasawwuf. That has not been seen in hundreds of years, and he has humility. We see people who when they get into spirituality and they begin to give advice, their ego gets out of control. Shaykh Hisham is not like that. The people who are with him and speaking to them, he is not like that. Shaykh Hisham Kabbani is a doctor of the soul and we should treasure him. It is very rare in 100 or 200 years to find someone who combines these rare qualities. Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, I don't know anyone who better embodies spirituality, and it transcends the Islamic way as true spirituality, and you can see the spirituality that it embodies in all paths. Before I knew the teachings, I was moving into secular ways. But someone like you, if someone is Shari`ah-minded he can come to you, and who is based in irfaan can come to you. The knowledge that you have gained has gone further than the Naqshbandiyah, and we consider as a Shadhiliyah, you to be one our shaykhs also. As-salaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh.
Moderator, Sana Nadim:
How many are moved by Shaykh Qassim's statement? He is a scholar in his own right. When he speaks to his 300 or so students, they listen. When he said, "I am inspired by the same person that is inspiring thousands and millions," we see that the spirituality of the Naqshbandiyya and spirituality is moving everywhere. Now we call on Ali Elsayed. You have not heard the voice of heavens until you have heard Ali Elsayed and his accompaniment. (Haqqani Ensemble performs.)
Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani:
A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytaani 'r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmaani 'r-Raheem. I don't know what to say, but I would like to say that I don't deserve to be here; I deserve be outside by the shoes at the threshold of this place. I am not that one that likes to be praised with titles. I like to be nothing, as our master Mawlana Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani (q) has taught us and Grandshaykh `AbdAllah ad-Daghestani (q) taught us the worst character in human life is to like praise, to like being known, to like people to speak about you. That is not going to change you and give you any power in Akhirah. In dunya it might give you respect, but Prophet (s) came to build our Akhirah, not our dunya.
The very best people who understood Islam are the people who were around the Prophet (s), and who was around him? His family, the very near family and the greater family. The very near family are the ones he covered with his robe, his aba, his jubbah: Sayyidah Khadijah (r), Sayyidah Fatimah (r), Sayyidina `Ali al-Murtadah (q), and Sayyidina al-Hassan (r) and Sayyidina al-Husayn (r) were the closest family to Prophet (s) with all other families of Ahlu ’l-Bayt, and then the greater community who learned from him adab.
What we lack today is the adab that the Prophet (s) taught Sahaaba (r), and the highest level of that adab is humbleness. Humbleness raises you up and arrogance brings you now. Prophet said, ji`tu li utimmu makaarim al-akhlaq, "I came to perfect in you the best of characters, I didn't come to perfect your bad characters. So where there is a bad characteristic, I want to pick on it until you drop it." We go to a doctor and he says we have a sickness and he gives us a pill. We don't say we don't want to take the prescribed medicine, no, we take it. But unfortunately when it comes to what benefits us for Akhirah, benefits our soul, we reject it.
The ego is like gravity; it won't let anyone rise up, it pulls all to its needs and pleasures. If that gravity becomes less powerful, you see yourself flying like in space like astronauts! Do you not think Sayyidina Muhammad (s) gave to believers the power to fly? If we say no, we have not perfected our imaan. When Prophet (s) sent his Companions, when they were tortured in Mecca, he sent them to a very sincere, soft king, as described in the seerah. Today you can't find presidents and kings soft, but you find them harsh. So he sent them towards al-Najashi, that king who hosted them although he was not Muslim. He was a Christian who believed in Sayyidina `Isa (a) and Islam had not reached him yet. He was so happy with the Muslims that he sent three gifts to the Prophet (s) when some returned to Mecca: an animal, a donkey, mule or horse; a helper; and a doctor. The Prophet (s) said, "I will keep the mule or donkey because we need something to ride. I will keep the helper because we need someone to help. But we don't need the doctor, I am sending him back because Allah (swt) gave us `uloom al-awwaleen wa’l-akhireen,
Knowledge of Before and After. We don't need a doctor; we are doctors. "
And the Prophet (s) was not only a doctor for souls, but for the body also. We know all the prophetic medicine the Prophet (s) described and prescribed, and Islam is full of that. We are not going to turn this evening into a science focus, but I will touch on one of these important Islamic medicines that the Prophet used to do for himself. After he woke up in the morning, after Fajr and after Ishraq, he would take one cup of warm water and dissolve in that a spoon of honey. For sure the Sahaaba and his family (r) were doing the same. People didn't know why; they say the Prophet liked the taste of honey. Today scientists are trying to understand these secrets of Islamic medicine. They dissolved one spoon of honey in warm water and found one spoon of honey is equal to 90 calories. It gives you energy to wake up well and start your day. When they studied the structure, the honey reacts with the water and turns the whole cup of water into honey. And so that will give you 1000 calories at least instead of 70, 80 calories per spoon of honey dissolved in water. I would like to upload this for the scientists of Egypt, it was Egyptian scientists who found that. That will show the prophetic medicine that Allah (swt) gave to Sayyidina Muhammad (s). When there was an insufficient amount of honey he showed Sahaaba (r) that one spoon is equal to ten spoons when it is dissolved.
So the One Who gave that prophetic medicine to Sayyidina Muhammad (s), also gave him the medicine for souls. As you want to build your body, you also want to build your soul. You see in the early morning, I don't think in this weather, but might be, they are running (jogging) in the streets. Why? They want to build up the body and the muscles because they are thinking dunya-wise in order to stretch their lives more. Why are they running? They are running for that reason. But they have to put in their minds, "If we are jogging for dunya, we must jog for Akhirah." And I would like to ask, as my shaykh asked, a simple question: What is the value of dunya to us, to everyone? They are cheating those who do plastic surgery. You make your eyes, you cannot move your neck and they become like Chinese, which is okay to be Chinese, but they are not originally Chinese. So they jog for dunya and no one is jogging for Akhirah. That mentality is strange. Sahaabah (r) were jogging for Akhirah, not for dunya. That is why the Prophet (s) said, "My Companions are like stars in dark nights, and whichever you follow you will be guided." And he said, "I am the city of knowledge, and `Ali is its door." So jog to that way!
So does dunya have value or not? If we say yes, we are wrong. As the Prophet (s) said, "The dunya has no value to Allah as the wing of a mosquito." So if you see a mosquito, do you build a palace for that mosquito and give it a golden palace, or what do you do with it? You press it and kill it before it bites you! Dunya bites you and if you don't kill it you get malaria. They told me in Kenya, "Don't drink the water, you might get malaria." They write on doors, "Beware of dogs," they never say, "Beware of Shaytan." And I am adding now, "Beware of mosquitoes," as they might bite you. And this dunya has no value equal to a mosquito wing. This doesn't mean the people of dunya, but it means the pride and egoism.
In Africa they are dying, they have no food. They have clothes they can make from trees, but they need food. There are many, many organizations doing hard work to give food to people and people are following these organizations. And we Muslims are keeping our eyes closed and not thinking. Go see for yourself the poverty there. And Allah (swt) sent the Prophet (s) as the Seal of Messengers, and as a spiritual guide. You cannot be Muslim by only saying la ilaaha illa-Llah, you must also say Muhammadun Rasoolullah. Allah (swt) gave everyone a religion. Jewish follow Sayyidina Musa (a), Christians follow Sayyidina `Isa (a), and Muslims follow Sayyidina Muhammad (s), wa karram wa `azham, so we have to follow what he was teaching us.
So after having honey, then at around 11:am the Prophet (s) would drink one cup of milk with seven dates. Every date is 60 calories and so 420 calories, say 500, and one cup milk is 200-300 calories, it gives energy. So most of the Sahaaba and family (r) were doing the same. But these clever scientists, Egyptians, they wanted to know why. So they built an artificial stomach with all required enzymes and acids inside that mechanical stomach and they put one cup of milk and seven dates, and that artifical stomach was mixing the compound of milk and dates. What did they find? They found that a very powerful blue light was coming from the stomach up to the brain, the mind. They analyzed that blue light and found it gives the brain intelligence and raises IQ and intelligence, and not to have deficiency in the future of forgetting anything. That is why most of the Sahaaba (r) were able to memorize when the Prophet was reciting Qur'an, not forgetting anything, like copy machines. And they found the mix of milk and dates goes between the skin and the flesh, protecting it from any kind of poison. In the desert there are scorpions and snakes, and their bite didn't affect them because they are protected by that mixture of dates and milk.
That was 1400 years ago. Prophet was showing the greatness that Allah (swt) did not give anyone. And that is why you have to be honored to be from Ummat an-Nabi (s)! I say, shame on us! Shame on us, as we are not giving the right value for the Prophet (s) and his family (r).
Say, "I am not asking any kind of wages for what I am doing, but I am asking one thing to take care of my family."
And what did they do with his family? They took "good" care. What did they do? They killed them, crazy ones. How did they dare to kill Sayyidina `Ali (r)? How did they dare to kill Sayyidina Husayn (r)? How did they dare to kill Sayyidina al-Hasan (r)? They cut Sayyidina al-Husayn into pieces, and said, "In the name of Islam." We have to remember, in every moment what the family of Prophet went through, and say, "For the sake of them, forgive us," as they gave their life for you! Keep the Prophet's teachings!
They called Sayyidina Husayn (r) to Baghdad and he knew ahead of time he will be killed by Yazeed. They called him and he came, he kept his promise and they betrayed him. And he was left with his family and 313, the shuhadah, martyers of Karbala. He asked for his son of seven months of age, he said to these people who were guarding him by the order of Yazeed, "My son needs water, he is seven months old." He had two sons, Ashgar and Akbar. They refused until his son died in front of his eyes. Then he said to them when they came to kill him, "O brothers, you are coming to kill me today, but one day you are going to be in the presence of my grandfather, and my grandfather has the power to do anything to you! But the greatness of my grandfather is, he doesn't look at the one who harmed him, he will not do it. And so when you ask him to give you water, he will give it on Judgment Day." Al-`afuw `inda-al-maghfirah. "He has the power to not forgive, but he forgives."
O Muslims! Do we forgive each other? If we want to learn from Prophet (s), are we forgiving each other? Here are a few people, but when you go out and you see cheating and deceiving from all these rulers, what do you expect? And they say, "Muslims are losing." Losing what? What did you leave from the name of Islam? You destroyed the name of Islam and made everyone to think Islam is terrorism! You come and speak of peace and you have no right to speak of peace when you are not building bridges with each other, not building your inner home. Everyone trying to stab the other in the back. They destroyed the ummah, saying, "This is Hanafi, this is Shafi`i, this is Maliki, this is Hanbali... !" They destroyed the whole religion of Islam and they come and make conferences. Adaabanee Rabbee fa ahsana ta'deebee. And they write, wa innaka la`ala khaluqin adheem, but they don't follow it, so what is the benefit?
I was on an African tour in Ghana and they showed me how they were kidnapping people and selling them as slaves, and how they were torturing them and putting them in dungeons. In small rooms they put 1000 people, which could not hold 200 people. They were stepping on each other, peeing on each other, and many died before they were shipped on ships. And those who died, they throw in the ocean to be eaten by sharks. So I went there and they asked me to give a lecture in a masjid. It was a very humble masjid, like a tent, but it is a masjid, at least you can pray. And then the imaam said, "Now I will show you my orphanage." He was so happy to show it and he never asked for money or help. He took me through an alley maybe four feet wide and in the middle is a sewer, an open ditch running all the way. And they said, "This is the school," and I said, "Is this a school or a stable?" And here we are eating ten different kinds of food when they cannot find rice or bread to eat. I entered and I saw their classes. First grade, second grade, third grade, as they have an English system, up to high school, A-level or 0-level, and they have two sessions, morning from 8:am to 12:pm and afternooon from 1:pm to 3:pm. I saw students in a room that can take 25, there are 75, and it was still morning and I looked. On the blackboard I saw they are teaching Islamic Shari`ah, they are teaching Islam, Qur'an, hadith, fiqh, and commentary on Islamic issues. All you need to learn in Islam, they teach in these classes. The child will graduate as an imaam, but you wouldn't put your goats and sheep inside the building. And it is very hot. In such an environment they are studying and learning, and we are Muslims here not turning our eye and here we are not pushing our children to study Islam, only pushing them to study secular studies.
We are coming soon to the other side. Every second people are losing the seconds. People celebrate their birthday. We don't say not to celebrate but realize you are losing one year. They bring a cake; okay bring a cake and say, "I am losing one year," or eat cake and say, "I am getting one year nearer to Allah and His Prophet, one year less from my life." But instead we are afraid. We are jogging everyday to stretch our life, and Allah said in Holy Qur'an, la yastaqdimoon sa`atan wa yastaqdimoon. So it is better not to jog, just rest.
Prophet (s) came to perfect manners. And that is where we have to focus our children. The trunk of bad character it is the main one, then there are branches. The trunk is anger. The Prophet said, al-ghadabu kufrun, "Anger is unbelief." (Anger makes you) become a disbeliever, not a believer anymore. People today in the same house are angry with each other; he will sleep this way and that one sleeps that way. Why? Shaytan is making them to fight. And he will go sleep in one room and she in another room, and the children are lost between them. Anger is not a quality of a real Muslim. Take away that anger!
One time a wali, Sayyidina Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (q), was on a very small road and he saw two people passing. He stopped and bowed to them, he made like that, and his students said, "What are you doing? These people are not Muslim." He said, "My Prophet (s), when he did the same act and the Sahaaba (r) said, 'He is not Muslim,' and they were carrying a non-Muslim in a coffin to bury him, he stood and gave a gesture of respect, and they said, 'Yaa Rasoolullah, this is non-Muslim.' And he said, 'The Angels of Death are with him. I am showing respect as he is not going alone.' I am seeing these angels that the Prophet mentioned."
So Muslims, be humble! You aren't taking anything with you. If you see a fight about to happen at home, go out or make ablution and pray two raka'ats. Don't be angry. This discussion will never finish; we will end it here.
May Allah forgive us and bless us and support us. And tomorrow we will be at Rutgers University; if anyone wants to know sister Sana Nadim will give the information. As-salaamu `alaykum.