Many of you may have heard about the letter circulated in social media and some mainstream press labelled ‘Punish a Muslim day’ in the coming week. For those who haven’t seen it, a series of points are awarded for various acts of violence towards Muslims and Muslim places of worship, including an attack on the holy city of Makkah.
How do we prepare ourselves for this from an Islamic perspective? Interestingly, Allah(SWT) has provided guidance for this even in Surah Al Faatihah as we will elaborate in this khutba. Principally, we will look at 3 questions:
1. What has led to someone penning this letter?
In order to respond to this situation effectively, we need to understand what has caused this letter to emerge and what the motivations could be against such behaviour.
In the current climate, negative news stories about Islam and Muslims abound. Much of this misinformation and scaremongering is based on ignorance of Islam and lack of engagement with Muslims. It has been said that:
What we don’t understand, we fear.
What we fear, we judge as evil.
What we judge as evil, we attempt to control.
And what we cannot control…we attack.
A story is told of prominent Pakistani cricketer, Muhammad Yousuf, who invited Brian Lara for a meal to present Islam. There, an Islamic teacher explained how Muslims emulate the life of the Blessed Prophet(SAW), how we are taught to respect our parents, treat our spouses well, how we nurture our children with good manners, how we look after our neighbours and how we do business fairly. Brian Lara remained quiet for a while and then said “This is the way we should all live.”
Later that day, as he was returning to his apartment with Muhammad Yousuf, Brian then asked “Yusuf, I have just one question – where are these people who live according to this guidance today?”
We individually have a duty to live Islam, not just to ascribe to it. Allah(SWT) reminds us all of this and we recite the words Iyyaka na’budu (You alone we worship) every day in our prayers – an abd (slave) is one who has dedicated his life to this Master and his worship is the fulfilment of his Masters command. Yet, how many of us reflect a life of an ‘abd in all that we do, recognising that we are ultimately accountable to the One who knows us better than we know ourselves?
2. What did the Prophet (saw) do in a similar situation?
In Surah Al Fatihah, we then continue to say Iyyaka nasta’een (You alone we desperately ask for help). This is the next step in our journey and the word nasta’een is derived from the verb ‘isti’aana which appears again in Surah al Baqarah with an explanation of how to ask desperately.
Allah(SWT) tells us here that we must seek his help through patience and prayer.
As we continue Al Faatihah, we are then asked to follow the practical example of those who preceded us – Siraat alladheena an’amta ‘alayhim (the Path of those Allah was pleased with). The best of examples is our Blessed Prophet Muhammad (SAW) – did he ever go through similar punishment and attacks or witness others go through them?
Yes, there are two incidents I want to focus your attention on.
The Prophet (SAW) witnessed ‘Ammar ibn Yasir and his family being tortured and persecuted by the Quraysh leadership in Makkah. In response to this, he consoled the family with these words:
“Be patient, family of Yaasir – indeed, the good tidings that Paradise will be your eternal abode.”
The other example which the Prophet (SAW) himself described as one of his most difficult days was after the rejection of the Taif leadership to Islam and stoning by the youth and hooligans in that area. Following this, our blessed Prophet(SAW) supplicated:
To You, my Lord,
I complain of my weakness, lack of support and the humiliation I am made to receive.
Most Compassionate and Merciful!
You are the Lord of the weak and you are my Lord.
To whom do You leave me?
To a distant person who receives me with hostility?
Or to an enemy, You have given power over me?
As long as you are not displeased with me, I do not care what I face.
I would, however, be much happier with Your mercy.
I seek refuge in the light of Your face
by which all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the life to come are put in their right course against incurring your wrath or being the subject of your anger.
To You I submit until I earn Your pleasure.
Everything is powerless without your support.
What has been done in response locally and how should you act on the day?
Luton masaajid have been working with police, local council, schools and service providers to ensure the safeguarding of the Muslim community. Many letters of support have also been received from other communities, see Luton Mosques website.
In terms of practical advice:
- Do not be afraid but do remain vigilant and alert the Police in case of an incident
- Make dua for safety as only Allah(SWT) is the Protector
- Live as a Muslim should in order to effectively address misunderstandings about Islam.