Eidul Fitr (khutbah) Sermon delivered at IIT by Shaikh Ahmad Kutty (Friday, Sept.10, 2010) .
All praises to Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. We thank Him for giving us yet another opportunity to fast the month of Ramadhan and reap the spiritual blessings. We thank Him for all of His wonderful gifts upon us that we enjoy today: gift of faith, gift of life, health, family; we thank Him for this wonderful country that we call our home, where we enjoy peace and security.
Brothers and sisters,
I greet you all with a happy greeting of Eid. I pray that the Beneficent Lord grant us many more ramadhans to fast, redeem ourselves and come closer to Him. I pray that He accepts our fasts, prayers, charities, supplications, devotions and virtuous deeds in the blessed month; may He also bless us to keep the fragrance of the month in the weeks and months ahead of us.
While standing here today I am indeed most saddened to say farewell to the month of Ramadhan. It came like a wind and is gone like a wind. It looked as if we started fast only yesterday, and today we are celebrating the festival of fast breaking. It looks like a dream. It should teach us about the ephemeral nature of life of this world. Today we are here and tomorrow we will be standing before the Lord. When we look back at the life time we spent here, it would like a dream.
"And on the Day when He shall gather them [unto Himself, it will seem to them] as if they had not tarried [on earth] longer than an hour of a day, knowing one another; [and] lost indeed will be they who [in their lifetime] considered it a lie that they were destined to meet God, and [thus] failed to find the right' way."(Qur'an:10:45)
Before proceeding, I must remember those who were with us last year, but they are no more with us now. May the beneficial lord have mercy on them and forgive them and turn their graves into gardens of paradise.
I must also remember the many brothers and sisters in faith and humanity who are suffering all over the world; they are suffering from ravages of foods and other natural calamities, as well as man made wars and occupations. May the Beneficent Lord grant them relief and shower His blessings upon them.
Brothers and sisters
We are living in difficult times. These are the times that the Prophet described as the times of fitan; crises coming one after another; crises that shake our faith and test our patience.
In these difficult times Muslims need to keep alive the spirit and lessons of Ramadhan: lessons of self-restraint, patience, forbearance and compassion.
Today more than ever we are called upon to embrace the spirit of Ramadhan in face of the greatest challenges facing us today.
There are two types of challenges facing Muslims today.
First and foremost, we are faced with ignorance and extremism in our midst which have invited others to target us. We know that Islam is peace and yet the actions of many among us show otherwise; we say Islam is mercy and yet there are Muslims who don't hesitate to kill each other as well as others as if they were flies. We say Islam is discipline and self-restraint and yet we easily become impatient.
Extremism is a disease we must deal with. There is no way for us to move forward, unless we take responsibility for changing our conditions. "....Verily Allah will not change the conditions of a people unless they change their inner conditions." (Qur'an: 13: 11
The change can only come through education. Our children and youth need to be educated in the morals, character and virtues of Islam; we need to make them exemplars of mercy and compassion. We need to teach them values and principles; we need to nurture them as leaders who shall stand forth as witnesses of justice and compassion for all humanity. This is our mandate in the Qur'an.
"O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one
lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do." (Qur'an:5:8)
To me extremism and ignorance are the greatest challenges Muslims face today; we need to come out and oppose and silence those who want to turn Islam into a faith that is against the world. We are the world; we are the humanity, and we are for peace. We are for peaceful co-existence with all. We are for mutual respect and tolerance. We must take to heart the Qur'anic message:
"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair of) a male and a female, made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. The noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is the most conscious of Him. Truly, God is all-knowing, all-aware." (Qur'an: 49:13)
The second challenge facing us Muslims today is the increasing Islamophobia that we sense all around us. The latest expressions of this is the Florida pastor who claimed media attention by threatening to make September 11 as the Qur'an burning day. The Holy Qur'an is our life-blood; it is God's own words; it is God's gift not only for the Muslims but for all of humanity.
We have faith in the Lord that He will take care of His book. In face of this, we need to show extreme self-restraint. We need to show that we cannot be provoked into shedding blood or destroying properties or targeting innocent people. By reacting in this way we are playing into the hands of hate mongers whose agenda is to make Muslims look bad.
We believe that Allah's light cannot be put out by the irrational actions of a self-styled hate monger that has hijacked the religion of Jesus, the religion of all prophets.
We believe that Allah is the controller of all things in the universe; and the humans may will something while Allah wills otherwise. This lesson is brought home to us everyday even in the campaigns against Islam and Muslims. For the statistics reveal that more people embraced Islam than ever in the aftermath of the September 11, and the campaigns of Islamophobia and hatred unleashed against Islam and Muslims.
We also learn from the latest news that even in the small community of the hate mongering pastor there are already two people who have embraced Islam. Islam and the Qur'an belong to Allah and Allah will not allow His light to be put out by humans no matter how organized they are.
"They want to put out the light of God with their mouths; but God has willed to spread his light fully, however much the non-believers detest it." (Qur'an: 61:8).
Brothers and sisters
The example we must demonstrate in face of such a campaign of hatred is the beautiful example of Sultan Alp Arslan (b.1029-d.1072); following the battle of Manzikert, in which the Muslims defeated the Byzantines led by the emperor Romanus. In the aftermath of the battle, the emperor Romanus was brought in front of the sultan in shackles and the Sultan asked him: What would you have done to me if I were the captive in shackles in front of you? The emperor said without any hesitation: I would have executed you. The sultan turned to him and said: But that is not what I know your prophet Jesus taught you: He taught you to love your enemies. In a true spirit of honour to his message, I forgive you! Saying this he sent him back with honour and escorts to his country.
So we need to tell the hate mongering pastor that you have hijacked the religion of Jesus, the prince of peace!
Dear brothers and sisters,
We have the same message to those Muslims who resort to acts of terrorism; to the suicide bombers killing themselves and killing the innocent people. Through your actions you have hijacked the peaceful religion of Prophet Muhammad and of all prophets.
Brothers and sisters,
Ramadhan is the month of fasting; it is meant to celebrate the revelation of Qur'an, the most beautiful gift of Allah to humanity.
Now in face of the challenges facing us, we ought to use the weapon of Quran to turn the tables on those who wish to spread hatred and Islamophobia. We ought to show them the true face of Islam; that the Qur'an teaches peace through justice and compassion; that the Qur'an is opposed to aggressive wars; that the Qur'an calls for saving lives; it teaches us to save the earth, protect the environment, and act as good shepherds.
We ought to tell the world that the Qur'an preserves the truths of all previous scriptures; it enhances and guards the truths revealed to all prophets. The Qur'an does not teach us to impose our religion on anyone. How can it be when the principle of freedom of conscience is deeply enshrined in the Qur'an?
"THERE SHALL BE no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from [the way of] error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing." (Qur'an: 2:256)
If, therefore, one copy of the Qur'an is burned we need to make sure a thousand copies are given out to those who wish to consider its message.
In face of such challenges, every Muslim is challenged to be a true ambassador of Islam: to stop simply parroting the Quran and be determined to study the message, to live its lessons and practice them so that we become beacons of remembrance of God in a world sliding into materialism and anarchy.
In face of increasing Islamophobia we need to reach out to all other communities in a true spirit of good will and cooperation on projects of virtue and compassion. We need to demonstrate through our actions that we are for living in peace, in mutual respect with all the people.
Let us remember that we cannot expect justice from others unless we treat others with justice. This is the most beautiful example set by our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) and his pious caliphs for they acted justly towards all people.
May Allah help us all to respond to the Qur'anic message with faith and commitment, and may He forgive our shortcomings and failings and make us instruments of peace and good will in a world torn asunder by wars, antagonism, racism, and xenophobia.