Friday, July 20, 2012

Khutbaaz (Sermons)

Below you will find summaries of Friday prayer sermons given this month that encourage people to oppose systems of oppression and establish social justice. Why? See my post: Preaching Justice.

"Discovering One's Social Self This Ramadan"
By Imam Muhammad Asi of the Islamic Center of Washington
Friday, July 27, 2012

Those fasting in this blessed month can reach proximity to God only after realizing their place within the social world around them.

"This month of Ramadan is an opportunity in which a larger opportunity presents itself," Imam Muhammad Asi told his congregation. "Fasting as an individual is one thing. Fasting as an individual in the body of millions of other individuals who are fasting in the same time frame is another thing."

We fast because it is al-haqq, which can be translated into that which is the truth, just, legal and a right, but we can only attain that haqq "with the activation of our minds," Asi said.

First, Muslims must reflect upon their inner selves, and through the discipline, determination and will power that fasting teaches "take charge of internal tendencies (desires, urges, emotions) that otherwise could run amok."

"Some of the meanings of al-haqq in this month of fasting are to have you probe the universe inside of you," Asi said.

But we cannot stop there. We must also examine our place in relation to those around us.

"The observation of this fast should also take you into the dimension of your social self," Asi extorted. "This is another region in which you dwell."

Asi said we can do this by pondering upon the supplication we utter when we break our fast:

"O God, I fasted for You and I believe in You and I break my fast with Your sustenance."

"Ask yourself when you break your fast at the end of the day (when some end up eating three meals in one), 'How come you have some of it (food) and other people don't have any of it or a portion of it or much of it?'" Asi said.

"Is God unjust? He wants to give some people more and others less? Is this the haqq that we understand God with or is it (poverty, hunger, starvation) a function of our determination and procedures?" he asked.

"If it (imbalance in the world) belongs to us, we have to set it in the right direction," and fasting should provide us with the determination to do so, said Asi, who is author of The Ascendant Quran, the first tafsir (exegesis) written directly into English.

"If you do this--and not many who are fasting in Ramadan do any of this although it is a requirement--God is there to say to you:"

"I am with you! I am near to you! I am in close proximity to you and I am inside of you!" (Quran: 2: 186)

Asi said God is telling us, "Here I am! Can you see me? Can you hear me? Can you detect me?"

"Call upon me and I will answer you." (40: 60)

Click here to listen to Imam Asi's complete sermon.
"We Need Thinking Minds"
By Imam Muhammad Asi of the Islamic Center of Washington
Friday, July 20, 2012

If we stay on top of our game during this holy month of Ramadan, we should end up more aware and better prepared to battle the social problems of this world.

"It is true we are supposed to fast in Ramadan," said Imam Muhammad Asi during his Friday prayer sermon. "But that doesn't mean we close our eyes and play ostrich. This Ramadan should sensitize us to the social pollution around us."

Muslims should keep tabs on developments in the political world, such as the appointment Thursday of former Saudi ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan (a CIA asset by his own accounts, according to Asi) as Saudi Arabia's new intelligence chief. Bandar was ambassador to the U.S. from 1983 to 2005, when he was named head of Saudi's newly created National Security Council.

"We need thinking minds," said Asi. "It is the absent mind that has been dogging us for so many years. We need minds that are present, that are aware of what is happening."

Asi offered other insights and tips for Ramadan:

  • The month is supposed to begin and end with the visualization of the crescent, according to a narration of Prophet Muhammad (S).
  • Muslims should spend generously in this month like the Prophet (S) did.
  • Those who are fasting must abstain from bad words, arguments and backbiting.
"Words break the fast," Asi said. 

While we cannot discuss people's private lives, Asi said we can and should discuss the public lives of those holding power and making decisions.

"Social character has to be in the public eye in Ramadan and outside Ramadan," he explained.

Lastly, Asi reminded us that the Quran, which was revealed in this blessed month, delivers more meanings in Ramadan.

"The Quran is more accessible in Ramadan because of the transformations within ourselves," said Asi, who is author of The Ascendant Quran, the first tafsir (exegesis) written directly into English. "We are free from the dunya (the lower materialistic world), no longer under pressures of our bodies and their demands."

Click here to listen to Imam Asi's complete sermon.

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