What I would like to talk about tonight insha’allah, is a very simple issue, but also it is a very complex issue. It is a very great issue, but also a very basic issue. What do I mean by this? That it is a universal issue.
When you are told that Allah he is The First and The Last, he is The Apparent and The Hidden, he is The Most-Merciful and he is the The Ruthless… how do we understand these things? There is no one that can make logical sense from these things, but at the same time we do understand them, naturally because they are universal, they appeal to our fitra, as does a smile or a frown or a beautiful word. Without the heart of what use is the mind.
In Islam our universality is Allah and his oneness; everything is within the power of the sole creator of all things. And so we concern ourselves with nothing else but his pleasure, most exalted and most high. With everything in the universe that we see, from the miracles of the sun and the moon, and the stars and the skies and the oceans and the mountains, and allah reminds us often of these signs in his book, we know that it is only by the will of Allah, no matter what the circumstance we know that the wisdom of Allah surpasses all what we may not understand.
But subhanallah the human being, whether he believes in his lord or has forsaken him cannot help but be concerned with the happenings of the world around him. Consider the diversity of the world today, in every field you have an expert and a lover and an enthusiast of some sort, whether it concerns the most complex of sciences or the most simple of things like foods and toys.
Many of the topics that we discuss within Islam have their own secular equivalents. If we were to talk about tawheed, the same principles may be discussed in a philosophy class. If we were to discuss the notion of the heart and the mind and the self, this may be discussed under psychology, if we were to discuss shari’a and fiqh many issues would fall under philosophy as well, or sociology or ethics or even economics. The difference is that these sciences are void of an aim for the pleasure of allah. Subhanallah sometimes this is the only difference between the believer and the rejecter of truth. All day long they each abide by the truth, they breath the air they are given with the miracle of the lungs within their chests, and their beating hearts… they may be proficient in the most exact of sciences and knowledge, but at the end of the day all that matters is the state of the heart… do you attribute all of your knowledge and all of your possessions and all that you see to your one creator.. or do you attribute it to yourself or something else that is not worthy of worship.. and what is worship but the continuous coming to and turning back towards something… may allah make stable our ever-turning hearts upon his deen.
If we were to talk about this universal subject in a college classroom or in some academic setting it might be called globalization or ‘awmala as it is called in arabic… notice how “big” the word is in english and how simple the construction is in arabic… moreover, there is no consensus on globalization, no one agrees if it is good or if it is bad or what it even is.. we are not going to analyze globalization here.. but we can take away one question from the whole study… What is an ummah? If w try to translate ummah we run into some problems, but an ummah can be as simple as a basic community or an entire nation…
when we look around the world today it is hard to say that we are one ummah under one god… and this is to be expected.. the prophet himself.. and let us not forget what a prophet is.. he is one how prophecises about the future.. he does not have knowledge of the unseen except for what allah has taught him.. he (sa) had told us that the ummah would be divided in to many sects and only one would be saved.
look at the trial and tribulation all over the world… and then look at our own communities.. it his hard sometimes to feel like we are a community at all.. the masjid now is filled alhamdulilah.. but what happens when ramadan is over? fridays in teh summer especially the masajid are packed.. but where is everyone at fajr? how many masajid are struggling to renovate or expand.. all of these things may cause us great distress.. especially when we can remember days.. days recorded in the books of history when the ummah was truly at a glorious peak…
the reality of the collective
we want to put all of this in perspective: look at what allah says in surat al an-‘am which deals mostly with refuting the attitudes of the rejectors.. those who think they know… Allah says: “there is not a creature upon the earth nor a bird flying with its two wings except that they are a people like you, we have not randomized anything in the book, and then unto their lord shall they return…” this ayah comes right after allah quotes the disbelievers who are saying “if only allah would send a sign”… allah show us that the signs are everywhere if only we look..
predetermination & organization
we want to focus on this concept of randomization.. when we see everything that happens around us we cannot forget that it is by the will of allah.. and allah give us the example of other creatures in the universe to show us that though we are different and honored with an intellect… they way we function as groups, the way we come together as groups, the way our moods rise and fall… the way we organize our selves.. the way we are affected by the weather and over population.. and wallahi there is wisdom in this for our leaders and organizers and thinkers… for all of creation must abide by the will of allah.. nothing is random.. men become proud with teh systems and policies they build but when we look at how nature functions we are so small in comparison… and so allah has blessed us with a system from the sky
what we also want to take away from this idea of an ummah.. if we look at the root of the word it is related to the notion of a mother and the notion of illiteracy and the notion of a leader.. all of these things are from one greater concept and so you can put the pieces together in your mind.. this reminds of us of the ancient quality of our language.. that as we said it concerns things great and small and the ayah of allah reminds us of this.. it concerns the ummah at large and in the smallest sense…
local vs global
we are one ummah, but subhanallah allah calls ibrahim (as) by himself an ummah. why? because he was basically as good as one, he had all the qualities that an entire community would have. often we can become very concerned with the global situation, with the state of the ummah as a whole and we get so concerned with the politics and the tribulation.. and we forget about the smaller picture, we forget about both the good and the bad in our own communities.. and of course the opposite happens as well… we can become so concerned with our selves, with our own families our own communities that we forget the bigger picture.. the key is balance
balance and how
and the key to this balance is islam.. allah says you were teh best of people to be brought out to the people.. you command good and forbid evil.. we are not a people who only forbid the evil, naysaying all the trouble in the world.. nor are we a people unconcerned with strife and only look towards what is beautiful and just.. what allows islam to grant us this balance over our lives?
the essence of it all is language. you can say that a community is defined essentially by its language.. and when you look around the world.. you see this language that we are using now.. its like a parasite in some senses devouring the languages of the world.. this is what some people say is the essence of ‘awmala or globalizaiton.. but look at the quran.. is there any language that will come to surmount it.. no it is impossible for allah has told us that he has preserved it himself. and in this is a lesson for us all, all of us who want to strengthen our relationships and our communities and the bonds that we share: language is our key…
every day speech
notice how the simple phrases in our deen make our lives so much easier.. uncle or aunt you haven’t seen in a while.., friends you haven’t seen in teh masjid for a long time.. strangers you’ve just met.. islam will make light your tongue with phrases of praise and goodness that will always bring smiles and comfort to the people around you.. compare that with discussions you’ve had with non-muslims.. and how difficult it seems to get your point across sometimes or how useless the conversations seem… we can’t always be having the most engaging conversations but subhanallah if you fill you notice even the simplest conversations of muslims are filled with hamdulilahs and subhanallahs and insha’allahs all of this is dhikr and hamd and all of this is rewarded.. is there any equivalent to this? and is the reward of excellence anything but excellence?
and then we have the quran itself a miracle of language.. they say when you want to become a better writer you have to read a lot, if you want to write good poetry read good poetry, if you want to write stories you read good stories.. and this is true with anything.. if you want ot be a better athlete watch the best athletes.. a better cook watch the best cook.. a better speaker watch teh best speakers.. what hapens when you read the best of books the best of words the best of sounds.. what do you become better at? life. the world will seem to be at your service and indeed it is for allah has so honored his believing slaves that the world itself loves your company and hates the company of the disbeliever.
every breath is fuller each heart beat is synchronized with the praise and mention of your lord.. and we all know the countless benefits of reading and memorizing and delving into the quran…
depth and richness
one thing that is essential to the internalization of the quran is to recognize that the language is an ancient language.. that even if you speak arabic.. you have to delve into the language as it was when it was revealed.. some may argue that you don’t need to do this.. you can just read the quran alone and you will benefit tremendously.. to this we will say that this is true.. but there is also a difference between the one who is poor and the one who is stable and the one who is rich.. and the prophet (sa) told us that richness is where? in the heart.
poetry & art
an example of the value in delving into the language of the quran can be seen in poetry and even the modern corrupt version of poetry which is music… if you look at some of the greatest poetry ever written it might not make much of an effect on you until you find out about the poet and the people he loved and the people he hated even.. this is we love stories as humans, they give us a simple universality.. we can relate and feel like we fit right in… we can travel through time and make friends with those who are seemingly gone.. though they may be preserved in our hears…
this is also proof of the condition of our times because art reflects the state of a people, the poorer and simpler the art, the poorer and simpler the people. poetry is usually the first to go when communities dissolve because poetry, language is dependent upon its people. and so it only thrives today in tiny communities that are very closely knit
I want to share one story with you, one that will show an angle of the language of the Quran we don’t see too often