Fri. Aug 14th, 2020

[Friday sermon] Do Not Despair, Indeed The Mercy Of Allah Is Close To The Gooddoers

 

By Imam Murtadha Gusau

 

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Merciful

 

All Praise is due to Allah, and may the Salah and Salam be on Prophet Muhammad, his household, and the noble Companions and those who follow them until the Day of Resurrection.

 

Dear brothers and sisters, Allah the Almighty says:

 

“And do not do mischief and corruption on the earth, after it has been set in order, and invoke Him (Allah) with fear and hope; Surely, Allah’s Mercy is (ever) near unto the good­doers.” [Qur’an, 7:56]

 

Respected servants of Allah, know that, one should never despair nor lose hope of the Mercy of Allah because this is a grave major sin in Islam. Allah the Almighty says:

 

“And who despairs of the Mercy of his Lord except for those who went astray.” [Qur’an, 15: 56]

 

And He the Most High says:

 

“Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.” [Qur’an, 12:87]

 

In another Qur’anic verse, Allah, the Almighty says:

 

“And do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction.” [Qur’an, 2: 195]

 

Commenting on the Qur’anic verse, some scholars said that when the servant of Allah commits a sin and then thinks that his sin will not be forgiven and, therefore, he abandons seeking forgiveness and repentance to Allah, this is the destruction meant in the verse. We seek refuge in Allah form that.

 

In a Qudsi (sacred) Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) narrated that Allah, the Almighty, says:

 

“A servant committed a sin and he said, ‘O Allah, Forgive me my sin.’ Allah, the Almighty, said, ‘My servant committed a sin and came to realise that he has a Lord Who Forgives sins and Calls to account (the sinner) for the sin.’ He then again committed a sin and said, ‘My Lord, Forgive me my sin.’ Allah, The Exalted, Said, ‘My servant committed a sin and came to realise that he has a Lord Who Forgives sins and Calls to account for the sin.’ He again committed a sin and said, ‘My Lord, Forgive me for my sin.’ Allah, The Exalted, Said, ‘My servant committed a sin and came to realise that he has a Lord Who Forgives sins and Calls to account for the sin. O servant, do what you like. I have granted you forgiveness.’” [Sahih Muslim]

 

There is also the example of that man who used to drink alcohol and was brought to the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), Umar may Allah be pleased with him narrated: “During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) there was a man called Abdullah whose nickname was Himar (donkey), and he used to make the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) laugh. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) lashed him because of drinking (alcohol). One day, he was brought to the Prophet for the same charge and was lashed. On that, a man among the people said, ‘O Allah, curse him! How frequently he is brought (to the Prophet for such a charge)!’ The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, ‘Do not curse him, for by Allah, I know that he loves Allah and His Messenger.’” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

 

The wording of another narration reads: a man said:

 

“‘Why does he do so? May Allah Fail him.’ The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said, ‘Do not support the devil against your brother.’” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

 

Hence, a servant of Allah should never despair nor lose hope of the Mercy of Allah, the Almighty. Rather, whenever he commits a sin, he should ask for forgiveness and repent to Allah. None is infallible. Regarding the righteous people who are promised Paradise, Allah, the Almighty, says:

 

“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous.” [Qur’an, 3: 133]

 

Indicating the characteristics of the righteous people, Allah the Most High Added:

 

“And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah? – And [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know. Those – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers.” [Qur’an, 3: 135-136]

 

Even a righteous person may commit a grave major sin or do an immorality. Nevertheless, he immediately gives up the sin and returns to his Lord, seeking forgiveness and repentance.

 

Here is also the example of the Messengers, May Allah Exalt their mention. Allah, the Almighty, says:

 

“Indeed, in My presence the messengers do not fear. Otherwise, he who do wrongs, then substitutes good after evil – indeed, I Am Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an, 27: 10-11]

 

Prophet Musa (Moses), May Allah Exalt his mention, who was directly addressed by Allah, killed a person and then said as Allah, the Almighty, says:

 

“My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so Forgive me,” and He Forgave him. Indeed, He Is The Forgiving, The Merciful.” [Qur’an, 28: 16]

 

Allah says about those who brought the truth and those who believed in it:

 

“That Allah May Remove from them the worst of what they did and Reward them their due for the best of what they used to do.” [Qur’an, 39: 35]

 

The Qur’anic verses stand as evidence that they did bad actions.

 

Let me just remind you of a beautiful Hadith Qudsi, in which Allah Himself says:

 

“Even if your sins were to reach the clouds in the sky, I would forgive you.” [Sunan Al-Tirmidhi]

 

These words are a heartwarming and hopeful reminder of one of the 99 names of Allah: Ar-Rahman – The Most Merciful. No matter what you do, how big the sin is, how deep you have fallen, if you call out to him, He will respond and He will forgive you. Although many of us know of Allah’s Merciful attributes, we still lose hope and despair from time to time.

 

Dear brothers and sisters, when I am feeling hopeless due to the wrongs I’ve committed, I feel comfort in reminding myself of a man, who to me, is a true symbol of hope. A man that walked a path of sin, who then went on to become one of the few people who were guaranteed Paradise.

 

That man is Umar Ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) – the mighty companion of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). He was a strong and powerful leader titled ‘Al-Faruq’ (distinguisher between truth and falsehood) due to his ability to be just. He was a man that led by example; a true role model who lead by doing, not just by giving orders. He was the one that secretly visited the blind woman’s house to clean and bring her food. He was the one whose heart would fill with worry even as he saw the animals within his land become tired and sick, fearful that on the Day of Judgement he would be asked about them. He built roads between cities, prohibited his people from destroying other’s religious buildings, and gave those who learned the Qur’an an allowance from himself.

 

The lessons I take from his story are that your past should not define who you are today, nor should they define your future – unless you let them. The sins you used to commit, or are committing right now, should not make you lose any hope of being able to change and become better. If Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) went from being an idol worshipper, i.e. committing shirk (the most grievous sin), to becoming one of the few who were guaranteed Paradise, then how can we lose hope in Ar-Rahman – The Merciful? How can we convince ourselves that we cannot change? How can we believe that Allah does not answer the call of the sincere heart?

 

My good people, do not ever lose hope in the mercy of Allah, nor underestimate your potential. Don’t let the Shaitan win; he wants you to lose hope in Allah; and if you lose hope in Allah, what’s left? It’s okay to keep falling as long as you keep getting back up. Never give up – not until your last heartbeat.

 

“So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be victorious if you are [true] believers.” [Qur’an, 3:139)

 

Despite constant bad news at home and abroad about insecurity and epidemic, we need to try and retain hope – though it’s hard to do, I know. We cannot allow evil to distract us from the good deeds we can still do. Remember that Shaitan relies on spreading despair, something he suffers from himself.

 

Despair affects people individually at first. But it is infectious and can spread, until it paralyses entire communities and nations. It’s why, despite some positives, social media is also really problematic; because while it has the power to inform and raise awareness, it also tends to spread hopelessness and can end up giving a greater platform to those who lie, spread fake news and boast about their bad deeds. When bad things happen, social media allows it to spread like a wildfire. Even the term “gone viral” comes from the idea of a spreading infection!

 

And that’s how the despair sets in. If we get into the mindset that everything is so bad that there is no point in trying, then Shaitan has won. If we start thinking our actions don’t make any difference, then we are demonstrating loss of belief in the mercy, reward and help of Allah. And if we as a community and nation are placing all our hopes and expectations in proclaimed leaders and ‘influencers’, then expect to be disappointed.

 

Not all, but yes a lot of those in positions of power will lose their way, fall from grace, or betray the trust their followers placed in them. Power corrupts. This is a brutal fact of life and history. If people remembered that, maybe they wouldn’t be so desperate for leadership and power and influence and ‘likes.’ But the tragedy is that it doesn’t just affect those individuals – their mistakes, their corruption, often have huge ramifications on the people who followed them, and can cause their followers to lose hope, even faith.

 

When people in positions of power and authority err, it should not just be brushed under the carpet. Islam gives people a second chance, doors of repentance never close – very important. But it also stands up for the weak; it’s not meant to ingratiate the powerful; we are not meant to just turn a blind eye. It also calls for clarity between right and wrong.

 

Remember, too, that corrupt and wayward leaders are symptoms of a corrupt system or long patterns of heedlessness within society. It means we must also hold a mirror to ourselves – how have we, collectively, allowed the rot to set in? Systems, institutions, leaders, societies, and oneself, should – in fact must – be criticised and challenged. This stems from the principle of Nasihah (advice) and Muhasabah (self-accountability) in our religion.

 

But in the process of that necessary criticism, be careful not to become hopeless, disillusioned or bitter – about others or ourselves. Remember that within these systems and patterns of corruption you’ll always find some good individuals. Maybe only one. But even one person makes a difference.

 

There are many stories from the Qur’an that reflect this, such as the story of Asiyah Bint Muzahim, Pharaoh’s (Fir’aun) wife, may Allah be pleased with her, who Allah commends in Surah Nuh as an example for all believers. She was the wife of the Pharaoh, her husband was the worst tyrant to have walked the earth. She was the Queen in a kingdom that oppressed its own people and slaughtered innocent babies. She lived a life of luxury, she had every material need fulfilled.

 

And yet Asiyah’s entire life changed when she witnessed the brave actions of just one person in the court of Fir’aun (Pharaoh): an elderly female servant who refused to give up her faith in Allah even at the point of death.

 

Asiyah learnt what iman (faith) was from the actions of an elderly servant. Somehow, miraculously, faith and light found a way into the palace, the epicentre of corruption and oppression, and found a way into the heart of Asiyah. That faith and light grew slowly and quietly until it was a blaze of courage, defiance and truth in the face of threats and torture from her own husband. Asiyah, the most unlikely person imaginable, embracing faith inside the palace, strengthened the faith of those outside of it. Prophet Musa (AS)’s mission gained momentum, and the Israelites, enslaved for so long, gained hope. Meanwhile, her actions so close to home, must have shaken the arrogance of Pharaoh, and cast insecurity and confusion in his proud, stubborn mind. Asiyah, just like the elderly servant before her, lost her life and position in the world, but her soul gained eternal freedom. They lived completely different lives – one was a Queen, the other was a servant – but they both showed us how goodness can unexpectedly emerge out of the very heart of corruption, all by the will of Allah.

 

Another example given in the Qur’an is that of the boy and the king, described in Surah Al-Buruj. The boy was the great Sorcerer’s apprentice, practicing the dark arts of black magic. But he changed his ways, and in fact changed the entire nation through his belief in Allah. How was this made possible? …It all started with the kindness and faith of an old monk, who had seen the hidden potential in this boy and didn’t dismiss him as a ‘hopeless case’; he persevered in teaching the boy the difference between right and wrong (a crucial, often-forgotten point), and treated him with compassion. That hope, wisdom, honesty, perseverance and kindness finally paid off in the most profound of ways.

 

Anyone can have that kind of impact, and it does not necessarily start with those who are extraordinary or even well-known.

 

No one today knows the name of the old lady in the court of Fir’aun (Pharaoh).

 

No one knows the name of the boy who stood up to the king of the land.

 

Allah’s miracles and plans are manifested in ways we cannot imagine or understand, and how often His plans are realised through those who are unnamed and unknown. So we should learn from these examples, to continue to strive to do good, and to forbid the wrong (3: 110), without seeking fame or reward. For some of the best people in the past who changed their entire nations and shook the foundations of power came from obscure places and backgrounds, unremarkable except for the fact that they were firm in faith and dared to hope.

 

“And do not do mischief and corruption on the earth, after it has been set in order, and invoke Him (Allah) with fear and hope; Surely, Allah’s Mercy is (ever) near unto the good­doers.” [Qur’an, 7:56]

 

O Allah! Forgive our sins, purify our hearts and safeguard our chastity. Oh Allah! Make every single aspect of our life be for You and in service of all your creation, irrespective of their race, tribe, region or religion. Oh Allah! Remove all false intentions that we have. Oh Allah! save humanity from being its own enemy. Protect your creations from oppression. Save our country and all the people of Nigeria from internal and external oppressors and give them justice. Oh Allah! Protect us all from violence, fear and danger, You are our Protector. Oh Allah! increase us in beneficial knowledge, let this knowledge be with sincerity, not for seeking fame, glory, status or material wealth. Let this knowledge serve your cause in a way that you accept, and let it benefit humanity. Oh Allah! Safeguard and protect our children and all the children of the world from evil people, they are surrounded by so much temptation and forbidden things, protect them our Lord from all of the evil influences that are around them, give them friends who will strengthen their iman (faith) and help them stay on the straight path, ameen.

 

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.

 

Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusauimam@gmail.com or +2348038289761.

 

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Dhul-Qa’dah 18, 1441 A. H. (July 10, 2020

 

 

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