The Way Forward – Summary

This Khutba is a summation of the 7 Khutab titled ‘The Way Forward’. Here, I am going to highlight the action points only. I will begin with my gift to you, which is my own motto: “I will not allow what is not in my control to prevent me from doing what is in my control.” This is based on the reality that when we stand before Allahﷻ, we will not be asked, ‘What happened?’ But we will be asked, ‘What did you do?’ Get ready for the long haul.This is a generational project so the sooner we start the better. Never give up because the balance will tip.It just requires sustained effort.

Work only for the pleasure of Allahﷻ. For any building to take shape, first, you need rocks who are willing to go into the foundation and be buried, never to be seen again, known only to the builder but nobody else. We must be ready to be those rocks so that the Muslim Ummah may be reconstructed. Let us remember that victory and defeat is only decided at the end and is not decided by who is left standing, but by which side you stood on. All great successes are built on skin in the game; what you do yourself and take the pain that comes with it. Excellence is the capacity to take pain. Legends are not defined by their successes but by how they bounce back from their failures. If ever there was a legend in the truest and most noble sense of the term, it was Rasoolullahﷺ. Nothing illustrates these principles better than his journey to At-Ta’aif. In the 10th year of Revelation, Rasoolullahﷺ decided to go to At-Ta’aif, to present Islam to the Banu Thaqeef. At that time, many of the biggest names among the Sahaba had already accepted Islam. Abu Bakr, Hamza bin Abdul Muttalib, Omar ibn Al Khattab, Othman ibn Affan, Ali bin Abi Talib (RA) and others were all Muslim and would have given anything to be entrusted with the job of taking the message of Islam to the Banu Thaqeef. But Rasoolullahﷺ didn’t give it to any of them but went himself, with just one companion, Zaib bin Haritha (R). We all know the story of the journey and all that happened during it, but if we talk about personal commitment to the cause demonstrated by action, there’s no finer example. As for resilience, Rasoolullahﷺ’s dua after leaving At-Ta’aif is testimony to his faith and Tawakkul on Allahﷻ. This is the very essence of Islam and the standard which we must compare ourselves to. After all it is the same Allahﷻ that we worship. But we have changed.

He begins with: O Allah! To You alone I complain of my helplessness, the scarcity of my resources and my insignificance before mankind. You are the most Merciful of the merciful. You are the Rabb of the helpless and the weak, O Rabb of mine!  And he ends his dua with: May it never be that I should incur Your anger, or that You should be angry with me. And there is no power nor resource, but Yours alone.  

This is the essence and the most beautiful example of Taqwa and Tawakkul that I can imagine. To always be focused on the pleasure of Allahﷻ alone. Imagine his situation. He had been walking for about three days to At-Ta’aif. There he and Zaid bin Haritha (R) had been attacked and reviled because of which both had been injured and were bleeding profusely. His emotional injuries were clearly much worse. He was a scion of the most honorable tribe in the Hijaz and descendent of its most honorable chief – Abdul Muttalib. He was famous and honored among all people before he announced Islam. He was a brave warrior, the Messengerﷺ of Allahﷻ who was on a mission as directed by His Rabb to invite people to Islam. He had a right to expect Allahﷻ’s help and protection. Yet when he reached At-Ta’aif, he didn’t see the help of Allahﷻ or His protection. He was insulted, reviled in public, attacked, and was injured and had to flee his persecutors. He knew that His Rabb was witness to what was happening and had the power to stop it and to punish the attackers. Yet Allahﷻ did nothing. There is no example of Ridha bil Qadha that I can imagine, that can be better than this. How would that have affected any other person? The Seerah is a treasure beyond value.

Everything begins with building our connection with Allahﷻ and constantly strengthening it. Remaining connected is the key. That requires charging the battery of the heart with Dhikr, Shukr, and Sabr and seeing both plenty and difficulty, ease, and pain as tests from Allahﷻ. Our approach to both must be the same i.e., Istighfaar, Tawba, and keeping Allahﷻ’s pleasure foremost in dealing with the situation that life presents us with.

Rasoolullahﷺ did three things when he came to Madina from Makkah. (1) He created a nation based on faith and not tribe. (2) He created a perineal source of funds and (3) a structure of leadership. This was the formula which gave the early Muslim community stupendous success and changed their state from being oppressed and despised to becoming the leaders of their world. This is the formula that we must replicate in our world today.

Let us remember that knowledge is not the memorizing of data but change of behavior. If you are a smoker and learn the evils of cigarettes, being able to recite them extempore doesn’t make you learned. To be learned about cigarette smoking is to give it up and persuade others to do so. Apply this to everything in life, especially Deen. The knowledge of the scholar must be reflected in his/her behavior. Without that it does not matter how much he knows, except that unpracticed knowledge will become witness against him.

Once we make Istighfaar and Tawba and remove all disobedience from our lives, here is what we must do to change our personal and collective destiny. This is a world of action. Nothing will happen unless we do something.

  1. Eliminate Shirk and Bida’at from our lives and earn and eat only Halaal Fulfill all Fara’aidh. It begins with that because the dua of those who earn and eat Haraam is not accepted. Tawba & Istighfaar is the beginning.
  2. Dua – Make Tahajjud Fardh on yourself and make dua. Dua is the most powerful tool that a believer has. Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Dua is the weapon of the believer.” It is a direct line of communication between us and Allahﷻ. Allahﷻ promised to answer dua. So, let us make dua.
  3. Awareness – Learn. There is no substitute for knowledge. Ignorance is not cute. It is ugly and revolting. GIGO works in life as in programming. Quality is not an option. Quality is essential because only quality works.
  4. Get involved at all levels in all activities that serve society, win hearts, and build credibility. Islam must become visible in all its beauty and become synonymous with compassion, helping, and standing for justice. As citizens you have a stake in the welfare of this land, so work for it.
  5. Build positive relationships with others. This is why interfaith relations, participating in community activities, Townhall meetings, being on school boards, social work, establishing Muslim soup kitchens, hospices, seniors’ homes and so on are important. All these are also excellent Da’awa opportunities. First win hearts then change destiny. You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you. Those how say that are like sheep saying, ‘I am not interested in the wolf’. There is a word for that. Dinner. If you want to survive and prosper, you must learn how and then do it. There is no choice. There are only two kinds of people in any society. The influencers and the influenced. Isolation is suicide.

History teaches one critical lesson: Only those who contribute are valued. Only they have leverage, are influential, and have power. Their religion or ethnicity doesn’t matter. What matters is their contribution to society on a local or global scale. Ask, what are we contributing today? Is it enough?

As I mentioned, the Seerah points to three critical initiatives, but before we go there, a word of caution: when you hear an idea which looks difficult or impossible, ask yourself, ‘How can I make this work?’ Don’t waste your time with all the reasons it won’t work. Until the Wright brothers invented the first plane, flying was an impossible idea. Everything is impossible until it is done. Experience is the picture in the rear-view mirror. It tells us what we did. Not what we can do in the future. Present circumstances don’t decide if you will succeed or fail. They only decide where you need to start. When Rasoolullahﷺ stood on Safa and called people to Islam and his own uncle denounced him, who would have thought that a day would come when every 4th person on earth would be a Muslim? Our job is to do our best and leave the rest to Allahﷻ. Allahﷻ tests our commitment. Not our resources.

  1. Build the Ummah: Rethink how we address differences among ourselves. Speak the language of togetherness and not division.

اِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُوْنَ اِخْوَةٌ فَاَصْلِحُوْا بَيْنَ اَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُوْنَ

Hujuraat 49: 10   The believers are but one brotherhood, so make peace between your brothers. And be mindful of Allah so you may be shown mercy.

Learn to disagree without being disagreeable. Learn to forgive and not carry grudges. Learn to communicate powerfully. It is not genetic. It must be learnt. Focus on common problems and how to solve them and not on differences, especially in Aqeeda which have no solutions. Establish problem solving structures and learn the tools. Without unity we’re toast.

  • Central Fund: I suggested a way i.e., every Muslim must donate $5/day to the fund. If you want to do it another way, go ahead. The way is not important. The fund is. Without assured funds, long-term projects are impossible to plan and execute. Sporadic charity is not enough.

Muslim organizations globally don’t seem to understand this with predictable results. Harvard on the other hand has an endowment fund of $50.7 billion, which surprisingly was not started 400 years ago but in 1974. Shows the power of sustained systematic effort.

  • Leadership Structure: This is perhaps the hardest for us because we have become so used to having everything our own way. Strange it is that obedience is an exception among people whose name is ‘Muslim’, one who submits and whose iconic symbol is the Sajda.

يٰٓاَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوْٓا اَطِيْعُوا اللّٰهَ وَاَطِيْعُوا الرَّسُوْلَ وَاُولِى الْاَمْرِ مِنْكُمْۚ فَاِنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِيْ شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوْهُ اِلَى اللّٰهِ وَالرَّسُوْلِ اِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُؤْمِنُوْنَ بِاللّٰهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْاٰخِرِۗ ذٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَّاَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيْلًا ࣖ

Nisa 4: 59   O believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. Should you disagree on anything, then refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you ˹truly˺ believe in Allah and the Last Day. This is the best and fairest resolution.

Leadership is important but followership is even more important. Without good followers, the best of leaders will fail. That is why Allahﷻ created the Blessed Generation of the Sahaba as examples to all mankind. The truth is that today’s situation is much less difficult than the situation that Rasoolullahﷺ faced in the 7th century. He showed us the way. He was successful. It is for us to follow and become successful.