Debt, Interest and Unity

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 2nd March 2012 - 23mins 59secs

"And (moreover) He hath put affection between their hearts: not if thou hadst spent all that is in the earth, couldst thou have produced that affection, but Allah hath done it: for He is Exalted in might, Wise."

The Sheikh began this searing khutba with a passage from Surah al-Anfal, describing Quraysh's efforts to regroup and unify after the defeat at Badr through the taking out of loans to pay tribes to march under their banner.  The temptation amongst the numerically inferior Muslims was to do the same, but in the verse Allah clearly commands the believers to trust in Him alone, and not in the manipulation of the financial market.

Fast-forward 1400 years to what the Sheikh termed the 'European Autumn' and it is not difficult to see the far reaching wisdom of those Words. The European 'Union' that was to be the triumph of the financial vision of the continent is now splintering with catastrophic scenarios being played out in the poorer countries, Greece being the most potent example. In the khutba the Sheikh lucidly outlined the origins of Eurozone crisis, as well as that of the sub-prime mortgage fiasco in the US, to show how the endless borrowing has led to a situation where the future of an entire generation has been imperiled by the bankers who pass off these problems to those poorer than them with a nonchalant shrug of their shoulders. University students now will live half of their life under the burden of debt. Freedom needs autonomy, and autonomy cannot be exercised when ones dignity as a human being - the very thing that Islam champions - is chained by the shackles of interest-based debt.

Sheikh Abdal Hakim noted that the sharia is there principally to protect the poor, as it is the poor who always suffer first, as they now do in Greece, as they did in 1882 when the British invaded Egypt; just another shameful episode in the long history of Empire's corrupt profit-related ventures that brought misery to millions worldwide. Ultimately Empire collapsed as will America's rule, and as Muslims we should give nasiha that stability and harmony will never co-exist with this blind desire for profit, but rather with something else.

This something is what the Sheikh began the khutba with, and ended it with. One of the greatest legacies of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him is the unification of the peoples of Arabia, a stark contrast to the contemporary unraveling of the EU. This unity was threatened with his death, but the Ummah was saved. Not with pieces of silver or gold but through Allah moving destiny through the pure, free hearts of those men of dignity, Hadrat Abu Bakr, Umar, and Abu 'Ubayda, may Allah be pleased with them all, and may He guide us to follow in their footsteps, ameen

Image from freefoto.com

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Musa: The Heights and The Cave

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 24th February 2012 - 27mins 16secs

When Moses came to the place appointed by Us and his Lord addressed him, He said: "O my Lord! show (Thyself) to me, that I may look upon Thee." Allah said: "By no means canst thou see Me (direct); but look upon the mount; if it abide in its place, then shalt thou see Me." When his Lord manifested Himself to the Mount, He made it as dust, and Moses fell down in a swoon. When he recovered his senses he said: "Glory be to Thee! to Thee I turn in repentance, and I am the first to believe."

In this sermon the Sheikh chose to focus on aspects of the Mosaic story, elegantly using them to outline some of the possibilities of the inner and outer aspects of the soul. Much of Moses' experiences are related to the rigorous majesty of Allah, His Jalal. At the Burning Bush on Mount Sinai when he famously asked to see something of God, he was met with the dazzling sight of the mountain crumbling as outlined in the verses above. Musa is also known by the Laws that he brought forth to the Jews, again another side of Allah's religion that is said to be 'jalil'.

However there is another side of the story. In Surah al-Kahf there is the rather mysterious encounter between Musa and Khidr. The events outlined in al-Kahf centre not on the outward but rather on the 'Ilm ladunni'. This 'knowledge from within Us' refers to the inward knowledge that cannot be explained through words alone but need ishara, indications, sometimes through poetry, sometimes through art, sometimes through an encounter with beauty itself. After all what is art if not the act of "seeking Ultimates that mere words can't reach"?

The Sheikh ends with Prophet Muhammad's own Sinai moment, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The words of Surah an-Najm are mysterious themselves, but they indicate that there was something in his heart that transcended even the Mosaic, that somehow combined both the experiences of Musa but also of his companion Khidr, Allah's peace be upon them all.

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The Orphan

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 17th February 2012 - 26mins 44secs

Seest thou one who denies the Judgement (to come)?
Then such is the (man) who repulses the orphan (with harshness),
And encourages not the feeding of the indigent.
So woe to the worshippers
Who are neglectful of their Prayers,
Those who (want but) to be seen (of men),
But refuse (to supply) (Even) neighbourly needs. 

In his first khutba given after the Winter hiatus the Sheikh begins with a recitation of Surah Ma'un, that Surah that would 'strike at the heart of the one with sincerity'. These verses cover the vices of boastfulness and pride, miserliness and hypocrisy, but before all of these harmful vices Allah in this chapter mentions the active repulsion of the orphan. To be an orphan is to be without the warmth, shelter and security that a parent's care provides naturally. That this should stir our compassionate instincts is understandable, as is Allah's stern reprimand to the one who would repulse them, especially since their condition in this life mirrors all of ours' on the Day of Judgment. The Sheikh goes on to explore the early life of the greatest orphan of them all, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who was orphaned three times over, of his father, mother and then grandfather. 

What is striking in the life of the Prophet is that in society's eyes he had nothing, and yet Allah used him as an instrument to evoke the greatest changes in society the world has ever seen. This is why the sermon ends with a urgent exhortation to avoid the lassitude of being idle spectators and try as a community to care for those children who may then go on to change the world for the better. This cannot be done with the cold failing approach of the care home but with the prime Islamic virtue of mercy, evoked by the first hadith that scholars are asked to memorise when embarking on their studies:

"Those who have mercy will receive the mercy of the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those who are on earth, the One in heavens will have mercy on you."

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