(Friday Sermon) Islam And Reading Culture By Imam Murtada Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Alhamdulillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil within ourselves and from our wrongdoings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide, and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.
I bear witness that there is no (true) God except Allah alone without a partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (PBUH) is His abd (servant) and Messenger.
“O you who have believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.” (Ali Imran, 3:102)
“O people! Revere your Lord who has created you from a single soul, created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah through whom you demand things from one another and (Cherish the ties of) the wombs, indeed, Allah is ever-Watchful over you.” (An-Nisa’, 4:1)
“O you who have believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger have certainly achieved a great victory.” (Al-Ahzaab, 33:70-71)
Indeed, the best speech is Allah’s (SWT) Book and the best guidance is Muhammad’s (SAW) guidance. The worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovation is an act of misguidance leading to the Fire.
Dear Servants of Allah!
Allah has bestowed upon us existence, but He made our life restricted in span. It remains short no matter how much it lasts. For this reason the Noble Qur’an urges us to invest in our time by doing good deeds so as to benefit ourselves and our nation. And reading is one of the beneficial acts to busy ourselves with. Because of its importance in life, it was the first thing revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) as Allah says:
“Recite/Read in the name of your Lord who created – created man from a clinging substance. Recite/Read and your Lord is the most Generous – who taught by the pen – taught man that which he knew not.” (Al Alaq, 1-5)
Dear Servants of Allah!
Reading is thus a delight for the soul and a feed for the thought. Therefore, you are invited to read beneficial knowledge and acquire useful books. The best book of all is the Noble Qur’an. Allah the Almighty says:
“So recite what is easy from it.” (Al Muzammil, 20)
On the same matter, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Recite the Qur’an for it will come as an intercessor for its readers on the Day of Resurrection.”
It is the inscribed book for understanding what Allah, may Glory be to Him, has availed in this universe, from land, sea, air, environment to space. Whoever reads the Qur’an and ponders its meanings will go deeply in understanding its verses, indicating the all knowledge of the Creator as well as his wisdom and might.
Allah the most Exalted says:
“We will show them our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth.”
Also Reading the Prophetic Hadiths and traditions as well as those of scholars and the pious is also a rich source for attaining knowledge. They contain a wealth of lessons that they can be alternative to many other books and records. It was reported that it was said to Ibn al Mubarak:
“O Abu Abdulrahman, what if you go out and sit with your friends.” He said, “When at home, I am sitting with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH’s) companions,” meaning reading books.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Reading is the key to harness sciences, master skills, learn religious teachings and acquire the knowledge and heritage of former and later peoples. It is no wonder then that it is a reason for elevating the status of man either in his lifetime or after his death. Allah the most exalted says:
“Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. And Allah is acquainted with what you do.” (Al Mujadala: 11)
In another place in the Qur’an, the high value of reading is highlighted in the account of the youth of the cave (as-habul Kahf), who kept a book with them:
“Or have you though that the companions of the cave and the inscription were, among our signs, a wonder?” (Al Kahf: 9)
About them (the youth and the inscription), Ibn Abbas, May Allah be pleased with him, said that the inscription with them at the cave was their code of law.
This point to the importance of taking and reading books in all of one’s actions as was the case with early Muslims. Well aware of this, they rolled up their sleeves and sought to combat literacy by studying and learning. It was not uncommon amongst them to advise each other before travel to read books during their journey saying, “help yourselves overcome the solitude of being away from home by reading books. They are speaking tongues and seeing eyes.”
Al Khalil Ibn Ahmad al Farahidi, the founder of al Arud (the study of Arabic prosody), said, “Anything I heard, I wrote and memorized. And anything I memorized had benefitted me.” During his life, he was an avid reader and passionate about learning.
A scholar said to his friends, “please know that knowledge comes and go, so make books its protector and pens its guardian.” Their readings yielded beneficial knowledge, which was recorded in books of various forms and types.
My respected people!
You are advised to read different kinds of sciences and texts as there are a large number of materials translated into Arabic, English, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Ebira, etc. making knowledge conveniently available in our mother tongues.
This is accentuated by the evolution of reading tools, which are no longer the preserve of conventional mediums; books, journals, magazines and so on. Reading has become electronic through the internet and other similar mediums, featuring varied knowledge content that feeds the souls and thoughts.
The new reading facilities save time and effort and take us to the age of smart communication solutions, invented by people who invested well in reading. So strive hard in reading beneficial sciences and encourage your children to follow whatever is new and useful. You need also to give some of your time to reading, daily and weekly.
With this in mind, I command you to obey Allah duly and be aware that nations progress through reading and knowledge, without which life is meaningless. That is why Allah swore by their tools, the pen. He the Almighty says:
“Nun. By the pen and what they inscribe?” (Nun: 1), highlighting the high status of writing. Let us make the books our companions in order to contribute to our beloved nation.
Dear Servants of Allah!
Allah has asked you to abide by an order He has been the first to undertake, then His angels, for He says:
“Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask (Allah to grant him) peace.” (Al Ahzaab: 56)
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“For everyone who invokes a blessing on me will receive ten blessings from Allah.”
May the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon our Master Muhammad (PBUH), his family and all his Companions.
“O Allah, we seek your favour to bless us with beneficial knowledge, let our hearts be full of your gratitude and keep our tongue moist with your remembrance. May Allah bless us with good provision, accepted work, well-being in mind and body and blessed living life and progeny.
May Allah be pleased with the rightly guided caliphs and all those who will follow them in righteousness till the Day of Judgment.
O Allah guide us to know what is good, make us benefit from what we have learnt, and increase our knowledge.
O Allah, give us piety and purify our souls. You are the Master and the Lord of souls. O Sustainer, amend our intentions, grant that our spouses and our offspring be a joy to our eyes and make success be an ally to us.
O Allah, we implore you at this instant not to let a sin unforgiving, a distress unrelieved, an illness unhealed or a handicapped without relief, a dead without mercy or a debt unsettled. Our Lord, give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the fire.
May Allah grant our leaders success and provide strength and assistance to them.
“O Allah, forgives all of the Muslims, men and women, living and dead, and makes blessings follow us and them. O Allah have mercy on our parents. O Lord, forgive and show mercy, you are the Ever merciful and there is no strength or power save with Allah, the High, the Great.
I pray to Allah, the Most Gracious to continue blessing our beloved country, Nigeria, with peace, unity, progress, safety and security, ameen.
O Servants of Allah remember Allah and He will remember you. Be grateful for His benevolence He will increase His blessings to you. Allah, the Most High, says:
“And establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.” (Al Ankabut: 45)
This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Sha’aban 13,1437 AH (May 20, 2016), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’at Mosque and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosque, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: +234 803 828 9761.