[Friday sermon] O Islamic Scholars, Speak The Truth Even If It Be Against Yourself! By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All thanks and praise is due to Allah, we seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil within ourselves and the consequences of our evil deeds.
Whoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whoever Allah leads astray will never find guidance. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, He is alone without any partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger.
“O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims in submission to Him.” [Quran, 3:102]
“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Verily, Allah is ever watching over you.” [Quran, 4:1]
“O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice. He will then amend for you your deeds and forgive your sins, and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly attained a great attainment.” [Quran, 33:70-71]
Verily, the most truthful speech is the Book of Allah, the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad, and the worst affairs are newly invented matters (in religion). Every newly invented matter is a religious innovation, and every religious innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hellfire.
Brothers and Sisters! Know that, to speak the truth was what the Prophet (Peace be upon him) came to teach and remind us. That, it was the sole means by which we would be judged by Allah on the final day. That the one who was successful on that day would be the one that spoke the truth even if it was against himself. Speaking the truth is the hallmark of the believers, it is the only means by which one is drawn close to Allah, it is the sword of Allah, it is the only means by which one acquires knowledge and understanding because Allah does not grant wisdom, understanding and knowledge to those that do not speak the truth, and nor does He grant them the right to struggle for His cause unless and until they place the truth before themselves.
Servants of Allah! Allah intends to clarify the truth to people and prove it, and thereby, leave no place for excuses that they did not receive the message of truth from Him; that is why He sent Messengers and Divine Books. Indeed, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“No one likes to give people excuses more than Allah.”
He has sent the Messengers, peace be upon them, as warners and bringers of glad tidings; hence, they explained the message of Allah and the Islamic scholars and students of knowledge did the same after them. This is so, because it is compulsory upon anyone who attains any knowledge to follow the footsteps of the Prophets and Messengers, peace be upon them, by clarifying what they are aware of. Allah says:
“And [mention, O Muhammad Peace be upon him] when Allah took a covenant from those who were given the Scripture, [saying]: ‘You must make it clear [i.e. explain it] to the people and not conceal it.’ But they threw it away behind their backs and exchanged it for a small price. And wretched is that which they purchased.” [Quran, 3: 187]
The Jewish Rabbis were commanded to believe in Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and to clarify his message to people. In the Torah, there was a mention of him, his description, the place he will be sent to and the description of his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them. However, when they recognized him, they suppressed this news and disbelieved in him. Allah says:
“Indeed, those who conceal what We sent down of clear proofs and guidance after We made it clear for the people in the Scripture – those are cursed by Allah and cursed by those who curse (i.e., from among the angels and the believers.).” [Quran, 2: 159]
Thus, it is a pledge which Allah has taken from the people of knowledge, the Ulama’ to explain and speak the truth, rulings and legislations to people, and to not conceal it. Therefore, he who withholds any knowledge, has cheated and betrayed the servants of Allah, and will be cursed by Allah and those who curse from His creations. As for those who teach people what is good and make the truth clear to them, Allah will forgive them and the angels, the whales and fish in the sea, as well as all animals, including the ant in her dwelling, will supplicate to Allah for their forgiveness – all as a result of this great deed. On the other hand, Allah has warned those who hide the truth which was revealed, in return of some worldly benefit, when He says:
“Indeed, they who conceal what Allah has sent down of the Book and exchange it for a small price – those consume not into their bellies except the Fire….” [Quran, 2: 174]
Thus, those who seek to gain worldly profits and, as a result, suppress the truth or state what is false instead, will receive a far greater retribution compared to what little benefit they gained in life, and will dwell eternally in the Hellfire.
The Arabs and Jews held the Jewish Rabbis in the highest regard. The Rabbis even used to receive gifts from the Arabs because of their approval of the disbelief and infidelity in which they were indulged and statements that pleased them. If an Arab came to a Rabbi, asking him: “Are we better or Muhammad?”, he would reply: “Indeed you are better than him.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“He who is asked about knowledge (regarding that which he knows) and he, in turn, conceals it, will be bridled with fire on the Day of Resurrection.”
In this manner, the evil outcome corresponds with his deed, for just as he remained silent regarding the truth, he deserved a bridle of fire. Allah says:
“Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed…” [Quran, 2: 213]
“[It is] so He will make clear to them [the truth of] that wherein they differ and so those who have disbelieved may know that they were liars.” [Quran, 16: 39]
Therefore, Allah has sent the Quran down in order to clarify for the people what they differ regarding; He says:
“And when Isa (Jesus) brought clear proofs, he said: I have come to you with wisdom [i.e.Prophethood] and to make clear to you some of that over which you differ, so fear Allah and obey me.” [Quran, 43: 63]
Brothers and Sisters! What was the task of the Prophet (Peace be upon him)? Allah says:
“And We revealed to you the message [i.e. the Quran]” Why? “That you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought.” [Quran, 16: 44]
Hence, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) did the following:
- He (Peace be upon him) utilized all means to convey and explain the message. On one occasion, he ascended the Safa mountain and gathered the people, calling upon the tribes of Quraish. Various clans were assembled and those who were not able to come themselves sent their messengers to observe what was taking place. Abu Lahab (one of the Prophet’s uncles) and other individuals from Quraish arrived; then, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“(My people) suppose I told you that there is an enemy in the valley, intending to attack you; would you believe me?” They responded: “Yes, for we have not found you stating anything other than the truth.” He (Peace be upon him) then said: “I am a warner to you in face of a horrific punishment.” Abu Lahab snarled: “May you be perished all this day. Is it for this purpose that you have brought us together?” It was later revealed: “Perish the hands of Abu Lahab, and perish he! His wealth and his children will not profit him….” [Quran, 111: 1-5]
- He (Peace be upon him) used to go around, preaching to the people, preaching to the different tribes, telling them the truth. Rabi’ah Ibn Abbad, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that:
“I was with my father once, watching the Prophet (Peace be upon him) following the different clans (who came to Makkah) and another man was following him. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) would stop and address each tribe saying: ‘O tribe of so-and-so! I am the Messenger of Allah to you, commanding you to worship Allah alone without associating partners with Him, and ordering you to believe in me and support me, so that I am able to convey that with which Allah has sent me.’ As soon as the Prophet (Peace be upon him) would finish his speech, the man following him would attack him and say: ‘O tribe of so-and-so! This man wants you to renounce your gods, Al-Lat and Uzzah, and to forsake your allies and follow the innovations and misguidance that he came with; so, do not believe in him nor follow him.’ I asked my father about that man and he informed me that it was Abu Lahab the uncle of the Prophet (Peace be upon him).”
- He (Peace be upon him) traveled from one place to another, preaching the message; one example of this is his famous trip to Ta’if. Also, he never favoured anyone at the expense of his message. One time, Ubay Ibn Khalaf brought decayed bones and sprinkled it with the sand, saying to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and challenging him:
“Is it possible that your Lord will resurrect this again?”
Thereupon, he (Peace be upon him) said:
“Verily, Allah will resurrect this and will put you in Hell.”
Then, Allah revealed the verse in which He says:
“And he presents for Us an example (i.e., attempting to establish the finality of death) and forgets his [own] creation. He says: ‘Who will give life to bones while they are disintegrated?’ Say: ‘He will give them life who produced them the first time….’” [Quran, 36: 78-79]
- He (Peace be upon him) debated with the disbelievers in order to clarify the truth, as he did with the delegation of the Christians of Najran, when they came to him asking about Prophet Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him. So, Allah revealed the verse in which He says:
“Indeed, the example of Isa (Jesus) to Allah (i.e. regarding His creation of him) is like that of Adam …” [Quran, 3: 59]
O you who differ regarding the creation of Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him and do not comprehend his reality and still have uncertainty about him and doubt the way he was created from his mother Mary (Maryam), without a father! Know that his example is like that of Adam, peace be upon him, as Allah says:
“… He created him from dust; then He said to him, “Be,” and he was.” [Quran, 3: 59]
Since you believe in the creation of Adam, peace be upon him, who was created without prior existence of male or female human beings, then it is worthier that you believe in the creation of Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him. Then, when they insisted on their stance, out of stubbornness, Allah revealed the verse:
“Then whoever argues with you about it after [this] knowledge has come to you – Say, “Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then supplicate earnestly [together] and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars [among us].” [Quran, 3: 62]
At that point, the disputing parties gathered and did Mula’anah, which is when two arguing sides supplicate for the curse of the liar among them and his destruction. This was a major event; when the Prophet (Peace be upon him) did Mula’anah, he came out with Fatimah, Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn, may Allah be pleased with them, (since he was certain that the curse will befall only the liar, whereas he was conveying the truth), but the Christian delegation backed up and were scared, so they never showed up.
- He (Peace be upon him) used to repeat his statements thrice and speak slowly, so that people would understand him. His statements were brief and precise to the extent that one could actually count his words.
- He (Peace be upon him) erected a pulpit for himself to mount, whilst addressing people in order to be visible and he used to raise his voice to make sure that he was understood. Abdullah Ibn Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that:
“Once, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) remained behind us in a journey. He joined us while we were performing ablution for the prayer, which was overdue. We were just passing wet hands over our feet and not washing them properly, so the Prophet (Peace be upon him) addressed us in a loud voice, saying twice or thrice: ‘Woe to the heels in the Fire (i.e., those that are not properly washed during ablution)’.”
- He (Peace be upon him) was the furthest from being ambiguous and from using riddles during his Sermons. On the day when Makkah was conquered, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) decreed that certain people be killed; Ibn Abu Sarh was one of them, so he hid himself with Uthman Ibn Affan, may Allah be pleased with him so as to be spared. When the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) called the people to take the oath of allegiance, Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him, brought him, made him stand before the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), in an effort to intercede for him so that he would not be killed as a disbeliever, and said:
“O Messenger of Allah! Accept the oath of allegiance from Abdullah.”
He (Peace be upon him) raised his head and looked at him thrice, turning him down every time. After the third time, he accepted his oath, then turned to his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, and inquired:
“Is there not any intelligent man amongst you who could have stood up to this man when he saw me desisting from receiving the oath of loyalty from him, and kill him?”
They, may Allah be pleased with them, answered:
“We do not know, O Messenger of Allah, what lies in your heart. Why did you not give us a hint with your eye?”
He (Peace be upon him) said:
“It is not proper for a Prophet to have a treacherous eye.”
- He (Peace be upon him) continued to explain and speak the truth and convey the message of Islam until his death. Even during the sickness in which he passed away, he advised repeatedly:
“Guard your prayer and what your right hands possess.”
An interpretation of this saying is that one must not forget reminding the people to pray, so how will the case be concerning one’s own wife and children?
- He (Peace be upon him) never delayed the clarification of any matter about which people needed to know, from the time it should be explained. This is a golden rule which the scholars apply in many of their arguments. For example, when he (Peace be upon him) was asked about what to do before praying when the blood of the menstrual period drops on one’s garment, he (Peace be upon him) instructed that the blood be scraped off and the clothes washed and he did not specify a certain number of times it should be laundered. Consequently, based on this incident, the scholars who do not specify a certain number of washes of the garment, remark:
“If there should have been a certain number of rinses, he (Peace be upon him) would have stated it, because he never delayed the explanation of any issue from the time it should be clarified.”
Hence, when scholars are asked about a subject, they must answer clearly and openly, without equivocating, and in a manner in which people understand. The problem nowadays, though, is that some scholars remain silent when they are asked, or answer in a vague way which leaves people confused and not comprehending what he meant, or respond wrongly, in order to please so-and-so people.
Servants of Allah! Know that, there are many harmful effects of not clarifying the religion and telling the truth, such as:
- Islam may eventually fade away.
- The truth will disappear gradually.
- Evil and falsehood will spread.
- The people of the truth will be defeated and their support will fade away.
- The misguidance of the common people and the ignorant will become the source from which people will seek knowledge and ask questions.
Brothers and Sisters! Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on him, knew his position between people and that they followed anything he said. So, during the trial (Fitnah), when some people claimed that the Quran was produced and created and is not one of the qualities of Allah implying that it may vanish, one of his students named Al-Maruthi came to him, trying to convince him to give in to the bidding of the leader, regarding the creation of the Quran. He may Allah have mercy upon him said:
“Allah has forbidden the killing of one’s self.”
He, may Allah have mercy on him, responded:
“O Maruthi! Look out of the prison’s window and tell me what you see.”
He looked outside and saw a huge crowd of people who were holding pens and papers; he then asked them:
“What are you doing here?”
“We are waiting to see Imam Ahmad’s stance regarding the issue – if he says the Quran was created, we will write that it was created, and if he says otherwise, we will write that.”
Thereupon, Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on him, asked:
“O Maruthi! Do you want me to misguide all these people?”
My Respected people! Imam Ibn Kathir, may Allah have mercy on him, mentioned a story of a scholar by the name of Wahb, may Allah have mercy on him. During his time, the leader of the believers (Amirul Mu’mineen) was an evil and wicked man, who forced people to eat pork; thus, people were terrified of this king. This scholar, on the other hand, was loved and followed by the people. The monarch wanted to force him to eat pork, so the people felt sorry for the scholar; the commander-in-chief came up to him secretly, and suggested: “Slaughter a goat and give it to me to cook it for you; when the king orders us to bring pork out, I will bring the meat of the goat, which is Islamically lawful, and you can eat from it. In this manner, the king will think that you are eating pork while you are actually eating lawful goat meat.” Hence, the scholar slaughtered a goat and gave it to the commander, who instructed the cooks to cook it instead of pork, when the king demands meat for the scholar. People gathered to see whether or not the scholar will eat it and thought: “If he eats it, we will as well, and if he refrains, we will abstain, too.” When the king came and ordered that pork be cooked and given to the scholar, the cooks did as the commander-in-chief directed them and presented the cooked goat meat instead. When the meat was in front of the scholar, he started saying to himself: “If I consume this, people will eat pork, not knowing that I am actually eating goat meat, for these people do not know that it is not pork; and, they will follow my footsteps and I will bear their sins on the Day of Resurrection. I swear by Allah, I will not eat it even if they kill or burn me.” Thus, the scholar refused to eat it, while the commander continued to convince him to eat it and that it is truly the meat of the goat he had slaughtered with his own hands. The king commanded him to eat it and the people insisted on it, as well, but he, may Allah have mercy on him, declined, so the leader sentenced him to death. When he was being taken to be executed, the commander-in-chief asked him: “Did you think that I deceived you and brought pork instead?” He answered: “No, I knew it was goat meat, but I was afraid that people will follow my footsteps in eating pork when they see me consuming it, not knowing that it is goat meat. Later in the next generation, people will also consume it because they will believe that I did too, and thus, I will misguide all people.” Subsequently, he, may Allah have mercy on him, was killed. After citing this story, Imam Ibn Kathir, may Allah have mercy on him, pointed out: “Islamic scholars should be careful from erring, because their mistakes may lead huge numbers of their followers astray.”
Moreover, in our time, when ignorance has become prevalent, clarifying the truth is critical and a great issue worthy of attention.
Servants of Allah! Now, under what circumstances are scholars excused for not clarifying the truth or knowledge and not declaring a particular Islamic ruling to people?
The scholar may delay explanation of an issue in the following cases:
1- When he is asked regarding something and he is not knowledgeable about it, then he must say that he does not know the answer.
2- If the scholar believes that the questioner is trying to rush him into issuing a ruling, then he should think carefully until he is certain of what he will state.
3- When the issue being inquired about did not take place yet or is far from actually occurring, like a question being posed about a hypothetical situation.
4- If the scholar knows that the inquirer is not seeking the truth, rather he wants to misuse his statement or accept his words only if he likes them or else he will reject them.
5- If the answer leads to a consequence worse than not replying, like the case with the Prophet (Peace be upon him), who did not demolish the Ka’abah and rebuild it upon the foundation of Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, because people were new in Islam then and he was afraid there would be trouble if he did so.
6- If the response enjoined something that was more than what people can handle, like the incident when the Prophet (Peace be upon him) refused to allow Mu’adh, may Allah be pleased with him, to convey his following words:
“The right of the slave who worships Allah without setting partners with Him is to be admitted into Paradise (by Allah)”, saying to him: “I fear that they will rely on this statement (i.e., not worship Allah) if they hear this.”
7- If there is a chance of being tortured or killed or there is a fear of that. He should still say the truth if refraining from doing so results in misguiding people; and, he should persevere and die for the sake of Allah.
8- If concealing a certain matter does not entail that people will become unaware of something that is mandatory for them to know about Islam or about their condition; an example of this is the case of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, who suppressed specific details regarding the trials before the Hour, such as the destruction of the Ka’abah before the Hour, for which people’s minds might not be ready.
9- If there is someone who is more knowledgeable than him in the subject questioned about. On the other hand, there are improper excuses, such as fear of loss of one’s job or status.
Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, narrated that:
“I debated with a Christian until I influenced him, so when we became alone in the room, I asked him: ‘What prevents you from following the truth now that you know it?’ He replied: ‘I enjoy control over my followers, their wives and wealth, but if I become a Muslim I will be requesting people for money since I am not a scholar in Islam. Hence, neither would I keep my position as a Christian, nor would I become a leader in Islam, and no one can accept such a situation.’ I asked: ‘Do you think that Allah will forsake you if you give all this up for Him? Moreover, even if this does happen to you in this life, at least you will be rescued from Hell in the Hereafter.’ The Christian said: ‘Just drop the subject.’”
Brothers and Sisters! I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.
O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us.
My respected people! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Almighty, and any mistakes are my own and we seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.
With this I conclude my Khutbah (Sermon) and ask Allah, the Almighty and the Sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving and Most Merciful.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Safar 20, 1439 AH (November 10, 2017), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: +2348038289761.