[Friday Sermon]: The Features, Characteristics, Qualities and Natures of Islamic Community By Imam Murtada Gusau
In the name of Allah, most Gracious, 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 is His ‘abd (servant) and messenger.
“O you, who believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.” (Al-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 believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly achieved a great victory.” (Al-Ahzab, 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.
As to what follows:
O servants of Allah! The word community has acquired certain connotations, some of which are romantic and nostalgic, some derogatory and reactionist. In one basic sense, the concept of community means: “all forms of relationship that are characterized by a high degree of personal intimacy, emotional depth, moral commitment, social cohesion and continuity in time”… It may be found in locality, religion, nation, race, occupation or common cause.
In another basic sense, a community is a comprehensive group with two main characteristics:
- It is a group within which the individual can have most of the activities and experiences that are important to him.
- The group is bound together by a shared sense of belonging and a feeling of identity. These are the two most common characteristics of all communities. Particular activities and experiences, a shared sense of belonging and feeling of identity.
But the Islamic concept of community has certain unique characteristics. Such unique characteristics relate to the following:
(1) Foundation or basis of the community,
(2) Its historic mission and purpose,
(3) Its status among other communities,
(4) Its identity and
(5) Its continuity.
My respected Brothers and Sisters now let us examine and look at them one by one:
- Foundation and Basis
The community in Islam is not founded on race, tribe, region, nationality, locality, occupation, kinship, or special interests. It does not take its name after the name of a leader or of a founder or an event. It transcends national borders and political boundaries. The foundation of the community in Islam is the principle which designates submission to the will of Allah, obedience to His law and commitment to His cause. In short, an Islamic community is present only when it is nourished and fostered by Islam.
- Historic Mission
The Islamic community has a historic mission far beyond mere survival, sheer power, breading, or physiological continuity. Such a mission is defined in the Qur’an as follows:
“Let there be a community (Ummah) among you, advocating what is good, demanding what is right, and enjoining (forbidding) what is wrong. These are indeed the successful or al-muflihuun.” (Ali-Imran, 3:104).
Respected listeners! Muflihuun is a plural of Muflih and the root is Falah which means attainment of desires, happiness, in this world and the hereafter; success, prosperity and freedom from anxiety. Therefore, the Ideal Islamic community should be a happy, untroubled by conflicts or doubts, strong, united and prosperous community. Why? Because this community invites to all that is good, seeks what is right and forbids the wrong and the evil, a master stroke of description in three sentences.
The mission of the Islamic community is repeated again in another verse which reads:
“You are the best community ever raised; you enforce what is right, fight what is wrong and believe in Allah.” (Ali-Imran, 3:110)
(2) Doing right, being an example to others to do right, and having the power to see that right prevails,
(3) Forbidding wrong, being an example to others to prevent what is wrong, and having the power to see that wrong and injustice are defeated.
Islam, therefore, lives, not for itself, but for mankind.
- Historic Role
The historical role of the Islamic community is to be true embodiment example of the virtuous, the wholesome, and the noble. A true Islamic community is the alert guardian of virtue and the bitter enemy of vice. What is required of the community at large is likewise required of every individual member. This is because the whole community is an organic entity and every individual is accountable to Allah. The role of the individual Muslim is best described by the following Hadith of the Prophet (pbuh):
“whoever of you sees something wrong must seek to rectify it by action or deed; if he cannot, then let him try to change it by word; if he cannot, then he should condemn it by his heart and that is the minimal degree of faith (Iman).”
As you can see, this description is very significant and comprehensive. The historic role of the Islamic community is further restated in the verse which reads:
“Thus we have made you a middle nation, a well integrated community, a balanced Ummah, so that you may be witnesses over other people and the Prophet a witness over you.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:143)
The role of witnessing is both highly significant and extremely demanding. It means that the community of Islam must be exemplary. It must set the highest standards of performance and be the reference point for others. It must avoid excesses and extravagances, static rigidity and instant evaporation. To strike a middle course of action, to be steadfast and consistent, to know what to accept and what to reject, to have principles and at the same time remain adaptable is probably the hardest test of the human character and social viability.
This is role of the Islamic community and the historic mission of Muslims. And it is this very criterion that qualifies the Muslim as the best human community ever to evolve.
- The Identity
The identity of the Islamic community centered upon the principles of consistent balance, exemplary conduct, and unity of purpose, reciprocity of feelings, solidarity and equity. There are many verses to this effect for example:
“O you, who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin.” (An-Nisa, 4:135)
“Verily, this Ummah of yours is one Ummah and I am Your Lord, therefore worship Me…” (Al-Anbiya, 21:92)
With regard to the continuity of the Islamic community, certain points are noteworthy. It is the duty of Muslims to do everything within their means to insure that continuity. The rules of marriage, family, inheritance, the duties of Zakat and Sadaqah, the mutual rights of kin, and the individual conscientiousness and social belonging – all these are oriented to healthy continuity of the Islamic community.
However, we should not forget that Allah has pledged to protect this community in several ways. First, He has pledged to preserve the Qur’an and protect its purity. He (swt) said:
“We have sent down the Message and we will assuredly guard it”.
This means that there shall always be a community to follow the Qur’an; the Qur’an will not be without followers even though there may be followers of other books.
Secondly, Islam itself is continuity. Whenever a nation deviated from the path of Allah, He restated His word, reaffirmed His truth, and commissioned new prophets or reformers to carry on. Thirdly, Allah has issued a strong warning to the effect that if Muslims turned away from the right path, they would be the losers; Allah would replace them by other people unlike the failing Muslims. He said:
”And if you turn back (from the path), He will substitute in your place: then they would not be like you.” (Muhammad, 47:38)
Again, the believers are warned that if any of them turns back from his faith, soon will Allah produce people whom He will love and they will love Him – humble toward the believers and mighty against the non-peaceful disbelievers. Fighting in the way of Allah and never afraid of reproaches (see Al-Ma’idah, 5:54)
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, ameen.
And my respected people, anything good I have said in my today’s khutbah (sermon) is from Allah the Al-mighty, 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.
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 Most Merciful.
This Jumu’ah khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today (Jumu’ah) Safar 5, 1436 A.H. (November 28 2014). By Imam Murtada Muhammad Gusau, the chief Imam of Nagazi Uvete Jumu’ah Mosque Okene, Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached via 08038289761 and firstname.lastname@example.org
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