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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Habib Ali Al-Jifri

From Protest to Engagement – notes on Habib Ali al-Jifri’s speech, London

(May Allah subhanu wa ta'ala reward the donor)

All praise is due to Allah and may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and companions.

To start, Allah subhanu wa ta'ala says in the Quran: “And we wished to shower benefit upon those who have been subjugated or impoverished or made weak/ impotent upon the Earth to make them from the inheritors…”

“Weakness” comes in two forms in the Quran.
(1) In one form it is a weakness that leads people down a slippery slope
(2) In another form it is a weakness that leads people up to the lofty heights

And because God is ‘The Just’, and because the state of weakness and impotence isn’t something that a person just experiences once- the fruit of that state is good because if the fruit of that state was not good then this would take it out of Justice and it would be tyranny.

And the fruit, the end result, of tyranny is not in the hand of the tyrant, but in the hand of the one who tyrannised.

The kind of impotence that leads to loss is an impotence to which a person reacts in a way that takes him out of his obedience to God.
Allah subhanu wa ta'ala mentions in the Quran: “..a place in Hell in which the oppressor and the oppressed meet for dialogue..”
Because the oppressed did not react to the oppression in a way that was befitting-

“They say, those who are oppressed to those who are haughty, ‘Were it not for you we would have been believers.’”
“But they say those who are haughty to those who are oppressed, ‘Was it we who stopped you from following guidance when it came to you? Nay you are people of corruption.’” (Quran)

Because the oppressor can take your rights, beat you, kill you but he can never make you leave the path of the serving of your Maker.

That is why we started by citing the verse which talks about those who rose to lofty heights in spite of their oppression- And Allah says “And we gave a gift to those who were oppressed upon the earth and made them leaders and inheritors.” They rose to heights because of their reaction to their oppression, and became leaders that other people wished to be in the position of.

So, Allah’s subhnau wa ta'ala wish for those people was to make them leaders. And Allah says in another ayah “And we made them leaders for the people when they showed patience and had certainty in Our signs.”

So, what Allah requests from us (after the way we deal with our oppression) to reach leadership is:
(1) Patience
(2) Certainty

Hence, Patience is described in the Quran- “fa sabrun jameel”- “And beautiful Patience.”
And when your state of patience and adversity becomes heavy to carry, remember you can always turn to Allah subhanu wa ta'ala, the One who assists.
Why have patience? Because of the fruits of patience if you are a person of Certainty in the signs of God- Why do you believe these words? Because they are the words of your Maker-
This is something we have been hearing since the middle of today from the inheritors of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam.

If you take the advice of Sheikh Ali Al Jumuah (who spoke earlier) when he said that we should renew our connection with the seerah of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam- You will understand also that all the glad tidings of openings, establishment, firmness and ease, come after the darkest hours.

I’d like to conclude (a) with answering a question that many people repeat to themselves sometimes in their own monologues, (b) and with Glad tidings.
As for the Question, people ask- “Why at this time in particular many people want to talk to us about the moderate discourse? The discourse of the middle way? Is it because we are facing so many adversities that it is being said in some quarters that make the Muslims soft and easy going so we can carry on doing what we are doing?”

I think the answer is in the question itself: If our people are at such a point where they believe that to call them to moderation and good character is to pave the way to their weakness and to add to their weakness and feeling of impotence- the answer is in the question itself- it means we have gone so far away from the teachings of this faith, which calls us to good character.

The Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wasallam articulated it when he said: “Truly I came exclusively (only) to perfect good character.” In Arabic, “Innma” – is an exclusive clause.

And how do we reconcile this with what our brother Yusuf Islam has said, that shirk is the greatest enormity and injustice a man can do, greatest injustice to his own soul- how do you reconcile this with what you have just heard about the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam coming only to perfect good character?
It means the affirmation of Divine Unity and the call to Him can only be done with good character.

The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam did not say he came to “establish” good character, but to “perfect” which tells us that it is something humanity has with them since it’s inception- so the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam came to invigorate and bring to life the primordial pattern Allah has placed within us.

And if we are from the nation of the Prophet, as his inheritors- how can we call others to the perfection of character unless we recognise traces of goodness in others and show them the way to its perfection.

And another angle to the answer of the Question: Are we talking about engagement today because we feel threatened, because we are scared, and because we fear? Is it because of shifts in perceptions, because we could be kicked out, because of expedients?
No, rather because this is our faith- Part of this faith is engagement, part of our faith is how we deal with others, how we engage with the people around us, how we carry their burdens and feel responsibility towards them.
And if the tables were turned and we were established upon the earth and we thought this was not the message we were to carry to mankind then we would be betraying the trust Allah has given us.

Because it is an act of worship placed next to salah, fasting, being good to your parents, keeping the bonds of kinship etc- next to all this is good character and it is a way that we get closer to our Creator.

I want us to leave this conference with the feeling of glad tidings in our hearts. And the giver of glad tidings is not the speaker, but it is Allah and the bringer of glad tidings is not the speaker before you, but the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam.

Allah subhanu wa ta'ala said to the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam: “And give Glad-tidings to My servants.” Who are these servants that Allah commanded glad tidings to be given to? The verse continues “those who hear what is said and follow the best of it.”

And I’d like to ask Fuad Nahdi and all that work with him in this goodness, that what was said on this day be put together in a booklet so others may benefit and it may be carried forth into action. And others including ourselves can help in this. Because when I heard Abdal Hakim Murad who spoke earlier I felt like a divine opening was coming forth from his mouth, as he spoke from within us in a way that was self critical.
And when I was sat before Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayah earlier, listening to his sublime speech, and the state with which he was before us. I felt like I was before the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam speaking to his ummah. “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophet.”

May Allah reward you all with the best of rewards.


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