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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Imam Zaid Shakir - The Muslim: A Servant and Neighbour

Part one of two(May Allah ta'ala reward the donator of these notes)

Imam al-Haddad’s Intention:
I intend:
1.Learning and teaching
2.Receiving and giving admonition
3.Giving and receiving benefit and gain
4.Encouraging adherence to the Book of Allah and the Sunna of the Messenger (saw)
5.Calling to right guidance
6.And leading to goodness
7.This is out of a desire for Allah’s Countenance, His Pleasure, Nearness, and Reward

15 August, 2007
Imam Zaid Shakir - The Muslim: A Servant and Neighbour
·It is important for us as Muslims to see ourselves as servants and neighbours: both locally and globally as the world continues to shrink and the global village becomes more and more of a reality. To approach life in the spirit of servitude and good neighbourliness is what we should aim at.

·Now this neighbourhood, Lozells, has been visited by violence, so I want to start with a question: What is the total population of Birmingham? Around a million; and how many gang related murders have you had in the past year? 20, 30, around 20. Now I’m coming from Oakland, CA: a city of 400,000 and there they have around 150 gang related murders each year. This isn’t to say everything is good here, for as Allah (Exalted is He!) says, one innocent life is one too many.

·So unless someone makes a commitment to stop this violence, Lozells is going the way of Oklahoma. You’ll look up in 3 or 4 years and the number of murders will be 500. Someone has to step up and say the dehumanization that is going on has to stop. Because this is what is happening: dehumanization that allows a person to take another life, someone who can do that has lost what it means to be human, and it must be stopped. Someone has to stop it.

·The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Don’t envy one another’, yet how many people are killed because of envy: I should have that car, or I should have that house. And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also said not to conspire against one another: yet how many people are killed because people are dealing against one another. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also said, ‘Don’t hate each other’, because once we hate each other, it is easier to kill one another. What we have going on in Iraq and Afghanistan can partly be attributed to Muslims hating each other and so they forget that the person they are harming is a Muslim.

·So we have to have people to step and up and say that we can’t allow these schemes and conspiracies and jealousy to build up between each other and our communities so that it becomes easy to kill and harm one another.


·So we need to be good neighbours and someone needs to step up as a lead. Who better than a Muslim? Drugs are a problem, and drugs are haram: therefore we don’t have any issue with disassociating ourselves with them. We should on principle as a community say that we are going to work against a culture of violence that involves selling and dealing in drugs. But first, we need to start by cleaning up our communities first: and this may involve giving up our time, even our lives.

·This is what we did in America: we made a commitment that even the poorest neighbourhoods aren’t going to be involved in drugs. And Allah gave us tawfiq. You’ve probably heard of Imam Siraj Wahaj in Brooklyn, he closed an entire street of crack houses. So who better than the Muslims, in the interest of being a good neighbour, to say that this there are good people here and we and they shouldn’t have to live in these communities where people are afraid to leave their houses.

·If we’re not doing this, then we’re not being good neighbours. Remember, our ethic as Muslims is that if we can’t use it (e.g. alcohol, drugs, pork, etc.) then we’re not going to be involved. So getting rid of these things shouldn’t take a lot of thought. Remember the Hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): we should change something with our hands, if not that then we should speak out, and if not that, then at least we can hate it in our hearts.

·So we have to speak out and if we can’t do that then at least hate it in our hearts: and the hate of these harmful things should be like burning embers, that it might be ignited one day with some gasoline or some oxygen. But if we’re turning a blind eye, and these harmful things aren’t affecting our hearts, we just walk by, then there is something wrong with our faith (as stated in the Hadith) – if the embers aren’t at least burning in our hearts, you could pour gasoline over them, but nothing would happen. At least if we hate it in our hearts, Allah can cause a spark.

·Also recall the Hadith that whoever believes in Allah (Exalted is He!) in the last day let him/her speak well or remain silent; and let them honour their guests; and let them treat their neighbour well. We know the rights of the neighbour in Islam– that we should inspect 7 houses on either side to make sure they have enough to eat. And we know it is Sunnah to make extra food for our neighbours.

·And these are small things but they are indicative of bigger principles: that the Muslims are concerned about those around them. Now the world is growing smaller, so everyone is becomg closer. And if we develop these principles in our communities, it has to have a knock on effect that it will affect other societies around the world.

·In the past, I would never have had the opportunity to come to Birmingham; what would have I done? It would have been like making Hijra – I would ride my horse across America and then catch a boat, brave the hurricanes….so it was difficult. But now it’s easy. I left Washington DC at 8 in the morning and arrived in one day here. So the world is shrinking. And what we do affects others. How we heat our homes, how we drive our cars: that affects people all over the world.

·So our way in life has to be predicated on good neighbourliness. We need to be able to discuss things maturely and be able to back down from our position. If you’re neighbour is playing his music too loud, who moves? In Islam, it is about bearing the abuse of others and if I can’t bear the abuse, I have to be the one to move out.

·People would put thorns and garbage on the path of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when he left his house; and when it wasn’t there one day, he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) didn’t say, ‘Maybe they died!’, No, he went and checked up on them! You know, are they Ok? ‘What’s wrong, I didn’t see any thorns today.’

·Good neighbourliness is also about holding you r abuse from others. This is a characteristic of the Muslims: one whose brothers/sisters are safe from their tongue and their hands. Nowadays people think they’re the best Muslims, but they create websites These websites are full of attacks, etc. Thus, are people safe from their tongues?

·Here’s another question for you: Is the Muslim or the Mu’min the higher station? The answer is the Mu’min. So the Mu’min should have a wider range than the Muslim. For the Mu’min is one who spares the PEOPLE from their wickedness. So with the Muslim it’s just their brothers/sisters, but the Mu’min’s reach is wider.

·We need to understand that good neighbourliness extends across the world now: whatever I do shouldn’t adversely affect those people in South America, Africa, or Asia. Like in Italy, people were dumping their toxins near Somali, their neighbours! And we have to internalise and live these things. One of the big problems of our community is that we don’t internalise lessons, we talk and we listen, but we don’t live these things.

·Remember that faith isn’t a mere thought, rather it is that which takes firm root in the heart and is testified in the actions.

·So we can talk all we want: Islam did this, Islam did that, Islam liberated the woman, Islam creates the best brotherhood; and yet we prevent women from going to University and in our mosques we have people fighting for control. As a Muslim, this masjid is mine just as much as it is yours. If we get agitated at that idea, then this isn’t the house of Allah (Exalted is He!). See these days people are in “Mosque Market”: people think that it works like the Stock Market that if they pay more money to build the mosque, they think it’s like shares, that they have more of a part in the mosque. It doesn’t work like that. Everyone has an equal part and say.

·Unfortunately, some people think they’re showing the power of Islam by shooting things, and blowing things up. In fact, that just makes us look foolish. There are those out there who are simply laughing at us now.

·There’s an American movie called ‘Shooter’ and there’s one scene in it that’s very telling. In the movie, Danny Glover says that there’s no Sunni, no Shia, there’s only money. See if America leaves Iraq now the Americans have won: not the mujahids. Why? Because they’ve destroyed the country and laced the country with radioactive waste via depleted uranium, trucked away the money and they’ve split Sunnis and Shias (something that no one was able to do for centuries). They’ve lined their pockets and destroyed the country. How have they lost? And if they can blame it on the Muslims, then that’s all the better.

·Therefore, we need to see things as they really are. Say you have bad soccer team, and you haven’t won a game in 5 years, but you think you’re just 1 year from the Championships. If you think you’re good when in fact you’re bad, you’re never going to get better. The first step to getting better is to recognise that you’re lousy. If you delude yourself then you’ll never get better. So as Muslims we can’t delude ourselves, or we’ll never get better: we’ll continue to be used as pawns in other people’s games. That’s the reality.


·The second issue is that of service: we need to learn the ethic of service. As Muslims, we’re here to serve, not to be served. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked to be a Prophet King or a Prophet Servant, what did he choose? He chose to be a servant. So he served his family, he sowed his clothes; he swept his house; milked his own cows. And we’re his Ummah. Remember, in the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) we have been told that we have the best example. People these days get mad when they’re not served: they miss the point.

·And to serve people we need to love people. I’m sure someone will say, ‘How can we love these kafirs? What are you talking about Imam Zaid? Give me some proof.’ Here’s the proof: No one truly believes except that he loves for his brother/sisters what he loves for himself? Aren’t non-Muslims are brothers and sisters in humanity; as one of the scholars in his commentary reminds us. Wouldn’t you love Islam for them? Wouldn’t you love for them to have drug free life, as you have? An alcohol free, like you have had? Wouldn’t you love for them to have family values, a father, like you have had? Your faith isn’t complete unless you want non-Muslims to have these things.

·Also remember, Imam Ghazali (May Allah be pleased with him) said that unless someone’s disbelief is confirmed by proof in the Qur’an or the Sunna, like Abu Lahb, Imam Ghazali said you better not call any person a kafir. Why? Because if you say that and it’s not true, it comes back to you? So was I a kafir before I converted? We don’t know these things so be careful.

·How can we guide and serve humanity if our hearts are closed? How can we do anything? And again our example is the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He didn’t hate any of his enemies: when people converted how did he treat them? How did he treat Khalid bin Walid (May Allah be pleased with him) after he led the forces against the Muslims at Uhud, killing some of the best Sahaba (May Allah be pleased with them)? What did the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say? He said Ahlan wah Sahlan. (Welcome)

·Abu Sufyan (May Allah be pleased with him) spent his whole career working against Islam. Now I want an honest answer: who is worse, Abu Sufyan (May Allah be pleased with him) before he became Muslim or Bush or Blair? If Blair was as bad as Abu Sufyan we wouldn’t be allowed to set up masajid in this country. Abu Sufyan before he became Muslim tried to destroy Islam entirely. He didn’t allow them to make Hajj or make mosques. What happened when he converted? Ahlan wah Sahlan. When he (May Allah be pleased with him) became Muslim, he lost both of his eyes in Jihad. All of the vehement enemies of Islam were welcomed. How can someone, were his heart filled with hatred, be able to accept these people? Now we have Muslims cutting other peoples heads off.

·So we have to hate what non-Muslims do, but pray that they improve and repent so that they have a chance of Jannah. We want to see as many people in Jannah as possible.

·Remember the Hadith: Allah (Exalted is He!) will continue to help the servant as long as he continues to help his brother.

·So if people are doing something wrong, then we should ask what are WE doing wrong? Now we tend to point the finger: but we don’t look in the mirror. What are we doing for Allah’s religion? What am I doing for the religion?

·Look at our communities: the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Don’t envy one another’ and yet there’s widespread envy in our communities. People are afraid to bring new furniture into their homes in case someone puts the evil eye on them. Rampant envy. What’s the consequence of that?

·Allah (Exalted is He!) said that, ‘If you give thanks for your blessings I will increase you in them and if you reject them then know that Allah’s punishment is severe.’ What is jealousy? It is rejection of Allah’s blessings. Allah has blessed a person and for you to reject that…

·So I’m not saying that other people don’t cause problems, but what are we doing? Remember Allah has blessed us, so service is a form of shukr.

·So what has Allah (Exalted is He!) given you that you can put back? Muslims make up around 3% of the UK’s population, yet 10% of the prison population is Muslim: and 1/3 of that is Muslim women. One of the main causes of criminal behaviour is low self esteem and one of the main causes of that is low academic achievement. Where do Muslims rank academically? Second last. So why don’t we have tutoring systems in the Masjid? If you’ve been giving knowledge then share it to build up the self esteem of our young people. And block one of the pathways of criminality.

·The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is instructed us to give in the areas that he has been blessed (look at Surat al-Dhuha in the Qur’an). So the thankfulness is categorical to the blessings that we receive in all the ways that we have been blessed.


In conclusion, we need to give focus to service and neighbourliness. Furthermore, for the sake of our communities and for the sake of our world we need to oppose certain realities:

1.The militarisation of this world. You know what they’re experiment with in Iraq? Electromagnetic wave weapons from satellites that fry your brains. How are we going to live on this planet if this is what we’re developing?

2.Anti-Incarceration. Increasingly prisons are becoming big business: more prisoners mean more profits. If we are destroying innocent lives merely to feed the machine then something is wrong.

3.Anti-corporatism. Everything is now commoditised, everyone is now judged according to their utility. Even our relationships are becoming like that: our marriages are for the sexual gratification of ourselves alone, or the money that our partner can bring. So this corporate mentality permeates our entire life and needs to be challenged.

4.Anti-environmental degradation. Because this is our home. And the weapons and corporations we oppose, helps the environment. Here’s a question: what’s one of the greatest threats of global warming? Not the rising sea levels, but that the plankton might die, which are essential for our Oxygen. So as Muslims, who follow the ‘Mercy to all the Worlds’ we should take a stand on this issue as an expression of our good neighbourliness.

5.Anti-Racism. A lot of this stuff in the world is straight up racism. This threat to Western Civilization is a joke. Look at Osama and Zahrawi, they couldn’t even bring down Egypt and Saudi Arabia, so how are they going to threaten the entire world. Another question for you: why is their an immigration problem in America? Why are the Mexicans coming? Because the free trade agreement of NAFTA destroyed the agrarian economy of South America; so the farmers lose their farms and they go to America doing menial labour. That’s why there’s a problem. So we start where we began at good neighbourliness: how would we, as Muslims, treat this situation differently in light of our ideals of good neighbourliness and servitude?

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