Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Khutbah Masjid an-Nur UTP (Translation) on 23 Sept 2011

Khutbah Masjid an-Nur UTP (Translation)

All Praise is due to Alláh, We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our own evils and our own bad deeds. Anyone who is guided by Alláh, he is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Alláh, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad, sws, is His servant, and His messenger.

O You who believe, - Fear Allah, as He should be feared, and die not except as Muslims.

Our Holy Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. laid great emphasis on the quest for knowledge, and he urged Muslims to ‘seek knowledge, from the cradle to the grave.

There are some new faces here today. More than 200 new students are joining community. I would therefore like to welcome all the new students, and the non-students who have come to our Jum’ah for the first time. You will find in the coming days and weeks, that we have a very special community at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS. Our community is a wide cross-section of the Muslim world, it’s an Ummah in miniature.

Every student is also making a kind of Hijrah, a migration by travelling far from their homes and loved ones, in search of knowledge. And at a much deeper level, those who go forth in search of knowledge are making the Hijrah or migration from ignorance towards Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom. This is a noble ambition very strongly encouraged in Islám. It was the quest for knowledge, activated by The Holy Qur'án and the Prophetic Sunnah, that transformed those desert nomads, our noble and illustrious ancestors, into the leaders of a great civilization when most of Europe was gripped in superstition and darkness.

I do hope you will enjoy your learning adventure. Remember, as Muslims and Believers, you will have a great advantage over others. You have a spiritual dimension, which informs your search for knowledge, and gives it a context and meaning. Whether you are studying Petroleum Geology or Mathematics, Computer encryption or History, Astronomy or Management, you are really exploring Alláh’s wonderful world, in order to make a positive contribution to humankind. Remember always, that with every step you take on this exciting journey, with every new idea that swims into your mental horizon, you should say, Sub-haanalah, Alhamdu lillah, Allahu Akbar! Glory to Alláh, Praise Alláh, Alláh is the Greatest! All beneficial knowledge comes from Alláh, because we live in a purposive universe. Alláh has created everything for a purpose. Remember that every time you learn something new and useful, Alláh has lifted a veil, and uncovered another sign or Ayaat for you, from his wonderful unwritten Qur'án, which is the world of Nature.

Verse 190 of Sura Al-‘Imraan makes this very clear:

“Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs, for men of understanding. Men who celebrate the praises of Alláh, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the wonders of creation in the heavens and the earth, with the thought: Our Lord! Not for nothing have you created all this! Glory to You! Save us from the penalty of the fire!

There are 2 kinds of university. UTP belongs to the first kind, where you study and your hard work is rewarded by a Degree or a Doctorate. This kind of university is something you can choose to enter or not.

The other kind of university is the “University of life”. This is where we all acquire our informal, or non-formal education, which could be more important than any formal degree or doctorate. We all have to pass through this one, we have no choice in the matter, and the main section is the Faculty Hard Knocks, which you can also call the Department of Distress and Endurance. All of the most distinguished human beings, the Prophets, the Sages, the Friends of Alláh and great leaders of history have graduated from this department.

How well we do depends on our preparation. Are we equipped, physically, emotionally and spiritually, for the University of Life?

Studying Islam through the Quran and Sunnah, reading widely and even listening to this khutbah is part of our course material. The University of Life course is a long one, it’s literally life-long learning

These 2 kinds of university are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they compliment and reinforce each other. Your formal university should be an extension of your university of life, and vice versa. When our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. urged his followers to seek knowledge he was not just talking of formal education, as we know it today. In Islám, there is no artificial barrier between formal and informal learning, just as there is no artificial barrier between secular and sacred learning. All useful knowledge is from Allah. If you pursue knowledge that leads to a better understanding of God’s wonderful creation, and you use that knowledge for the benefit of humankind, you are given a very high status.

Listen to what the Holy Prophet Muhammad sws had to say about those who seek knowledge. Mu'ath bin Jabal narrated that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:

“Acquire knowledge, for surely it leads to fear of Alláh [Taqwa]. Seeking it is an act of worship ('ibadah); studying it is praising Allah; seeking it is jihad; teaching it to whomever doesn't known it is an act of charity (sadaqah); and giving it to its people draws one closer to them. Knowledge points to the permissible (Halaal) and the forbidden (haraam); and it is a shining light pointing the way to paradise. It comforts the lonely, it befriends the estranged, and it talks to you in seclusion. It is a guide through prosperity and adversity; it is a weapon against enemies; and it is the best of friends. With knowledge, Alláh raises people to high stations, making them leaders in goodness, whose steps are traced. Their example is emulated, their opinion followed. The angels like to sit with the people of knowledge, surrounding their wings; and everything dry or wet, -fish of the sea and animals on land, - will ask Allah to forgive them. Knowledge gives life to the heart in the midst of ignorance, and illuminates vision in the darkness. With knowledge, God's servants become the elite and reach the highest degrees in this life and in the hereafter. Contemplation with knowledge [tafakkur] is equivalent to fasting (sawm); spending time to study it is equivalent to standing at night in prayer (qiyam); duties to relatives are fulfilled by it; and through it the halaal and haraam are known. Knowledge precedes action ('amal) and action always follows it. The fortunate ones attain it and the miserable ones are deprived of it.”

These beautiful words concerning Knowledge, came from the unlettered Prophet Muhammad sws. What a beautiful and inspiring speech!

I sincerely hope that you will pursue your lifelong quest for knowledge, in the true Islamic spirit of seeking to please Alláh, glorifying His name, and serving all His creatures with love and compassion. Make it your main goal, to seek and find Alláh’s good pleasure, and consider your work, your career, and even your leisure time as simply the practical way in which you have chosen to do this. Whatever you do, make sure that the material things and creature comforts do not become your main concern. If by Alláh’s grace, you will earn a high salary, you enjoy a comfortable home and drive a nice car, make sure you keep them all at arm's length. Do not hold them close to your heart. Let these material things always remain the by-products of serving Alláh. It should never become your main agenda.

Let us pray to Alláh, to spiritualise our quest for knowledge, so that every path we take brings us closer to him.

“Rabbana atina fid dunya hasanatan wafil akhirati hasanatan waqeena athaaban naar.”

“O My Lord, give us the best of this world, and the best of the next world, and save us from the torment of the fire!”

O Alláh! Let us become like those beloved and noble ancestors, whom Your angels surrounded with their wings, and let all creatures wet or dry, on land and sea, pray forgiveness for us, in our quest to find Your sacred knowledge.

Adapted from a khutbah at Royal Holloway University of London

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