الاثنين، ديسمبر 15، 2008

Politically Correct Khutbahs? - Ummah.com - Muslim Forum

Politically Correct Khutbahs?

Living in the West, barely a day passes without a negative mention of Islaam or Muslims in the Media. Many Muslims will argue that if only Muslims controlled the Media, Islaam would get a positive portrayal. Although there is some truth in this sentiment, it is a fatalistic mentality. We Muslims fail to utilise the one weekly media slot that we do have a monopoly over. This slot is available once a week for approximately one hour. It has a global audience of several million. I’m referring of course to the Friday Khutbah (sermon), delivered weekly in Masjids across the world.

Unfortunately, where many Imams have failed to comprehend that the Khutbah is an effective means of media in influencing the Muslim mindset, the British government seems to have grasped that concept rather well. Government guidelines (and cash incentives) for Imams often results in khutbahs that I call SAS: “Safe Apolitical Sermons”. These are on monotonous topics that are virtually impossible to be arrested for under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The favourite subject is wudu, the obligatory ablution made prior to performing salah (prayer). I have yet to hear an Imam deliver a riveting khutbah based on Wudu. Admittedly, it is not the most stimulating of topics. And let's face it: if you're attending Jumu'ah prayer, it's not likely that you need to be taught how to make wudu.

Many years ago Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaqi remarked that during the time of the Spanish inquisition, whilst the streets of Andalusia ran with Muslim blood, the Jumu’ah khutbahs would focus on wudu, dhikr and other such innocuous topics. The political situation was completely avoided by Imams in the weekly sermon - due to fear of arrest. Evidently many Imams today are following this same craven path.

Imams, while we’re on the subject, fall into two prevalent groups, with very few exceptions. The first type is the Imam who behaves as if he is attending his citizenship ceremony rather than delivering a khutbah. A strong South Asian accent will emphatically proclaim “This country is very good. Very nice. Good for Muslims.” The obligatory side-to-side head waggling punctuates such patriotic pronouncements. The vast majority of his congregation have, unlike him, been born in the UK. The Khutbah fails to address, inspire or keep the attention of the congregation. Some will draw their shemaghs over their faces and discreetly doze off. The Friday Khutbah is attended as a routine habit.

The second type of Imam is the British-born, educated modernist. He too will extol the virtues of living in Britain, but is a far more engaging and dangerous speaker than the former. Quite often, prophetic traditions are distorted in order to give the false impression that there is nothing in Islaam that is incompatible with British culture and values. The listener often leaves the Masjid more confused about Islaam than when he entered.

I once attended a khutbah delivered by such an Imam. He delivered the message of forgiveness and turning the other cheek. He urged Muslims not to retaliate even when faced with aggression. He cited the example of a family in the US whose daughter had been killed in an islamaphobic attack, yet they urged the Muslim community to show restraint. He drew an analogy between this family and the Conquest of Makkah. He explained that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), like this family, had forgiven the majority of his enemies, the very ones who had been killing the Muslims for a number of years.

It disturbed me that the Imam (purposely) failed to mention that prior to the Conquest of Makkah, the Prophet (SAW) had fought numerous battles with this same enemy and slaughtered many of them. Only after having gained dominance over his enemies, did he (SAW) march into Makkah with ten thousand followers, to peacefully take over the city and forgive whilst being in a position of strength. This is far removed from the scenario of an understandably intimidated family begging the community not to exact revenge. I didn’t consider that mentioning the Conquest of Makkah in its true context would have had the Imam indefinitely locked up in HMP Belmarsh, but perhaps he differed with me on that estimation.

Another time, I attended a masjid where the Imam was praising the British value of freedom of speech. He made the valid point that in the UK, one is free to stand at Speakers’ Corner and criticise the Government. He compared this to the oppressive regimes in Egypt, Saudi and Syria, where such proclamations would result in the disappearance of the one making them. Ironically, as the khutbah ended, a member of the congregation stood up and disputed with the Imam over a controversial point of fiqh. Instead of answering the young man’s questions, the committee panicked and immediately switched off the speakers. Needless to say, I was left with the cynical thought: what happened to freedom of speech?!

Imams need to deliver khutbahs that are inspiring and relevant to their respective communities. It is imperative that they utilise the Friday Khutbah’s potential to counter the misinformation which media sources use against Muslims everywhere in the world. The agenda of our Imams should be to educate their congregation with the pure unadulterated form of Islaam, rather than introduce a politically correct or British variation. Our Imams must resist the temptation to prostitute our religious values for a few pieces of silver. Islaam entails submission to Allah. Whilst our religion has its roots in Makkah and Madinah, it is a universal message. You cannot re-label it to read “Made in England”.

taken from www.al-istiqamah.com
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