Calling on Ulema
Dr. Maher Hathout, Sr. Adviser, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
We praise Allah. We humbly ask him to grant us the best in this life and in the life hereafter. And we ask him to shower his peace and blessings on the last of his messengers, his gift to the humanity, Muhammad (PBUH). We bear witness that there is no deity, save Allah and we bear witness that Muhammad (PBUH) is the servant and messenger of Allah.
My dear Muslims, there is no doubt that in the minds of us Muslims and in the minds of all of you who are here, the status of Ummah of Islam need to change. The status of Ummah now is getting to a stage where it is insensible and unbearable. If you ask me to describe, how do you think the Ummah is, I would probably find one word. I will tell you “bleeding”, because this is the reality. We are bleeding on the hands of those who don’t like us, and on the hands of those who claim that they like us, on the hands of the others as well as on the hands of those who are for fake or for real invoking an Islamic title.
That pain and painful situation reached its peak this previous week when someone blew himself up in the crowd in the city of al-Hillah in Iraq. A crowd that was getting medical examination to be cleared for governmental jobs and he decided killing himself, 150 people were killed, about the same number were wounded. Some of them probably will live the rest of their lives disabled and disfigured. Some children in that market perished on the scene. And whoever for real or for fake, who did that claimed in the name of Islam.
That title Islam, regardless who is using it, is there. A pool of blood and the field of body parts occupied the TV screens and the front page photos of the media of the world. Whether we like it or not, it is affecting the image and impression the people have about Islam and about Muslims, which we can not keep denying it. It is a reality. We Muslims look at these things and take different direction and this is probably the case where a majority is being numb.
As a matter of fact, I was talking to some very good brothers and sisters, who said, “What is so special? This has been happening repeatedly.” This is the numb effect. Because this has been happening, so another 150 is not a big deal. Some say, “But the others do even worse.” Some go to complete denial, “look to the other way.” Some try to find explanations and justifications. Some resort to conspiracy theories, for real or false it doesn’t matter. But none of these attitudes are going to make a change. And what happens, we the Ummah of Islam will be sitting and waiting for other incidents to go through the very same cycle without having any hope for a change and what is so scary is the absence of Quran in this discourse. I don’t see Quran is in the middle of this discussion. We can not change because a change happens only through the collective will of a group. We can not change our status without collectivity that they call it in modern times “the collective political will”. I am not talking political, I am saying about the collective will of all of us to see a change.
And if you notice the Quran, it talks about change always in a collective way.
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, ...” (Qur’an 5: 8)
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God,...” (Qur’an 4:134)
“O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do.” (Qur’an 61:2)
Those who wait for a person or a small group of people to make a change are harboring their faith to failure and dictatorship. The change should be collective.
Even when Quran talks to us about discipline and complying of leadership, it says “... obey Allah and obey the Rasul and those given the authority to command from among you.” (Qur’an 4:59)
Ulil Amr and NOT Waliul Amr as it became fashionable in the modern times (Wali means Protector, Guardian, Supporter, Helper, Friend etc.). Ulil Amr is a collective leadership. Minkum means that comes out of you all. It is a collective movement. We shouldn’t be waiting for a hero to come and make the change. We shouldn’t be waiting for a single voice or a small group of people to say “that is right” or “that is wrong.” It is supposed to be the collectivity of the Ummah that makes a decision and that creates an awareness and that moves to depart away from anything that is against the Quran.
What can ignite the collective will of Muslims? It is always the Quran and it will always be the Quran, Insha Allah. It is the only thing that we have to look at and feel that it is talking to our hearts and to our minds to change us and to galvanize us to make a change.
So the Quranic injunction is very clear, “But the one who deliberately kills another believer, his requital is hell, where he abides there permanently, and Allah will be angry and pour His wrath on him, and He will curse him and He will prepare for him a horrible suffering.” (Qur’an 4:93)
This is the most threatening and frightening verse in the entire Quran for someone who kills another believer. Who is willing to take such a risk? Who is willing to consider although we believe that all human life is sacred? But when it comes to that they twist the logic of those who do things like that. How did they know 150 and all of them are the enemies of God deserving a death sentence. How would they know that amongst them there might not be a person who is closer to God than anyone else. How would they know that there is a person there who is not seeking a job to save his honor or his life or to feed his children. How could they tell that amongst those who may not be a person who is a real deep believer trying to find his way in life. How someone who reads this Quran or claims following the Quran will acquire the cruelty to ignore that horrible and threatening tone that Allah is speaking in the Quran and goes and takes that risk. It is unimaginable and unacceptable.
But what I noticed and trust me my dear brothers and sisters, I have been reading what is being said and written, particularly in the Arab world, none that I knew of quoted this verse. None brought the Quranic ruling to the arena, to the discourse and to the table of discussion. All of those are either denying or justifying or upset or numb or angry or sad. Where is the ruling of God on that? It is not mentioned, it is not quoted. And we can’t have the collective will to change if it is not ignited by the injunctions of God as mentioned in the Quran.
My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, this Islamic center, which is your center as well as the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) is now launching a campaign to whom, to Muslim theologians, Shaikhs and Imams over there (including Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Shaikh Mohammad Tantawi (Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University), Dr. Muhammad Salim al-Awwa, Shaikh Safar al-Hawalli), not worried about you or about me over here, but we are talking to those people who kept telling people to go and die while they are not dying. We are addressing those people who have the ear of the masses, who have been issuing a plethora, a flood of fatwas in the last 10 years. We want to talk to them and tell them, “Please, for the sake of Islam, for the belief in God, take that Quranic ruling and educate it to the masses, bring it to their attention that whoever does something like that is taking the following risks: the hell fire, the wrath of God, the curse of God and preparing for him a horrible suffering.
The masses should know that injunction. They will not listen to me, they will not listen to you, after all the easiest thing to say, “Who is he? What does he know?.” We want those people who the masses listen to, for good or for worse, to be challenged to the standard of the Quran. If they don’t believe that this is what Quran said, please let us know. And to carry this message of the Quran to the masses to urging them not to refrain from doing that but actually to galvanize and mobilize to seek out those who are doing it. Muslims or non-Muslims it doesn’t matter, conspiracy is no conspiracy, it is irrelevant or immaterial, of certain political opinion or non-political opinion this is not what is counting, what is counting here is what the Quran said and what these actions and how it will be violating the ruling of God.
So we are sending these letters to those people and I want you to share that and to know about it and to talk about it. That now we talked enough about it, we have a (track) record, we protested the war, we protested the occupation, we protest the atrocities, we defended the Muslims, but it is about time to talk to those people and tell them what is happening is against the Quran. And when it is against the Quran it doesn’t make any difference to me who is doing it, whether he is a Muslim or a non-Muslim, whether he is an Imam or a Mr., whether he is a Shaikh or a Mullah or Ayatollah, whether he is a President or a King or Emperor or an Occupier. What is against the Quran is against the Quran.
“...don’t let your animosity to people swerve you away from the path of judgment.” (Qur’an 5:8)
We need lots of prayers, awareness and determination. We should talk and speak out because I am noticing, so many of us particularly and unfortunately our young people are so confused, so dazzled with talks and so hazy about the issues that Quran settled very clearly.
May Allah show us what is false as false and give us the power to avoid it, what is true as true and give us the courage to follow it. And I ask Him to forgive our sins and mistakes. And I ask him to give us the power and unity so that we can pursue the discourse.
Excerpts from the Friday Sermon addressed by Dr. Maher Hathout at the Islamic Center of So. Calif, Los Angeles on March 4, 2005. To listen to the audio, go to http://islamctr.org/JUMAS.ASP and click on the khutba titled “Calling on Ulema” .