Friday, September 26, 2014

Acceptance and Rejection

A’uzu Billahi Min ash-Shaitain ir-Rajeem.
Bismillah ir-rahman ir-raheem.
Al Hamdu Lillahi Rabbil ‘Alameen.
Wasa’atu Wassalamu ‘Ala Muhammad wa ‘Ala Alihi was Sabhihi was Sallim

Ahmaduhu subhanahu wa Ta’ala wa ashkurhu wa Huwa Ahlul-Hamdi wath-thana.

I praise Him (Allah) the Exalted One and the High and I thank Him. It is He who deserves the praise and gratitude.

Man yahdillahu fa huwal muhtad, wa man yudlill falan tajida lahu waliyan murshida.
Anyone who has been guided by Allah, he is indeed guided; and anyone who has been misguided, you will never find a guardian to guide him.

Wa ash-hadu an la ilaha illallah, wahdau la sharika lah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadin ‘abduhu wa rasooluh.

I bear witness that there is no deity except Allah, the only One without partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His messenger.

The title of my khutbah today is: Acceptance and Rejection

Acceptance- we all want it, fear we won’t get it. Greatest success in the next phase of our existence will be to have God’s acceptance. From surah 9:72: God has promised the believers, both men and women, Gardens graced with flowing streams where they will remain; good, peaceful homes in Gardens of lasting bliss; and –greatest of all- God’s good pleasure. That is the supreme triumph.

We know that God knows all our secrets, He will judge us based on our actions and our intentions, and He understands our history in its totality. He knows why we do what we do. And despite all of our secrets, we have the possibility of not only forgiveness, but acceptance. That is a huge success!

In front of God we have no privacy, but why do we value privacy from humans? Some privacy is socially conditioned, most of us tend not to have bowel movements in front of our peers, even though a bowel movement is completely healthy. Beyond the basic human needs, other privacy issues center around secrets we keep about ourselves We assume that God, with His patience, mercy, and All-Knowingness will understand these secrets, but we assume that our peers who lack these qualities will not extend to us the same understanding. We keep secrets because we fear losing acceptance of our peers.

As social animals, humans seek out a certain amount of group acceptance, depending on personality. But living in this life, we are all bound to come across rejection. Some more than others.
Rejection is tough. Think about the times you have been rejected-utterly. A compliment you didn’t get, a piece of work that went ignored or flat out rejected, a relationship that floundered. We are often angered by rejection, and particularly as women, we tend to transform that anger into depression. It is very easy to get depressed about rejection. Two surahs to combat rejection: Ad- Ḑuḥa The Bright Morning Hours and Ash-Sharh The Expansion of the Heart

These surahs were revealed in Mecca, when the Prophet was in a precarious position. The Quranic translator Marmaduke Pickthall notes in his prolog to this Ad- Ḑuḥa,

“There was an interval during which the Prophet received no revelation and the idolators mocked him saying: Allah of whom we used to hear so much, has forsaken poor Muhammad and now hates him.: Then came this revelation .The Prophet had been a leading citizen of Mecca until he received his call. Now he was regarded as a madman. He was a man near fifty, and the prophecy in this Surah that “the future will be better than the past” must have seemed absurd to those who heard it. Yet the latter portion of the Prophet’s life, the last ten years, is the most wonderful record of success in human history.”

This surah is called Aḍ-Ḑuḥa, and the Quranic translator Muhammad Asad notes:
“The expression ‘bright morning hours’ apparently symbolizes the few and widely spaced periods of happiness in human life, as constrasted with the much greater length of ‘the night when it grows still and dark’ ie. The extened periods of sorrow or suffer that, as a rule, overshadow man’s existence in this world. The further implication is that, as sure as morning follows night, God’s mercy is bound to lighten every suffering, either in this world or the world to come.

Another thing I like about both these surahs is there is a lot of interaction here. God is asking the believer a question, and it is up to the believer to provide the answer herself. Lots of questions in these surahs, trying to keep the believer mindful.

Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Reheem
Waḍ- Ḑuḥa
Wal-layli ‘idha saja
Mā wadda ‘aka Rabbuka wa ma qalā
Wa lal’Ākhiratu khayrullaka minal-‘ūtā
Wa lasawfa yu’ṭika Rabbuka fatarḍā.
‘Alam yajidka yahiman-fa’āwā.
Wa wajadaka ḍaallan-fahadā.
Wa wajadaka ‘āa’ilan-fa aghnā.
Fa’ammal-yatina falā taqhar.
Wa ‘ammassāa ‘ila falā tanhar.
Wa ‘ammā bini’mati Rabbika faḥaddith.

The English translation is:
By the morning light and by the night when it grows still, you Lord has not forsaken you nor does He hate you. And the future will be better for you than the past, your Lord is sure to give you so much that you will be well satisfied. Did He not find you an orphan and shelter you? Did He not find you lost and guide you? Did He not find you in need and make you self-sufficient?

   So do not be harsh with the orphan and do not chide the one who asks for help, talk about the blessings of your Lord.

The Surah that was revealed right after this one is called Ash-Sharh, which some translate as the Opening of the Heart, or Solace, or Relief. It appears to be a continuation, and some scholars of the first century even regarded it as one big surah! I look at it as a second tool to help me out of the rejection depression mode.

Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
‘Alam nashraḥ laka ṣadrak.
Wa waḍa’nā ‘anka wizrak.
Alladhil ‘anqaḍa ẓahrak.
Wa rafā’na lada dhikrak.
Fa’inna ma’al-usri yusrā.
‘Inna ma’al-usri yusrā.
Fa’idhā faraghta fan-ṣah.
Wa ‘ila Rabbika farghab.

English Translation : Did we not relieve your heart for you, and remove the burden that weighed so heavily on your back, and raise your reputation high? So truly where there is hardship, there is also ease. Truly where there is hardship, there is also ease. The moment you are freed (of this burden) continue to work and turn to your Lord for everything.

The message in each is God will not reject us if we are believers. Our families, our friends, our spouses, children, community may reject us and this is never easy, but God will not. God can give us complete acceptance, as long as we follow a few basic rules.


Wa barik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala ‘alee Muhammad kama barakta ‘ala Ibrahim wa ‘ala alee Ibrahim. Fil ‘alameena innaka Hameedun Majid.

Send Your blessing upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad in as much as you blessed Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. You are the Majestic in the whole universe.

I think this whole give and take of acceptance and rejection, the whole ebb and flow of life is succinctly put in Surah Al Balad, The City, which I am not going to read in Arabic because I think we have both suffered enough.

This is the English translation by Haleem: I swear by this city, and you are an inhabitant of this city, by parent and offspring, that We have created man for toil and trial. Does he think that no one will have power over him? I have squandered great wealth, he says. Does he think no one observes him? Did We not give him eyes, a tongue, lips, and point out to him the two clear ways of good and evil? Yet he has not attempted the steep path. What will explain to you what the steep path is? It is to free a slave, to feed at a time of hunger an orphaned relative or a poor person in distress, and to be one of those who believe and urge one another to steadfastness and compassion. Those who do this will be on the right-hand side, but those who disbelieve in Our revelations will be on the left-hand side, and the Fire will close in on them.

Then I decided to do my own translation, based on multiple translations, because I had a lot of images in my head when I read this. This is my attempt at a more pictoral description of the surah:

You live here, in this place,
this neighborhood, this community
surrounded by other human beings
young and old, the families,
the generations, the grandparents and
the grandchildren. All of you belong.

The begging man sings softly,
"Once I built a railroad, made it run..."
You had it all and lost it all, was anyone
paying attention? Do you think your story's
been lost? Who remembers?
Where will you find your audience?
look in the mirror and you'll find you
eyes, ears, and lips of
a storyteller, the complete package.

Tell us of the paths you chose.
Tell us whether you tried to summit.
Tell us about the Ascent.
The Ascent you say? It is not
what you think it is, not what it appears.
To hope when there is not hope
To persevere when it is easier to give up
To speak when it is easier to be silent
To be kind when it is easy to remain apathetic
To follow the small voice when surrounded by loud demands.
Those who climb will be remembered.
And those who never bothered to walk the path
will hang their heads with regret and remorse.

My closing dua is from surah 7: 23   It is in the context of Adam and Eve’s reply to God after God asks them Why did they eat from the tree and why couldn’t they remember Satan was their enemy. All too often we tend to dwell in the anger and depression resulting from rejection. Don’t let yourself fall into this pit. You have tools, the Quran gives you tools, use them wisely.
Our Lord! We have been done wrong to ourselves, and if You do not forgive us, and have mercy on us, we shall certainly lost.

Rabbana zalamna anfusana, wa in lam taghfir lana wa tarhamna la-nakunanna minal-khasirin.


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