Friday, April 3, 2015

Signs of the Times

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
Al-hamdu lillah, Ahmaduhu Wa Assta’eenuh, Wa Asstahdeenhi, Wa Asstaghfiruh, Wa oominu Bihi Jalla wa ‘Ala wa Laa Akfuruh.  Praise be to Allah; I praise Him and I seek His assistance. I believe in Him, the Exhalted, and I will not disbelieve Him.

The title of the khutbah today is Signs of the Times.

From surah 10, ayah 3:

“Your Lord is God Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then settled firmly on the throne, to order the world’s affairs. There is no intercessor except by His leave. This is God, your Lord, So worship Him! Will you not reflect?”

Inna Rabbakumul-lahul-lathi khalaqas-samawati wal-‘arda fi  sittati ‘ayyamin-thummas-tawa ‘alal- ‘arshi yudabbirul- ‘amr. Ma min-shafi’in ‘illa mim-ba’’dil ‘idthnih. Dhalikumul-lahu Rabbukum fa’ buduh. ‘Afala ta-dhakkarun.

In the Quran, there are many verses that are difficult to be followed literally today. The Quran says in this ayah the earth was created in six days. Scientists have calculated that the earth was made over 4.5 billion years. It may be difficult for one to believe both. That is why one must interpret the Quran metaphorically. Metaphors use simple imagery to explain complex ideas.  Instead of seeing the earth as being made in six days, one must imagine one day for Allah must be a billion years for us, and see the earth being made over billions of years, not days. Or, one may think of the six great extinctions on earth. People living in Prophet Mohamed's (SAWS) time were unbelieving to the radical ideas of Islam. If the Quran had said things about the creation of earth using science so far ahead of its time, many people would have ignored Islam. This is not saying the Quran should only be used if we live in the Middle Ages. Yes, it was written for that audience, but we can still use it today.

This verse also says that God is ‘established on His throne.” This does not mean that God is literally sitting on a throne, it just means that He is in control of everything. The throne is a metaphor for being supreme above all others and being superior. When a king sits on a throne, everyone knows he is the most powerful person in the room. When God sits on His metaphorical throne, everyone knows He is the highest and most exalted being.

Since we now have technology that allows us to see more of our world, we must see the other side of the Quran, the allegories and metaphors. For instance, in surah 99 Az-Zalzalah, Quran says,
“Fa-man ya’mal mithqala dharratin khairan yarahu/ wa man ya’mal mithqala draratin sharran yarahu.”

Translators convey this as “Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom’s weigh of evil, shall see it.”

The only thing is, the 7th century Arabs did not think in terms of atoms back then! Yet, in nearly every English translation, the word “dharrat” is translated as “atom”. But “dharrat” is not an atom, a “dharrat” is a very tiny ant that lived in the desert. The ant was so tiny that it is said 100 of them would only weigh as much as one barley seed. But for the desert Bedouin, a dharrat was the smallest thing they could think of, something that you couldn’t cut (and being too small to cut was the original definition of “atom”). So what is the most correct word here? Tiny ant or atom? That question is for God to answer. In the meantime, we must look at these ayat as metaphor.  The point is we must be careful not  to interpret the Quran as a book describing the science of the world, but as a book of religion trying to convince the unbelievers to behave better. If we read the Qu'ran literally and do exactly what it says unquestioningly, we will be in trouble. We may be misled by extremists and troublemakers.

The Qur’an says about itself in 3:7

“He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in an by themselves- and these are the essence of the divine writ- as well as others that are allegorical. Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the divine writ which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out confusion, and seeking to arrive at its final meaning in an arbitrary manner. But none save God knows its final meaning. Hence, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say: ‘We believe it; the whole is from the Sustainer – albeit none takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight.”

We need to study the natural world first, look at the ayat of God as they appear in the world around us. Once we have knowledge of what happens in the real world, then we can apply what we know to the Quran and understand the metaphor.  We must always remember that our human interpretations are open to doubt and questioning, limited by our own limited knowledge. God has knowledge of everything and it is our Creator of the Worlds who possesses the definitive meaning. 


Al-Hamdu Lillahi Rabbil ‘Alameen Wassalutu Wassalmu ‘Alakhairil Mursaleen; Muhammadin Al-Nabiyil  Ummiyee, wa ‘Ala alihi wa mahbihi Ajma’een.

Praise be to Allah, the lord of the universe; May the greeting and peace of Allah be upon the best Messenger, Muhammad, the unlettered Prophet; and upon His family and upon all of His companions.

I asked my daughter to write about Ms Marvel, and why she thinks Ms Marvel is a good person.
Ms Marvel is a comic book  series written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring. It is published by Marvel comics.

                Kamala Khan was just a regular girl, with no super powers or special abilities. At least, that is what she believed for about 15 years. It was a gloomy night, as the bright moon slipped beneath the crowded fog. Kamala was at a party, felling alone and excluded.  She immediately saw a mystic green fog, and her curiosity led her to the colored fog. She met the real Miss Marvel, and Kamala wished for one thing only: to be Miss Marvel. It was then where Kamala realized she is immortal, and actually has abilities. Kamala, now Miss Marvel, could shrink down to the size of a mouse, or grow to as wide as a car. She could stretch her legs and arms far more than most people, and can transform into other people. Kamala also has the ability to heal herself if she is injured. Kamala Khan is a great role model because she only uses her super powers to help others in danger. She has saved her classmates from drowning, being abducted, and from being killed. In conclusion, Miss Marvel, or Kamala Khan uses her superpowers for only good, which encourages others to help each other.

In learning about Kamala Khan, she reminded me of Nusaybah bint Ka’ab. Nusaybah was one of the companions of the prophet, who defended him during the battle of Uhud. When she saw the prophet was surrounded by enemy soldiers, she rushed to his defense. The Prophet said of her, “Wherever I turned, to the left or to the right, I saw her fighting for me.”

Ms. Marvel and Nusaybah teach us that in addition to being kind, it is also important to be courageous to  help those we love.

The closing du’a is from surah2, ayah 286

Our Lord! Do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake. Our Lord! Do not load on us a severe test as You did burden on those before us. Our Lord! Do not impose upon us that which we have not the strength to bear; and pardon us and forgive us and have mercy on us, You are our Defender, so help us against the ungrateful people.

Rabbana la tu’akhizna in-nasina aw akh-ta’na. Rabbana wa la tahmil ‘alayna isran kama hamaltahu ‘ala-llatheena min qablina. Rabbana wa la tuhammilna ma la taqata lana bih, wa- ‘fu ‘anna wa ‘ghfirlana warhamna anta Maulana fansurna ‘alal-ghawmil kafirin. Ameen.

-by HR, ZSR, and NR

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