The relationship between the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and the reality of the Ummah
All praise is due to Allah, praise that complies with His blessings and compensates His abundance. Our Lord, for You is all praise as befits the majesty of Your countenance and the might of Your authority. O Allah, I cannot sufficiently enumerate praises upon You; You are as You have praised Yourself. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone and He has no partner, and I bear witness that Muḥammad is His slave and Messenger and His sincere and intimate friend, the best prophet that Allah sent to the entire world as a herald of glad tidings and admonition. O Allah, pray upon, give peace and give blessings upon our Sayyid Muḥammad and upon the family of our Sayyid Muḥammad, prayers and peace that last inseparably until the Day of Judgement. I advise you and my sinning self to have fearful awareness of Allah the Exalted.
Here is the month of Rabīʿ, which has come to us once again, carrying with it the fragrance of the anniversary, the anniversary of the birth of our beloved Prophet Muḥammad, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and are the Muslims all over the world preparing to celebrate this anniversary by give speeches and poems, wonderful words of influence and content, and the media, in its various forms, will be drafted in for this. However, I ask, O slaves of Allah, about the relationship between this repeated celebration that we enjoy every year and the reality of the Islamic Ummah, which has relinquished most of what the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, brought, and is being tested with most of what the winds from the west and the east, from here and from there, are raising and scattering upon us.
Do you think that this is drawing us closer to Allah, Mighty and Majestic, and His Messenger or is it bringing about the opposite in our lives? Indeed, I feel that these various and diverse oral celebrations, along with our reality, which I have described, are not drawing us closer to Allah, Mighty and Majestic. Rather, it is all necessitating shame before the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and it is making it necessary for us to be immersed in shyness and shame with regards to addressing the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon, with speech that is not supported by conduct.
Indeed you know that he, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, placed before us a whole host of pieces of advice and principles, commands and prohibitions, and he stressed to us that if we adhere to these pieces of advice and commands, Allah, Mighty and Majestic, will never abandon us. Our worldly benefits will be realised and Allah will guarantee for us the benefits of the end (al-ʿuqbā), and bliss in the Hereafter as well.
However, after Al-Muṣṭafā, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, had departed, and then the first generation, followed by the second and then the third, the fourth came: “An evil generation succeeded them who neglected the prayer and followed their appetites.” [Maryam 19:59] as our Lord, Glorified and Exalted, has said. They forgot, or they pretended to forget, most of those pieces of advice. They forgot, or pretended to forget, most of those commands and prohibitions. You know that he, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said in in a long, authentic ḥadīth:
‘Men will be driven away from my Ḥawḍ’ i.e. men will be forced away from my Ḥawḍ ‘the way a stray camel is driven away, so I will say: “Indeed, come forward! Come forward!” But it will be said that you don’t know what they changed after you, and I will say: “Away with them, away with them, away with them!”’
Here you can see, O slaves of Allah, how we are applying ourselves assiduously to altering what Allah, Glorified and Exalted, has commanded us to preserve and maintain, what Allah, Glorified and Exalted, has commanded us to be constant guardians over. Here you can see the greedy ambitions that call us from the right and from the left to change and alter the commands that Allah, Glorified and Exalted, has entrusted us with.
Indeed you know that he, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said in an authentic narration: ‘Indeed you will find many different ways after me, so be patient until you meet me at the Ḥawḍ.’ He said this as a part of a thoroughly effective piece of advice. We look at ourselves and we see that we have reversed this piece of advice as well. We have exchanged altruism for selfishness and monopoly, instead of being patient with the tiresomeness and being patient with adhering to the principle that Allah, Mighty and Majestic, has commanded us to, the egos and passions have clamoured from within us and hastened us to embrace our passions and desires, which is the opposite of the advice that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, gave to us. It has been authentically narrated, O slaves of Allah, that Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, along with some of his companions, passed by a dead billy goat that had been tossed onto the road. He took it by the ear and said: ‘Who will buy this from me for a dirham?’ They said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, indeed we have no desire for it whatsoever. What would we do with it?’ He, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: ‘Indeed Allah hates the life of this world more than your hatred of this.’ We have heard this statement of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and yet we place the life of this world, of which the Messenger of Allah said what he said, we place it in our hearts as the most beloved of all.
Do you not see how we rush, morning and evening, to gather more, and we don’t distinguish between the means, are they ḥalāl or ḥarām? We look and we find that we are embodying the statement that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, made: ‘If the son of Ādam were to have one valley of wealth, he would desire a second. If he had two valleys, he would desire a third, and nothing will fill the throat of the son of Adam except dirt.’ Nothing will suffice him but death, and nothing will bar him from this love except the grave that awaits him.
This is our state, after the Messenger of Allah has told us about the life of this world and its worth, and he likened it to this dead billy goat.
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said to you: ‘None of you will truly have faith until I am more beloved to him than his wealth, his children and all of humanity’ and in another authentic narration: ‘and his own self that is between his two sides.’ We look and we find that we have filled our hearts with love for everything except the love of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him. Yes, indeed there is imitational love whose place is the tongue that praises, whose place is the tongue that extols. As for the heart, the life of this world has taken control over it. Passions and desires have taken control over it.
Slaves of Allah: Indeed I ask, if I am invited to a speech on an occasion like this, which we will be honoured with you, would it be appropriate for me to speak or would it be appropriate for me to remain silent, silence that expresses shame, silence that expresses confirmation of where our state has arrived and the neglect that we have fallen deeply into with regards to the pieces of advice of Allah’s Messenger and his commands that he stressed to us? I believe that the priority for me is silence, and that is because if I spoke and talked about the love that I cannot find a substantiation for and talk about the yearning for the Messenger of Allah regarding which I find a wall between myself and the Messenger of Allah, a wall of passions, desires and the life of this world, which have taken control over my being, I would thus feel that I am lying. I would feel that I am placing a mask over my face that contradicts what has taken over my heart. I am talking about myself, O slaves of Allah. I am imagining that Al-Muṣṭafā, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, is calling us from afar, from his life in the barzakh: ‘I have told you and I am bidding farewell to the life of this world through you. I left you upon pure whiteness, its interior like its exterior, and no deviates from it except that he is ruined, so why have you deviated from what I left you upon? Why have you replaced it with that which makes your saliva flow such that everything before your eyes glitters, in both the east and west?
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, says to us: “If the Muslims knew what was in the first third of the night and al-fajr” i.e. if they knew what was in going out to pray ʿIshāʾ and Fajr in the masjid in congregation “they would go to them [i.e. ʿIshāʾ and Fajr] even if they had to crawl.” We look and we find ourselves, when evening is approaching, we go to various evening parties, we go to various canteens, we go to various places of amusement and entertainment and this continues until the last part of the night. Then we return and sleep has filled our eyes. Thus, when the time for Fajr has come and the masjids are open to receive those coming to the masjid, we find that most of these masjids are almost empty, except for a few youth whose hearts burn and have been taken over by the love of Allah, Mighty and Majestic, a few. As for the people of distinction, the upper class, as for the businessmen, or most of them, I say that they are engaged in something that is preoccupying them from what the Messenger of Allah said: “they would go to them [i.e. ʿIshāʾ and Fajr] even if they had to crawl.” Indeed I reflect on how the roads to the masjids were in the time of Allah’s Messenger? They were dark. They were full of mud, but despite that they would race to the masjids in order to pray ʿIshāʾ and Fajr. Today, the roads are smooth. The roads are wide and full of lights. The masjids are many and close by, but despite that the people of distinction, and indeed most people, are engaged in something that is preoccupying them from what the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said.
O brothers: the difference between us today and the first generation is embodied in this example that you see in the person of ʿUmar ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb on the day he arrived in Shām to meet men from the Christian religion, and he insisted on wearing the rags that he preferred to wear, and nothing else. Abū ʿUbayda gently rebuked him, so ʿUmar said to him: ‘Abū ʿUbayda! If only someone else had said such a thing. We are a people whom Allah made mighty with Islām, so whenever we seek might with other than what Allah made us mighty with, Allah humiliates us.’
Have you reflected on the meaning of this speech? Have you reflected on the meaning that these words expound? Indeed he is saying: ‘This crown that shines above our heads, we have not weaved it with wealth from our dominion. We have not weaved it with a civilisation that we have acquired. We have not weaved it with a power that we have mastered. Indeed, it is the Hand of Allah that has weaved it. The One Who has honoured us and placed it above our heads is Allah, when we pledged allegiance to Him to be sincere and truthful upon the Islām that he has honoured us with. Thus, if we become intoxicated with the crown and forget the Crowner, and if we become intoxicated with blessings, with civilization, with the wealth that we have been granted, and we forget the hand that provided it, then that is wickedness and it is the most evil kind of wickedness. No. Everyone will continue to know that the Arabs of the Peninsula did not climb the ladder of civilisation through effort. Rather, the decree of Allah, Mighty and Majestic, took them to the highest plateaus of civilisation when they adhered truthfully and sincerely to this Dīn.
Today we look at the crown that makes our history radiant – the history of this Ummah – we have become intoxicated with the crown, indeed, but we have forgotten the Crowner. Slaves of Allah; is this allowed? We talk about the history of the Islamic Ummah. We talk about the Arab civilisation that dominated all other civilisations and western scholars still consider it a mystery that defies explanation and understanding. We are proud of this history. We are proud of this crown, but we have turned away from the Crowner. We have turned away from the One Who honoured us with this crown. Our eyes have wandered far astray. Our eyes have wandered towards repugnant traditions. Our eyes have wandered towards passions and desires, and soon they will bid farewell to us and we will bid farewell to them. Soon we will depart and each one of us will find his grave in a constricted hole that barely fits him. Then we will be brought back to life in order to stand before the Lord of all Creation. What will you say?
I say this statement of mine and I seek forgiveness from Allah the Most Great.
[This translation is also available from the English Naseem al-Sham site]
 This khuṭbah was given by Imam Muhammad Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti, may Allah have mercy on him, on 11/02/2011.
 This term means ‘master’ and only applies to human beings.
 The Ḥawḍ is one of the meeting places for the believers on the way to the Paradise and it is the source of the Kawthar’s sweet waters. It is sometimes translated as ‘pond’, ‘pool’ or ‘basin’, but none of these terms carry the necessary grandeur and majesty that is required.
 This refers to all the various religions, ideologies, cults and other false notions. Literally, the word atharah means selfishness.