Today's khutbah at the UIC basement prayer hall started off with a story about how the khateeb's mother kept a painting of his since pre-school and how much that meant to him that she kept it. Cheezy, but he was making a point. The point was that when you are a child, any little act you perform, your parents typically rejoice in it much more than when you achieve something as an adult, since that's what expected from you.
He then backed up his claim that God only cares about one's efforts by quoting the famous hadith about the dog and the prostitute. In case you don't already know that one, allow me to retell it. I will be using my words, so this is a paraphrase.
One day, a prostitute was walking and came across a well, next to the well was a dog dying of thirst. Realizing that the dog was unable to procure water for itself, the prostitute, who was also stricken with thirst, dipped her show into the well and fed the dog. Before even attending to herself, she revived the slowly dying dog. because of this, she was forgiven and granted paradise.
So, that was a good example of God's mercy and compassion towards His creation. The khateeb then said, that one good action of sincerity is enough for Allah to forgive you. I wholeheartedly agree with him.
He next told a story about Junaid al Baghdadi. I was excited when he mentioned the name because I have a great love for Junaid al Baghdadi and his teachings, also, I never thought I would hear about him in a UIC MSA khutbah, so I was even more thrilled to be proven wrong. Unfortunately, my sentiments of joy were fleeting, since the khateeb continued his story and said that Junaid al Baghdadi was a famous wrestler, not a scholar or shaykh, but a professional wrestler.
I had never heard this story before, but not wanting to discredit the khateeb, because this story could actually be legitimate, I did some research and came across the full story, which the khateeb paraphrased for us:
Story of a Wrestler
Junaid Baghdadiunaid Baghdadi earned his livelihood as a professional wrestler.
As was the norm, the Leader of Baghdad announced one day, “Today, Junaid Baghdadi will demonstrate his skills as a wrestler, is there anyone to challenge him.” An elderly man shakily stood up with his neck quivering and said, “I will enter the contest with him.” Whoever was witness to this scene could not contain themselves, they burst out howling with laughter, clapping their hands.
The King was bound by the law. He could not stop someone who of his own free will entered the bout. The elderly man was given the permission to enter the ring. He was about sixty-five years old. When Junaid Baghdadi entered the ring, he was dumbfounded as was the King and all the spectators of the Kingdom who were present. The single thought that occupied their minds was, “How will this old man be able to fight?”
The old man addressed Junaid with these words, “Lend me your ears.” He then whispered, “I know it is not possible for me to win this bout against you, but I am a Sayyid, a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). My children are starving at home. Are you prepared to sacrifice your name, your honour and position for the love of Allah’s Prophet and lose this bout to me? If you do this I will be able to collect the prize money and thereby have the means to feed my children and myself for an entire year. I will be able to settle all my debts and above all, the master of both the worlds will be pleased with you. Are you, Oh Junaid, not willing to sacrifice your honour for the sake of the children of Rasulullah (peace be upon him)?
Junaid Baghdadi thought to himself, “Today, I have an excellent opportunity.” In a display of fervour Junaid Baghdadi executed a couple of maneuvers, demonstrating his finesse so that the King does not suspect any conspiracy. Junaid with a great display of antics did not use his strength and allowed himself to be dropped. The elderly man mounted his chest thus entitling him to the prize.
That night, Junaid Baghdadi had a dream of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who said, “Oh Junaid, you have sacrificed your honour, your nationally acclaimed fame, your name and position which was heralded throughout Baghdad in the expression of your love for my children who were starving. As of today, your name is recorded in the register of the Auliya (friends of Allah).” Thereafter, this great wrestler learnt to defeat his nafs (desires) and became one of the most eminent Auliya of his time!
Source: From the book “Tajalliat-e-Jazb” by Shaikh Hakim Muhammad Akhtar.
When describing the reaction of the people when the old man volunteered to fight, he said, "He's gonna get killed bro!" That was strange. The khateeb said pretty much everything except the last line. Where Junaid was able to conquer his nafs. He did mention that he became an Awliya ("Friend of God," which can also be understood as "Saint").
He then made an analogy with Derek Rose. I hear about Derek Rose at least twice a month in these khutbahs. It's ridiculous. It's obvious who these "brothers" idolize. It's always the same, I hear about basketball or video games, Halo, Modern Warfare 3, and all that other nonsense. I mean, just go to the UIC MSA website, what's on the first page? Right underneath the Ka'bah, you see a post about "Brother's Assassin" Wonderful. I understand that they are trying to relate to one another through pop culture, but it's not something I appreciate. That's just me, I am sure others appreciate it, and if it works for them, Alhamdulillah. We are all different, we are all attracted to different things, it's how God made us. So no worries.
In case you were wondering about the Junaid al Baghdadi that I was originally thinking of, you can learn more about him here.
This was a nice story, and I thought it was really clever of the khateeb, I thought he might use it as a segue to talk about the Mawlid that is tomorrow. The Mawlid, for those of you that don't know, is the birthday of the Prophet (S), and it is tomorrow. Unfortunately, he did not, he didn't mention that Mawlid at all during his 30 minute khutbah. I was really saddened by this.
I won't rant here, but it's really unfortunate that any Muslim should not at the very least recognize what day is coming, the birthday of our Prophet, if it weren't for him, none of us would be Muslim. At the very least, we should know when his birthday is. For those of you that would like more information about the Mawlid and some history regarding its observance or lack thereof, please read this article.
The khateeb then told another story, this time about an idol worshiper, a pagan, who kept saying the idols name outloud, "Ya Saman!" He kept this up and repeated it over and over, then by a slip of the tongue he accidentally pronounced one of God's names and said, "Ya Samad!" And God immediately responded with, "Yes my slave, what do you want?"
I have never heard this story either, but it seems to tell a good lesson. That God will respond to you even if you don't mean to call on Him.
Then he told yet another story. About how a mother who worked with fire would keep her child away from it, no matter how attracted he was to the flame. He made the parallel that God loves us more than that mother loves her child, so how can he put His creation in the Hell Fire, in Jahannam? The khateeb explained this and began to cry. Gosh... this will sound harsh, but it sounded so unrealistic, this short little desi kid, with an incredibly scraggly beard, imitating crying. It was not something I wanted to see, but endured for the sake of praying my Jummah.
But his point was good, I think I would have liked it more without the waterworks though.
And that was the khutbah. They made an announcement afterwards about the brother's getting together to play Halo 3!!! And the sisters attending Happy Hour at a sister's apartment. I am sure they won't be consuming alcohol at the Happy Hour, in all seriousness. Oh, then like a passing thought he mentioned IAW, Islamic Awareness Week, and asked for donations. Cool.