Dr. Omer Mozaffar
Today's khutbah was held on the second floor atrium as part of the Islamic Awareness Week here at UIC. It was a nice relief from the basement, although, I think I prefer the basement. People staring at you while praying, very loud talking coming from every direction, I understand they are trying to make a statement like, "We're Muslim and we're here!" or perhaps something more profound, but it's not ideal for actual prayer. Alhamdulillah.
Anyway, he began the khutbah informing us that he attended UIC for one year 20 years ago. He mentioned how at that time, there were still problems with Iraq and Afghanistan, he mentioned a few other things that were going on then that are still going on now. He then asked, "What has changed?"
He remarked upon the current Presidential election year, mentioning how the political right are attacking us (Muslims) non stop. He mentioned that 17 states have been pushing for a ban on Sharia Law, although there is no threat of Shariah Law or any remote semblance of such a law ever taking root in America. He mentioned how there are stipulations in that ban that would allow for the monitoring of Muslims in a group of two or more, that anyone following Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi, Hanbali, and even Salafi law would not be allowed to do so. [Sounds like freedom of religion means nothing to these people].
He mentioned all this and then said something worth reflecting on. That God promised us all these struggles and tribulations, but He also promised it would not be more than we can endure. Omar Muzaffer mentioned how no one struggled more and was tested more than the noble Prophet (S). [I must say, I liked very much how endearingly and respectfully the khateeb used the Prophet (S)'s name. It sounds like an obvious thing to do, but many khateebs, especially the riff raff they sometimes allow at UIC don't even say Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Salam after mentioning our noble Master and Prophet (S)].
"When anger is thrown at us, our compulsion is to be angry, but that is not the Sunnah, that is not our way. We do not fight fire with fire. We fight fire with water." The professor continued and said that the media is teaching us to hate ourselves, that our society is teaching us that we are not good enough. The khateeb made an excellent and uplifting point, that we are all Muslim, that we did not ourselves choose to be Muslim but that we were in fact chosen to be Muslim, and that makes us more valuable than all the universe contains.
This was an especially nice and uplifting point. Sadly, 90% of the khutbahs I have attended at UIC have been quite belittling in tone and message, always making the listener feel that they are not up to snuff on anything religion or God related. I understand humility and humbleness are virtues to struggle for, but speaking in a belittling fashion to someone is not the best way to inspire this. The khateeb did a wonderful job at reminding us why we need to be humble and hold on to humility, if we are more valuable than all the universe contains, it is not a moment for rejoicing and becoming haughty or big headed, it should induce the opposite. This realization or understanding should induce awe and humility. Why were we chosen? That is a good question to ask yourselves, and maybe even ask God, perhaps He will show you why.
He then asked the congregation, "Are you closer to God now than you were a year ago?"
He mentioned how God loves us more than a mother loves her child, that's some serious love. He asked if we believed with conviction that God listens to our prayers when we pray. He asked how do we know if our prayer has been answered or not? He then described how years later, being in his 40s, while the rest of us are in our 20s, he was lucky to experience things and look back and see that his prayers were indeed answered, perhaps not in the way he wanted, but they were still answered.
He described several scenarios of a person praying to God not to let them get late to work as they are speeding towards it and describing eventually what the person was really praying for and how God came through.
Get late to work, but no one notices or says anything.
Get late to work, get reamed out about it, but don't lose your job.
Get late to work, get reamed out about it, lose your job, but things have not completely fallen apart.
Basically, what was the person really praying for? For stability, and God provided him with that. Even when things looks crazy, God is planning and planning perfectly. We have to hang on and make the best of every situation.
That was a nice analogy. Makes sense.
The khateeb continued to say that God knows what your heart truly desires, even if you do not, and so He will provide the prayer of your heart an answer. The khateeb mentioned we should really try to see what it is that our heart desires. He commented on Imam Ghazali as saying that those who know themselves know their Lord. What a beautiful statement, one that requires immense contemplation.
Over all, I really enjoyed the khutbah, good one Professor Khateeb.