It's always interesting walking into the squalid basement room in which the Jummah prayers are held by the UIC’s enthusiastic MSA. I tend to find a corner for myself, to avoid unnecessary eye contact with the many people that have to look at the doorway when people walk in to the prayer area. The “sisters” section is curtained off of course, or as we like to say in our Indo-Pakistani culture “pardah”ed off.
The khateeb is a young guy, younger than me, perhaps no older than 21, since he makes mention of his last four years at the university, speaking in present terms. He has nice recitation of the Quran but doesn’t say Bismillah at the beggining of this recitation, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he said it to himself prior to.
He translates a few verses and starts his fiery speech. He is speaking in that condescending tone that I have grown accustomed to hearing whenever I attend a Jummah in the subterranean makeshift mosque. It’s a pretentiousness that is not merited.
The overall message of his Khutbah was that we should be grateful to God, this is a good message, but his execution had some issues, at least in my mind. He makes the claim that the text book knowledge and all knowledge in general is divine knowledge since the source of everything is from God. You see, Divine knowledge speaks directly about the Divine, the knowledge that we posses for our trades and secular living is of course from God, but is not characteristic of the Divine. Hence, I think this statement can be refuted and disproven, as it can be proven, a gray area that is not necessary to be addressed to a general gathering such as the one I was in.
He tells a story about Imam Shafi’. He gave Imam Shafi’ the respect and rights he deserves and then went along to tell the story about how Imam Shafi’s son was yelled at by his father for debating people. Verbatim, this is how the Khateeb described the son’s reaction to his father’s scolding, “Yo pop, why you freaking out?!” You see, it’s clear he’s paraphrasing, but a level of respect is warranted even in relaying a story. Does he address his own father in such a way? Many young men who attempt to fulfill the role of Khateeb tend to think it’s okay to throw in colloquialisms in their rhetoric in order to make the story or moral relatable. I tend to disagree for that you are degrading religious scholars and pious people to make a point, all the while thinking you are not degrading them.
In the video posted below, the Khateeb refers to Imam Bukhari as simply “Bukhari”. The level of respect is diminishing and is being traded for a sense of familiarity that is not at all warranted.
He then told how there was tension amongst the Muslim brothers since Abu Sufyan and those opposed to our noble and beloved Prophet Muhammad (S) would spy on the Muslims while they were in a gathering and spread rumors based on what they heard. He then made the correlation somehow to what the Jews did in order to achieve the same confusion the Quraysh were spreading, he then said this: "The poets were the FOX news of their time."
It seems clear where his stance on mystical poetry is. It’s probably something he doesn’t feel to keen on reading. It’s unfortunate, but like the khateeb kept stressing, Allah guides whom He wants and misguides whom He wants, no matter how many “bayans, conferences, lectures, events, salaats you attend.”
I will say there were some good points in the khutbah, but all of it seemed too contrived. Everyone follows the same rubric when delivering their “inspirational” messages.
- Praise God
- Tell us why we are bad
- Tell us how we can be good
- Tell us what will happen if we are not good
- Remind us again we are bad
- Praise God
May God guide us and lead us not astray. Ameen.