[Friday Sermon] The Patience Of Our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)



He suffered a deeper grief than any of the Companions, but he immediately set about unifying the Companions and returning order and discipline to their decision making. He gave his famous speech declaring that:
Take a closer look at the incident of Saqifah Banu Sa’idah and it is clear that Abubakar (RA) was not motivated by self-interest or a love of leadership. His initial proposal was for either Umar (RA) or Abu Ubaidah (RA) to be appointed as successor. The priority for Abubakar (RA) was the welfare of the Ummah and the need for unity in the face of existential threats from the hypocrites, the Bedouins, the Byzantines, and the Persians. Abubakar’s grief over the loss of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was so great that he remained in this world little more than two years after the passing of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). In that short time, he steered the Ummah successfully through one crisis after the other, from the apostasy wars (Riddah) that engulfed the entire Arabian Peninsula to the preservation of the Qur’an in a single manuscript. He laid the foundations upon which expansion took place in the khilafah of Umar and Uthman (RA). And his legacy is primarily one of achieving unity in the face of extraordinary challenges.

The default mechanism of decision-making for the Ummah is through Shurah (consultation). Allah ordered the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to consult with the Companions, even though he was protected from error by divine revelation (Wahy) and he is the best of human beings. At the battle of Uhud, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) consulted with the Companions to the extent that he gave preference to the views of the younger Companions to meet the Quraish in battle outside Madinah, rather than his own view to fortify Madinah. The consequences of this decision were devastating. The Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) uncle was martyred and mutilated, seventy Companions were martyred and the Prophet (Peace be upon him) came closest to losing his own life, but at no point was there any censure for this decision because when Muslims follow a process of Shurah and make a collective decision and put their trust in Allah, then there will always be good from that decision. In fact, Allah revealed numerous verses in the last third of Surah Ali-Imran expounding on the great lessons from the Battle of Uhud and the only censure is that the archers disobeyed the Prophet (Peace be upon him), seeking material gain while disuniting the collective resolve of the army. Allah Almighty says:

“Indeed, Allah fulfilled His promise to you when you initially swept them away by His Will, then your courage weakened and you disputed about the command and disobeyed, after Allah had brought victory within your reach. Some of you were after worldly gain while others desired a heavenly reward. He denied you victory over them as a test, yet He has pardoned you. And Allah is gracious to the believers.” [Ali-Imran: 152]

Often times the call to unity is seen through the prism of the need for a single global leader to represent the interests of Muslims. We are a considerable way from achieving this, but we first need to look at our localised structures for decision-making within our community. This starts with our scholars and Imams. Allah states in the Qur’an:

“O believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. Should you disagree on anything, then refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you truly believe in Allah and the Last Day. This is the best and fairest resolution.” [An-Nisa: 59]

The scholars of Tafsir state that ‘those in authority among you’ are the scholars and the leaders. As a community, we need to look to our scholars and Imams for real decision-making in matters of public welfare, instead of turning to them occasionally to conduct religious rituals and offer blessings at weddings and funerals. The scholars and Imams in turn need to demonstrate unity through their discourse and avoid the drama and entertainment of polemics. They need to ensure their decision-making undergoes the rigour of Shurah and proper scrutiny. Unfortunately, social media has propelled the scholar or student with a messiah complex who believes that they alone have the integrity, knowledge, and charisma to guide the Ummah to the truth. Scholars and Imams need to represent themselves through fiqh councils, scholarly boards, and committees where their discourse will undergo the scrutiny of peers and the excesses of their views will be carefully filtered out before public consumption.

We respect our scholars and Imams as people of truth, motivated by truth and seeking the truth, but they must realise that the truth in a specific matter is not always worthy of being pursued to the extent that it undermines the unity and discipline of the Muslims. They must carefully consider before publicly criticising fellow scholars, especially when the effect of this will only be to undermine their fellow scholars amongst their own congregation and breed resentment and hatred. Consider for a moment the discourse in some Shafi’i books of fiqh. Their jurists will often discuss a matter where there is no clear unequivocal text and state their preferred opinion, but then recommend their students follow an alternative opinion, i.e. ‘khurujun minal-khilaf’ (the safer opinion that will maintain unity). They beautifully illustrate a principle of seeking the greater good that invariably lies with maintaining unity.

Muslim organisations need to have a collective consciousness where they evaluate the impact of their decisions on the interests of the collective body and not just look through the narrow lens of self-interest. There have been countless examples of Muslim schools, mosques, charities, and politicians taking unilateral decisions that they have perceived will benefit them in the short term or achieve an objective, only to lead to a detrimental impact on the community at large. It is the responsibility of the congregation to hold their organisations and community leaders to account when they act in their own self-interest and undermine unity.

We need to realise that virtually all the challenges we face as a community can only be faced as a collective, through disciplined and strategic thinking that requires hierarchy. We are in the midst of a major cost-of-living crisis that will adversely affect the Muslim community. Muslims suffer disproportionately from socio-economic deprivation yet we seem completely unprepared. Masjid Al-Aqsa faces an existential threat with extreme Zionists making no secret of their ambition to demolish the Masjid. We all witnessed the horrific scenes of the Masjid set on fire in Ramadan while the arsonists celebrated outside. The Uyghur people are having their identity and existence erased by an economic and military superpower that has used concentration camps, organ harvesting and rape as a weapon. None of these challenges and those like them can be faced without unity.

Above all, our religion is a religion of unity and obligates unity as the greatest obligation that underpins all other obligations. Agreement on every aspect of religion is not a prerequisite for unity. This did not exist, even in the time of the Companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), but there needs to be a shared consciousness that what we unanimously agree on in matters of creed is far greater than what we disagree on. There needs to be a shared consciousness that even in terms of fiqh (jurisprudence) what we perceive as multiple differences ultimately return back to fundamental over-arching principles (qawa’idul fiqh) that have a high degree of agreement. There needs to be a shared awareness of the seriousness of the challenges we face, and an understanding that religious, political, financial and social structures need to exist within our community that incorporate all its stakeholders. And that these stakeholders will need to give priority to the collective benefit over personal autonomy.

O Allah, guide us with those whom You have guided, grant us well-being among those You have granted well-being, be an ally to us along with those whom You are an ally to, and bless what You have bestowed upon us, and save us from the evil of what You have decreed. For verily You decree and none can decree over You. He whom You support can never be humiliated. Glory is to You, our Lord, You are Blessed and Exalted.

O Allah, We ask You for all that is good, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know.

O Allah, we seek refuge with You from all evil, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know.

O Allah, we ask You for the good that Your servant and Prophet has asked You for, and we seek refuge with You from the evil from which Your servant and Prophet sought refuge.

O Allah, we ask You for Paradise and for that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed, and we seek refuge in You from Hell and from that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed. And we ask You to make every decree that You decree concerning us good.

All praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.

Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: gusauimam@gmail.com ora +2348038289761.
 
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today Friday, Rabi’ul Awwal 11, 1444 AH (October 07, 2022).

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