There are events so important that not talking about them in a khutbah would be malpractice. The very purpose of jumu'a is for the Muslim ummah to be aware of Islamically pressing ethical issues that are of intimate concern. Jumu'a was never intended to be a form of escaping the demands of the world, like Sunday services are to many modern Christians. Jumu'a is the way that a community comes together to address matters of public concern at the heart of the ummah.
Recently, the United Arab Emirates signed an accord with Israel. Although the UAE and Israel have never been at war, the deal has been described by the Trump administration as a peace accord. The accord states that the UAE and Israel will have normal political relations and exchange diplomatic representatives to normalize their relationships.
This deal is of interest for several reasons. One, the Trump administration touts this agreement as an example of the way forward for the entire Arab Muslim world. Jared Kushner stated after the signing of this deal, ‘Muslims, if you just do what the Emirates has done, you can visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque.’ The problem is, that is only possible when Jewish settlers are not occupying it and if Israel grants you a visa, which, for the vast majority of Muslims, is something near impossible. Furthermore, to be an Arab or Muslim visiting Israel means enduring demeaning and humiliating treatment. Not only was Kushner’s comment condescending and degrading, but also a violation of the separation between church and state. It is not Kushner's business to declare what a Muslim religious practice ought to be.
Second, the UAE claimed that despite signing this accord, it was not a betrayal of the Palestinian cause, but in fact helps it, citing that Israel agreed to suspend its program to annex remaining Palestinian territories in the West Bank. So, the UAE itself has posed the deal not as a bilateral agreement between two nations, but as a peace accord that sets an example for the rest of the Arab world and the rest of the Muslim world. This is precisely why after the accord was signed, Sisi’s government in Egypt was the first to praise it.
Third, Israel is displaying this agreement, not as an agreement between Israel and another sovereign nation, but as proof positive that Arabs no longer care about Palestinians or the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Netanyahu bragged that Israel has secret relations with many Muslim countries and that, following the example of the UAE, these countries will soon open relations with Israel. This sheds light on Israel’s true intentions despite UAE’s claims.
Israeli TV is full of programs where the host and guests engage in what is clearly a racist discourse about Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims. According to these shows, the agreement that Israel signed with the UAE proves that Israeli policies are correct and that Arabs and Muslims understand only one language: the language of violence and power. That Israel was right to never negotiate seriously with Palestinians. That Arabs are finally realizing that they have been defeated and they must abandon the Palestinians to their fate. That fighting for the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the only realistic path before them.
The foreign minister of the UAE claimed that they signed this deal to prevent Palestinian lands from being annexed, but before the ink even dried on the accord, Netanyahu said in a press conference, "There's no change whatsoever to our plan to extend our sovereignty over Judea and Samaria in full coordination with the US." The fact that he called the West Bank Judea and Samaria is in itself a racist act. It privileges the language of the Old Testament and ancient history over any events that followed, as if the only historical period that is relevant is the one in which Jews happened to exist in this territory.
The Trump administration moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem, in clear violation of international law and previous accords. When this happened, the Arab world did not care. Not only that, the UAE effectively rewarded the Trump administration and the Israeli government for abusing the sovereignty of the Palestinian people, as well as abusing the heritage and the centuries-long sacrifices of Muslims around the world by annexing Jerusalem and declaring it an Israeli capital under Israeli rule.
We should care because at the most basic level, there are a lot of Muslim "leaders" in the US that have close relations with the Emirati government. Every imam, aspiring imam, or academic that has a close association with the Emirates has a close association with an evil government that has consistently betrayed Palestinians, Muslims and Jerusalem. Unless we hold our leaders ethically accountable, we are an unethical people. We vote with where we spend our attention, money and time. When there is a government that has clearly betrayed the Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem, leave alone an entire people, and you still don't hold your leaders accountable for their unethical and immoral conduct, then you are also unethical and immoral.
Any attempts to be a good Muslim is a lost cause if you are an unethical human being that doesn’t hold unethical leaders accountable. Prayer and fasting only count for an ethical human being. If you are unethical, it doesn't make a difference. The barometer for the health of the ummah is not Mecca and Medina, but Jerusalem. There is no period in Islamic history where Muslims were not in control of Jerusalem, but still doing well. And there is no period in Islamic history in which Muslims did control Jerusalem in which they were not doing well. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the pulse, spirit and soul of Islamic history, and of course also the Palestinian people, so when you betray al Quds, you betray the Palestinian people and the Islamic history.
The US can move its embassy to Jerusalem and the UAE can sign an accord completely selling out Jerusalem, and other Muslim countries will continue doing business with the UAE, some even praising the deal, like Sisi of Egypt. There is no threat of revolution. Muslims in the US won’t even demonstrate in front of an Israeli Embassy. How can we say we don’t deserve what we get when we’re not willing to take basic measures to keep it? Don't complain when God closes the door on your prayers, because you betrayed God by betraying Al-Quds; by betraying ethics and morality. You have chosen to sit idly by, watching injustice and bigotry take over the world, choosing to pay attention to your materialistic desires. If you didn't even bother disrupting your weekend to go join a demonstration, don't complain when God doesn't help you or your loved ones.
This deal was not signed for the best interest of the Emirates and Israel, but because Trump is trailing in the polls and is desperate for a political victory. It is the same case as the Camp David Accords. It was not signed for Egypt’s benefit or peace, but for Carter’s re-election. Although Egyptian diplomats warned the President that it was a demeaning peace treaty, President Carter privately requested that Sadat sign this deal, or else Carter would not be re-elected. For the sake of a president being elected to a second term, the fate of nations can be manipulated. This is sadly the reason for this accord.
Similarly, because Trump wants to position himself as a peacekeeper after he failed to negotiate a deal with North Korea or Iran, he goes to the people he is accustomed to kicking around, Arabs, and gets them to sign a deal. The fate of the Aqsa mosque, of the Palestinian people and even Israelis are determined on Trump’s desire for a second term.
At the same time that many Muslim pundits go on about the Hagia Sophia Mosque, a former church-turned-mosque, these same pundits remain silent about the Babri Mosque that was built in the 16th century by a Muslim emperor in India and destroyed in 1992 by Hindu extremists. There was a case pending before the Indian Supreme Court about whether Hindus can build a temple on the site of the Babri Mosque. Muslims wanted to rebuild the mosque, so they filed a lawsuit to be granted the right to do so, which was denied by the Indian Supreme Court. Not only that, the Indian government was given permission to build a temple over the location of the Babri Mosque, effectively telling Muslims, ‘You don’t count’.
Many Muslim youth act like they’re independent thinkers without realizing the extent their entire intellectual epistemology and agenda is created by social media. Social media tells them the topic to talk about is Hagia Sophia, so they do, like parrots. Social media does not put Indian fanaticism and the persecution of Muslims in India on their radar.
In a repetition of Jewish mythology about the Aqsa Mosque, Indian Hindu nationalists decided that the god Ram was born right where the Babri Mosque was built. Is there historical evidence that the Aqsa Mosque was built on the site of the Israeli First and Second Temple? No. Is there evidence that the Babri Mosque was built on the site where the god Ram was born? No. Nevertheless, academics would not dare admit this.
Prime Minister Modi, who persecutes 200 million Muslims in India, was honored by Mohammed bin Zayed of the Emirati government. The same people that betrayed the Palestinians and Jerusalem have also betrayed the Muslims of India, China and Rohingya. These same people have a close, open relationship with the Muslim leaders that we celebrate and honor. That is why we are a cursed people.
Some Muslims question why God doesn't answer their dua on their timeline. If God answers the dua of any of us, it would be an act of pure grace, an extremely kind gift that we don’t deserve. Maybe if we would have done our duty towards protecting fellow Muslims, protecting the Hijaz and protecting Al-Aqsa, we would have the right to look at whether God answers our prayers.
There is a story from Islamic history about answered prayers, materialism, human ego, and how, when human beings want something, they suddenly become far more conscientious about their ibadah (worship). Then, when God answers their prayers, they quickly experience a change in attitude.
Tha’laba was a man of modest means who converted to Islam at the time of the Prophet. After his conversion, he was a good Muslim; a regular worshipper at the mosque who used to memorize the Quran. But Tha’laba had one dream: To become a big livestock merchant. So, Tha’laba would consistently pray to God, "God, only if I was a man of means, only if You, God, would give me, I would be able to do so much more for Muslims. I would be able to support Muslim armies. I would be able to take care of the Muslim poor. I would do so much for Islam."
Eventually, Thalaba asks the Prophet to also make dua for him, to which the Prophet responds, "Tha’laba, a little that you are truly grateful for is much better than a lot that you are ungrateful with." Tha’laba insists he will do good with his wealth, so the Prophet makes dua for him. Time barely passes before Tha’laba's business grows. Tha’laba starts showing up to jumu’a late and eventually stops showing up at all. The Prophet becomes worried and his companions tell the Prophet that Tha’laba is missing jumu'a because he's now busy as a big merchant, but they heard rumors that he built a prayer area next to where he lives so he can pray there.
The Prophet deputizes the tax collector, who collects from merchants around Medina the kharaj, zakat and sadaqah due. When they go to Tha’laba and tell him how much he owes, he argues that the amount they are asking for is greater than the jizya he would pay if he wasn't Muslim. When the tax collector again asks Tha’laba to pay, Tha’laba says, "Give me some time. I need to think and arrange my matters." When the tax collector tells the Prophet, the Prophet simply replied, "Woe to Tha’laba." When the tax collector returns, Tha’laba refuses to pay, saying, "What does the Islamic state do for me anyway? I'm the one, through hard work, who made this business grow. And now you want a tax? What do you do for me?"
The Prophet receives a revelation of what has become a very famous ayat (verse), saying, "And there are those who promised God that if you give us bounties, we will be sincere and generous." And when God gave them, they went back on all the promises. Those are truly the hypocrites. And God is angry at them until the Hereafter.” It eventually reaches Tha’laba that there is a new Quranic verse about him. Tha’laba freaks out, collects the tax money, goes to the Prophet and attempts to give it to him. The Prophet refused, saying, "Now that a revelation has come, I can no longer take your money. Go ask God for forgiveness, perhaps God will forgive you. But we will not take from you any tax." Tha’laba ends up becoming an outcast, losing everything, and becoming very ill. He eventually dies with only his wife next to him.
At the time of the Prophet, Tha’laba became an outcast. But if Tha’laba lived in our days, instead of becoming an outcast, he would have had an army of Muslims adoring him, because he of his wealth and power. This is how morality is constructed and betrayed in society. When immoral people find that there are no consequences to their immorality, the entire social structure becomes a project of shaytan, and you become a participant in an enterprise of shaytan whether you intended to or not. But when unethical behavior is treated as such, the impact on society becomes undeniable; morality is rewarded and immorality is ostracized.