It is so critical, when so much in the world is turbulent and confusing, that we go back to the fundamentals within our hearts and minds. Because without re-instilling the fundamentals within us, we drift. If you drift, it is only a matter of time before you are lost. If you are lost, you are without a base. If you are without a base, then you are without a being. If you are without a being, then you are staring down the face of meaninglessness; a state where meaning is lost and an anchor is nonexistent. Existence itself becomes compromised and drifting.
Last khutbah, we talked about the meaning of “Allahu Akbar” and making our lives about Allahu Akbar. After this khutbah, we should all remember what it means to make our lives about “SubhanAllah.” A number of surahs in the Qur’an, known as the Musabbihat, begin with that basic supplication. For so many Muslims, it becomes a part of their vocabulary. They will often say, "SubhanAllah” when they want to express a sense of praise towards something. But what does it mean to make your life about SubhanAllah?
Let us first remember that God educates us in the Qur'an that the heavens and the earth supplicate, “SubhanAllah .” Everything in existence repeats the Tasbih, “SubhanAllah,” though us human beings do not understand their Tasbih. So, what is this Tasbih? What is “SubhanAllah,” and what does it mean? At its core, it is a recognition that God is unlike any other. You recognize the exceptionality of God. There is the created world, the world of the laws of physicality, energy, gravity and matter; the world that is subject to the laws of materiality and physicality. And there is the world of the uncreated, the world of God. God is unlike any other.
When we speak about black holes, we theorize, but what is the nature of the matter of a black hole? Something is sucked in within a black hole, what becomes of it? Where does it go? Scientists even started speculating about dimensions, imagining that perhaps on the other side of a black hole is another universe. But we simply do not know because the laws of physicality and materiality have ceased. We know that everything we experience is only five percent of existence. The material world is only five percent of existence. Ninety five percent is not material. It is space that surrounds us that we cannot experience.
When you say SubhanAllah, you are reminding yourself that this order has an Owner and a purpose. When you say SubhanAllah, you are recognizing that this existence is not happenstance, it is not meaningless. SubhanAllah is not some type of exultation to express that you're impressed. It is an entire commitment to a worldview, to a philosophy, to a whole moral outlook. It is saying to God, ‘I recognize that this creation didn't come about by coincidence, that this creation doesn't exist without a purpose, and that this creation, in the same way it had a beginning, it will have an end. Because, God, You are unlike any other. You are the light of the heavens and the earth. You are the cornerstone of the heavens and the earth. You are the anchor upon which existence relies.’
As the Quran itself tells us, there is nothing like God. Nothing in our material world is like God. “SubhanAllah” is a recognition that God is not human, that God does not take the image or the form of a human being. God does not have human partners. God is an exception to all. It also means that because God is the exception to all, what I owe God, I owe no other. The type of love that I have for God is not a love that I can have for others. The type of obedience that I owe God is not the type of obedience that I can owe others. The type of commitment that I have for God is not a type of commitment I can have for others. The most important relationship that you have in your existence is with your Maker. Every time you say, “SubhanAllah,” you are saying, ‘My relationship with You is singular and unique, and it is unacceptable for me to put anyone ahead of You. What I owe you, I do not owe any other. Even the type of gratitude that is owed to you is not the type that can be owed to others.’
This is also why SubhanAllah has a further connotation and meaning, and that is that you long to - in a prompt fashion - reach out to God. You are not just recognizing the uniqueness and singularity of God, but you are also saying, because of the singularity and uniqueness of God, I rush towards God. When the entire existence is in a state of Tasbih, everything in existence attests to the oneness, uniqueness and the singularity of God. When you are saying SubhanAllah, you are not just saying that God is singular and unique. It is not just that you also say, “I long for God, and the answer for this longing is I rush towards the Divine,” but you are also acknowledging that the essential quality of this Maker is beauty, that the essential quality of God is that God is beautiful, and that God is the heart of beauty in the heavens and the earth. To the extent that the heavens and the earth exude beauty, and embody beauty, it comes from God. The very nature of God is to repel and reject ugliness. The very nature of God is the magnanimity of beauty as a core value in the way creation is structured and ordered.
SubhanAllah is not just a phrase to be bantered around when someone tells you that they have done something and you want to express that you are impressed in an Islamic-sounding manner. A lot of people say SubhanAllah just because they want to sound Islamic. SubhanAllah must be something that the entire heart and soul resounds with. It is too sacred to be bantered around in public and too important to be ignored in private. Put differently, SubhanAllah is most valued when you say it in the privacy of your four walls and no one hears it but God. Because you seek to impress no one but your heart and soul, in saying, ‘God, I look at this universe and I know that it is all anchored upon you. You are the foundation. You are the cornerstone. Without you, there is nothing, including me. I'm not a happenstance. We are not a coincidence. We all, including me, will return to you. Allah, the commitment I owe you, I owe no other. The love I have for you, I have for no other. The loyalty that I have for you, is not shared with any other, so that my entire existence is geared towards the affirmation of this principle.’ That is what SubhanAllah is.
The simple existence of inanimate objects, unconscious beings or irrational beings affirm the principle of SubhanAllah, because they act upon instinct. When a spider weaves a spiderweb with these magnanimous, intricate architectural principles, it knows that instinctively, just like it attests to SubhanAllah. But human beings have the ability to do something far more fascinating than a spiderweb; we also have the ability to be simply destructive. Human beings can exist affirming the principle of SubhanAllah, or effectively become a negation of the principle of SubhanAllah. It is like your speech - in the same way that it is not the speech of mountains or animals that testifies for you, it is your actions. It doesn't matter how many times you say SubhanAllah in public. It is your philosophy of life; it is your actions in existence that either affirm that you truly live according to SubhanAllah or you don't.
God reminds us so often that if we internalize SubhanAllah, as well as its implications and connotations, that they will become second nature to us. God talks about what is in our hearts and in our minds and tells us: whether you conceal it or you reveal it, God knows it. Whether you utter expressions or you don't, God knows. Do you really think that God doesn't know what God has created? God is magnanimous, caring, and knowledgeable. Do you really think that God could place you on this earth and, somehow, God loses sight of your existence and that you will be held to account in the Hereafter? What is a remarkable concept, even stupefying for human beings of the past, is that there is something capable of keeping track of all human beings on the face of the earth at any one time.
Lo and behold, humanity lives long enough to discover that even governments can have computers strong enough that can keep track of every human being on the face of this earth. Created life attested to something that we recognize implicitly in SubhanAllah. Yet, there are still those that ask, "How could it be that God is aware and keeps track of everyone?" How silly of a question when we know that even humans have the ability to do that. God does not need our technological systems. Every time you say SubhanAllah, you are reminding yourself of God’s ability to keep track of us all until we go back to Him. Make your whole soul resonate and resound with SubhanAllah. Don't just make your tongue utter it.
At a time when so many Muslims are easily confused and lose track of the most basic truth, you cannot be responsible for what people believe or don't believe in; what they do or do not do. What you are responsible for is what God knows is in your heart. If you imagine the world as courts, and every Muslim acts in their court, you are not responsible for what they do in their courts. Though, you are responsible for your court. At the minimum, when God looks into your courtroom, God must see that your adjudications, your judgments, are honest, sincere, and true. You cannot be held responsible if your fellow Muslims make judgments that ignore “Allahu Akbar” and “SubhanAllah,” among other things. What you are responsible for is that when God looks into your heart, does God see “Allahu Akbar”, “SubhanAllah”, and “Alhamdulillah”?
This is why I always remind our Ummah of things that have become confused. We live in an age where people, who say they are Muslim, do unbelievable things. Israel colonizes Jerusalem, and the custodian of the two holy sites pressures other Muslim nations to normalize relations with Israel. The land where “Allahu Akbar”, “SubhanAllah”, and “Alhamdulillah” should resound the highest, sold out Jerusalem without a conscience and exerts an enormous amount of pressure on other Muslim countries to normalize relations with Israel and betray their fellow Muslims, the Palestinians. Gaza is a massive concentration camp and their brethren, the Egyptians, are the ones who help Israel imprison them. The Egyptians have a wall higher than the Israeli wall. The International Court of Justice said that the Israeli wall around Gaza is a violation of international law, so what do the Egyptians do? They build a higher wall to imprison their fellow Muslim Palestinians in Gaza. What does Saudi Arabia, the custodian of the two holy sites, do? They reward Israel by pressuring Sudan to normalize relations with Israel, while also exerting an unbelievable amount of pressure on Pakistan and using its good offices to make Bahrain normalize relations with Israel. In other words, betray, betray, betray.
We all know that Trump imposed a Muslim ban, and that now that Trump has lost re-election, Biden plans on removing the Muslim ban. Incidentally, Biden's new secretary of state is very pro-Israeli. Don't expect wonders from the Biden administration, at most, they will be slightly better. But now, there's a new Muslim ban. Where? In a Muslim country. The United Arab Emirates has normalized relations with Israel, and all Israelis now can enter the United Arab Emirates without a visa. However, if you are a citizen of Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon, Somalia, Yemen, Algeria, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan or Iraq, you have been now banned from entering the United Arab Emirates. Notice these are all Muslim-majority countries.
A Muslim country opens the doors wide to award Israel after Israel has thoroughly dominated and destroyed the Palestinians, stole Jerusalem, and imprisoned Palestinians in a huge concentration camp. But yet, we have UAE apologists among American Muslims, most prominently Zaytuna’s Hamza Yusuf. We have American Muslims that are not ashamed to be on a fatwa council in the UAE and still talk about tolerance in the Emirates. They are a “country of tolerance” that imprisons any Islamist if they suspect them of even being merely sympathetic with the Muslim Brotherhood. But as long as they wine and dine with Bin Bayyah and his people, they're happy.
Just recently, Netanyahu met with Mohammed bin Salman in Neom. The Saudis and Israelis visit each other in secret all of the time, that’s not new. The issue is the rumors about why the Israelis and Saudis are secretly meeting, and it's very alarming, because the story is that Trump is obsessed with the idea of starting a war with Iran before leaving office, so Biden begins his presidency straddled with a war. It would be difficult for Biden to end such a war, and his presidency would subsequently be marred in a mess. Then Trump can come back as a savior four years from now, a savior from a war that he started. The American military is opposed to attacking Iran directly, but there are rumors that the Trump administration is trying to get Israel to attack Iran. If Iran then retaliates by attacking Israel or Saudi Arabia, the US can get involved as a defender, and then that would be accepted by the American public. The US has been defending dictators in the Middle East for way too long. Every American Muslim should wake up and demand that their government stops immediately.
Morality cannot be segmented. If your life is about Allahu Akbar and SubhanAllah, if your life is about a principled existence, you cannot sit idly by as the Emirates discriminate in favor of Israelis and against Muslims because it doesn’t involve you. You cannot see the so-called custodian of the two holy sites slaughter people in Yemen, cause bloodshed in Libya, help massacre people in Syria, and now be a catalyst for a new bloodletting with Iran, and say, "Well, it doesn't concern me." No, what the custodian of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem does is your business. You should be completely concerned about whether your tax dollars and your vote go to support the right position or the wrong position.
If a Muslim organization doesn't take the right stance about the fascist dictator in Egypt, you should boycott that Muslim organization. We as Muslims shouldn't support fascists. If a Muslim organization doesn't take the right stance about the fascist family in Saudi that has usurped control over the holy land, they should be boycotted. Muslims don’t support facism. If a Muslim organization doesn't boycott the hypocrites and traitors in the United Arab Emirates, who have sowed so much destruction in the Muslim world and have been directly involved in so much bloodletting, that Muslim organization should be boycotted. If you go study in Zaytuna, you are complicit in the immorality of Zaytuna. If you go praying in the Islamic Center of Southern California, you are complicit in the immorality of the Islamic Center of Southern California.
God will never bless us as a people unless our life is a living testament to “Allahu Akbar” and to “SubhanAllah”. As long as we are hypocrites, God will never bless us and never answer our prayers. It's as simple as that.