I do not know how anyone can take the podium this Friday and dare talk about anything other than what is transpiring in our beloved Jerusalem and our beloved Aqsa Mosque. As I say this, I am certain that there will be plenty of khutbahs and plenty of mosques that will not even mention the Aqsa Mosque. But what is new, right? This is the sign of the ailment and disease of our Ummah.
First, it would be immoral to not mention the fact that throughout the West Bank, Israeli forces have been killing unarmed Palestinians for the past two weeks in response to the attacks that were carried out by some Palestinians in the Israeli mainland. Here we find a common scenario: collective punishment. The big difference is that the Palestinians being killed by the Israelis in response to the attacks that took place, have nothing to do with the attackers or the attack, other than the fact that they are Palestinians; and those who are being killed by the Israeli army throughout the West Bank are unarmed Palestinians.
But of course, we are now accustomed to the fact that for decades, Israel has been carrying a policy of collective punishment in response to whatever it deems a terrorist attack. Whether it is a terrorist attack or not is not the issue, the issue is the collective punishment. Terrorism is wrong when it targets people that have nothing to do with the colonial settler's project. When terrorism targets innocent civilians going about their day, it is wrong. But Israel has adopted a policy of responding to whatever terrorism that is perpetuated through a deeply racist policy, a policy of collective punishments. All Palestinians are the same. All Arabs are the same. If one of them attacks, then you kill another. It is all the same. The obvious racism of this hardly needs comment.
But I want to go back to the Aqsa Mosque. We have become accustomed that every time Ramadan rolls around, Israel escalates its violence against the Aqsa Mosque. We have become accustomed now that every Ramadan, Israel ends up bombarding Gaza, killing droves of civilians. Of course, as we follow the news of the violent attacks on the Aqsa Mosque, we brace for Gazans to try to send the message to Israel, “You are not going to be allowed a freehand with the Aqsa Mosque,” the type of events that result in horrendous violence unleashed upon Gaza.
Yet again, in another Ramadan, Israeli fanatics, extremists and racists have made it very clear that they intend to violate the sanctity of the Aqsa Mosque, because as far as they are concerned, the Aqsa Mosque does not have the right to exist. In fact, they made their intention very clear that they not only want to transgress upon the sanctity of the Aqsa Mosque, but also to carry out animal sacrifices in the compound of the Aqsa Mosque. Of course, the significance of the animal sacrifices is that they claim that this is the site of the Temple of Solomon that they plan to rebuild. In order to rebuild this temple, as they openly admit, they plan to tear down the Aqsa Mosque. The significance of slaughtering the animals, without even announcing that they intend to do so, is to send a clear message to Muslims, "You have no rights in the Aqsa Mosque and we have every intention of tearing it down."
It is important to note, Israeli forces are in the habit of protecting settlers when they violate the sanctity of the Aqsa Mosque, and unleashing violence upon any Palestinian that dares to defend the sanctity of the Aqsa Mosque. But as would be expected, brave Palestinians decided to flock to the Aqsa Mosque in an effort to protect it. The number of Palestinians praying Fajr at the Mosque swelled because of the threats of the racist settlers; and after Fajr prayers, Israeli forces opened fire upon Palestinians worshippers. They ordered them to disband immediately. Of course, I do not think they have the right to tell anyone to disband, because considering Israel's record, Palestinians have every right to make sure that they protect the Aqsa Mosque from the announced plan to violate a sanctity. But before even being given adequate time to disband, Israeli forces opened fire.
Israel opened fire with tear gas and rubber bullets, and the immediate results include 90 Palestinians injured and droves of Palestinians arrested, though this is not even the most updated count. Yet again, the Aqsa Mosque witnesses the spilling of Palestinian blood, repeated violations by Israeli racists and religious bigots. Yet again, we see the absolute silence of the Muslim world, or at least the parties in the Muslim world that we hoped would have any sense of vigilance, honor or piety about protecting the Aqsa Mosque. Nothing from Egypt. Nothing from Saudi Arabia. Nothing from the Emirates. It looks that even Turkey has been quite timid in condemning the most recent Israeli violations.
We cannot take this as an isolated event. It is imperative that we as Muslims read the world in which we live in very carefully and with wide open eyes. We cannot afford blindness, because our role as Muslims, even in the darkest of times, is to provide a moral exemplar to humanity.
At the same time the sanctity of the Aqsa Mosque is again being violated, Palestinians again are being assaulted and attacked by a clear apartheid state. Leave alone the conscience of the non-Muslim world with the conscience of the Muslim world. In the midst of this, what is the news that strikes us coming from Saudi Arabia? Saudi Arabia has awarded Jared Kushner's company $2 billion, including a clear payout to Trump's son-in-law, because Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are not making it secret that they do not like Biden and they want Trump, and Kushner, back.
Kushner - the same man who spearheaded the movement of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the same man who spearheaded the “Deal of the Century,” which involved displacing a large number of Saudis from Saudi territory and a large number of Bedouin Egyptians from Sinai to clear land to create something called the Neom project, the same man who is responsible for the Sudanese, Moroccan and Bahrain recognition and deals with Israel, the same man who spearheaded the collective betrayal of Arab Muslims towards Jerusalem - is being awarded; gifted by Saudi Arabia $2 billion.
As the article points out, everyone knows it is corruption, yet there is nothing anyone could do about it. Because this is the same man who is being rewarded for staunchly defending MBS when he killed Khashoggi. This is the same man who made sure that regardless of the abysmal human rights record in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia remains untouchable. He is rewarded $2 billion of Muslim money. This is the world we live in.
Recently, a journalist named Mehdi Hasan brought an obvious question to the Biden administration: “You keep telling us that Putin is a war criminal for what he is doing in Ukraine. Why is it that MBS and the Saudi regime are not war criminals for what they are doing in Yemen? You have not talked about the International Criminal Court, or any efforts about holding the Saudis and the Emiratis responsible before an International Criminal Court for the war crimes that they committed in Yemen, leave alone Israel and what it does with occupied territory.”
The world we live in. A world of hypocrisy, betrayal and treachery. At the same time that Israel violates the sanctity of the Aqsa Mosque and butchers Palestinians, we look at the state that is supposed to be the guardian of the two holy sites, and it is giving a $2 billion payoff to what they hope is an incoming American administration. Another American administration, the Biden administration, does not dare take a moral stand. In the midst of all of this, we find plenty of Muslims cheerfully and jovially going on about organizing and raising money for Umrah. Oblivious.
Sure, Mecca and Medina can be under occupation by colonial agents. What if Mecca and Medina were directly occupied by Britain or the United States? What do you think they would do that would be worse than the current regime in Saudi Arabia? Clearly, Mecca and Medina are under occupation by a family and a regime that have betrayed the Muslim ummah, a betrayal of historical proportions. Yet, there are Muslims gleefully talking about organizing Umrah and going to Hajj. Oblivious. This is the world we live in. However, I am not here to recount narratives of tragedy. I am here to tell you that it is precisely because this world is the world we live in. If you have faith, if you have iman, what you do about this world must be crystal clear in your mind.
Let me put it very bluntly. This Muslim ummah requires a new spirit, a new soul. Not only that, but our entire world requires a new spirit, a new soul. Whether it is the hypocrisy and the racism that we see exhibited over the Ukraine conflict versus Yemen versus Palestine; whether it is the genocide perpetuated by China against the Uyghurs, whether it is the exploding Islamophobia in India and the plight of Kashmiri Muslims, and Muslims all over India for that matter; if you believe in God, you will also believe that God has the power to change things in an instant.
In Surah Al-A'raf, God is speaking about the Israelites and their historical journey with God. God decreed, because of the betrayals committed by the Israelites against their Lord, that the Israelites will be tried with tragedy and plight until the Hereafter. God explains to us the precise reason for the plight of the Israelites,and the answer is in Surah Al-A'raf, that they take the most superficial aspects of their faith. Their connection, their relationship with their revealed book, has become minimal. They become presumptuous and say, “God will forgive.”
Remarkably, God, in the verse directly after this, tells us what the Israelites did with their revealed book. It does not mean as some commentators have thought, that they have studied what is in their revelation and ignored it. The word used to describe what they did actually means to ignore something until it becomes covered with dust and neglected. So, the Israelites have neglected their own book until it has become as if abandoned, collecting dust. But in the midst of this, God says, still in Surah Al-A'raf, regarding those who adhere to the book, and establish a vigilant relationship with God, “We do not waste their good deeds.”
Everything that the Qur'an tells us about the Israelites is not a message to the Israelites as much as it is a message to us Muslims. We are the Israelites of today. God has now decreed that you suffer the consequences of your historical betrayals, of your abandonment of the revelation and abandonment of the book. In the same way that you look at Israelis today and you say clearly, “When they took their tradition seriously, especially after the Holocaust, God changed their fate.” The very relationship of the Israelites to God is a direct lesson for us. But we Muslims - and this is the real paradigm shift - we cannot just be another nation state the way Israel is. We cannot repeat historical mistakes. We can neither colonize nor desire to colonize the lands, the cultures or the languages of others, or the societies that belong to others.
We cannot compete just to compete. We cannot just be another betrayal of the earth. We cannot as Muslims emerge just to be another ummah that pollutes and that corrupts the earth. We cannot be just another capitalist system that exploits workers. We cannot be just another nation that lives off the sweat of the oppressed, that trafficks human beings and lives off human misery and human suffering.
Here is the paradigm shift. If our aspirations are to just come together as Muslims to compete over corrupting the earth, just to be another team that comes together to corrupt the earth, we do not offer a higher moral plane. In other words, in order for God to favor a Muslim Ummah, it has to live up to what divinity is. Study your Qur'an. Do not be like those who bury the Qur'an with dust. Notice that God does not accept corrupting the earth. We Muslims must dream of being the salvation for our dunya, being its moral salvations through our moral example.
As believers, it should be an article of faith. Once God sees that we in fact have a relationship with God's revelation, that we have the correct understanding of God's will on Earth, that we will colonize no one, that we understand that we cannot oppress anyone, that the Islamic alternative is a morally superior alternative. That with Islam, no minority will be oppressed, no race will be oppressed, no gender will be oppressed. That with Islam, we will cure the ailments of racism that plague the Western civilization, so much so that it has become the Western civilization's cancer. Look at the Western civilization. It is anchored in race. It breathes, eats and lives race. Every success is racially based, and every historical crime is racially based.
If the Muslim Ummah is just more of the same, then we can count on God not supporting us. If the Muslim Ummah is the cure for the ailment, then my faith tells me God will support us. God, who gives the Israelites the upper hand in our lifetime, will give Muslims the upper hand, but it requires moral conscientiousness. We cannot be like the Muslims who are in bed with the Emiratis, who, when they see something, say, "You cannot impute anything to a silent person." It is a misuse, a complete misunderstanding and lack of comprehension. This is, of course, what Hamza Yusuf said when he was asked why he still has such a chummy relationship with the Emirate. You cannot morally just be oblivious and casually say, "Oh yes, we are raising money for Umrah." Our khutbahs must reflect our morality. Even our social presence on electronic platforms must reflect our morality. Think of it quite simply as a paradigm of fasad. Wherever we turn, we see those who are willing to cause corruption on earth.
God looks upon us, and it is a very simple question. If I bring you to the fore, if I aid you, what do you have to offer this earth? If what you have to offer this earth is more corruption of the earth, then I would rather give the power to commit such corruption to non-Muslims. Then at least it is not a degradation of God's faith and Qur'an. It demands of us a different consciousness, different thinking, and a seriousness about our historical mission and historical role.
The world that we live in is replete with, in religious language, all the signs of the demonic. Just in the past couple of weeks, at the same time that Europe is opening its arms for Ukrainian refugees and there are droves of volunteers to help Ukrainian refugees; at the same time that the UK has promised to pass special laws to take in Ukrainian refugees, the UK announces a deeply racist plan that all asylees and refugees coming from places like Africa or the Middle East would not be processed in Britain if they managed to reach British territory, and instead they will be sent to Rwanda to be processed.
Australia had a very similar program, and the refugees that Australia sent to an African state to be processed, what happened to these refugees was entirely predictable. There were beatings. There were tortures. There were rapes. There were abductions and disappearance of children. Australia had to cancel its program after the complaints about the human rights abuses reached a horrendous pitch. I believe the British administration likely knows well what is going to happen to the refugees that it sends to be processed to Rwanda. Human trafficking, sexual assaults, beatings and torture. Deeply racist. The people who lead our world today are deeply racist. The history and legacy of colonialism is deeply racist.
Any Muslim that pretends that race is not important knows that they are a buffoon and an idiot. Ignore them. Just cut them out of your life because of the Islamic alternative. What is it that you are going to offer the world? You see, it is exactly when oppression and plight gets the worse is when my dreams reach the highest level. I dream of a khilafah. I dream that Muslims will get over their colonial brainwashing and reclaim the institution of khilafah. But this khilafah that I dream of, that will become the symbol of Muslim unity, will not be an imperial entity. It will not be about invading Eastern Europe. It will not be about fighting at the gates of Vienna. It will not be about veiling women. It will not be about any of the evils of our modern world, from colonizing and the destruction of indigenous cultures and indigenous people, to the deep racism and the deep economic inequality. This khilafah will offer the world moral and ethical hope that if and when Muslims come together, it will be about saving the earth. It will not be about competing to consume material products and polluting the earth without regard as if we own this planet, as if it already does not have an owner.
I am going to leave you with this. How can we in the midst of this darkness dream that we will be the world's ethical example? History is never static. Like you reveal, the book is not static. The Qur'an is not static and history is not static. In the same way that you read the Qur'an and when the Qur'an revealed, the Israelites were powerless. But the message of the Qur'an, if we pay attention, told us over 1,000 years ago that if the Israelites got their act together, they would no longer be parsed. It told us that our ummah is an ummah that is about justice, and that if you want God’s favor, then what you are about must be clear at least in your mind and in your conscience.
The pendulum of history swings back and forth. There is no end of times or end of history, as Fukuyama and others have claimed. The pendulum of history swings back and forth. The only question is how fast, with Muslim in action and the current state of Muslims, the pendulum is going to be in that period of Muslim dark ages for the longest time. Having the right morality in your hearts and having the right morality and vision that animates your actions will not do away with the pendulum. It simply speeds up the pendulum. The pendulum will swing the other way inevitably. That is how history works. What rises must fall and what falls will rise. But the only question is how fast. Do you want the dark ages to last another 500 years? We are well on that path.
But if you have iman, and this is an issue of iman, not an issue of if you believe in a powerful God that cares about justice and cares about what is right. You want to be a Muslim and be racist, then welcome to the dark ages for hundreds of years to come. You want to be a Muslim and not care about the genocide being committed in Yemen, then welcome to the dark ages for hundreds of years to come. You want to be a Muslim and not care about the plight of refugees and displaced people around the world, and the millions of people being trafficked? You want to be a Muslim and not care about the elements of human trafficking, pornography and prostitution? You want to be a Muslim and not even care about the explosion of prostitution in Iran, in Egypt, in Accra and Morocco and across Muslim countries, and live for yourself and for your kids, then welcome to the dark ages for centuries to come. Might as well just stop complaining and instead just wear a sign saying, "I am a Muslim, I am disgusting and I am doomed,” and just wear it as you tell women to wear hijab and women to stand behind the partition. You might as well own it.
You have the moral vision. You understand what God's justice is about. You desire the rise of an ummah, the rise of a khilafah, an agency on behalf of God. That is what you desire, not to conquer anyone, not to impress anyone, not to dominate anyone, but to be an exemplar of God’s Sunnah, the signs of God, and, God's beautiful names.
I submit to you that my faith tells me it is the same God that controls the fate of everything. We will emerge from the dark ages much faster. It is in your hands and mine. This is as small a thing as deciding whether to spend money on the corrupt Saudi regime in Umrah or give it to those who need it makes such a difference? Absolutely. Do small decisions, like what you click on sitting late at night by yourself in your room, make a difference? Absolutely. That is a small thing like deciding. Even just simply, what offends you or what does not offend you, makes a difference? Absolutely. If you believe in God, because God knows what is in your heart and what is in our hearts collectively, and God knows whether we deserve for the pendulum to swing back from darkness to light later or sooner, that is the question.