In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Verily, all praise is for Allah. We praise Him, we seek His assistance and we ask for His forgiveness. And we seek refuge in Him from the evils of ourselves. Whoever Allah guides, none can misguide. Whoever He misguides, none can guide. And I bear witness that there is no deity other than Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.
Dear brothers and sisters, Allah Almighty says:
“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Message [i.e., the Qur’an], and indeed, We will be its guardian.” [Qur’an, 15:9]
If you can remember, in the last two weeks, an Iraqi Christian immigrant burned the Noble Qur’an outside a Stockholm Mosque in Sweden during the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Sincerely speaking, the burning triggered widespread condemnation in the Islamic world. And along with similar recent protests by a far-right activist, it sparked a debate in Sweden about the limits of freedom of speech. Swedish police say they have received new requests for demonstrations by individuals who want to burn the Qur’an again, as well as the Torah and the Bible.
Muslim countries have urged Sweden’s government to enact bans and Pakistan’s prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, called for a day long protest to defend the sanctity of Islam’s Noble book on Friday, when Pakistan’s parliament will discuss Qur’an burning.
Even some liberal commentators in Sweden argue that the protests should be regarded as hate speech, which is outlawed in the country when it targets ethnicity or race. But many in Sweden say criticising religion, even in a manner that is considered offensive by believers, must be allowed and that Sweden should resist pressure to re-introduce blasphemy laws, which were abandoned decades ago in this predominantly Lutheran but highly secularised Scandinavian nation.
Stockholm police on Wednesday said they had received two new applications for book-burning protests in the capital: one from an individual who wants to burn the Qur’an outside a Mosque and another from someone who wants to burn the Torah and the Bible outside Israel’s Embassy. But police have not yet decided on the requests.
Stockholm police tried to stop Quran-burning protests earlier this year but were overruled by a court that said such actions were protected by Swedish law.
Citing that decision, police allowed the protest last week where the man identified in Swedish media as a Christian from Iraq burned the Qur’an outside a Mosque in Stockholm on Eid al-Adha. Muslim leaders in Sweden deplored the incident but the strongest reactions were in the Middle East and many Muslim’s societies. The Swedish Embassy in Baghdad was briefly stormed by angry protesters. The Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the act and criticised Swedish authorities for allowing it. Iran held back on sending a new ambassador to Stockholm and Pakistan asked the United Nation Human Rights Council to schedule a special session on the issue. Outside the Muslim world, Pope Francis also lamented the incident.
Meanwhile, the Swedish government issued a statement saying it “strongly rejects the Islamophobic act committed by individuals in Sweden,” adding that it “in no way reflects the opinions of the Swedish Government.”
That elicited criticism from several commentators in Sweden, who said the government needs to stand up for freedom of speech and refrain from passing judgment on individual protests.
Sweden worries the situation is starting to resemble the fury Denmark faced from Muslim countries in 2006 following the publication of newspaper caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Danish consulates and embassies were burned and the cartoonists faced death threats. Danish official’s attempts to explain how such caricatures were protected under their so-called freedom of speech were widely dismissed in the Muslim world.
The Iraqi man behind the protest told Swedish media it was aimed at Islam and not Sweden’s NATO application.
But the Swedish Security Service has warned of Russian interference in Swedish society.
Respected brothers and sisters, remember, when the pandemic (covid-19) struck the world, many people rushed to buy, and read, books on psychology and self-help, to help them navigate through the calamity. Most of us are now addicted to reading the news every day, collecting stories of other people’s tragedies and miseries. And we carry this heaviness with us throughout the day.
The pandemic touched every single part of our lives: Our health (physical, mental, and spiritual). Our relationships and our parenting. Our education, work, and travel. But how did it affect your relationship with Allah Almighty? Did it bring you closer to Him? Did it wake you up to the reality of this worldly life?
During the pandemic, my daughter’s Qur’an teacher began his online lecture on Surah al-Israʾ with a simple question: “How are you?”
Many students answered his question in the chat box.
Then, he added two extra words to this question: “How are you with the Qur’an?”
No-one could answer this question.
Imam Malik Ibn Dinar, may Allah have mercy upon him, once said:
“The worldly people leave this world without having tasted the best thing in the world.” Someone asked him: “What is that thing?” He answered: “Knowing Allah.” [See Siyar A’lam, vol. 5, page 236]
To know Allah, to love Him, to remember Him, you need to establish a strong connection with the Noble Qur’an. You will never taste this pleasure if you don’t recite, read, study, ponder, memorise, and act upon the verses of the Qur’an. You need to live with the Qur’an, and enjoy its companionship on this journey of life. It is guiding you to live in the best way. Allah Almighty says:
“O humanity! Indeed, there has come to you a warning from your Lord, a cure for what is in the hearts, a guide, and a mercy for the believers.” [Qur’an, 10:57]
The Qur’an is a reminder, guidance, light, mercy, cure, warning, and glad tidings for the believers.
These are all the ingredients required for a happy, meaningful, and successful life. On the other hand, worldly pleasures have a time limit; they only cover our sadness for a short while. They empty quickly, and keep needing to be refilled.
When you seek closeness to Allah Almighty through His speech, the happiness and tranquillity you experience has true value and is long-lasting. It is not limited by time. You carry this feeling with you in your heart, wherever you go. The Qur’an is the best therapy for your heart. It enriches your heart, and brings it back to life. Allah Almighty reminds us that:
“…those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Surely, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” [Qur’an, 13: 28]
Respected servants of Allah, does your copy of the Qur’an’s sit gathering dust?
When we remember people and worldly matters, we can feel stressed, sad, worried, and angry. But when we remember Allah, the All Perfect, our hearts feel at peace:
“…for nothing brings greater pleasure to the heart and nothing is more desirable or sweeter than loving the Creator, feeling close to Him and knowing Him.” [See Tafsir of Imam Sa’adi, vol. 5, page 96]
Allah’s remembrance removes sadness and anxiety from our hearts. And the best way to remember Him, and to learn more about Him, is by reading and reciting the Qur’an.
Sadly, and to our great loss, this blessed Book—this source of happiness — sits on a shelf, untouched, in most households.
As it sits there gathering dust, your heart, too, is gathering dust. The heart of the person who abandons the Qur’an will be tight with darkness, distress, disorientation, doubts, and desires.
It is like sailing alone across a vast ocean, with no map, and no sense of direction. Allah Almighty warns us:
“And whoever turns away from My remembrance — indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind.” [Qur’an, 20: 124]
How can you expect to be happy in this life, if you are not fulfilling the purpose for which you have been created? To know Allah, to worship Him, to love Him, to build a close, deep, meaningful relationship with Him: this is the purpose of our existence.
Check your heart. What is it carrying? Jealousy, envy, greed, resentment, desires, bad thoughts about Allah, doubts, or maybe bad thoughts about people?
Our hearts are filled with diseases that spill over into our lives, leading us to ruin. This is exactly why we need Allah Almighty to fix and cure our hearts.
Heal your heart with the speech of Allah; fill it with that which will benefit it, not that which will destroy it. A heart filled with knowledge of Allah, and His perfect speech, is a healthy, happy, safe, and sound heart. Understand and appreciate the value of this magnificent Book. Make your life better for the sake of Allah.
Start today, strive to strengthen your relationship with the speech of Allah; make the Qur’an an important part of your day!
Even if it’s just one Qur’anic verse a day. Recite it, study its tafsir, reflect on it, try to memorise it, and live it. You will truly feel alive, because your heart will come alive. Your faith (Iman) will increase, and all your world’s worries will shrink away.
The journey to fulfilling an act of worship (Ibadah) requires patience and effort. We feel a heaviness as our hearts struggle to push away all the worldly excuses and obstacles that come up to stop us from performing it.
But, as my teacher once mentioned, once you are inside the Ibadah (worship), you will feel the mercy (Rahmah) and tranquillity. Your heart will soften. You will surely taste the sweetness of faith.
Regularly quiz yourself, ask yourself every day:
“What have I done today to help my heart? What have I done to come closer to the perfect pleasure of Allah Almighty?”
And in doing so, keep moving forward. Never stand still, nor run the risk of taking a step backwards.
If you make the pleasure of Allah your main priority in life, you will see so many doors of goodness and mercy open for you — more guidance, more knowledge, more understanding, more protection, more blessings, more favours.
So please put your phone down. Close the world. Open the Qur’an. And open your heart.
“O Allah, I ask you to make the Qur’an the spring of our heart, and the light of our chest, the banisher of our sadness, and the reliever of our distress. Ameen.” [See Musnad of Imam Ahmad, vol. 1, page 391]
Dear brothers and sisters, this is part of a longer Du’a (supplication/prayer) that Shaikh al-Albani graded as authentic.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation; may Allah extol the mention of our noble Prophet Muhammad in the highest company of Angels, bless him and give him peace and security―and his family, his Companions and all those who follow him correctly and sincerely until the establishment of the Hour.
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 via: [email protected] or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Dhul-Hijjah 26, 1444 AH (July 14, 2023).