Respected brothers and youth, In the Qur’anic verses recited, Allah Almighty enjoins us to hold our commitment to Islam vigorous and dynamic. The first verse recited, the 111th verse from Chapter Tauba, was revealed following an incident in connection to ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawaha. The Madinans pledged allegiance to Allah and His Messenger. ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawaha asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what is there in return for this pledge? What is its reward?” The Messenger of Allah replied that there was Paradise in return. Upon this, this Qur’anic verse was revealed. “Allah has bought from the believers their selves and wealth because Paradise is for them…” (Tauba 9:111) This means to say, we should test ourselves here.
Why did Allah bestow this life? Why did He bring me to this world? What is this world? Why were these thousand and one Divine embroideries, all the needs of the human being and all these creatures created? Is there Paradise and Hellfire for them? This means that these have all been created for me. What share am I to receive in the Divine attributes the Originator (al-Bari’) and the Shaper (al-Musawwir)? How much will I be able to develop my heart? How much will I devote myself to Allah? The Messenger of Allah states that there is Paradise in return for this. Subsequently, Allah Almighty declares that they have purchased Paradise in return for their lives and their possessions. That is to say, I must realise that this marketplace of Paradise is in the world; there is no such marketplace in the grave. There is no marketplace for Paradise in the Hereafter either. The place where Paradise is marketed is here. It is here where we must test our belief. To what extent do I mobilise my life, all the Divinely bestowed bounties in the path of Allah? What is the state of my servanthood? What will Allah Almighty grant me and favour me with in return for this? Why did Allah Almighty create Paradise? Why does He reveal that Paradise is the pinnacle of perfection in verses of the Qur’an? In this case, only the perfected must enter a place that is the perfect of the perfect. Allah Almighty states, “Assuredly we have honoured the children of Adam (with many distinctions)” (Isra’ 17:70). How honoured am I in this life? That is to say, the first verse recited demands us to be in this consciousness. The subsequent verse: we have the obstacle of the carnal self. How are we to overcome this obstacle of the carnal self? How are we to live in a state of repentance where we fall short? We came to this world with zero capital before the bounties bestowed to us by Allah. Do we have the capacity to pay the price of these bounties? Even the Prophets were in a constant state of seeking forgiveness. How are we to be in the same state of repentance? However much our heart develops, that is the extent to which we can be in a state of praise and laudation before Divine majesty, workings of power and Divine embroidery. An exhibition or a performance is organised by mortal beings. A performance organised by human beings. And it attracts attention and is visited. We take pleasure in this. How vigorous does this Divine exhibition, this world, the manifestations of Divine majesty as well as events keep us? How much fervour do they cause within us? Divine majesty. How weak and in need of repentance we are in the face of this majesty. We are in need of praise. We are in need of thanks to Allah Almighty. We are in need of bowing and prostration before Him. How are we to compose ourselves? We are to become witnesses to Allah. And in this way, enjoin the good and forbid the evil (amr bi al-ma’ruf wa nahiy ‘an al-munkar). We must be mindful of the Divine limits, the boundaries placed by Allah. We must not transgress them. Allah Almighty declares, “…and give glad tidings to the believers (of what they will find in His Presence)”. This means organising our lives.
The verses recited from Chapter An’am: sinning in open and in private. “Abstain from sinning, whether done in public or secret (and the intentions and attitudes that accompany either),” (An’am 6:120) it is declared. This means to say, we pay more attention to the outer aspect of sins. How much importance to we attach to their inward aspects? We ought to consider this as well. Just as we constantly place importance on the external, visible aspects of sins, it is essential that we be mindful of their inward elements. Allah Almighty declares that they will assuredly receive the punishment for them. That is to say, not only for these outward shortcomings but the inner ones also. The inner shortcomings can sometimes perhaps even lessen the value of our outward worship.
The subsequent verse is also very important. It is declared: “And do not eat of that which is slaughtered in the name of other than God and over which God’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of its slaughtering)…” (An’am 6:121) “…for that is indeed a transgression,” the verse continues. Reciting or not reciting the Basmala (saying ‘In the Name of Allah’) when slaughtering sheep or cattle – this is an inward matter. However, this inward matter destroys the outer also. Allah Almighty commands us not to eat that meat. He commands us not to eat that animal. Now, here, the Basmala is an inward element. This means to say, we are obligated to manage both the outward and inward concurrently.
The Almighty then declares: “Is he who was dead (in spirit), and We raised him to life, and set for him a light by which he moves (without any deviancy) among people, is he like the one who is as one lost in depths of darkness, from which he cannot get out? (But) thus it is: to the unbelievers are the things they have been doing decked out as appealing” (An’am 6:122). In short, the Qur’an is a Divine warning, Divine summons, an invitation to Paradise and a letter sent by the Creator to His creation.
This means to say, life is a journey between the cradle and the grave. Its time period is unclear. Allah Almighty has not revealed its length of time. If we had known the amount of time, we could not have lived. In this case, life is a time tunnel extending from the cradle to the grave. A ball of yarn on which there is no length in metres. It is not known where it will break. Consequently, the Messenger of Allah says that those who say ‘tomorrow’ are ruined. We must be ready at every moment. When we go to the cemetery, we can all see those buried there who are the same age as us and younger. Life in this world is a once only. There is no repeat. There is no other round trip here and back. There is nothing other than rue, regret and remorse. “O our Lord!” they will say. “Take us out, we will do good, (righteous deeds), not (the wrong) we used to do before” (Fatir 35:37). Allah Almighty will mention two things: “Did We not grant you a life long enough for whoever would reflect and be mindful to reflect and be mindful? In addition, a warner came to you (to warn against this punishment)” (Fatir 35:37).
The time of youth is very important. Especially for young men. On earth, the seasons push on. There are four seasons continuing from the formation of the world. You will see these four seasons throughout your time in this world; however, the seasons in a person’s life come about only once. There is only one spring. “Whomever We cause to live long,” Allah Almighty declares. Then He states, “…We may also reverse him in nature (so that he returns to weakness after strength, to ignorance after knowledge, to forgetting after remembering).” (Yasin 36:68) There is a reversal to autumn. And that is witnessed with the permission of the Almighty. For this reason, one needs to know the value of youth. The majority of those in the company of the Messenger of Allah were young people. Most of those participating in the Prophet’s struggle for belief in Divine unity were the youth. When Ja’far al-Tayyar went to Abyssinia, he was perhaps around your age. Hadrat ‘Ali, may Allah be well pleased with him, was young like you, at Khaybar. After the conquest of Makka, the Governor of Makka was quite young. When Usama was appointed commander of the army, he was your age. Sultan Mehmed, also, conquered Istanbul at a very young age. For that reason, youth is a very important season of spring. The fruits and vegetables that sprout during spring cannot be produced during autumn, irrespective of how much effort you place into tilling and cultivating the soil. That is why we need to know the value of youth.
How is the value of youth to be realised? With piety and God consciousness. If we are pious and God conscious, Allah Almighty protects us and keeps us on the straight path. “Try to attain piety,” Allah Almighty declares (Baqara 2:278). If you are pious, Allah will teach you. Truth and falsehood becomes discerned in that heart and the person attains straightforwardness.
Let us now briefly consider the verses recited, from Chapter Tauba, verses 111-112. Let us look at the end of the verses. Keeping to the limits set by Allah is mentioned here. The Almighty demands from us the obligatory acts, together with their outward and inner elements. In other words, He demands not merely remaining at the externalities of the obligatory but demands these in tandem with their inward elements. “…those who keep to the bounds set by Allah” (Tauba 9:112). Those who adhere to the limits placed by Allah are referred to here. Again, in the first verse of Chapter Hujuraat, it is declared: “O you who believe! Do not be forward in the Presence of Allah and His Messenger. Keep from disobedience to Allah in piety and reverence for Him, so that you may deserve His protection. Surely Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (Hujuraat 49:1) This is instruction in propriety for the Muslim community. In other words, not to be presumptuous before Allah and His Messenger. Not even in worship. The Messenger of Allah did not allow his community to observe the continuous fast, known as sawm al-wisal. If we begin fasting three hours earlier and break our fast three minutes earlier, our fast is invalid. If we perform the Prescribed Prayer before its set time, and more than what is required, this is also invalid. Do not be excessively forward in the presence of Allah and His Messenger. Religion is to be practised with both its outward and inward elements. The prohibited is to be shunned with both its outer and inner aspects. And, in this way, the human being is to become perfected. Allah Almighty invites such a person, such a heart to Paradise as the heart will be perfect here. It will be invited to Paradise – the perfect of the perfect.
What are the outward religious obligations? The Prescribed Prayer, the fast, pilgrimage and the like. These together all constitute a vitamin to be given to our spirit. If these are not given, the spirit dies. The heart becomes lifeless. A living corpse. Why? At the beginning of Chapter Ankabut it is stated, do people think they will be delivered when they say they believe? This means to say, it is essential to observe the obligatory acts. We are in need of these. We are in need of the Prescribed Prayer. Engagement with Allah Almighty. We are to defend ourselves against all that is indecent and shameful and all that is evil. However, this will only mean something if we undertake this with spirituality. Not geometrically. Fasting is the same. “…so that you may deserve God’s protection (against the temptations of your carnal soul) and attain piety.” (Baqara 2:183) Allah Almighty declares that you will prosper. This means that life will be spent in a state of austerity. We need to consider the extent to which we can shun the prohibited and the doubtful. What kind of austerity will we practice? Fasting will be deployed not only in our stomach but also in our eyes, our ears and all our limbs and organs. In this way, our contemplation of the value of the Divinely bestowed bounties will increase. Our sensibility and compassion will increase.
The prescribed annual alms, spending in the way of Allah, and service all demand the price of these bounties that Allah has bestowed. Allah Almighty declares, “You will never be able to attain godliness and virtue until you spend of what you love (in Allah’s cause, or to provide sustenance for the needy)”(Al-’Imran 3:92). Why did the Almighty grant this to me? Why did He bestow this power, this capacity upon me? Where am I spending this? Why have these capabilities been given to me? Where am I using these? Pilgrimage is also the same. There is no sensual indulgence, nor wicked conduct, nor disputing, nor vulgarity. There is – Allah forbid – no lust. There is no destruction. There is no quarrel. There is to be discretion and refinement in a believer. They are not to pluck even a single strand of grass. This is prohibited. They must come to the realisation that they are in the sacred Haram region. There is neither slaying of animals nor hunting.