My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,

Our khutbah today is about Beauty, in form and function.

The human race has indeed come a long way from the days of hunters and gatherers. In those early days, our ancestors took stones and wood and bone, and shaped them to make them useful. They made these tools, for hunting and for killing as well as for building, and for creating,

If we look around us today, we find ourselves surrounded by the manufactured things of modern life. These products are more sophisticated than stone-age implements, but they are still artefacts. Human hands made these things for our benefit: like clothing, crockery, carpets, cars and computers. Human hands gave them form, and function. Human hands took the raw material, then refined it and subjected it to human needs. All these products serve us and therefore we value them. [Pause]

In a very real and literal sense, we human beings, are also tools. We are artefacts, we are manufactured goods with a form and a function. We have an impact on our environment. We have the ability to do a great deal of good, or a great deal of evil. We can either enhance the quality of life for other creatures, or we can destroy them. Our Manufacturer, our Creator, in His infinite Wisdom, has placed us at the very top of His Creation. In Sura Al Teen, we read:

"We have created Man in the best of moulds .."

And if we look around us, we find that we are indeed, the most refined, most highly developed of Allah’s created things. But, just in case we become too conceited and arrogant, in the very next verse, we are reminded of the darker side of human nature.

"Then do we abase him to be the lowest of the low…"
"Except those who believe and do righteous deeds, for they shall have a reward unfailing. "

Thus, we human beings are described as the best of Allah’s creation. His masterpiece. However, we are not the kind of masterpiece that only exists to be admired in an art gallery. That is a passive role, and we were created for an active role. We have an important function. And we need to understand very clearly what that function is. When Allah, swt, announced to the angels that He was going to create a Khaleefa, an Ambassador, on earth, they replied: "Are you going to create one who will spread mischief and shed blood, while we celebrate your praises and glorify Your Holy Name? Allah said, I know, what you know not."

Further on, in Sura Dhariyat, Allah says,

"I have only created jinns and men, that they may serve Me"

Our purpose is therefore perfectly clear. Not only are we created in the best of moulds, but we are also the Ambassadors of Allah. We are here to serve him, and like good ambassadors, we must shape our will according to what pleases our Lord and Master. Anything less than this would be a betrayal of the Trust, which Allah Most Gracious has placed in us. It is vital that we understand and accept the great responsibility, which He has placed, on our shoulders.

Further, in Sura Al-Mu’min, [40:64] we read:

"It is Allah who has made for you the earth as a resting place, and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape, and made your shapes beautiful, and has provided for you Sustenance, of things pure and good; such is Allah your Lord. So Glory to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!"

And in another place we read in Sura Al Taghabun: [ 64:03]

"He has created the heavens and the earth in just proportions, and has given you shape, and has made your shapes beautiful: and to Him is the final goal."

Just as human beings take raw materials and process them for our use and benefit, so also does Allah take us, His raw material, to process us, refine us and purify us for His Divine Plan. Allah created us with love, then shaped us into creatures of beauty. This beauty does not only apply to our physical appearance, but it applies especially to our moral and spiritual values. The shape of our character and the quality of our conduct has a special beauty that does not fade with the passing of time. The true believer has a personality that radiates an Inner Light, and through such believers, Allah shines His love and mercy on the world.

Second Khutbah:

Sub’ hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata illah billah yu althi yual theem

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,

Those of us who know that beautiful and soul-stirring Sura Al-Rahman, will remember the words, in verse fourteen [55:14]:

"He created Man from sounding clay, Like unto pottery,

And He created Jinns from fire free of smoke:

Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?"

Listening to Sura Ar-Rahman can easily move us to tears. Whenever I read this verse, I get a mental picture of a potter, at his wheel, his hands quickly working through the wet clay while the wheel spins round and round. Can you get the picture in your mind? Picture a simple lump of wet clay, formless, shapeless, almost useless. The wheel spins, and the hands move, and soon that lump of clay is transformed into a jug, a vase or a pot. That almost useless mass becomes something useful, at thing of beauty; perhaps even, a work of art. [Pause]

Is there not a lesson for us here? Are we not lumps of clay in the hands of our Creator? And did He not intend for us, some useful purpose? We know how the potter loves the clay that is soft and pliant, willing to respond to his slightest touch. How much more does not Allah love the Believers whose hearts are soft and who submit to His Will?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam, let us try, in our daily lives, to be like soft clay in the hands of our maker. Let Allah swt mould us and shape us into something useful. Only by being useful, by serving his Maker willingly and selflessly, does Man ennoble himself. Only by submitting our will to the will of Allah, can we redeem ourselves, and transform ourselves from mere flesh and blood and bone, into something special, something beautiful. In the worlds of Sura Al ‘Imran, v110:

"You are the best of peoples evolved for mankind, You enjoin what is right and you forbid what is wrong, and you believe in Allah…"

"Kuntum khaira ummatin ukh-rijat lin-naasi ta’ muroona bil ma’roof, watan hauna ‘anil munkari watu’ minoona billaah".

Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray to Allah, to take us all in His loving hands, and like the Master potter, let him shape us and mould us throughout our lives, into something useful and beautiful. Let us ask Allah to help us submit our will to His will, so that there is no conflict between what we desire, and what pleases Him. Let us fulfil the destiny, which Allah has chosen for us, to be His Khaleefah, His Ambassadors. And may we all serve that role with distinction! Let our noble conduct be a source of admiration and inspiration to others. Let us become like those fortunate people through whose thoughts, and words, and deeds, Allah smiles on all His creatures!

Ameen!              Aqeemus salaah!

Royal Holloway Khutbahs