My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
Our khutbah today is about The Power of Words. No matter who we are, no matter where we live, or what we do in our daily lives, we all depend on the proper use of words, to convey our thoughts and feelings to one another…. Certainly the more articulate and wise we are in the use of words, the more effective we can be in our society.
Whatever we choose to do as a career, we can certainly do it better by mastering the skill of good communication. But we must understand the power of words, and we must harness that power, in order to serve our wider responsibilities, and to serve Allah. Never be careless about words. Words are vital instruments. Words are the means by which we can study our past and leave a legacy for the future. It is the means chosen by Allah to reveal His message and to preserve it for future generations, for all time to come.
Words can be weapons. Words can wound, humiliate and inflict pain far greater than physical violence. Words can be used to inflame passions, to arouse anger, to declare war and to destroy. But just as potent as they are as weapons, Words can also heal wounds and make peace. They can be soothing to those in grief, they can offer hope to those in despair. Indeed, well-chosen words have a power and a beauty that can project well beyond one lifetime. Think of the great works of literature that still enrich our lives today, centuries after they were written.
Islam is pre-eminently, a faith founded on the power of words. It is very significant that the prophetic mission of RasoolullaAaSallal lahi ‘alayhi wasallam, began with just one word, “Iqra’!" “Read!"
The development and growth of Islam is due to the persuasive power of the Word of Allah, as it touched the hearts and minds of those seeking enlightenment, throughout the ages.
The first verses to be revealed to Prophet Muhammad, declared the Power of the Divine Word:
“Iqra’ bismi rabbi kallathee khalaq
Khalaqal insana min ‘alaq
Iqra’ warab bukal akram
Allathee ‘al-lama bil qalam.
Al-lamal insaana maa lam ya’lam…
“Read, in the Name of your Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) who created!
Read, and your Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) is most Gracious,
He Who taught Man the use of the Pen;
Taught Man that which he did not know.”
Throughout the literature of Qur’an and Hadith, the Believers are urged to use words wisely in their relations with all people. Sura An-Nahl, sets this out eloquently in verse 125,
“Ud’u ila sabili rabbika bil hikmati wal mou’eedatil hasanah…"
“and invite to the path of your Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer), using wisdom and beautiful preaching.”
Wisdom and beautiful preaching, rather than words of anger or abuse, is what the Holy Qur’an prescribes. This is the only way we can hope to win the hearts and minds of others, to the way of Islam.
Who can forget the moment when Sayyidina ‘Omar first heard the words of Al-Qur’an? He had just been told that his sister had joined the Muslims, so in an angry rage he went over to her house, with his sword in hand. Then, just as he passed her open window, he heard the words of Allah being recited. These words carried such beauty and persuasive power, that it stopped an angry and aggressive man, in his tracks. As he stood and listened, it slowly melted his heart, and aroused such a deep desire within him, to identify and accept the Author of those beautiful verses. When he heard that these were the revealed words of Allah, he immediately went out to find Rasulullah, and to announce his acceptance Islam.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us also, like Sayyidina ‘Omar, allow the beautiful words of Allah to tame our hearts and the desires within us, and to transform us into the noble Ambassadors of Allah, which is our Divine destiny.
innallaha wa malaaikata yusallona alan nabi. Ya ay yuhal latheena amanu sallْoalayhi wasalli mْ tas leema. Allahumma salli ala Muhammad, wa ala ali Muhammad, kama salayta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali Ibrahim. Allahumma barik ala Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali ibrahim. Fil ala meen, innaka hameedun majeed.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
Last year I heard a khutbah in South Africa, where a Sudanese brother used the term, Heart-to-heart missile. He was describing the power of sincere advice. When we find ourselves deeply moved by inspiring words, these words can touch our hearts in a special sort of way that changes our lives dramatically. It feels like being struck by a missile … in this case, a heart-to-heart missile. When this happens, we instinctively want to share the good news with our loved ones. And when they are affected in the same way, then they also, are hit by a heart-to-heart missile.
We’ve heard of Cruise missiles, Scud missiles, and Patriot missiles, air-to-air and surface to air missiles. Sometimes they hit their targets, sometimes they don’t. A Sincere word, loving advice, the heart-to-heart missile never misses its target. In order to benefit, we must ensure that our hearts are pure, and soft, and receptive to guidance, then we can be targets for heart-to-heart missiles. And the more we purify our hearts, and allow ourselves to be influenced by good advice, the more Allah smiles on us, and gives us the honor to fulfill His Divine Plan.
Dear brothers and sisters, when we open our hearts to the influence of the Noble Qur’an, the Word of Allah will grow within us and make us strong. And when we strengthen our Faith, Iman, we can more effectively fight on the information battlefield.
Today we hear terms like info-warrior, and the battle for hearts and minds. Yes, indeed there is a war of ideas, there is an information jihad out there, and we must do our best to present the message of Islam truthfully, powerfully and effectively.
History teaches us that no power on earth can resist an idea whose time has come. In the 7th Century, Islam was the idea whose time had come. Islam saved mankind. Neither the Romans nor the Persians could stop it. Today, at the dawn of the 21st century, Communism lies dead and buried, and Islam remains the only real challenge to Secular Materialism. Today, Islam is the idea whose time has come.
In many ways, the war of ideas, the battle for hearts and minds, is much more important than any military conflict. Military campaigns are won and lost, territories change hands over and again, but ideas endure. And in the realm of ideas, Islam will always triumph. Truth ultimately prevails over falsehood. This is borne out in the words of Al-Qur’an:
“Wa qul ja-al haqqa wazahaqal batil. Innal batilla zahooqaa[n].”
“Truth has come, and falsehood has perished; Falsehood by its nature, is bound to perish.”
But dear brothers and sisters, although the ultimate victory of Islam is guaranteed by Allah, you and I must still work hard, to earn the good pleasure of our Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer). Our place in al-Jannah is by no means guaranteed. You and I will be judged by our words and deeds, by our intentions and actions.
In the information jihad, the most powerful weapons are not guns and missiles, but wise words and good actions.
It is not enough for us to know Islam well. We Muslims must also become effective and influential communicators. We must master communications technology and psychology. Those of us who are gifted communicators, like our teachers, broadcasters, writers, poets and artists, must refine their skills till they attain a level of excellence ...then we must transmit the message of Islam in a beautiful, powerful and effective manner.
Our dear Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), was a communicator without equal. When he spoke, it was with absolute sincerity. His thoughts, and words and deeds were of the same substance. There was no contradiction in his personality. Armed with the Message of Truth from Allah, he was an information-warrior, and a military leader, a strategist and a statesman of exceptional brilliance. He commanded implicit obedience from his devoted followers, and even his enemies regarded him with deep admiration and respect.
One English writer who admired him greatly was Thomas Carlyle, who wrote these words 80 years ago in his book, (On Heroes and Hero Worship, and the Heroic in History, London, 1918).
“… These Arabs, the man Muhammad, and that one century. It is as if a spark had fallen, one spark on a world of what seemed black unnoticeable sand, but lo, the sand proves explosive powder, blazes heaven high from Delhi to Grenada: I said: the Great Man was always as lightning out of heaven; the rest of the men waited on him like fuel, and then they too would flame … How one man single-handedly could weld warring tribes and wandering bedouins into a most powerful and civilised nation in less then twenty years….” .
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
Let us pray to Allah, subhanallahu ta ‘Ala, to help us become like the fuel that flamed with the light of Islam, many centuries ago, when Muslims led the world from darkness into light. Despite the material prosperity we see around us today, we do indeed live in an age of spiritual darkness. Modern man has a spiritual hunger that only Islam can satisfy. Dear Muslims, let us not fail in our duty, to hold up the light of Islam, in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions.
Let us also make a special prayer for those who are busy with exams at this time. Whether it be GCSE’s, A-levels, or university examinations. It can be a stressful time for them and for their families. May Allah in His infinite mercy and wisdom, help those who are writing exams, to achieve excellent results. May Allah guide us all in the correct use of words, in our exams, in our speech, in our work, our homes and in our relations with one another. May Allah guide us all, to use the right word, in the right place, at the right time.
By Sheikh Arshad Gamiet
Royal Holloway College/Univ. of London /UK.
2nd June 2000