THINK GREEN KHUTBAH

THINK GREEN KHUTBAH

April 20, 2012

Delivered by Omar Siddiqui at the Winnipeg Central Mosque
 
My dear brothers and sisters, for the purpose of today's khutbah inshaAllah, I want to begin with two questions that I want you to ask yourselves.  If you were asked how you treat the masjid, what would your response be? And if you were asked how you treat another worshipper of Allah (SW), what would your reply be?  What words would come to your mind?  And what words would you repeat?  How do you treat the masjid?  How do you relate to it?  And how do you treat other worshippers of Allah (SW) and how do you relate to them?  The following words may come to your mind:  Honour, Respect, Reverence, Dignity, Kindness, Protection, and Love.  These two questions will evoke strong feelings, because the answers to these questions come from the core of our faith.  Because the masaajid are places within which the worshippers of Allah (SW) are people among whom we perform our acts of devotion to Allah (SW):  Our prayers, our remembrance to Allah (SW), our recitation of His book, perhaps our circles of learning and perhaps our good deeds.  The mosques and the worshippers of Allah will necessarily, in the ummah of Mohammed (SAW), elicit the best and the strongest of our feelings as they should.  Because, these are strong symbols, for a people who understand the importance of symbols.  Now I want you to take these feelings and contemplate upon them as we hear the words of our prophet and the words of our Creator.  
 
The prophet (SAW) said:  "The Earth has been created for you as a mosque and as a means of purification." Allah (SW) says "Every single thing that is in the Heavens and the Earth, glorifies Allah (SW) and sings His praises." 
 
The Earth is a masjid. Everything in the Heavens and the Earth is in worship of Allah (SW).  And as we stand in this vast masjid, among all of these creatures living, but also the stones, that glorify the praises of Allah (SW).  As we stand within this and among this creation, as Allah's (SW) khulafah, as His representatives on this earth, and as the inheritors of the tradition of a man (SAW) who was described by our Creator as a mercy for all the world, I ask myself first and then I ask you:  how in this frame of reference and in this context, shall we act and relate to this world and the life that exists within it?  
 
Perhaps we should look again at our tradition for guidance.  Our prophet (SAW) said:  
 
"There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift for which there is a great reward." 
"If anyone wrongfully kills even a sparrow (one of the smallest birds), let alone anything greater, he will face Allah's (SW) questioning and interrogation."  
"While a man was walking alone on a road, he became very thirsty and found a well.  He lowered himself into the well and drank and came out.  And then he saw a dog, protruding its tongue with thirst.  The man said to himself, 'this dog has become exhausted with thirst in the same way as I have.' And he lowered himself in the well again and he filled his shoe with water, and he gave the dog some water to drink, and he thanked Allah (SW), and for this act, his sins were forgiven."  And the prophet (SAW) was then asked by his companions: "Is there reward for us in how we treat these animals?" to which the prophet (SAW) answered, "There is a reward for every single act of kindness done to a living animal."
 
It was reported in an authentic hadith that once the prophet (SAW) entered a garden and he saw a camel.  And when the camel saw the prophet (SAW) it started to cry with tears coming out of its eyes.  The prophet approached the camel and he rubbed off the tears and he said, "Who is the owner of this camel?" The owner came forward and replied "it is mine oh prophet of Allah."  Then the prophet (SAW) said "Don't you fear Allah? These animals which Allah (SW) has made you owners of...Indeed this animal has complained to me that you starve and you overwork it."
 
In other demonstrations of unparalleled kindness, there was a companion of the prophet (SAW), who used to take crumbs of bread and other kinds of food and deposit them at the entry of the ant hole so he could feed the ants.  
 
The prophet (SAW) forbade the practice of cutting tails and manes of horses and keeping the horses saddled unnecessarily.  In his presence he commanded that it was forbidden to kick horses with one’s feet unnecessarily while riding them.  The prophet (SAW) also wrote to those who had been given the responsibility to look over the rights of animals to highlight that it was forbidden even to tighten the reign of the horse unnecessarily.  He said it was forbidden to stay too long on a horse, and he said do not make your animals like chairs for you.  He prohibited the branding of animals with hot iron bars.  Once the prophet (SAW) saw an animal that was marked like this on his face and he responded "May Allah (SW) curse the person who has marked this animal."  
 
Allah's (SW) prophet (SAW) said:  "Fear Allah in your ill-treatment of animals."
 
In another tradition, during a journey the prophet (SAW) made with his companions, he left them for a while.  During his absence, one of his companions saw a bird, and the bird was with its children, and the companion took two of the young birds away from the mother.  The mother was circling above in the air beating its wings in grief.  When the prophet (SAW) returned he noticed the mother bird.  He said, "who has hurt this bird by taking its young?"  He commanded his companions to return them.  
 
During another journey, it was reported that one of the companions of the prophet (SAW) picked up some eggs from a bird.  The bird's painful calling and fluttering came to the attention of the prophet (SAW) who asked the man to restore the eggs to the nest.  The prophet (SAW) also said, "to catch birds and imprison then in cages without any special purpose is considered an abomination."
 
Again, another tradition:  On the way to battle, the prophet (SAW) as he was marching towards Mecca, towards the conquested Mecca - one of the most significant moments in the history of the prophet (SAW) - he passed a female dog with puppies.  The prophet not only gave orders that the mother and puppies should not be hurt or disturbed, but he posted a man to see that this was done.  
 
In one of the sayings of the prophet Muhammad (SAW): if you must kill an animal, if you must, kill it without force. He said that when you go to the ritual slaughter of animals, to not let the animals see the blade.  And he described that if you were to show the animal the sharpening of the blade, it would be as if you were slaughtering that animal twice.  And he prohibited this.  
 
The prophet (SAW) was so conscious when he was traveling with his companions, he said authentically: "Do not encroach upon the habitat of the animals and the beasts among you, for you are to share the earth with them."  
 
And so I ask you again, and I ask myself first, how do we act and relate to this Earth within which we live, which has been described as a masjid...and the life that exists within it, which has been described both in word and action as worshippers of Allah (SW).  My response to you is simple.  We act as the prophet would, and as we would in this mosque and the people sitting to your right and to your left.  With honour, and respect, and reverence, and dignity, and kindness, and with the willingness to protect, and with abundant mercy and love.  This is the way of Muhammad (SAW).  And this is the way of a people that Allah (SW) describes as His Khulafah-fil-Aard, as His representatives on this Earth.  Let us ask Allah (SW) to forgive us and to guide us."
 
My dear brothers and sisters, we are a people whose tradition teaches us sustainability, not of use and mis-use.  We are a people whose tradition teaches us conservation and not waste.  We are a people whose tradition emparts to us reverence to the Earth and its creatures.  Not seeing it all as merely a means to achieve profit or comfort.  Let us remind ourselves of this constantly.  And let us remind ourselves not to fall into extremes at the expense of these fundamental principles of our faith.  
 
Yes it's true.  That the saliva of a dog breaks our ritual purity.  But we can't go around telling our children that the creation itself is filthy, or that it is shaytan, or whatever.  Because we are creating an aversion to a creation of Allah (SW).  Let us not forget that even in those animals which in our eagerness to retain our ritual purity we avoid, that there is a purpose to all of Allah's (SW) creation.  
 
I remember once when I was in University one of my friends came to me and he said, very crudely, "why are 'brown' people afraid of dogs?"  When he was saying this he was in the elevator and there was a Muslim couple there, and they were standing against the wall of the elevator as if the dog was the devil himself.  And he asked me, "why do you guys believe this?"  I explained to him and I said "it's not the animal itself, they're probably very conscious of their ritual purity."  But in our quest for the convenience to preserve our ritual purity what image are we portraying to the world?  To give a dog water it will by necessity probably lick you out of affection.  Would you barter your Jannah in that moment not to give the water to that dog just because you’re afraid of impurity?  My dear brothers and sisters, dogs lead the blind. Whatever greater benefit is there or can there be for an animal?
 
Let us remind ourselves also beyond animals and the world in which we live in.  According to a 2001 report of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, roughly 1.5 million tonnes of plastic are expended in the bottling of 89 billion litres of water each day.  Approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil, enough to run 100 000 cars for an entire year are used to make plastic water bottles, while transporting these bottles burns even more oil.  And nearly 90% of water bottles are not recycled and are lined up in landfills and it takes thousands of years for the plastic to decompose.  Alhamdulillah we are blessed here with an abundance of water.  What do you notice after salatul-Tarawih in our most holiest of months?  Do you notice strewn across the prayer hall the water bottles?  
 
Being conscious of who we are, being conscious of our tradition, being conscious of how our prophet (SAW) impressed upon us the significance of the Earth and respecting it - small things we can do, and I say this to myself first.  This coming Ramadan, dispense with the use of so many water bottles.  Let us bring our own.  Let us find a way of drinking the abundance of water we have here without creating waste.  
 
My dear brothers and sisters, this is what the messenger of Allah (SAW) used to say when he came out looking at the moon; he said, "My Lord, and your Lord, is Allah (SW).  He expressed a connection, so that we realize that everything in creation is connected to us in some way.  Let us understand that in this Earth we're not strangers among strangers, we ARE worshippers among worshippers, and the vastness of an Earth that is a masjid for all creatures.  And as we exist and as we walk in this vast masjid, among an infinite number of worshippers whom we cannot even begin to fathom all the ways in which they worship Allah (SW).  
 
Let us, like the prophet Yunus, who when he was swallowed by a whale he heard a sound, and because he was a prophet he was connected to Allah (SW) in a way none of us ever will be.  He asked what that sound was and he was told that it was the thikr of the creation of the ocean.  So let us, as the prophet Yunus, acknowledge at this moment, that all of creation hymns the praises of Allah (SW).  Let us now join with them in that glorification.  
 
My dear brothers and sisters, we are a people that understands the principles of what it means to live sustainably.  We are a people who understand what it means to conserve.  We are a people who understand that environmentalism is part of our tradition.  Let us not forget that.  Many of you are from places where you can teach us how to not waste because you come from places with so little.  I can just remember sitting with my grandmother and one of the things she used to do is when she had a napkin, she would just cut it in half because she didn't want to use the entire napkin.  We used to laugh at her.  And now thinking back at those memories, it was a tradition that she came from, that understood the importance of respect.  She used to get mad at me when I turned the water on the tap to full, because she said you have to respect that water.  Another example comes to me from an individual who wasn't Muslim, he used to sit with my grandfather and years after my grandfather passed away, he described his relationship with my grandfather and he said "you know, he used to come, and he used to talk about the Qur'an and he used to talk about Islam.  And one of the things I remember, is that once a mosquito fell on his hand, and rather than swat it away, he blew it away with his breath, because he didn't want to kill it."  This impressed upon this man the significance of our tradition.
 
My dear brothers and sisters, let us rediscover this tradition inshaAllah.  Let us not let the rapid consumerism around us infect our understanding and our reverence for creation.  Let us ask Allah (SW) for His forgiveness.
 

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