Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was keen to remember and honor “the firsts” for their support, suffering, and sincerity. Abu Bakr’s (ra) honor surpassed everyone’s, including that of Umar ibn al Khattab (ra).
He surpassed everyone by a distance that no one could ever catch up to. His status is sanctified as the first after the prophets. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said the sun has never risen or set on anyone, after the prophets, that is better than Abu Bakr, and that he will be the first to enter Paradise in his nation.
Abu Bakr’s (ra) character is best described by the words of Ali (ra), ‘he is the first to every good’. Abu Bakr (ra) was the ultimate trendsetter, the fastest to do the good deed.
In episode 10 of The Firsts, Sh. Omar Suleiman continues to talk about Abu Bakr (ra) and his elevation in the pursuit of good. The standards that he set and the inspiration that he had to achieve the good deed and how we can learn from him in setting our own goals and placing a higher standard on ourselves and actions.
In episode 4 of the Firsts, dive into the many “firsts” accomplished by the best woman of her time, Kadijah bint Khuwaylid (ra), the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) first love and wife. Sh. Omar Suleiman describes the relationship and love between Khadijah (ra) and the Prophet (pbuh), her support, and her station as the first woman to become Muslim.
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl begins by reminding of the anchor of every day and age, the Qur’an, and that those who make it part of their soul will thrive; those who do not will remain in confusion at a minimum. He reminds that the Quran calls upon us to “Strive in the way of your Lord,” and that struggle and striving require time, energy, investment and effort. He cites verses from the Quran that tell us that God has selected Muslims–not based on racial, ethnic, tribal, or linguistic factors, but based on a relationship. It is a commitment based on the understanding that: you are among those who struggle in the path of God; you are committed to the struggle; if you find God, you will find the true source of happiness, tranquility and meaning; you are among those who understand that existentially, without Allah, nothing makes sense; with Allah your life has a purpose, and it has consequences, which is a foundational principle for morality itself. If you are among those, then you are among those God has chosen. He cites another Quranic verse that tells us that our relationship with God should lead to peace and tranquillity, not rancor, anger, envy or other human emotions that harm the soul and cause hardship.
He points out that one of the critical tasks that we are called to perform as Muslims is to bear witness upon people. Bearing witness was a sacred job and a moral task that predated Islam, Christianity and Judaism. God knows that bearing witness is a difficult task because it can bring profound consequences as people do not like to be confronted with the truth, especially those in power. However, if you want to create a society that is ethically consistent with Islam, you must create a society in which bearing witness does not lead to hardship. When bearing witness and telling the truth create hardship, human nature is to avoid pain, and will naturally tend to justify behavior that avoids pain. This leads to hypocrisy in the heart. It takes real struggle to go against this natural instinct, especially when it means bearing witness on the side of God and the Prophet in truth in opposition to those in power.
He explains that today, Wahhabism is no longer the problem, rather the theology of obedience to the state that is being propagated as an Islamic imperative all over the world. Under this theology, a Muslim learns that Islam is not intended to create autonomous, active, dynamic, thoughtful, and moral human beings, but rather, creates subservient and obedient human beings, whose relationship to politics is simple obedience. He points out that a society built on such despotism and obedience will breed hypocrisy and cowardliness. This type of Islam will ultimately lead to Islam’s death. This type of hypocrisy is what turns Muslim youth away from the faith.
He gives important examples of how this theology of obedience has resulted in devastation all across the Muslim world, and how it has made Muslims, particularly many Muslim “leaders” begin justifying and supporting the obscene acts of those in power, even to the point of suggesting that Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is not holy in Islam. He gives examples of how ultimately, this quietist, pacifist, obedience theology leads to moral relativism, patriarchy and even the justification of slavery. It teaches people that the most important parts of their religion are prayer, fasting and charity, and that all else is unimportant. He draws the analogy to Karl Marx’s assertion that religion is the opiate of the masses, and demonstrates how this version of Islam–an Islam without ethics, without a vision, without a commitment to justice–would be exactly that. Delivered 23 August 2019.
And so they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and to whom We had taught Knowledge from Our Presence. (Surah Kahf, 18:65)
Beyond the many lessons of the Qur’anic account of Musa and al-Khidr in Surah al-Kahf, a Surah we are encouraged to read every Friday, its message about companionship speaks to both its external and internal benefits. While technology has immense benefits in providing us access to bland facts and information, this disconnected learning cannot replace the flowering of true, meaningful knowledge that can only occur through inter-personal relationships. The blessings and spiritual lessons of sitting with mentors and good company cannot be underestimated. How do we unplug and humble ourselves in a practical way that allows us to plug into the spiritual energy of righteous company and teachers?
Othman has a resume that is unmatched in its generosity, humbleness, and unique accomplishments. It is necessary to understand these honors before we delve into his caliphate deeper. Some of these accomplishments and honors will refute some of the later accusations made against him by the rebels of his time.
The standard of justice that Omar set during his khilafa was so remarkable, that Omar could be seen sleeping peacefully in public with no body guards. This session will focus on several of the difficult, sometimes controversial, decisions that he made which ultimately led to that peace and prosperity.
During the reign of Omar, peace and prosperity reigned supreme through the lands. Some have questioned that prosperity and how it was attained. Is it accurate to say Islam was spread by the sword? Is jizyah a penalty for being non-Muslim? How are non-Muslims supposed to be treated under Islamic law? This session will delve into these issues as well as some other rulings and sayings of Omar that we will analyze.
Imam Abdul Malik discusses how the youth can empower themselves to lead the frontier for Muslim development in the West. This is from the 3rd (2012) Annual New Horizons conference themed, “The Road to Muslimanity” at Brooklyn Technical High School Auditorium, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Imam Mohamed Magid speaks about the lessons, stories, and leaders that have shaped our American-Muslim identity, including Imam Siraj Wahhaj, a respected leader of the American Muslim community. Imam Magid spoke at the Muslim Community Center – East Bay (MCC East Bay) in Pleasanton, California on Sunday, October 14, 2018.
Imam Omar Suleiman makes a call to action and he asks us to take note of giants who preserved and because of that persistence we benefit from their legacy.
Imam Omar cautions us against glorifying the actions of the past if we use that as an excuse for our inaction in the present, which is a departure from Prophetic teaching. Imam Omar spoke at the Muslim Community Center – East Bay (MCC East Bay) in Pleasanton, California on Sunday, October 14, 2018
Imam Suhaib Webb reminds us of our priorities as Muslims living in our current situation. We are forgetting about way of the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and getting distracted with what we believe is urgent but it isn’t.
There’s an acute shortage of imams in America. This shortage is magnified by the multifunctionality of the American mosque serving as more than a place of worship. It is a hub for social interaction, charitable support, counseling, interfaith dialogue, youth services, and more. Unfortunately, some young Muslims feel alienated from the mosque. What can be done to ensure that more imams in America are trained in classical Islam while also being relevant with American culture?
The Khilafa of Sayyidina Ali – The Mortal Choice – Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib was the fourth Khalifa of Islam. He had the distinction of being both the son-in-law and the cousin of the Holy Prophet, upon him be peace. He is, with Fatima, the ancestor of the Ahl al-Bayt, the People of the Prophetic House.
He was characterised by martial skill, by inward depth, and by an immense erudition in religious knowledge. Of him, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: ‘Khilafa was not an ornament for him, he was an ornament for khilafa.’
The Khilafa of Sayyidina Uthman The Wisdom and the Agony – Shaykh Abdal hakim Murad
Sayyidina Uthman ibn Affan was the third Khalifa of Islam. He was known as the ‘Man of the Two Lights’, because he was the only man in history known to have married two daughters of a Prophet.
Uthman was famed for his good looks and immense generosity, and also for his spiritual closeness to the Holy Prophet of Islam, who included him among the ten who were assured of Paradise. He commanded the armies of Islam during an age of miraculous conquest and victory in East and West.
But he remained famously humble, and his sermons brought people to tears. He said: ‘I am astounded at four people: he who knows the world to be temporary, and still chases after it; he who is certain of death and yet makes no plans for it; he who believes in hell, and yet commits sins; and he who believes in Allah, and yet seeks the help of others.’
Sayyidina Umar ibn al-Khattab, known as al-Faruq, ‘the Discerner’, was the second of the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs. One of the greatest rulers in world history, he laid down the institutions of a solid Muslim government. Under his farsighted leadership, armies moved in every direction to liberate neighbouring lands.
Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was passionate in his devotion to the Din of Islam and establishing Allah’s laws among His servants.
He was also a man of prayer and fasting, who paid little attention to the temporary pleasures of the world. He said: ‘No part of Allah’s wealth is allowed to Umar, save two garments: one for the winter, and the other for summer, and what I need to take me to Umra and the Hajj. My provisions for my family are those of an ordinary man of Quraysh, neither the wealthiest nor the poorest. After that, I am just a man from among the Muslims.’
A far-sighted and deeply religious man, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq was the first adult free convert to Islam, and became a major narrator of Hadith and a fountainhead of spiritual wisdom.
He also became the first Khalifa of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Facing rebellions by followers of false prophets, he reestablished the unity of Arabia under Islam.
He became a byword for humble rulership. When he assumed the leadership he said: “If I am right, help me. If I am wrong, correct me. I shall strengthen the weak man among you until he enjoys his rights. I shall weaken the strong man among you until I have taken what is due from him. Obey me for as long as I obey Allah and His prophet; but if I disobey them, then disobey me.”
What does the ideal Muslim leader look like? When does a leader take initiative and when is it better to take the back seat? How does one continue work in the midst of burnout? Imam Suhaib Webb explains.
Who are the next generation of Muslim leaders? What are their backgrounds, what issues will the face, and what are their responsibilities to society? Ustadh Usama Canon discusses these and other questions relevant to today’s rising Muslim leaders.
Nelson Mandela was arguably the most beloved statesman and leader of our generation. Why do so many people praise him irrespective of their political leanings? What was it about Mandela that transcended politics? This session will examine the life, times, and struggles of this South African leader that reveal, in the light of Islamic teachings, why our Prophet’s Sunnah, when practiced even by those outside of our faith, engenders love and respect in others. Mandela, for example, resorted to violent resistance only after he exhausted all non-violent means to end the oppression of his people. Even those on the far right of the political spectrum have defended his advocacy of violence. Newt Gingrich, for instance, recently wrote that Mandela was “deeply committed to a non-violent approach, until you had a South African dictatorship … which made it impossible to have anything that was purely non-violent.” Gingrich went as far as to compare Mandela to the Founding Fathers of America. What were the qualities and characteristics that made Mandela so unique and drew such approbation? More importantly, what is the role of patience, principle, purpose, forgiveness, and magnanimity in effecting change in human hearts and society?