The Best of Sinners (Friday Khutbah)

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Friday Khutbah, July 3, 2015 at Kanata Muslim Association

Everyone makes mistakes and commits sins. No one can claim perfection. Yet, there are some steps that can help rescue one from the smog and confusion of sin to the peace and enlightenment of piety. We talk about cleaning up and starting afresh.

The Best of Sinners (Runs 25:13 ~ 6.1 MB)

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Post-Ramadan Protection Plan (Friday Khutbah)

Friday Khutbah, July 25, 2014 at the Kanata Muslim Association

During Ramadan, evil influences are clearly restrained. But once the blessed month is gone, they immediately start to rebound. We look at ways to stay protected and keep our gains, post-Ramadan.

Post-Ramadan Protection Plan (Runs 29:55 ~ 10.7 MB)

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Article: The cleansing power of cold water

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From the Islamic Society of Kingston’s newsletter, The Bond (January 2013)

Just a few weeks ago, Kingston looked like a winter wonderland with the 30 centimetres of snow that blanketed the city as it prepared to say goodbye to 2012.

With most of that snow now gone, some people are surely hoping and praying for snow. Did you know that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also referred to snow and ice in his supplications?

No, he didn’t ask for snowstorms in Arabia or for his enemies to be frozen as punishment. Rather, his supplication had to do with the wiping away of sins.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

O Allah, cleanse my heart with water, snow and ice, and cleanse my heart from all sins as a white garment is cleansed from filth.” [Reported by Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad and others]

Madinah rarely sees any ice and the lowest temperature on record is 1 °C. So what could be the reason for mentioning snow and ice, in addition to water?

Various classical hadith commentators have suggested different reasons. Some have said that it is for emphasis, because an item that is washed three times will be very pure. Others have suggested that it could be due to the purity of snow and ice that fall from the sky, as opposed to water found in rivers and lakes which could contain contaminants and organisms.

A deeper explanation, from a spiritual angle, suggests that the mention of cold forms of water is intentional. Sins heat and blacken the spiritual heart. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

When the believer commits sin, a black spot appears on his heart. If he repents and gives up that sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished. But if (the sin) increases, (the black spot) increases. That is the raan which Allah mentions in His Book (Qur’an – 83:14): ‘Nay! But on their hearts is the Raan (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.’” [Reported by Tirmidhi]

Lust and the pursuit of desires are fuel to sins just as wood is to fire. If left unchecked, they can consume ones spirituality. Therefore, the cool water from snow and ice are ideal for extinguishing lust and cooling the spiritual heart.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made a similar connection between water and the feeling of anger when he stated:

Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution.” [Reported by Abu Dawood]

When it comes to washing clothes, conventional wisdom suggests that warm or hot water is more effective for cleaning. But according to the makers of Tide laundry detergent, some of the worst stains caused by things such as juice, coffee, mud, blood and vomit should immediately be soaked or rinsed in cold water first. This may also suggest that our sins penetrate our spiritual heart just as stains penetrate clothing and cold water is the best remedy.

When we see snow and ice, let’s remind ourselves of this supplication of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). May Allah purify our hearts with water, snow and ice as a white garment is cleaned from filth and stains. Ameen!

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Article: Guarding our Spiritual Privacy

I was at a pharmacy today to pick up some boxes of tissues. As the cashier returned my credit card, she glanced at the name on my card and asked, “If you don’t mind, how do you pronounce your name?”

I told her and explained “Sikander” was Persian for Alexander. She appeared to be genuinely interested in uncommon names. But it made me think about how we feel about our privacy.

There is some information we are very careful about. For example, the PIN to our bank account, our credit card numbers and our social insurance number. These are all pieces of information we guard carefully and don’t want anyone to get a hold of.

With the increase in identity theft, there is other information that should be guarded as well, according to authorities, such as our home address and phone number. But the realm of privacy extends to much more than that. Of course, one of the reasons we wear clothes and close the door when using the toilet is because there are some things we don’t want others to see.

That’s for our physical privacy. But how about spiritual privacy?

Just as we have needs for physical privacy, our spiritual connection with Allah is in need of privacy too. That’s why the best forms of worship, prayer and supplication (apart from prescribed congregational worship) are those that are done in private.

Allah says in the Qur’an: “Call on your Lord with humility and in private: for Allah loves not those who trespass beyond bounds.” (7:55)

Thus, the relationship between Allah and ourselves is meant to be an intimate and private one. In the spirit of that intimacy and privacy, Allah often does us a great favour and hides our sins and shortcomings. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “My entire nation is safe, except al-Mujahirin (those who boast of their sins). Among the Mujaharah is that a man commits an (evil) act, and wakes up in the morning while Allah has kept his (sin) a secret, he says: „O so-and-so! Last night I did this and that.‟ He goes to sleep while Allah has kept his (sin) a secret but he wakes up in the morning and uncovers what Allah has kept a secret!” (Reported by Bukhari on the authority of Abu Hurairah [may Allah be pleased with him])

Since sins are blemishes on our character and our record, they should be kept hidden by default. Announcing them is a detestable act.

Just like we don’t go around announcing a failed exam or a terrible performance review, in the same way, any sin or act that diminishes our character belongs in our closet, not our front door.
With the expansion of technology though, the line between our closet and our front door – or our minds and our Facebook accounts – has blurred.

As a result, actions and thoughts that belong in the back of our minds categorized as regrettable and not to be repeated end up on our friends’ news feeds on Facebook or in our online photo albums.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Before we post a public thought or a photo, let’s think: Is this something that pleases Allah? If the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was on my friend’s list, would he “like” this status or picture? What does this post say about my character?

We all commit sins. It’s a part of being human. But let’s not publicize our sins and rob ourselves of the privacy Allah has granted us. Instead, let’s make a u-turn and wipe them out by seeking Allah’s forgiveness.

May Allah continue to hide our sins and may He forgive us for all our shortcomings. Ameen!

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