American University, Washington DC
A police officer in a Muslim country wrote the following letter to a Shaykh describing the events that led to his return to Allah. He recalls:
Seeing accidents and crash victims was a normal part of my day, but one incident was different.
My partner and I had parked on the shoulder of the highway and began to chat. In a random second, the scene shattered to the hideous sound of metal bodies becoming one. We threw our heads back to see what had happened: a head-on collision, the result of a vehicle slipping into the lane of the oncoming traffic.
You couldn’t describe the carnage. Two young men sprawled in the first car, both in critical condition. We carried them gently away from the car and rested them on the ground.
Quickly we returned to assist the owner of the second car. He was dead. Back we went to the two young men lying side by side on the pavement.
My partner began dictating the Shahadah to them. “Say: La iIaha illAllah (there is no god but Allah), La iIaha illAllah…”
… their tongues wouldn’t acknowledge. They started humming the hypnotic lyrics of some song. I was terrified. My partner had experience however and he kept repeating his instruction.
I stood watching, no movement, eyes locked. Never in my life had I seen anything similar to what was going on before me. In fact, I’ve never actually seen someone die, and never in such a satanic way.
My partner continued to instruct them to say the Shahadah but there was no use. The hum of their song came to a slow silence, slowly. The first one stopped and then the other. Not a stir. Dead.
We carried them to our patrol car, my partner made no effort to speak. Not a whisper between us two as we carried the corpses to the nearest hospital…
Dear brothers and sisters, Ubayy ibn Khalaf confronted Rasul Allah – sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam – one day with a rotted bone in his hand. He crushed it in front of his hands, let the wind blow it away and said, “Muhammad do you claim that Allah will bring these ashes to life?”
[Has not man considered how We created him from a drop of semen? Yet he is an open adversary! He makes something up to be compared with Us and forgets how he was created. He says, “Who will revive [our] bones after they have rotted away?]
Allah replied Ubayy and everyone else who dares make the mistake: [Say ‘The one Who raised them up in the first place will revive them. He is aware of all creation.’]
– Surah YaaSeen 36: 77-79 (From Tafseer Ibn Katheer)
Reflecting over the topic of this khutbah, I came across a website where readers submit stories of their biggest regret. For some, it was a lost love, for others it was a job they passed up, and for still others it was a flip of fate that ended in a horrific way.
But in all, the regrets were worldly candies that had been lost – short-lived pleasures of life. This is the world in which Allah decreed that summers always come to an end.
Those stories were of living beings recalling their regrets. However, what I would like to see is a website where the dead would recall their regrets! They would not regret the lost love, or the silly job or the twist of fate, they would regret every second that they did not spend worshiping Allah.
We are all here today because we claim that Laa ilaaha illa Allah Muhammadur Rasul Allah is what we believe. Nevertheless, the problem is that for many it is a belief that dropped its bags and sat down on the tongue and did not move on to penetrate the heart.
There are many men and women of our Deen for whom this was not the case. Muhammad ibn Abi Imran narrates: I heard someone ask our shaykh Hatim al-Asum how he reached the level he was at in reliance upon Allah. He replied, “I became convinced in four things (i.e. that these four things penetrated my heart). One, I am convinced that no one else will eat the provision Allah has decreed for me, so I am content. And two, I am convinced that no one else is going to do good works except me, so I am busy doing it myself. Three, I am certain death shall come unexpectedly, so I am busying myself in expectation of it. And four, I am certain I shall never escape the Sight of Allah, so I am shy to disobey him while He is watching.”
Even though we all claim to believe what Hatim al-Asum is convinced of how many of us have it carried it past their tongue and allowed it a space in their heart.
We all know what the media does to distort facts on the nightly news. They take a long speech, cut and paste, and take words out of context. Well, the media is not the only one that takes things out of context. Consider the following verse:
[Say: “My servants who have acted extravagantly against themselves still do not despair of Allah’s mercy. Allah forgives all offences; He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.]
So many of us have heard this verse out of context. It may seem like a human can do all the bad that they want and when they die they will go to heaven. But read on…
[And turn in repentance towards your Lord and commit yourselves peacefully to Him before torment comes to you; then you will not be supported.]
[Follow the finest part of whatever has been sent down to you from your Lord before torment comes upon you suddenly while you do not notice it.]
[Lest some soul should say: “Alas my grief that I was undutiful to Allah and I was indeed among those who scoffed (at the truth)]
– surah az-Zumar 39/53-56
This last verse is proof that the Qur’an cannot be translated. How do you explain the grief of ‘Yaa Hassrataa!’? Imam At-Taahir ibn Aashoor tries explaining: Hasrah is extreme violent intoxicated regret. It is like a servant boy whose master charged him with the care of a flock. Thinking that the master was not watching, he slept and played, leaving the flock unattended. The flock went further and further away until a pack of wolves came and devoured every one. The regret is the regret that boy had to his master.
On this line, Yahya ibn Mu’aadh – rahimahullah – said, “The most naïve thing in my eyes is to linger in sin – with no regrets – hoping for a far off pardon. And to hope to come closer to Allah without doing anything. And to wait for the harvest of Jannah with the seeds of Hell – waiting for reward without any deeds.”
You long for redemption but have not taken its road / Brother, boats don’t sail in the desert!
The police officer that we mentioned earlier fell back into routine, as he narrates, and started to drift from Allah. But another event happened to him that sealed the return. He continues:
… What an odd world. After some time, about six months, a strange accident took place. A young man was moving along the highway normally, but within one of the tunnels leading to the city, he was maimed by a flat tire.
To the side of the tunnel he parked and stepped to the back to remove the spare tire. The whistle of a speeding car from behind. In a second, it collided with the crippled car, the young man in-between. He fell to the ground with critical injuries.
I rushed to the scene, myself and another partner other than the first. Together we carried the young man’s body into our patrol car and phoned the hospital to prepare for his arrival.
He was a young adult in his blossom years. Religious, you could tell from his appearance. He was mumbling when we carried him, but in our rush, we had not paid attention to what he was saying.
However, when we placed him on his back in the patrol car we could make it out. Through the pain his heart was reciting Qur’an! He was so immersed in the recitation … Subhan Allah, you would have never said that this person was in intense pain.
Blood had soaked his clothes crimson red, his bones had clearly snapped in several places. To tell the truth, he looked like he was staring into the eyes of death.
He continued to read in his unique, tender voice. Reciting each verse in proper rhythm. In my entire life, I had never heard any recitation like it. I said to myself, I’m … I’m going to instruct him to say the Shahadah just like I saw my friend doing; especially since I had previous experience.
My partner and I listened intently to that soft voice. I felt a shiver shock my back and up my arm, the hair stood.
Suddenly, the hymn ceased. I watched silently as his hand rose softly. He had his index finger pointed upward to the heavens, saying the Shahadah (La ilaha illa Allah/There is no god but Allah). Then … his head slumpt. Nothing.
I jumped to the back seat, felt his hand, his heart, his breathing. He was dead!
I couldn’t stop staring at him. A tear fell but I hid it in shame. I turned back to my partner and told him that the boy’s life had ceased – he burst out loud crying. Seeing a man cry like that, I could not control myself and my partner faded away behind the fall of my own tears. The patrol car fogged from the emotions.
We arrived at the hospital. As we rushed through the corridors, we told all the doctors, nurses, and onlookers what had happened. So many people were affected by what we said, some stood there speechless and tearful.
No one wanted to lose sight of the boy until they had been assured of the time and place he would be buried.
One of the hospital staff phoned the boys home. His brother picked it up and was told of the accident.
His brother told us about him: He used to go out every Monday to visit his only grandmother outside of town. Whenever he visited her, he made sure to spend time with the poor children idling the streets and the orphans.
The town knew him – he was the one that would bring them the Islamic books and tapes. His dusty Mazda would be filled with rice and sugar and even candies – couldn’t forget the candies – for those families who were in need.
He would not stand for anyone to discourage him from the long journey to that town. He would always politely reply that the long drive gave him time to review his Quran and listen to Islamic lectures on his cassette deck.
And … and that with every step to the town he hoped for the reward he would find with Allah…
It is true, brothers and sisters, that Allah is Merciful and forgives and forgives.
[Yet I am quite Forgiving … ] But to whom? [ … towards anyone who turns (in repentance) and believes and acts honorable; then he will be guided.]
– Surah Taha 20/82
[O our people! Respond to Allah’s Caller (Muhammad – sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) and believe in him, Allah will forgive you of your sins and will save your from a painful torment.]
– Surah al-Ahqaf 46/31
Just like we reply someone’s call when they phone us – this is Allah and His Messenger calling us! Let us answer.
There is a verse in the Qur’an that when Shaytaan read it he cried and felt regret. Read this verse, it is the door to our happiness in this life and the next:
[And those who, if they commit an immorality or wrong themselves, remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah? – and who do not persist in what they have done while they know.]
Allah then continues:
[For those – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow (in Jannah), wherein they shall abide eternally. Excellent is the reward of the (righteous) workers.]
– Surah Ali-Imraan 3/135,136
Allah sent the Prophets and the books; He sent the warners and glad tiders; and He sent the reminders. And atop all that, Allah comes down to Samaa’ ad-Dunya – in a way befitting of His Majesty – in the third portion of the night – every night – calling to every one of His servants: “Is there anyone who shall make Dua’ so that I shall accept His Du’a? Is there anyone who shall ask for pardon so that I may pardon him?”
Dear brothers and sisters, let us make a pledge tonight to set our alarm clocks at 2 am in the morning. We all know that if there was some special sports event on tv or someone had to catch a plane at that time they would be capable of waking up.
Let’s set the alarm to pray only 2 raka’at to Allah. And in Sajdah, recall just one sin – just one – between us and Allah and ask Allah ta’ala to forgive us for that sin, pledging that we shall never return to it.
Rasul Allah – sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam – taught us that Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His servant than a man who loses his camel in the desert and in that waste land loses hope of life; In that state he sits down awaiting death to come; then he opens his eyes and finds his camel standing beside him with all the provisions to take him home. In his extreme happiness he cries out: “O Allah, you are my servant and I am your Lord!!” He said it wrong from the bliss of happiness.
Rasul Allah – sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam – said that verily Allah is more happy with our towbah than this man!
Tonight at 2 am, let’s all try to make Allah happy with us. Believe me, we won’t regret it.
Ameen! Aqeemus salaah!