[Friday Sermon] Stop Blaming Others And Making Excuses For Yourself, By Imam Murtada Gusau

 By Imam Murtada Gusau

First Sermon:

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

All Praise is due to Allah, We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our own evils and our own bad deeds. Anyone who is guided by Allah, he is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad, peace and blessings on him, is His servant, and His Messenger.

“O You who believe, – Be aware of Allah, with correct awareness, an awe-inspired awareness, and die not except as Muslims.”

“O You who believe, – Be aware of Allah, and speak a straightforward word. He will forgive your sins and repair your deeds. And whoever takes Allah and His Prophet as a guide, has already achieved a mighty victory.”

In the opening verse of Surah An-Nisaa’, Allah says:

“O mankind! Show reverence towards your Guardian-Lord Who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate and from the two of them scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; – Be conscious of Allah, through Whom you demand your mutual (rights) and (show reverence towards) the wombs (that bore you); for surely, Allah ever watches over you”

To begin: O servants of Allah! O My Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As you all know, these days, we Muslims are constantly in the news, and mostly for the wrong reasons. If it’s not about the beheadings of “Jihadi John” of ISIS in Syria and Iraq or the massacres of Boko Haram in Nigeria, then it’s about Muslim Pakistani men abusing underage girls, or that which has taken place in Kenya of mass killing of students at Garissa University College, by al-Shabaab, or Al-Qaeda and Taliban in the 21st century, or some other bad news. Unfortunately, many of us refuse to acknowledge that there are serious problems we Muslims have right here within our own communities, within our own families, and even within our own individual hearts. Some of us live in denial. We blame the sensational media. We blame dark conspiracies against Islam. But few of us will sit up and ask, what role have we Muslims played in creating the mess that we are in?

For example, did you know that according to the confirmed and reliable source Muslims are only 3 percent of the British population, but are ten percent of the prison populations? That’s 3 times more than non-Muslims! Real Muslims should have zero percent in prison! When I first heard this, I thought, that it’s because too many young Muslims are arrested as terrorist suspects. But I was wrong. The offences range from burglary and fraud to drug dealing and every other crime you can think of, and some you dare not even imaging. And, it’s not only the men. Our sisters also have a problem. Muslim women account for 30 percent of the inmates at one of London’s prisons for women! The crimes range from shoplifting to domestic violence. Sad to say, it’s mostly domestic violence, between mothers in law and daughters in law, but there are other examples. You’ve probably heard of this horrific case of a mother beating her 6 years old child to death because he couldn’t read the Qur’an properly. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many cases of domestic violence and child abuse in Muslim families that we don’t hear of. It’s all hushed up in the name of ‘honour’ to protect the ‘honour’ of the family. Meanwhile, the crimes carry on. What kind of honour is that? This isn’t Islam! Our warped sense of ‘family honour’ has nothing to do with Islam! And wallahi if you come to Nigeria my Brothers and Sisters, you will find almost the same thing.

What’s gone wrong? How do Muslims get into such a mess? What can we do to put things right? We cannot simply shrug our shoulders and say it’s not our problem. We can’t just look away and walk away and do nothing.

Some Muslims even claim welfare benefits that they are not entitled to. They know all the tricks and loopholes. They could probably write up a doctoral thesis on ‘benefit fraud.’

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

Can you see why the Muslim world is in such a mess? It’s because we are in a mess. Our personal lives are in a mess. Our family situation is simply a model in miniature of what happens out there in the wide world. If we want to put things right out there, we must begin with ourselves. We must begin by clearing up the mess inside our own hearts. We must stop massaging our selfish egos. Playing games of smoke and mirrors; stop our self-delusion. Stop our desires, our passions, our hopes and longings that exclude Allah, desires that displease Him. Desire is a powerful driving force, and we must tune it in the right direction. We must turn our desires towards Allah’s good pleasure. We have to change from within, change our heart’s desires. The Noble Qur’an warns us that:

“Allah will never change the condition of a people, until they change what is within themselves, i.e. what is within their hearts.” (Surah Al-Ra’d 13:11)

This change will only happen when we stop making excuses and blaming others. Excuses come from Shaytaan (Satan). Please, remember that: excuses come from Shaytaan (Satan). We must take ownership of our actions: Caliph Umar, Radiyallaahu anhu, advised his people:

“Hold yourself to account, before you are brought to account.”

Don’t wait till Al-Yawmul Qiyaamah, (The Day of Judgment) when it’s too late for tears. Do it now!

Before we start any new task, we must ask ourselves: why am I doing this? What impulse is driving me? Is it fear, greed, envy or vanity? Am I doing this to impress someone, to show off, to massage my ego? If so, stop! Don’t do it! I’m only going to harm my own soul!

We must have full presence of mind, so that, in big and small things, we begin every new action in Allah’s Noble Name:

Bismillahir rahmanir raheem: “In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, and the Most Merciful.”

Whatever we do, whether it’s brushing our teeth or tying our shoelaces, or answering the phone or going to meet our friends; let’s always begin with Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem! Let’s focus on the meaning, and we’ll find it impossible to do a sin or a shameful deed at the same time. We cannot do any injustice, either to others or to ourselves, if we really, sincerely and seriously understand the meaning and internalize Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem.

We must internalize our faith. It’s easy to look like a Muslim on the outside. It’s much harder, and more important, to be a good Muslim on the Inside. We have to think and feel and behave like real Muslims. Stop judging others. Stop criticizing or insulting Muslims who don’t have beards or hijabs, or whose beards are too short and whose hijabs aren’t the right colour. Preach to them sincerely. We must also purify our hearts. That’s the key. We must learn to control our desires, to tame the lower passions and to always refer to the higher and nobler qualities within us.

It takes time. Sinners and criminals aren’t made overnight. It starts with forgetfulness, distractions, small deviations, and small act of mischief that isn’t stopped in time. They grow bigger and bolder. It’s a struggle, a jihad of the lower nafs (Soul) that Prophet Muhammad described as the Greater Jihad. The guys who pose with their weapons on YouTube, and who kill innocent civilians in the name of Islam are bringing shame on Islam. That’s not Jihad. They’re fooling themselves. Most of them haven’t sorted out the mess inside their hearts, that’s why they make a mess outside. The real Jihad, the real struggle is the one that you and I and every Muslim must engage to take control of the demons that lurk there inside the deepest corners of our own hearts. We must turn ourselves away from what pleases our animal instincts, to what pleases Allah. And we cannot do so without Allah’s help.

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was fond of this du’ah (prayer/supplication). It’s a short and powerful plea for help. He used to say:

“O Turner of hearts please turns my heart towards Your religion!”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Let’s learn this du’ah by heart. Let’s say it with meaning and feeling, and let’s be prepared to exchange our old bad habits for new good ones. One scholar said that the longest journey is from the head to the heart, from what we know, to what we feel, what we desire, what we long for. We know what’s right and what’s wrong, but we choose to deviate from the straight path, the Siraatal mustaqeem, to explore the crooked roads that lead to the hellfire. Beware of that, as the Qur’an warns, beware the fire whose fuel is men and stones. {Surah Al-Baqara, 2:24}

Let Allah hear and accept our heartfelt pleas:

“O Turner of hearts please turns my heart towards Your religion!”

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds; may the greetings and peace be upon the best Messenger, Muhammad, the unlettered prophet; and upon his family and upon all of his companions. And after this:

“Behold, Allah and his angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O you who believe! Ask for blessings on him, and salute him with a worthy greeting.”

“O Allah! Send your greetings upon Muhammad and his family, just as you sent your greetings on Abraham, and his family. O Allah, send your blessings on Muhammad and his family, just as you blessed Abraham and his family. In both worlds, you are praiseworthy and exalted.”


Second Sermon:

“All glory is for Allah, and all praise is for Allah; there is no power and no

strength except with Allah.”

My dear Sisters and Brothers,

Please remember that the Khutbah (Sermon) is an essential part of the Jumu’ah. Prayers have been shortened to two raka’a to allow for the Khutbah. Do not talk to each other or play with your mobile phones during the Khutbah (Sermon). If you miss the Khutbah you’ve missed Jumu’ah according to some scholars. Please try to get here on time.

To summarize: We Muslims are in a mess because we’ve forgotten the core ethical values of Islam. These values are eloquently described in one of my favourite hadith, when Prophet Muhammad (SAW) declared:

“A Muslim is someone from whose tongue and hands other Muslims are safe; and a Mu’min (a true Believer) is someone in whom all humankind is safe with their life and property.”

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

Can we imagine the great responsibility? It’s awesome, to be responsible for the lives and property of all mankind! In another narration, Prophet Muhammad said, three times:

“He is not a true Believer!” When the Companions asked: who is not a true believer? The Prophet replied: “The one whose neighbour is not safe from his mischief, from his sins!”

How safe can our neighbours feel when we Muslims are 3 times more likely to be in prison for all kinds of mischief, for all kinds of sins? Why should our neighbours have to fear the arrival of another Muslim family next door, or down the street?

Let’s stop the lame excuses and blaming others. Let’s follow the example of Prophet Adam. He didn’t make excuses. He didn’t blame Shaytaan for his actions. Shaytaan is there to misguide us. That’s his job. But we should ignore him. We are responsible for our own actions. Every Muslim knows the prayer of Prophet Adam. When we stand on Arafat, we recite the same du’ah, the same timeless plea that Prophet Adam and his wife made to Allah:

“Our Lord, we have truly wronged our own souls, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy on us, then we will be among the lost ones.”

This clearly tells us that a wrongdoing is not an injustice towards others or towards Allah; it’s an injustice towards ourselves, to our own souls.

We should never allow Shaytaan to deceive us into thinking that we can profit from our own wrongdoing. Allah has already decreed the provisions, for every one of us. Allah decrees the provision of every human being. Nothing that we do can change that. All can do is make sure that our provisions is earned the halaal way, the way that pleases Allah, not the haraam way, the way that rouses divine anger. The one who cheats, who steals and thinks he is increasing his wealth is really just fooling himself wallahi.

How can we avoid deluding ourselves? It begins with the purification of the heart. We must tame the anger, the greed, the envy, hatred and egotism, the vanity within our own hearts. These are wild beasts that must be subdued. We have a whole zoo inside ourselves and we must become good zookeepers! Take control of those animals and Allah will illuminate our hearts with His merciful Light. Let’s not be like those whom the Qur’an describes as:

“…Those who forgot Allah, so Allah caused them to forget themselves.” (Surah, Hashr 59:19)

We should be mindful of Allah at all times. In the Hadith of Jibreel (AS):

“Ihsaan, excellence in faith is to worship Allah as if you can see Him. And if you cannot see Him, remember that He sees you.”

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I want to end this Khutbah and a positive note. It’s all about Dhikr, Fikr and Shukr: Loving remembrance of Allah; contemplation of His love and mercy towards us; and showing our gratitude to Allah through big and small acts of kindness to others. Especially when you have the upper hand, try to be merciful.

“Be merciful to those on earth; and He Who is in heaven (Allah) will show mercy to you.”

It’s all about action and transaction; give and take. Whatever we sow today we will reap tomorrow. Let us sow seeds of goods deeds that will blossom in Allah’s garden, Al-Jannah firdaws, where you and I, insha-Allah, will live forever! Ameen!

Fellow Nigerians!

All hands must be on deck to fight and defeat the ideology of Boko Haram, ISIS, Taliban, al-Shabaab and al-Qaedah. Let’s join hands together and give our full supports to the incoming administration of General Muhammadu Buhari to bring an end to this extremist’s ideology destroying and tarnishing the good image of Islam and Muslims.

This week we remember the kidnapping of 276 girls from a school in Chibok, Borno State, in north-eastern Nigeria one year ago. Let the priority of General Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration be on engaging these stupid insurgents, those who ride their passions and inclinations, and have chosen the road to error out of stubbornness and haughtiness. They seek a means to fulfill their ambitions hastily and try to prove their passions with the Shari’a and deform the texts and proofs to agree with their innovations and error.

Let them know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror and terrorists, and bring back peace and normalcy to our dear, great and beloved nation, Nigeria.

Let us join hands together to show the world that this twisted ideology of Boko Haram and others, is not and will never be Islamic.

On the other hand, apart from the military actions, I suggest, let our political leaders, religious scholars/leaders, security agents, journalists, psychologists, and social workers come together, join hands and team up to think on how to start the sincere dialogue/reconciliation and the issue of de-radicalization process/program, rehabilitation program, total ideological deprogramming, revision of radical ideas, reconversion and social reintegration program. History and experience has shown practically that, most of the countries affected by the menace of terrorism followed the same process, so let us try it also in order to succeed by God’s Grace.

Let us intensify prayers for the success of retired General Muhammadu Buhari-Led administration and the country in general. For the expectations of Nigerians, we must invoke and pray, for the incoming government.

Brothers and Sisters, to conclude our Khutbah:

“Surely Allah commands justice, good deeds and generosity to others and to relatives; and He forbids all shameful deeds and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, so that you may be reminded.”

“And remember Me: I will remember you. Be grateful to Me, and do not reject faith.”

“…and without doubt, Remembrance of Allah is the Greatest thing in Life, and Allah knows the deeds that you do.”

O Allah! We seek refuge in you from grief and sadness, from weakness and from laziness, from miserliness and from cowardice, from being overcome by debt and overpowered by men.

We ask Almighty God (Allah) to enable every Muslim to fully understand these words and to comprehend the true Islamic position with respect to the people of misguidance. We also ask Him (SWT) to grant every person the ability to grasp the true message and beauty of Islam as it was revealed to the noble Prophet of Islam.

Indeed all praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of all creation – and May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, his family, his companions and those who follow him precisely until the Day of Judgment. Ameen.

Indeed all praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of all creation – and May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, his family, his companions and those who follow him precisely until the Day of Judgment. Ameen.

This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Jumaada al- Thaany 28, 1436 A.H (April 17, 2015), by Imam Murtada Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’at Mosque, Okene, Kogi State Nigeria.

He can be reached via 08038289761 and [email protected]