“You Are A Terrorist or Boko Haram!” Say “No, I am a Muslim”, By Murtada Gusau

Alhamdu lillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil within ourselves and from our wrongdoings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.

I bear witness that there is no (true) god except Allah – alone without a partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His ‘abd (Servant) and Messenger.

“O you who believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.” (Al-Imran, 3:102)

“O people! Revere your Lord who has created you from a single soul, created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah through whom you demand things from one another; and (cherish the ties of) the wombs, Indeed, Allah is ever-watchful over you.” (Al-Nisa’, 4:1)

“O you who believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger have certainly achieved a great victory. (Al-Ahzab, 33:70-71)

Indeed, the best speech is Allah’s (SWT) Book and the best guidance is Muhammad’s (SAW) guidance. The worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovation is an act of misguidance leading to the Fire.

My Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Recently I was invited to talk to some children, students and their parents at a mosque in my Home town Gusau, Zamfara state. After the talk a little girl who looked about eight years old, raised her hand rather shyly and said:“Sir, what should I say when someone calls me a Terrorist or Boko Haram?”

My Respected people,
That question caught me by surprise, and for a moment I wasn’t sure how to answer. So, I asked her: “What was your reply?” She said, “I just told them, I’ m not a terrorist or Boko Haram. I’ m a Muslim. Then I walked away.” I smiled and said to the little girl, “Young lady, that’s the best answer you could have given. You’re not a terrorist or Boko Haram. You’re a Muslim. The two are not the same. And they could never be the same.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This episode raises a rather important topic:

How do we handle abusive and insulting people? Do we lose our temper? Do we resort to violence? Do we walk away and say nothing? How should we react? If we return insult with insult we only make matters worse. And our mission is to contribute in solving the world’s problems. Some people say revenge is sweet: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. If that’s the way the world works, then the whole planet will end up blind and toothless. A silly man burns Qur’ans in America. Some fools provokes Muslims by drawing cartoons ‘as they says’ of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and hundreds of people in Pakistan, Niger etc. go on the rampage, burning down churches and a branch of McDonalds and causing injury and death. Someone pushes our panic button and thousands of Muslims respond, right on cue. Some years back a Danish newspaper publishes some silly cartoons also they said of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and instead of just ignoring them, some Muslims start a worldwide campaign to boycott all Danish goods. We seem to forget that, for years, Denmark has been at the forefront of humanitarian work, welcoming refugees and asylum seekers when others have shut their doors. How silly can you get? We complain that all Muslims are blamed for the bad behaviour of a few, yet we want to blame all Danish people and all Americans for the actions of one or two individuals. Brothers and Sisters, that makes no sense!

Anger and abuse that flows from a damaged self-esteem, from a bruised ego, belongs to the lower nafs, the lower self. As Muslims and believers, we claim to be followers of the ‘best of creation’ rahmatal lil aalameen, the Mercy to all the worlds, Muhammad (SAW). We should always therefore refer to the higher, not the lower inclinations within us. The prophetic way is to look beyond the bad behaviour; look to the heart, to the fu’ad, the kernel of goodness buried in the soul of every human being.

When Prophet Muhammad (SAW) went to Ta’if to preach Islam there, the people drove him out with such violence that he was battered, bruised and lost a tooth. His blood-soaked sandals stuck to his feet. The Angel of Mountains appeared, and offered to crush the people of Ta’if in an earthquake. But this alarmed the prophet. He refused the offer, saying that he was not a Prophet of revenge, but a Prophet of mercy. Perhaps one day the children of Ta’if will accept Islam. He was right. In time, they did accept Islam.

After years of exile, when Prophet Muhammad (SAW) returned to Makkah leading a huge army, he could have slaughtered all his enemies. Instead, he forgave them. This supreme act of mercy won the hearts of the Makkans and almost the whole city accepted Islam.

We should follow the Prophetic example. We should ignore insults, win our enemies’ hearts and minds and defuse explosive confrontations. Don’t throw fuel on the fire. As Muslims, we should all become fire-fighters, not arsonists. This enables us to gain the moral high ground, and with Allah’s help, we can turn enemies into friends. Read in Surah Al-Fussilat, Allah the Most High said:

“And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does good deeds and says, “Indeed, I am Muslim.” Good deeds and bad deeds are not equal. Repel [evil] by that which is better; and thereafter, your enemy will become your devoted friend. But no one is granted this except those who are patient, and no one is granted it except one having a great portion [of good]. And if there comes to you from Satan an evil suggestion, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.”

That is why, whenever we feel an evil inclination, we should always say:

“A uthu bil-Laahi minash shaytaanir rajeem.” “I take refuge in Allah from Shaytaan (Satan), the Cursed One.”

When rudeness is met with unexpected kindness it immediately changes the paradigm. The one who insults you thinks he’s in control. He wants to provoke you but your courtesy and your dignity throws him off balance. Many of Islam’s enemies were thus conquered by kindness. Allah has the key to all hearts, and if you obey Allah and follow in the footsteps of His beloved Prophet, (SAW), then you are on the Siratal-Mustaqeem, the Straight path leading to Al-jannah (Paradise), Allah’s eternal Garden.

Umm Salamah reports that one of the prayers she heard Prophet Muhammad (SAW) recite most often was:

“Yaa Muqallibal Quluub Thabbit Qalbee ‘alaa Deenik.” “Oh turner of the hearts please turns our hearts towards Your obedience.”

My Respected people,
We all know the story of the woman who left her rubbish at Prophet Muhammad’s door every day.

He, (SAW), never complained, but just quietly cleared it away without any fuss. Then one day there was no rubbish there, so he went to visit the woman and found she was ill. No fuss, no remonstrations of a bruised ego. The Mercy to All the Worlds showed mercy to this sick woman who always treated him with contempt. He brought her some food and stayed there to comfort her. Allah turned her heart over to Islam. She became a Muslimah. Where anger and retaliation would have made matters worse, she was won over with kindness. This is the Prophetic way, the true Islamic way.

Many of the greatest Sahaabah, the companions of the prophet, (SAW) were his mortal enemies before their hearts were turned to Islam. Khalid bin Walid and Amr ibn al As fought against the Muslims in the battle of Badr. When Allah unlocked their hearts, they again went into battle, leading victorious armies but now it was in the name of Islam. Khalid bin Walid conquered the Romans and Amr ibn al As conquered Egypt. Even in our times, people who hated Muslims vehemently, ex-members of the Klu-Klux-Klan in the USA and leading members of the Dutch right wing party have taken the Shahaada, made tauba (repented) to Allah, and apologized for their previous bad behaviour. We don’t know, and Allah alone knows. One day, some of our worst enemies could well be standing shoulder to shoulder with us, as brothers, in prayer. That is Allah’s secret. We have to trust Allah and live hopefully.

We must never take insults personally. When someone insults you, it’s because they are just insecure and ignorant. Smile and ask them politely what they mean. Ask why they feel so angry. Don’t become defensive and don’t retaliate. Keep your dignity; keep your courtesy, your good manners and sense of humour. And if that doesn’t work, just say,“I am a Muslim,” then walk away. Be like that 8 years old girl, using her intuition, her fitra, that primordial innocent nature that Allah has planted inside our hearts.

Allah is with those who patiently persevere: “innal Laaha ma’as Saabireen.”

In my Recent Ramadan trip to Makkah Saudi Arabia, on our Journey to Umrah (Lesser Hajj), in the restaurant, a Pakistani, talked to us: are you from Nigeria? We replied yes. He then said: you are Boko Haram. One of my friends shouted at him and wanted to fight him. I ask him to leave the man alone, since we are not Boko Haram. And the issue became history and past tense. The man became our friend and end up playing and laughing together.

My Dear Sisters and Brothers,

You may have seen reports of young Muslims going to the North east Nigeria or Middle East to join the fighting there. Just as prophet Muhammad (SAW) predicted, this is a time of fitna, the time of trials. This is a time of confusion. People are being killed and they don’t know why they are being killed. People are killing and they don’t know who they are killing. We hear of shifting alliances, reports of kidnapping and executions of journalists and aid workers. War is a very messy business. It’s not the glamorous stuff of Hollywood movies, paint-ball or video games. War is for real. If any of my own children or grandchildren were considering such a move my advice would be: Don’t go. Muslims are killing Muslims over there, and everyone claims Allah is on their side.

The Noble Qur’an warns us that:

“Whoever kills one innocent life, it’s as if he has killed all of mankind; and whoever saves one life, it is as if he has saved all of mankind”.

You may think that you are going to help a just cause, and that you are going to defend the weak against the oppressed. But things are far from clear. And things get more complicated and confusing every day. What if you actually killed one or more of Allah’s devoted, believing servants? When you take aim with a deadly weapon in your hands, can you be absolutely sure that you are not committing a terrible sin? In the heat of battle, how do you know? Wouldn’t it be wiser to stick to things you are sure of, and to avoid doubtful actions? How do you know that going over there will make things any better? It could also make things a lot worse! You may have good intentions but when you get there you may find the opposite of what you expect, and then it’s too late to change your mind. You heard the saying; “the way to Hell is paved with good intentions…”

On the other hand, you can do so much good work over here. There are so many ways you can serve Islam and help to save lives from over here, by helping to raise funds, and collect clothes, food and medicines for Emergency relief. Thousands of volunteers, NGOs are doing so already. Government officials from NEMA are doing so already. Why not join them instead? Why not stick to what you know is good work than to take risks with something that could be seriously sinful?

People who volunteer for emergency relief work are also showing the love, mercy and generosity of Islam. These are important aspects of Allah’s 99 beautiful Names, the Asma ul Husna.

My Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I pray that Allah will guide us in these difficult times. May Allah help us to internalize His noble qualities of Mercy, Love and Wisdom. Let us show Patient, Perseverance in serving others, and building bridges between Muslims and our neighbours in the wider community. Let us pray that Allah help us to become better Muslims so that we can set a good example for others.

Brothers and Sisters, to conclude our Khutbah (Sermon), I will say:

“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.”

This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Shawwal 22, 1436 A.H (August 7, 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 (+2348038289761)