Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN

AKRA FM Friday Discourse

December 22, 2000

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IMPORTANCE OF JIHAD AND KNOWLEDGE

As-salmu 'alaykum wa rahmatullhi wa baraktuh!..

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May peace, grace and blessings of Allah be with you. May He grant you happiness in this world and in the hereafter.

We are in the last week of Ramadan. A mixed feeling of joy and sadness has overtaken us. On one hand, we enjoy the blessings and beauties of Ramadan; on the other hand, we feel sorry for the departure of Ramadan which is drawing near. In one hadith, Prophet Muhammad SAS said: "If people knew the benefits and blessings of Ramadan, they would wish that every day of the year were Ramadan."

We see the blessings of Ramadan such a way that we truly want every day to be a day of Ramadan. Yet it is only a month and almost over. May Almighty Allah give you opportunities to maximize your benefits in Ramadan. May He save us from being unaware and deprived of the blessings of Ramadan.

a. Need for Jihad

Abdullah Ibn-i Abbas, a young yet great scholar of Islam, narrated and Daylami recorded in his Muthnadul-Firdaws the following hadith:

RE. 79/5 (Aqrabun-nsi min darajatin-nubuwwah, ahlul-jihdi wa ahlul-ilm; li-anna ahlal-jihdi yujhidna al m j-at bihir-rusul, wa amm ahlul-ilmi fadallawinnsa al m j-at bihil-anbiy'.)

In this hadith, the Prophet praises people who participate in jihad and in the dissemination of knowledge:

(Aqrabun-nsi min darajatin-nubuwwah) "Among mankind the ones who are close to the rank prophets are (ahlul-jihdi wa ahlul-ilm) the people of jihad and people of knowledge."

Verily, the highest spiritual ranks belong to the prophets of Allah. Among them, Prophet Muhammad has the highest rank. He is like the brightest sun among the suns and brightest moon among the moons. Among ordinary people, those who have the highest ranks are "people of jihad" and "people of knowledge." There are other ahadith that indicate that the rank of the scholars are above the ranks of the martyrs.

Our beloved Prophet explained: (Li-anna ahlal-jihdi yujhidna al m j-at bihir-rusul) "Those who participate in jihad struggle over the protection and spread of the principles that were revealed to the prophets." They protect these principles and uphold the orders of Allah. They fight to protect the interests of Muslims. They take an important role in the protection and maintenance of Islam and Islamic values in the society.

It has been like this since the time of the Prophet. It is a natural phenomenon. When you try to introduce something new, not everybody accepts it readily. Many people who have a good judgement would accept the new and useful items, yet the defenders of old systems reject the new items and insist on keeping the old ones. They would want to maintain the idol worshipping.

There may be various reasons for them to maintain the old ways. For instance, they might have built a temple and filled it up with idols. People would bring goods to the temple as offers to the idols. People would revere such people with some titles such as "high priests" or "monks." They may put some special and attractive attire on them. They may have turned their beliefs into some shows. We have read about such examples in history books.

The order such people maintain in the society is based on injustice because such people violated the basic rights of all humans and committed crimes against the orders of Allah. For instance, the Pharaoh of Egypt ordered the newborn male babies to be killed. This is a grave genocide and injustice!

According to Islam, every child is born pure and sinless. According to Christianity, every child is born with a sin that was committed in the past. Islam pointed out that it was wrong to assume a child to be born with sin. How could a person kill a newborn infant? How can a person give orders to have the newborns killed? What kind of mind, what kind of conscience, what kind of ruling is this?

When Prophet Moses confronted the rulings of Pharaoh, when Prophet Abraham opposed to Namrud, and when Prophet Noah told his people to stop worshipping idols, those whose worldly benefits are at stake started an attack. On one side were the powers of merciless and cruel rulers, on the other side was the gentile prophet of that time. The duty of the prophet was to convey the message of Allah. For instance, when Almighty Allah ordered Moses AS to take his brother Aaron AS and go to Pharaoh, He asked them to be gentle:

(Faql lah qawlan layyinan) "[Go to him and] talk to him softly (le-alleh yatadhakkaru aw yakh-sh) so that he may be reminded, understand your words, accepts them or even feel afraid." (Th: 44)

Almighty Allah ordered the prophets to talk soft and gentle, yet the opposite forces were cruel, bloodthirsty, and hard-hearted. They would start the attack first.

You remember the hardship that was imposed on our beloved Prophet and the early Muslims in Makkah just because they had accepted Islam. They were immensely tortured just because they declared (rabbiyallh) "Allah is my Lord." Such a declaration itself would inflict no harm on the others. The believer, a slave, for instance, would remain a slave and could do no harm to the rulers of Makkah. However, the rulers of Makkah realized that there could be a time that there would not be any supporters for them. They would lose their power and status. They started torturing the Muslims and and killing them. We are also informed in the Qur'an that some believers were thrown into fire in the ancient nations. There were such ruthless rulers then.

Prophet Muhammad SAS and his companions were oppressed first. They were criticized, mocked at, prevented from performing the prayers, and isolated economically and socially. The rulers of Makkah tried all their might to stop the spread of Islam. They even schemed plots to kill the Prophet. Then the Prophet was ordered by Almighty Allah to emigrate to Madina.

While people are subjected to such maltreatment, don't they have a right to fight back? Don't they have a right to defend themselves? That is why a struggle may be necessary. Even if you are for peace, even if you do not hurt anybody, there will be somebody to disturb you. They will see that you are getting stronger and stronger. You may be a threat for their interests in future. That is why they will attack you. You have to defend yourself, then.

Those who have served in the military should know that sometimes the best defense is an attack. Before the enemy pulls itself together, an attack can solve many problems. In principle, Muslims have to provide protection for Islam, the meak, their children and their women. Their properties and honor must be protected from the assaults of the enemies. There has to be some work towards establishing a good defense system.

Our beloved Prophet was the last of the prophets, the sun of the two worlds, a mercy for the universe, and lenient and soft towards people. Despite this fact, he was forced to use a sword. The conditions made it necessary to use arms. In the old scriptures it was written that the last prophet of Allah will also be the prophet of battle.

That means jihad is necessary, and there will be jihad till the end of this world. Don't we need jihad right now? We do need a great jihad. Various forms of fighting have continued and still continues. The attacks of the enemy come from all directions. Serbia, Caucauses, and Kashmir are the recent examples. What happened to the great Ottoman State? Today, a small core country, Turkey, is left. Still, they are trying to take portions of it. Turkey has no strength to look after the interests of Muslims living in the West Thrace, Bulgaria, Romania or Yugoslavia. No matter how peaceful you are, you have to prepare to defend yourself. As a poet put it:

"Remain ready for a battle if you want peace and order."

We witness the oppression committed by Israil towards the Palestinians. It takes place before the eyes of the whole world. It is not acceptable at all. Jihad is a must to stop such atrocities. That is why being among the "people of jihad" is important.

Rewards for a good deed usually depends on the effect of that deed. Suppose a person plants thousands of trees on a hill. It is a good work. On the other hand, suppose another person establishes a school. Hundreds and thousands of students attend this school and get educated. These educated people do good deeds in the society. The benefit of the school for the society outweighs the benefit of the trees on the hill. Although both deeds are good deeds, the school would earn more rewards than the trees.

The outcome of the jihad is very important for the society. Both Islam and the Muslims are saved from the assaults. Afterwards, they can live in their country in peace. Their honor and their properties are saved. It is also an order from Almighty Allah.

b. Knowledge is Very Important

The prophet continued: (Wa amm ahlul-ilm) "the second group is people of knowledge. (Fadallawinnsa al m j-at bihil-anbiy') They teach mankind the knowledge brought by the prophets of Allah. They guide people with their knowledge."

The duty of the scholars is to convey the message of the prophets to people. They inform people about the words of the prophet. They explain the duties and responsibilities of individuals. They carry out the mission of illuminating people after the prophets. The prophets have departed this world, so the scholars inform people. That is why their duty is important.

When you educate a person, you would win a person. When you do jihad, you may have to kill a person. This makes teaching knowledge superior to participating in jihad.

Once a group of Muslims in a military unit brought a caravan. Among the captives there was a person who committed various atrocities towards Muslims. Our beloved Prophet tried to convince him about Islam: "Shirk is not good. Almighty Allah has no partners. Accept the unity of Allah."

The man resisted. He had no intention of accepting Islam. Hadrat Omar ibn-i Khattab RA got impatient and asked the Prophet: "O Prophet of Allah! This man does not understand the nice talk. Leave him to me. Let me chop off his head."

The Prophet did not respond to Hadrat Omar. He continued to convince the man. Then, the man started asking question about Islam. The Prophet explained them. In the end, the man accepted Islam. Later, the Prophet turned to Hadrat Omar: "If we had killed him as you suggested, he would have gone to Hell. He is convinced, and he accepted Islam. He can go to Paradise. He is living. We won a person."

Dear Brothers and Sisters! Knowledge is very important, and the best investments are to seek knowledge, to teach knowledge and to establish an institution to spread knowledge. This is why I have recommended my brothers choose an option that would advance their knowledge: "Seek knowledge at the advanced levels. If possible, be a teacher in your field. Seek the knowledge and teach others. This is the most rewarding occupation."

We tried to establish schools, learning centers, and colleges. We had a desire to establish a university. Unfortunately, the conditions in Turkey and the attitudes of the administrators towards us did not allow us to put our thoughts into practice. We have the potential to establish excellent schools and colleges. I have many brothers and sisters who are important personages in the academia. They can run a university with a great success. Despite the obstacles, we continue our work in spreading the knowledge.

Dear Brothers and Sisters! I would like to warn you about one thing: You all have a mind, a heart, an inner world. You enrich your inner world with the knowledge and experience you acquire. The inner world does not stay "empty" if you do not fill it. It is just like a room being filled with air or an object dipped in the water getting water from all kinds of openings, holes, and gaps. If you do not fill your inner world with good things, other people, the society, the television and the like will fill it with undesirable things.

If you want your inner world brilliant, full of light, and pure, you must seek good things and knowledge. You must also try your family members get knowledge. You must not allow the shirk, the kufr, and Satan to enter your inner world. You must be very selective about the radio and television programs, newspapers and magazines because they all place something into our inner world. We must avoid the useless information, too.

During the time of ignorance, people used to recite poems to boast about their misconduct including robbery, adultery, and drinking. Their lifestyle was reflected onto their poetry. Our beloved Prophet warned them: "For a person to have an inner world filled with such poems is worse than having it filled with pus and vomit."

Do not let your children get the wrong thoughts and ideas from the media or school environment; instead, you teach him good things. You fill his inner world with good things.

c. Khawf and Raj

Here is the second hadith:

RE79/9 (Aksemel-khawfu war-raj-u an l yajtami' fi ahadin fid-duny, fayuriha rhan-nr; wa l yaftarik f ahadin fid-duny, fayuriha rhal-jannah.)

This hadith was narrated by Wsila RA. Our beloved Prophet said: "Khawf and raj declared that if they are in a person in this world, that person will stay away from the smell of Hell." That is, that person will not enter Hell. "If they are not together in a person in this world, that person will stay away from the smell of Paradise." That is, that person will not enter Paradise.

If you have khawf and raj together, you will not enter Hell; that means, you will enter Paradise. If you have only one of them, then you will not enter Paradise; that is, you will enter Hell. May Allah save us from such an end. What is khawf? What is raj?

The dictionary meaning of khawf is "fear." It is the fear of a person's final destination: "What kind of a person will I be when I die? How will I die? What will happen to me in the hereafter? What will I say in the Divine Court?" If a person has such worries, he tries to lead a good life. He would do good deeds and avoid the bad deeds. He will be a god-fearing servant. This is a desirable state of mind.

The meaning of the second word, raj, is "hope" or "expectation." A person who has raj has no worries about his life and expects to enter Paradise in the hereafter. He hopes so: "I will enter paradise." You may question him: "How do you think you will enter paradise?"

"I just will."

I have heard from some insolent ones words like this: "If Allah will not admit me into Paradise, whom will He?"

Is there a shortage of people? Does Almighty Allah beg a person to enter Paradise? This is utter insolence!

Some people do some voluntary good deeds, then they think that they have done great deeds. In fact, their life is so mixed up that everybody complains about them. Then they say, "We have done all that needed to be done."

I feel like talking to these brothers and explaining them their responsibilities, obligations and point them their mistakes. They think that they are good, but it is a mere delusion. Almighty Allah stated in the Qur'an:

(Qul hal nunebbiukum bil-akhsarina a'ml) "O My Prophet, tell your people: "Shall I inform you about those who will be losers due to their deeds?'"

(Allazna dalla sa'yuhum fil-haytid-duny wa hum yahsabne annahum yuhsinna sun') "These people have gone astray in this world with their deeds and efforts, yet they fail to realize their mistakes. They think that they are doing good things."

You may observe people who have established an association to do certain kind of activities. You immediately notice that their work could harm the society. The direction they turn is wrong. (Dalla sa'yuhum fil-haytid-duny) "Their efforts in this life are in the wrong direction, (wa hum yahsabne annahum yuhsinna sun') and they do not realize that they are on the wrong path. They think they are doing something good."

As you know, some people start reciting the Qur'an with a great desire. Having read only few pages, they lose their patience and stop reading. They only read the beginning. In the beginning of the surah Baqara, Almighty Allah describes people:

(Wa idh qla lahum l tufsid fil-ard) "When they are told not to create mischief on earth,(ql innem nahnu muslihn) They say, 'We are only improving the matters.' (El innahum humul-mufsidn) Beware, They are indeed mischief makers, but they are not aware of it!"

A person may think that he is a good person and that he is carrying out good deeds. He hopes to be rewarded with Paradise. This is raj. It would be terrible if he is doing something wrong.

The specific meanings of khawf and raj are as follows: One is worrying about the final destination in the hereafter while the other one is being sure about the final destination that he will end up in Paradise. When these two are in a person, that person a perfect person deserving Paradise. These two make a person worry about the hereafter and do good deeds to earn Paradise. Throughout his life, he would spend on charitable causes, feed the hungry, cloth the poor, build schools, support students, pay attention his prayers, fasting and pilgrimage. While he worries about his abode in the hereafter, he hopes that he receives the consent of Allah and enters Paradise. He becomes a good person.

If a person has no worry about his abode in the hereafter, he never minds anything in this life. He turns into a relax and drunken person. He would develop a philosophy out of his readings. He mentions the words of Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, and other philosophers. He does not neglect the philosophers of the East. He recites poems of Omar Khayym. He would select from the ottoman literature some poems that praise wine and drinking. He would spend his days in comfort and in pleasure. He does not mind violating other peoples rights. This is the result of not having any khawf.

We can also imagine a case that a person has no hope about entering Paradise. He would be lost in his worries and fear. His worries and fear prevent him from doing good deeds. This would a terrible state.

Almighty Allah states in the Qur'an:

(Qul y 'ibdiyalladhina asraf al anfusihim) "O My servants who lost control on themselves and committed offenses thus oppressed their own souls. (L taqnat min rahmetillh) Do not despair of Allah's mercy." You have committed a sin, but do not repeat it. (Innallha yaghfirudh-dhunba jam) "If Almighty Allah sees a good state on you, He will forgive all offences." He can forgive all of your offenses. However, you have to have a genuine intention not to commit these offences. Without any attempts towards becoming a better person, it will not happen.

You must not lose your hope or fear altogether. One has to have both of them together and maintain a balance between them. A Muslim has to fear Allah, be aware of his responsibilities, avoid the offenses, and worry about not fulfilling the duties as they should be. Meanwhile he has hope: "My Lord, forgive my shortcomings and offences." He wants to enter Paradise: "I wish my prayers are accepted, and I enter Paradise in the hereafter."

If a person has the hope but no deeds to take him to Paradise or he has fear but no hope about Paradise, he will enter Hell. We must keep trying until we die: We must do good deeds to deserve entering Paradise and worry about our shortcomings and faults.

d. Dhikr in the Latter Part of Night

I would like to read another hadith to make it three. It is about Ramadan, our world in Ramadan, our spiritual state in Ramadan. It is also about our personal life:

RE 79/7 (Aqrabu m yaknur-rabbu minal-abdi f jawfil-laylil-khir, fa inistata'ta an takna mimman yazkurullha f tilkas-s'ati fakun)

According to Ab Umma and Amr ibn-i Abasa RA, the Prophet said: (Aqrabu m yaknur-rabbu minal-abdi) "The time when Almighty Allah is closest to His servant is (f jawfil-laylil-khir) in the last part of the night."

A night starts with the sunset and lasts until the dawn. This is from the point of Islam. For people, the night starts with sunset and ends with sunrise. According to the Islamic tradition, about two hours before the sunrise, the night ends. This makes the last part of the night to be one or two hours of time period preceding the dawn. That is the time that Almighty Allah is closest to His servants.

The prophet recommends something for us in the last part of the night: (Fa inistata'ta an takna mimman yazkurullha f tilkas-s'ati) "In this time period, if you can be one of those who remember Allah, (fakun) do so!" That means, "Get up in the last part of the night and remember Allah. Offer prayers and recite Qur'an."

As you know, the dhikr, i.e. the remembrance of Allah, is the main activity in tasawwuf. It means repeating the words such as "Allah," "L ilha il-lal-lah," "Y hayyu y qayym," "Y latf," and "Y arhamar-rahimn" often. Yet in Islam, dhikr has a wider meaning. It is beyond getting a rosary and repeating certain words. Offering prayers (salat) is also called dhikr. "The remembrance in the latter part of the night" means offer prayers (salat). The dictionary meaning of the word dhikr is to remember, not to forget, to keep in mind. There are various ways to keep something in mind. Getting a rosary and repeating the words "Allah Allah Allah ..." would help a person keep Allah in mind; therefore, it is a form of dhikr. In the Qur'an this meaning of the dhikr is used:

(Y ayyuhallazne amanzkurullha dhikran kathr.) "O you who believe, do remembrance of Allah often!" (Ahzab: 41)

(Wadhkurisma rabbika bukratan wa asl) "Remember the name of your Lord in the morning and in the evening." (Insan: 25)

Once a person starts repeating the words of remembrance, he will make progress to remember Allah at all times. It may be hard in the beginning, yet a person must not give up the dhikr. It is a method of training. It starts with repeating the words, and then it leads to the true remembrance.

The formal prayer, salat, is a form of dhikr, too. From the time one starts the prayer saying "Allhu akbar" until he ends the prayer saying "As-salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah," everything he says is dhikr. "Allhu akbar" is dhikr, so is "Subhnaka." "Alhamdulillah" is dhikr, so are the other words recited while bowed down and in prostration. "Tahiyyat" is dhikr, so is the "salt-u salm." All of this qualifies the formal prayer as "world of dhikr."

In addition to the formal prayer, reciting the Qur'an is dhikr, too because it is the word of Allah. Every line of the Qur'an is dhikr. Since it is recited in the formal prayer, too. The best way of reciting the Qur'an is reciting it in the prayer at night. The best way of performing the prayer is reciting long surahs in it. Some of the companions of the Prophet have informed Muslims that the Prophet used to recite the Surah Baqara, Surah Al-i Imran and the following surah at once during the night prayer.

The best way of the dhikr is reciting the Qur'an; still, a person can offer two or four units of tahajjud prayer in the last part of the night and get his rosary to repeat the words "Allah, Allah, Allah, ... L ilha il-lal-lah..." This would earn him great rewards and great feelings (fayz).

Fayz means a flow of good feelings and joy. There will be an abundance of such great feelings surrounding the person. As the person continues on the dhikr, he gains inner vision. The "dirt" and "rust" in his heart disappear. As the poet put it:

Once the Suf purifies
The mirror in his heart
A gate will be opened
The beauty of Allah becomes visible.

Throughout the month of Ramadan, you have got up in the last part of the night. May Allah be pleased with you. If you have neglected the prayers and dhikr in the last part of the night, try not to miss them from now on.

In the remaining part of this Ramadan, there will be a special night, the Night of Power. It could be tonight, tomorrow night or the next night. Try not to miss this special night. Offer prayers during the Night of Power. Be aware that when you start the the prayer saying "Allahu akbar," you are immediately admitted to Allah's presence.

Imagine that you are before Almighty Allah. There are angels on both sides. If you pull yourself together, concentrate on your prayer, ponder about the meanings of the words you utter in the prayer, shed tears, and offer the prayer the way it should be, then you become like a wal i.e., a close friend of Allah.

May Almighty Allah give you the joy of offering prayers, reciting Qur'an and doing dhikr. You could offer two or four units of prayer the way you usually do, and then you could get your rosary and do dhikr. I recommend you recite 100 times Astaghfirullah, 100 times L ilha il-lal-lah, 1000 times Allah, 100 times saltu salm on our beloved Prophet, and 100 times the Surah Ihlas (Qul huwallah-u ahad) everyday. Before getting up After completing other prayers, recite 10 times Surah Ihlas.

May Almighty Allah give you large portions of the rewards of Ramadan. As you offer your prayers and supplications, please remember me, as your brother. This will be my share of the benefits.

May Almighty Allah be pleased with you all.

As-salmu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa baraktuh.

December 22, 2000 -- SWEDEN