February 4, 2000

Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN


As -Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu!

My dear and beloved audience! May Allah shower you with His Grace and with all material and spiritual blessings! May He give you high spiritual states in this world and in the hereafter.

a. A scholar must teach what he knows.

Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) has been reported by Jâbir RA to have said:

RE.491/6 (Lâ yanbaghî lil-àlimi en yeskuta a'lâ ilmihî, wa lâ yanbaghî lil-jahili en yeskuta alâ jahlihî, qàl-Allahu ta'ala: Fas'alû ahl-adh-dhikri in kuntum lâ ta'lamun.)

This Hadith is pointing out an important duty for all of us. It is expressing what we must do in our lives. It is very important for everybody and for all times. The Prophet (pbuh) says: (Lâ yanbaghî lil-àlimi en yeskuta a'lâ ilmihî) "It is not proper for a scholar to be silent while he has the knowledge." If a person has the knowledge, he should not be silent. He must teach what he knows. He must not hide his knowledge. When he sees something wrong, he must not keep silent; on the contrary, he must speak out to tell the truth and correct what is wrong.

This is the responsibility and the duty of every knowledgeable person. Such a person has to tell his knowledge truthfully and honestly just for the sake of Allah. He has to speak without altering, bending or modifying the truth and without any fear of any kind. Just keep in mind that the highest of Jihad is telling the truth without any hesitation or fear before an oppressive ruler.

In the second part of the Hadith, our beloved prophet continues: (Wa lâ yanbaghî lil-jahili en yeskuta alâ jahlihî) "An ignorant, uneducated person should not keep silent while in the state of ignorance." That means that an uneducated person should seek knowledge by asking questions and searching for information. He has to eliminate his ignorance by asking, "Excuse me, sir. Would you please tell me what is the essence of this matter? Could you enlighten me on this subject?"

This is the duty of people: those who are knowledgeable shall state what they know; those who lack knowledge shall seek knowledge and get themselves educated.

Imagine a person who has no interest in learning, studying, or working. He spends all his time watching television. Every now and then he gets the newspaper and works on the crossword puzzles or reads funnies. All day he plays games or does some physical exercises. His valuable time, which cannot be brought back, passes in vain. He spends his years like this, and then his life comes to its end. He has not done anything useful, nor has he learned a word. He would be content with the least amount of work; he would settle for the minimum wage, and he would not mind working under the poorest conditions. Yet he had the opportunities to get up, clean his room, organize everything, put some flower pots here and there. -- In Islam, the duties are carried out not plainly but perfectly and beautifully. Everybody is instructed to aim at perfection. -- Unfortunately, this person is not paying attention on beautifying his home, its cleanliness or its order. He is not trying to improve his business or becoming an expert.

When my students or young brothers from our community ask for an advice, I tell them: "Continue with your education. Go to graduate school. Increase your knowledge. Became the leaders in your fields." I even joke with them "Always try inventing some device. Be experts in your field so that you invent new things in your fields." Once you keep trying, you may come up with something that would be well accepted and used. Remember the person who invented the safety pin. He took a long wire, made a loop in the middle, folded the rest. He sharpened one end and added a mechanism to the other end to keep two ends together. That invention has brought him millions of dollars.

That is why I advise my brothers: "Invent some device!" I encourage them, "If I had some free time, I would invent few things." I must confess that studying Hadith and Qur'an, and spending time seeking spiritual knowledge is much more rewarding than the material inventions and the money they may bring.

It is good that a person finds something be it an invention or new information. An uneducated person shall not remain with ignorance; he shall inquire knowledge by asking someone who knows. Following this advice, the Prophet (pbuh) reminded his companions about a verse of Qur'an. (Qàl-Allahu ta'ala) Almighty Allah says, (Fas'alû ahl-adh-dhikri in kuntum lâ ta'lamun) "Question the people of remembrance if you do not know."[Al-Anbiya:7]

(Ahl-adh-dhikr), people of remembrance, means scholars, those who have knowledge. It is very important to ask somebody who knows the matter in detail. When you run into a problem, you need to find somebody who is an expert in the field.

In our yard there is a tree which had been infested with insects. I asked some friends what to do. They advised me: "Get an infested leaf from the tree, and take it to a drugstore which sells insecticides for the farms. Show them the leaf, and ask them for the proper medicine. They are the experts who can help you."

Sometimes I ask, "What do I do with this appliance which does not function properly?" My friends reply, "Down the street there is a service shop for that kind of appliances. You must take it there." When we ask questions about matters that we lack knowledge, the outcome is always pleasing.

For the reasons given above, we must add a value to our time by seeking knowledge, learning or teaching. The most rewarding work in Islam is seeking knowledge and teaching. The highest rank is the rank of knowledge, i.e., that of a scholar. It is said "(Rutbat-ul-ilmi a'lâr-rutab) the rank of the scholar is the highest of all ranks." That is why we must value our scholars and their knowledge as well as seeking knowledge. Those who lack knowledge shall not remain in ignorance forever! They should not live their entire life in ignorance.

On the other hand, the scholars should not stay idle, either! Be it his room or a corner in his house, he must prepare a place for teaching. I have heard of Husrev Hodja -- May Allah bless his soul and elevate his rank in the hereafter -- who was an imam at Fatih Mosque in Istanbul. During the years of oppression in 1940s and 1950's, he would teach classes day and night. Once some people came to him and asked if it was possible to have classes with them at the suhur time (pre-dawn) during the Ramadhan. He opened his house for them at an early hour to have classes. He did not think of sleep or comfort. He knew the importance of teaching and seeking knowledge, and so he grabbed every opportunity to teach. All of us should be like him.

b. The word "La ilaha il-lallah" keeps away all trouble.

I continue our discourse with the second hadith which tells us a very important issue. From Anas (R.A) it is narrated that Prophet (pbuh) has said:

R.E 487/2 (La yazaalu qawlu la ilahe illallahu yadfau sahkatallahu anel ibaadi hat-tâ idha nazalu bil manzilillazi la yubaluna ma nakasa mindeenihim iza salimat lahum dunyahum, fa qalu inde zalike qaalallahu lahum: Kazabtum). "The word of 'La ilaha illAllah,' the word of tawheed, declaring that 'There is Allah, but no associate for Him,' that 'He exists and He is one' removes Allah's wrath, anger and punishment from upon the servants." Thus, it prevents the servants from being hit by Allah's wrath, by His anger, threat and punishment.

Indeed, the word of "La ilaha illAllah" has a special power in addition to its beauties and properties; it has a real protective role for man from both material and spiritual perils of this world and those of the Hereafter. It has such a property, a peculiarity.

We often talk about special properties of certain herbs or plants. For example, we say "this herb has such and such effects; it will lower your blood pressure if you have it. When you eat garlic, you may have such and such effects on the body. If you drink that herbal tea, you instantly get rid of gastric problems." These are just their peculiarities, innate properties. Thus, the word "La ilaha illAllah" has a special property: saving servants from Allah's (ST) wrath and punishment. Allah (ST) does not get angry with those who say "La ilaha illAllah," nor does He send upon them His wrath, anger, punishment, calamity and trouble. Thus, they are protected by this word.

You may ask how long this protection would last. (Hatta eza nazalu bil manzil) "Until coming to such a situation" (Allazi la yubaluna ma nakasa mindeenihim iza salimat lahum dunyahum) "that while their worldly interests are fulfilled, they do not care or worry about the losses in their religious lives, and that they neglect their duties towards Allah." Until they embark on such a situation, the word of "La ilaha illAllah" protects the servants but not after that. (Fa qalu inde zalike) "when they are in such a situation, they would still say "La ilaha illAllah" every now and then. We hear them saying, "Alhamdulillah, we are Muslims." They indeed do say it. "My mother, father, grandfather, grand-grandfather were excellent Muslims, muftis, scholars," they utter. May Allah bless them, but unless descendants work for themselves, fathers could not provide any benefit for them.

They wouldn't care about the spiritual decline of their offspring. We often hear from the elderly: "Our kids do not perform salat! The grandchildren are in bad shape spiritually. Wife has this, husband has this. But they enjoy a high-life, their income is good, they own houses, cars etc. Everything is set in place." But the inadequacies in their religious practice don't bother them. Nor do they regret or say "We are not able to perform our servitude to Allah well, we can not worship as required. How nice it was in Ramadan! We have now got spoiled, become lukewarm."

They wouldn't regret their spiritual negligence as long as they enjoy the material life. The Prophet (pbuh) expreesed this in this hadith because when the life becomes hard, when a trouble or a pain hits, everybody starts praying. People would pray because of an incurable disease. They would visit scholars asking them to pray to Allah for Him to give them children when they cannot have any. Whenever hit by a trouble, they would start making supplications. Whenever they have examinations the next day, they would carefully have ablution and then pray: "O Lord, please make me successful in this exam." Thus, they would worship only when they think they need it, not other times. When people are in trouble, they naturally turn to Allah.

What do they do when the ship they are onboard is about to sink? We used to witness this often while crossing the sea in Istanbul. When a strong wind from the south shakes the ship, everybody fears that the ship would sink. They turn pale and start saying prayers just because there is a danger of death: "Lord! Do not let this ship sink!"

When there is a trouble, everybody turns to Allah. This is not fair, though. What is fair is that while one's worldly comfort is good and his needs are met, while he is in the midst of abundance, he should not forget Allah. When one is in trouble, he surely will remember Allah and turn to Him. Even those who has no belief, who have no manners, who went astray the most, would turn to Allah when something real serious happens to them. When they get old, they come to the straight path. They repent and get in line after a calamity falls on them or lose a relative. They have no other choice. It is more beneficial to be a good servant while everything goes well.

While everything for this world is in place, if people do not mind their shortcomings in their worship or in their religious life, they will be in a serious spiritual problem. In that state if they say "La ilaha il-lallah," (qal-allahu lehum) Allah responds to them: (Kazabtum) "You liars! You are not saying it sincerely. You are liars!"

O my dear brothers and sisters, this is why we have to be sincere servants of Allah. He is the one who created the heavens and earth, who sends rain from the sky, who makes the plants grow, who created the conditions for human inhabitancy in this world, who created the sun, the moon, the light, the water and the air, who made the man dominate over other creatures, who equipped man with intelligence and skills to use different forms of power.

Did the man have a saying about his own creation? That is not even logical! He was created as a powerless being, as a baby incapable of caring for himself. Later he grew up. It is Allah Who makes a person grow up. He is the owner of the heavens and the earth and everything in between.

What does the man think of? His intelligence, his ability to speak, his ability to think, his senses of seeing and hearing, and his memory are all discerning qualities that Allah blessed him with. Other creatures do not have these qualities. When we compare ourselves with other creatures around us, we see that we are the best of the creation. We have to question ourselves about the creation and seek our Creator.

Everyday you sit at the table and eat food, yet you do not ask where that food came from. What would you do if the sun did not rise? What would you if it never rained? What can you do if the air you breath is taken away?

These days many people are talking about the event that will take place in May 2000. The moon, the sun and other planets are going to line up which could increase the total attraction power on earth causing a high tide and consequently flooding in coastal areas. The order in the universe is so precise that a small addition or subtraction would cause a major disaster. We can imagine what could happen. we can read about such events in history books. Also, physics, chemistry, geology and astronomy can provide calculations and predictions.

My Dear brothers and sisters, this is why we have to acknowledge the existence of Almighty Allah and worship Him in a way that good servants are expected to follow. This is a way of expressing our gratitude. All we see, all we buy, all we use are blessings from Allah. Whom else are we going to thank for them?

Imagine a person does not believe in Allah. He does not acknowledge the creator of the heavens and earth, the giver of the order in the universe. Well, there is an order in the universe, and there must be one who established this order and maintains it. This person does not think that he must have some responsibilities towards the creator, nor does he have the feeling of gratitude. He spends all his life in sin, disobedience, ignorance and darkness. This person's disbelief and disobedience do not diminish anything from the eminence of Allah or His sovereignty or majesty. One who is adversely affected by disobedience is the person himself. On the other hand, the belief, obedience and worship of a believer do not increase the majesty of Allah. The believer benefits from his obedience. He would found the truth, and be on the straight path. He would abandon his insolence, become a gentlemen and pay his gratitude. This is the truth.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala give us the vision to see the truth.

c. Calamities for a Believer

I would like read one more hadith and hence complete our discourse with three ahadith. It is reported by Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) and recorded in various collections including those by Ahmad ibn-i Hanbel, Ibn-i Hibbân, and Hulwânî as well as in Mustadrak by Hàkim and Sunan of Bayhakî. The Prophet (pbuh) has said:

RE.487/4 (Lâ yazâl?l-belâ-u bil-mu'mini wal-mu'mineti fî jasadihî wa mâlihî wa waladihî, hat-tâ yelqal-lâha wa mâ 'alayhi khatîetun.)

To whom shall I dedicate this hadith? Let me dedicate it to my brothers who have difficulties and face calamities, so they should be aware of it. Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) said: (Lâ yazâl?l-belâ-u bil-mu'mini wal-mu'mineti) "Troubles and calamities keep coming to believing men and believing women." How? (Fî jasadihî) "Sometimes to the body--a pain, an ache, a disease. (Wa mâlihî) sometimes to his property." Is it because he is not a favorable servant to Allah? No! (Wa waladihî) "Sometimes troubles come to his children." We may wonder how long these calamities would last. (Hat-tâ yelqal-lâha) "until he returns to Allah." But, how? (Wa mâ 'alayhi khatîetun) "with no misdeeds or offenses; free of sins."

Here we realize an important heavenly law that every Muslim should be aware of: Calamities, troubles and difficulties come to believers. In other words, the believers are not exempted from the troubles or calamities. When the calamities come to a believer--be it to his body, to his property or to his children-- Allah forgives him his sins, misdeeds and other offenses. In the end, he returns to his Lord spiritually clean and free of sins.

We may wonder why it is so. It is so because this life is a test for all of us. You may also question, "Well then, wouldn't Allah almighty send calamities to disbelievers as a punishment?" The answer is "Yes, Allah sends calamities to disbelievers as a punishment." How do I know? There have been examples: The Pharaoh was drawn in water for all the oppression he committed. Namrood was utterly destroyed. Qaaroon was "pushed into ground." There are other examples from the time of the Prophet (pbuh) such as Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab. We can see other examples from our time, in our daily life in our own neighborhood.

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala gives many good things to believers in this world. Aren't we all blessed with many good things? We are grateful for all of them. Yet, sometimes Allah gives calamities as well. A believer should not question Allah's love and mercy for mankind. These all are tests.

Illnesses and diseases can come to a believer. It surely came to our beloved Prophet (pbuh) and to his companions. Those were the most favorite servants of Allah. Their children had hardship, too. Even the children of our Prophet had difficult times. The grand children of the Prophet had calamities. We all know the heart tearing events that Hadrat Hussain, the grandchild of the Prophet underwent. A believer has to be patient with these calamities and keep his obedience and servitude to Allah; in turn, Allah will give him countless rewards.

Sometimes the blessings of Allah comes to non-Muslims, and they would live in abundance. Punishments, calamities, too, can fall on them. We have to point that there are various categories of non-Muslims. I see that some of them have strong and sincere ties with their church. They worship with a pure heart and try to spread Christianity to the world. The go door to door to invite people to Christianity. When we tell them that they are on the false path, they put a confused look.

What they have is a good intention. They will be good believers once they are told, "Look, brother, what you are doing seems to be fine, but there are flaws in the path you follow. Certain things are not logical or impossible. Come to the straight path, become a true believer, and hence save yourself in this world and in the hereafter."

While there are good people, there are also some who are bloodthirsty. They act like a butcher or an executioner. We keep hearing in the news bulletins phrases like "Serbian butcher" or "Russian butcher." There were Pharaohs and Namruds in the history. They gave orders like "Kill every newborn boy!" It is truly terrifying. There were oppressions in the past, there are oppressions today. Allah sometimes punishes them right away so that people witness it and take heed. We have to look at the events with a broad perspective. We also need inner vision to understand and interpret the events correctly.

Our duty is to be grateful to Allah for all the blessings He bestowed upon us. We must maintain the feeling of gratitude towards Allah at all times. We must praise Allah often, we must thank Him for all good things and be patient with the difficulties and calamities. We have to consider them as tests. Good servants keep patience and gratefulness at all times and do good deeds.

We should not be idle even for a minute in this life. If we do not work continuously, we will fall behind because everybody is working hard. Australia is about 10 times the size of Turkey whereas its population is only one third of the population of Turkey. That is, the area of land per person is thirty times larger in Australia. People work in Australia so much that they brought civilization to every remote corner of the country. They made roads and provided utilities everywhere. On the other hand, there are no roads between some major towns in Turkey. Some villages do not have sufficient drinking water. People lacked hard work and perseverance in Turkey. We have to work hard to catch up.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala increase your desire to work hard. May He provide you opportunities to carry out good and fruitful work. May He give you a virtuous life. May He increase your patience and your rewards. May He shower His blessing on you and cleanse all of your misdeeds. May He make you neighbors to his beloved Prophet (pbuh) in the hereafter. May He honor us with His beauty in Paradise.

May peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be with you dear brothers and sisters.

February 4, 2000 -- AUSTRALIA