In the name Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Alhamdulillah. 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 guides.

I bear witness that there is no (true) god except Allah – alone without a partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (S.A.W) 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.” (An- Nisa’, 4:1)

“O you who belive! 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-ahzaab, 33: 70 -71)

Indeed, the best speech is Allah’s 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.

As to what follows:

O servants of Allah,

The famous American poet, essayist, and lecturer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882), who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid- 19th century, wrote these words in his poem entitled, A Nation’s Strength: [It is a long poem, and I quote only the last two verses]:

“Not gold nor petrol but only men can make

A people great and strong;

Men who for truth and honour’s sake

Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,

Who dare while others fly…

They build a nation’s pillars deep

And lift them to the sky.”

These words were to inspire generations of people, to recognize the value of those noble human qualities, rather than its mineral wealth, in building a nation. My today’s Khutbah, brothers and sisters, is about a nation’s strength. And, the nation I refer to has nothing to do with nationalism or modern nation-states. When we speak of a Muslim nation, we mean the Ummah. The Ummah is our nation. The Ummah is not defined by race, or geography or language, like other nations are. Our Ummah is a faith nation, defined by its adherence to belief in Allah, and the prophet hood of Muhammad (SAW). It is the nation that grew out of a divine invitation. We all know that beautiful verse in Surah ali-imraan verse 104, where Allah the Most High said:

Let there arise out of you, a band of people inviting to what is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. They are the ones to attain Success.”

Here, in this one beautiful, evocative and inspiring verse, the Noble Qur’an defines the key element of true nationhood. More than a thousand years before the French Revolution called for Liberty, Equity and Fraternity, or Abraham Lincoln gave his speech at Gettysburg, or Nelson Mandela took his famous walk to freedom, the Noble Qur’an set out this immortal code for a successful people. Look at all other empires and great nations; the pharaohs of Egypt, The Ancient Greeks, the Persians, the Roman Empire. They were either built on wealth, power, language, race or military might. The Ummah of Islam was built only on faith. Even if we take just a cursory glance at history, we will understand what a great honour we enjoy, by our association with this great Ummah of Muhammad (SAW).

The Noble Qur’an knows how rebellious and skeptical we are as human beings, so, it further challenges us, in many verses, like as follow:

“Travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who stood against faith.” (Al-An’ am, 6:11 and An-Nahl, 16:36)

Those of us who study history will find convincing proof of the wisdom of The Noble Qur’an. The holy valid criteria for building any society, is one that promotes justice, stands for the truth and rejects falsehood. This was the kind of society, which our beloved prophet Muhammad (SAW) created. Until the end of time, this will be the only kind of society that will guarantee much needed peace, security and prosperity for all humankind. And this is the “Ummatan Wasatan,” the “Justly balanced” nation which is described and promoted in the Noble Qur’an.

Brothers and Sisters,

Let us all work hard to earn the good pleasure of Allah, by living up to the high standards of conduct which our illustrious ancestors set for us. This is the only way we can help to rebuild that great empire of faith that can once more show the world how to live in peace, prosperity and dignity.

Dear brothers and sister, know that,

The world is held up by only four pillars, and they are as follows:

(1)   The Wisdom of the learned

(2)   The Justice of the Great

(3)  The Prayers of the Righteous

(4)  And the valour of the Brave

These words were inscribed at the entrance of the University of Granada, which was founded by Muslims in Spain (Andalus) during the early 15th century. As we all know, Spain enjoyed its golden age of Islamic rule for early 800 years. Muslim universities like Granada and Cordoba were sought after like Oxford and Cambridge in their time. The noble families of Europe, Africa and Asia rushed to send their children to be educated there. So let us reflect for a moment, on what these words signify:

* Wisdom of the learned implies that learning for its own sake, is not enough. Education must lead to a thoughtful and beneficial application of knowledge, to enhance the quality of life.

* Also, when wealth and power is acquired, it must be applied with Justice, or else we will have tyranny.

* Similarly, Allah will, always answer the prayers of those who are Righteous.

* And finally, we must be Brave, Courageous and Valiant in defending our faith, honour and the honour of our fellow Brothers and Sisters, especially against what is happening of shedding the blood of innocents men, women and children in the North East, the whole Arewa and generally Nigeria.

Brothers and sisters, My respected people,

These were the simple values that informed the lives of students at the University of Granada, at a time when Islamic civilization was the hope and the light of the world. Is there not a lesson for us today, somewhere?

Many of you are now in the middle of study, concentrating hard on doing your best so that you can make a success of your academic career. I am sure that those of us, who are not in school now, will wish you well and extend to you our moral and spiritual support.

While you are engaged in this vital part of your academic life, it may be useful to remember why you are doing it. Sure, writing exams has everything to do with getting that degree, enjoying your graduation and finding a really good job, providing for the material things that we need in life. But is that all? Is it enough? Look around you and see whether material prosperity without a moral and spiritual framework, has brought anybody any real happiness. Then, look at the golden age of Islam, and ask whether the social problems then, could conceivably have been about single mothers, or delinquent children, or drug abuse, or the high divorce rate or dysfunctional families or the breakdown of family life.

We are talking here about the values of a society, and the goals of individuals. Both are connected and they support each other.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Again, The Noble Qur’an has such eloquent guidance on the subject. In Surah Ali-Imran, verse 14 we are reminded:

“Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world’s life; but in nearest to Allah is the best of the goals (to return to).”

Yes, brothers and sisters, that nice car, that lovely home, satellite TV and our wonderful children and grandchildren, these are not only blessings and gifts from our Lord. They are also a test for us. Are we going to be so distracted by the glitter of dunya (this life), that we will forget Akhirah (hereafter)? Let us remember Allah, in good times and hard times, with equal devotion and gratitude. Let us constantly seek the Help and Guidance of our Lord, to save us from temptation in times of ease, and to relieve our suffering in times of distress.

Let us also pray to Allah, to help all our brothers and sisters suffering in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Jos, Kano, Taraba, Nasarawa and everywhere. Let us pray to Allah, to help all our brothers and sisters during school, college and university exams, to pass with excellent results so that they can serve the Ummah and their country in their professional fields. O Allah, please help us all, to perform well in the life of dunya, so that when we face that final Exam known as Yawmul Qiyaamah, you will be pleased with our results.

“And whosoever has patience with knowledge is successful with its attainment,

And whosoever proposes to the beautiful woman has patience with expenditure,

And whosoever does not humble the soul in request of those things which are

The highest,

He lives a long time as the brother of humiliation.”

O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us O Allah, from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us, Ameen.

And lastly, anything good I have said in my Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Al-Mighty, and any mistakes are my own and we seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.

With this my beloved and respected people, I conclude my Khutbah (sermon) and ask Allah again, the Al-Mighty and the Sublime to forgive all of our sins and failings. So seek his forgiveness. He is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Imam Murtada Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi Uvete Jumu’at Mosque Okene, Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached via 08038289761 and murtadagusau2@yahoo.com