In The Name Of Allah, The All Merciful, The Compassionate

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His Servants and Messenger.

Dear Brothers and Sisters! Actually our beloved country, Nigeria is passing through a difficult time. Last week, the Federal Government of Nigeria confirmed the abduction of 110 schoolgirls from Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi, Yobe State, by cowardly extremists, terrorists, Khawarij and blood suckers. The attack happened on Monday February 19, 2018.

Sincerely speaking, I’m worried and disturbed by the similarity in coincidental circumstances in the Chibok and Dapchi abductions. Both attacks occurred a week after troops were withdrawn from the towns. Even the 2013 slaughter of 29 students in a secondary school in Buni Yadi, Yobe State by the Khawarij a week after the withdrawal of troops, arouses my curiosity.

I commends the federal government for swinging into action hours after the attack. I commends them also for appointing and inaugurating a 12-member committee to probe and unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of 110 students of GGSTC Dapchi on February 19. We hope the committee will work hard and sincerely ensure that there are acceptable results for Nigerians.

I also call for an urgent investigation into the alleged withdrawal of troops from the town barely a week before the attack.

I equally beg Nigerians of all walks of life to pray for the safe and early return of all the missing Chibok and Dapchi schoolgirls. I pray that may Almighty Allah will bring them back safely to their respective families, ameen.

Respected Brothers and Sisters! Know that difficult times are part of Allah’s laws in this universe; they are part of the tests that people go through. They are not necessarily something evil, however. A difficulty we go through, on the contrary, could be a learning experience, a reminder, purification from sins and mistakes, a test of patience, a lesson for our negligence, carelessness, insincerity and failings; a lesson for the failure of governance, and a way to perseverance, or all of these together.

foraminifera

We can emerge from difficult times closer to Allah, stronger, united, more skilled, and more guided, but only if we know how to live through them and how to respond to them sincerely.

There is no one to learn from who better responded to difficult times other than our beloved Prophet, Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him). Not only was he a great man with Noble character, he was also guided by revelations from Allah Almighty.

Following his footsteps is essential to live a successful life and is part of us being Muslims. By definition, Muslims are the ones who bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger. Therefore, following his example is an integral part of Islam.

The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) went through a lot of difficult times both on a personal and a community level. His life was extremely successful, yet it was the most challenging. By the will and the guidance of Allah, he was able to meet all the challenges he faced and come out of difficult times much stronger than ever before.

In this Sermon, we will learn from our Prophet some of the guidance to help us through difficult times we are going through and to enable us to use these challenges to our advantage.

The Prophet Facing Tough Times

We read the Prophet’s story hundreds of years after it was over. It is a successful story that contains one victory after another, with a very positive final outcome. This positive experience masked all the difficult times in his life and we tend to overlook them when reading or relating the story, especially in the absence of deep analysis.

The fact of the matter is that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) went through a lot of challenges and difficult times throughout his life. In one year, his uncle and his wife, who both supported him emotionally, financially and physically, died. In the very same year, he was subjected to economic, physical and psychological abuse from the people of Makkah.

The following story, as narrated by one of the Prophet’s Companions, Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud, tells you how he was treated during this very tough year:

“Seven from the leaders of Makkah were gathering next to Al-Ka’abah while the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) was praying. He elongated his prostration. Abu Jahl, one of those leaders, said: “Who would bring the innards of the camel so-and-so family just slaughtered? We can put it on top of Muhammad while prostrating!” Uqbah Ibn Abi Mu’ait, the most idiot and the most stupid amongst them, brought it and put it on the back of the Prophet while prostrating. The Prophet did not move and I (Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud) could not dare to do anything, for I have no clan to protect me. Fatimah, the Prophet’s young daughter, came and removed the dirt and insulted all of them. The Prophet then raised his head and started supplicating to Allah against them all.”

He was also challenged as a Messenger tasked by Allah to convey His message. He was called a liar, a sorcerer, a poet, and a fortuneteller, and people started calling him Mudthammam (dispraise worthy) while his name is Muhammad (praise worthy).

His reputation was attacked, and his Companions were tortured to the extent that people stopped listening to him. For two consecutive years before he migrated to Madinah, only four people believed in him, two of whom died shortly after.

His trip to the neighbouring city of Ta’if was just another example of those tough times. He traveled, walking, for over fifty miles to deliver his Message to the people of Ta’if and ask for their support. Not only did they mock him, disbelieve in him, and let him down, but also asked their slaves and youngsters to throw stones at him for a few miles until his sandals turned red from his bleeding.

Even after migration to Madinah, his life wasn’t easy. He suffered the curses and the disrespect of the hypocrites in Madinah. His Noble and beloved wife Aisha was subject to an ugly rumour spread in the society for days.

Madinah under his leadership was challenged by war from almost every single tribe in Arabia. He witnessed the killing of seventy of his Companions among whom was his dear uncle Hamzah.

He faced a siege of ten thousand soldiers, an attack on which his whole city, where all the believers lived, was about to be destroyed.

He faced treason from Jewish tribes in Madinah: some plotted to kill him and others betrayed him to side with an attacking army.

Many of the messengers and ambassadors he sent to teach people Islam were killed in cold blood and he grieved for them for months, seventy of them in one incident and twelve in another.

Learning from our Messenger (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)

How did the Prophet manage to face all these challenges? How was he able to come out of them stronger and with even more influence? How did he develop such a community that was able to be steadfast in the face of difficult times during his life and after he died?

Dear Servants of Allah! Below are a few simple, yet very effective, concepts that the Prophet embraced and taught his Companions:

These concepts are extremely important for us to understand and embrace. While going through the ideas below, you will realise that they are a mix of:

– Personal qualities the Prophet and his Companions displayed;

– Ideas taught by the Qur’an and the words of the Prophet;

– Practical actions taken by the Prophet to face difficult times.

1. Know Brothers and Sisters! Difficulties are inevitable tests

This is the first and the most important concept one should believe in: going through difficult times is almost inevitable. Allah the Almighty said:

“Do people think they will be left alone and they will not be tried?…” [Al-Ankbut, 29:3]

When you claim to believe in Allah, to stand for what is right, to oppose what is wrong, to support justice, or fight injustice and oppression, these claims will all be tested by Allah. Allah will show who is truthful and who is lying.

This is the tradition of those on the straight path (believers) at all times. The Prophet and his Companions were asked in the Qur’an, a question that is also asked to all of us:

“Do you suppose that you will enter Paradise untouched by the suffering endured by the people who passed before you? They were afflicted by the misery and hardship and they were so convulsed that the Messenger and the believers with him cried out: “When will Allah’s help arrive?” [Al-Baqarah, 2: 214]

2. Know my great people! Difficulties happen by the Will of Allah

It is very important to know and believe that nothing will happen to you accept what Allah has decreed for you. The Prophet was asked to say:

“Nothing will befall us except what Allah has decreed for us.” [At-Tawbah, 9:51]

He taught one of his young cousins, Abdullah Ibn Abbas:

“Know that what hits you would not have missed you.”

This belief gives you comfort and prevents fear from future difficulty, but more importantly, helps you overcome any difficulty you are already going through. Allah the Most High said:

“No misfortune ever befalls unless it be by Allah. And whosoever has faith in Allah, Allah guides his heart…” [At-Taghabun, 64:11]

3. Flee to Allah

“O Allah I display before you my weakness…”

This phrase was part of the prayer of the Prophet while coming back from his trip to Al Ta’if. Taking refuge in Allah and asking for His help and support is a very important action we should do during the time of difficulty. This is a trial by Allah, it happened with His permission, and it is only He who can alleviate it. Go back to Allah, then use your military experience. But relying only on your military prowess and experience cannot solve the problem for you, unless you seek the help and assistance of your creator, Allah.

4. Examine your actions

“If you are not angry with me, I do not care…”

Was also part of the Prophet’s prayer while returning from Al Ta’if. During times of difficulty, we should examine our actions. This difficulty and trial may very well be a warning and punishment from Allah that we are doing something wrong, we are careless and insincere in our actions. It may be because of our sins, shortcomings, failings and mistakes, or our negligence and our failure in governance. Allah the Almighty said:

“Whatever misfortune befalls you is a consequence of your own deeds…” [Ash-Shura, 42:30]

It may be because we strayed and Allah sent this difficulty to us as a reminder to bring us back to the right way. Malik Ibn Dinar, one of the great scholars of Islam, transformed from being an alcoholic person to the great knowledgeable person we know, as a result of the death of his own two-year old daughter.

5. Be optimistic

Having hope and being optimistic were two important attitudes the Prophet embraced when facing difficulty. He said:

“By Allah, Allah will perfect this matter until the traveler can travel from Sana’a to Hadhramaut fearing no one but Allah and the wolf that may eat his sheep.” [Al-Bukhari]

The Prophet told Khabbab bin Aratt when he complained to him about the severity of torture he and other Muslims in Makkah were going through.

It was this hope in Allah, and confidence that there will be ease after difficulty, that kept them going.

This hope was not only kept in the hearts but was also spread through words and attitude. The Prophet mastered optimism and looked for optimism. He said:

“Evil omen is false! And I likes Al-fa’l (good omen).” The Prophet told his Companions. They asked: “What is Al-Fa’l?” He responded: “A good word.” [Muslim]

6. Do not get distracted

One of the very bad consequences of going through difficult times is the amount of distraction the difficulty creates. Imam Ibn Al-Qayim says:

“It is a complete fiasco to be distracted by the blessing away from the One who blesses, and by the trial away from the One who tries.”

Sometimes the difficulty itself scares us away from the good we are doing. Allah says:

“And let it never happen that they might turn you away from the revelations of Allah after they have been revealed to you…” [Al-Qasas, 28-87]

The Prophet never stopped delivering his message because of a personal difficulty he went through or because of a threat or torture he received from his enemies.

7. Expect reward

This was one of the teachings the Qur’an instilled in the hearts of Muslims. Whether the calamity happens naturally, or whether it is due to the harm of others, being patient and perseverant results in a lot of reward. The calamity will eventually be over. Allah said:

“Indeed with the difficulty there is an ease. Indeed with the difficulty there is an ease.” [Ash-Sharh, 94:5-6]

And when the ease comes, the pain will go away and will be forgotten. What remains and will never go away is the tremendous reward one would get. Allah said:

“We shall certainly test you by afflicting you with fear, hunger, loss of properties and lives and fruits. Give glad tidings, then, to those who remain patient. Those, who when any affliction smites them, they say: “Verily, we belong to Allah, and it is to Him we shall return.” Upon them will be the blessings of their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.” [Al-Baqarah, 2:155-157]

Respected Servants of Allah! Know that, wallahi in the fight against terrorists and criminals there are two security agents in Nigeria: Those security agents whose principal aim is to secure and protect the territorial integrity of the nation, and those who are the “Agents of Empire” whose sole aim is to do the biddings of our detractors and our enemies. But very soon, and soon enough, Allah will expose and taste them a devastating defeat; YA AL-MUNTAQIMU, YA AL-JABBAR!

ALLAHUMMAH Ya Sami’u, listen to our prayers! ALLAHUMMAH Ya Qahiru, Ya Qahharu, show us Your Power! ALLAHUMMAH Ya Mugithu, Save our CHIBOK and DAPCHI daughters; bi iznika, WA Judika wa Rahmatika, Ya Rabb, Ya Rabb, Ya Rabb – Bi Ka Nasta’in!

Inshaa Allah, those who masterminded the Dapchi atrocities will be traced, arrested and punished; and their sponsors will be shamed by the power of the Almighty!

Respected Brothers and Sisters! I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray that He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Almighty, and any mistakes are my own and I 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.

May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.

With this I conclude my Khutbah (Sermon) and ask Allah, the Almighty and the Sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving and Most Merciful.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Jumadal-Thani 14, 1439 AH (March 2nd, 2018), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah’s and late Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusaumurtada@gmail.com or +2348038289761.