In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Grantor of Mercy

All praise is for Allah. We praise Him, we seek His aid and we ask for His forgiveness. We seek Allah’s refuge from the evils of ourselves and from our evil actions. Whosoever Allah guides, there is no one who can misguide him; and whosoever Allah misguides, there is no one who can guide him.

I testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone, who has no partner; and I testify that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His servant and Messenger.

Dear brothers and sisters! Allah the Almighty states that there is no god but He. The idolaters who worshipped others besides Him recognised that He was the sole creator of the heavens and earth, the sun and the moon, alternating the night and day. They acknowledged that He was the Creator Who provided for His servants and decreed how long they should live. He made them and their provision different, so that some were rich and some were poor, and He knew best what was suitable for each of them, who deserved to be rich and who deserved to be poor. So, Allah stated that He has alone created everything, and that He alone is controlling them – if this is how it is, then why worship anyone else why put one’s trust in anyone else since dominion is His alone, then let worship be for Him alone. Allah often establishes His divinity by referring to their acknowledgement of His Unique Lordship, because the idolaters used to acknowledge His Lordship, as they said in their Talbiyah (during Hajj and Umrah:

“At Your service, You have no partner, except the partner that You have, and You possess him and whatever he has.”

Allah the Most High said:

“Have they not seen that We have made a secure sanctuary, while men are being snatched away from all around them, then do they believe in falsehood, and deny the graces of Allah. And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against Allah or denies the truth, when it comes to him Is there not a dwelling in Hell for the disbelievers. ‘As for those who strive hard for Us, We will surely guide them to Our paths. And verily, Allah is with the doers of good.”‘ [Surah Al-Ankabut]

* The Decisions We Make Lead the Life We Live

Dear brothers and sisters! I would like to start my today’s Sermon with a serious statement as follows:

“Either you set up your own plans, or plans will be set up for you.”

Dear servants of Allah! It’s either you set up a plan for your life, checking on it from time to time so that you might modify it, and either you set up a goal and seek all the means to fulfill it, in that case, you are in an eminence stage, or otherwise, and unless you do so, plans will be set up for you (against your will, whether you like it or not).

When you plan your life and set up a goal seeking every mean to fulfill it, you will be unreachable, yet if plans were set up for you, then you will be vulnerable.

Upon observing nations in this world you come up with three types of them:

1. Either a nation that lives the future and plans for it (this is a rational nation).

2. A nation that lives the present and its acts are merely reflects (this is a less foolish one).

3. And a nation that lives the past (this is a clueless one).

The result of a questionnaire, which was run on a thousand young men, was very disappointing, as it shows that only three percent of our young generation are planning for their lives and the rest of them run their lives aimlessly without any goal to achieve and they live the moment.

Hence, I address our young generation by saying: set up your future plans, and try to figure out your goal in this life. There is a statement which has a great influence on me:

“The decisions you make lead the life you live.”

Allah the Almighty said:

“As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allah’s Religion – Islamic Monotheism).” [Surah Al-Ankabut, 69]

The reasonable person is he who seeks the truth and reaches it.

By Allah, dear brothers and sisters! It is impossible for thousand times that you seek the truth and not reach it, or aim for a purpose and not fulfill it, so, set up your plans. Don’t lead a life, like what the rest of people are doing, that is all about daily issues like eating, drinking, working, tiring, staying up all night, sleeping, waking up, bringing children, and getting married, then comes death.

You should remember that billions of people are passing away unnoticeable and only few of those who set up plans for their future became beacons in this nation.

I always used to mention the following example: Once I asked my students: who can come up with a name of a successful merchant who lived in Damascus in the year 1697? No one could give me any name, so I said to them: Neither could I, yet, the great Mujahid, Salahud-Din Al-Ayyubi who set up his own plans, was able to defeat twenty seven western countries, what about other people like Khalifah Umar Bin Khattab, Khalifah Uthman Bin Affan, Khalifah Ali Bin Abi Talib, Imam Al Shafi’i, Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal or Imam Abu Hanifah, those were the cream of crops in science, the best of leaders, the chiefs of paradigm shifts, and they were beacons in this nation. Those people set up their plans. Are you satisfied with what you have, saying: these are my abilities? No! By Allah, every one of us has abilities which if used to their limits, he would be a great human being, hence, set up your own plans, as this life passes fast, and each one of us has limited years to live, and at a certain point we will ask the same question: How did the forty years pass so fast?

By Allah they passed like a blink of an eye, and so would the rest of years in our lives.

You were a man, and suddenly you are a mere death notice (after your death).

Hundreds of deaths that we have in Nigeria every day, and all these people were men, generals, kings, politicians, big men, poor men, rich men or merchants who turn into death notices hanged on walls, isn’t that right?

What did each one of us prepare for that moment? What did each of us prepare for his journey from his house to his grave? Does any one of us know of an incident that is more realistic than leaving this life? Does any one of us dare to say: I am not going to die? Never!

There is this famous singer in Egypt whom I read about once, he never ate food at night for the sake of his health, he never ate white meat, he used to work out on daily basis, and he never used an airplane for transportation, but eventually he died. After all what I read about him, I thought he would never die, as he was in this great regime of food and healthy habits, don’t get me wrong, as I am not against that kind of life style, but don’t ever think that there is a person on this earth who is death-proof.

“Every creature will die and only The Glorified and the Mighty remains (Allah),

No matter how long night might be, dawn surely will break

No matter how long one might live, descending the grave is a must for him.”

* The Reasonable Person Is He Who Prepares For Meeting Allah

Again, what did you prepare for the moment of meeting Allah the Almighty? What good deed did you spare for the Day of Judgment or to accompany you in your grave? I will tell you two stories: once I met a person who was happy about a religious lecture that I performed, so he asked to do that every Thursday – and this is a story that took place ten years ago- so we started meeting every Thursday with other people who attended as well, and what caught my attention in these meetings at his house is that his taste in choosing his furniture and cars was incredibly classy. After a while, his son called me and said: My father is forgetting things as he once got out of his factory and forgot his way home, then after a while he called again saying that his father had passed away, so I asked him in what Mosque they are performing Salah on him? I went to the Mosque to attend his funeral out of duty, and when one of our scholars wanted to say his speech in the respect of this man, he said: Say Du’a and ask mercy for this man as he was Mu’azzin (prayer’s caller), as he used to have a nice voice and I used to ask him to perform Azan (prayer’s call). You can go for hours talking about someone’s worldly life, yet this man was mentioned as a Mu’azzin (a caller to prayer), I learnt a valuable lesson at that time which is: Do something to be remembered for, for not more than a minute, and ask yourself: if any of us died now, what would people say about him when he is in his coffin before he is buried? Would they say: he bought a house? He established good business? These are habits.

Habits such like eating, drinking, sleeping, waking up, traveling, and having picnics and cocktail parties, are not mentioned after someone’s death, so what is mentioned after death? It is great and good deeds.

Our masters Abubakar Al-Siddiq, Umar, Uthman, Ali, the great leaders and scholars Salahud-Din Al-Ayyubi, Imam Abu Hanifah, and Imam Al-Shafi’i, so who are you? You are not less person than any one of those, as Allah is justice, so what did prevent you from being noticeable in this life? What did hold you from being a great person in the sight of Allah? Set up plans, study, and get a high scientific degree.

Wallahi I met a man who told me: I am seventy years old and I acquired my certificate in Arabic literature, well, what a great determination that this man has? He is seventy years old and determined to study Arabic language.

A man sent his son to study in Al-Azhar (a religious school in Egypt for Islamic science), so after five years he came back with a certificate and was appointed as Khatib (who performs Salah in Mosques), and when he performed his Sermon in front of his father and mother, his illiterate father burst into tears. People thought that he cried out of joy (as his son is Khatib now), but the truth was something else, as he cried feeling sorry for himself: How did I waste my life being illiterate? So, he headed to Cairo and asked: where is Al-As’ar (he wasn’t able to say the right word), so people correct him by saying: it is Al-Azhar, and gave him direction to that school. This man managed to learn reading and writing and continued seeking knowledge, and wallahi before his death he was appointed as a scholar in Al-Azhar School.

* The Decisions You Make Lead the Life You Live

People are equal and the closest to Allah is the more obedient.

By Allah, there is a clear path to anyone who intends to be the greatest proselytiser in the world.

I am so touched by what the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said to his uncle Sa’ad who was one of the closest and most beloved Companions to Him, as He used to say to him joking:

“Here is my uncle, Sa’ad. if anyone has an uncle like him, then he should show me his uncle.” [Al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak, by Jabir]

And at times of war the Prophet (Peace be upon him) used to say:

“O Sa’ad, throw (arrows), let my father and mother be sacrificed for you.” [Ibn Majah and Ahmad, by Ali]

It worth mentioning that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) never said to any of his Companions: “let my father and mother be sacrificed for you” except for Sa’ad. And when the Prophet (Peace be upon him) died, Umar – the giant of Islam – said to Sa’ad:

“Don’t be carried away by being the uncle of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), as people are equal in the sight of Allah, and the only kinship that counts is their obedience to Him.”

Any person regardless of his/her family, kindred, background, tribe, region or race is able to achieve his/her entire goals and the proof is in the following Qur’anic verse:

“To each these as well as those We bestow from the Bounties of your Lord. And the Bounties of your Lord can never be forbidden.” [Surah Al-Isra’, 20]

Decisions we make lead the life we live, but under one condition, that this decision is taken with a full will and faith.

So be whoever, rich or poor, employee or merchant, city resident or suburb resident, they are all the same in the sight of Allah.

A person came to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), so the Prophet said to him:

“Welcome with the one whom I was told about by Angel Gabriel.” To which the man asked: “Who am I to be mentioned by Gabriel?” So the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to him: “Yes, brother, you are one low profile person on earth but a beacon in Allah’s sight.”

You might be in a very low position of employment, yet, your nail trimmer is worthwhile comparing with all people in high positions (because of your piousness).

Once I attended an Islamic conference in Jordan, which was sponsored by our leader, His Eminence Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, The President NSCIA and other respected Islamic leaders like Malam Nafi’u Baba-Ahmad of SCSN and Ustaz Abubakar Sadiq of National Mosque Abuja, which was held in one of the most luxurious hotels where summit conferences used to be held in.

By dawn, I overheard a very beautiful Qur’an recitation, so I looked through my window to see that the gardener is praying Fajr on time, and he is reciting Qur’an in a way brought tears to my eyes, so I said to myself: all this huge Islamic conferences and luxurious summits might be nothing comparing to this simple employee who might be closer to Allah than anyone in this hotel, this is a possibility, and this is faith.

* The Believer’s Happiness Wells Up From Within

Dear brothers and sisters! Money, time and health are important elements to enjoy pleasures, and it is for a profound wisdom that one of these elements is always missing, namely, when you are very young starting your life, you have the health and the time, yet you don’t have money. When you are well-established in your business, you will own the money and the health, yet you won’t have the time. The third phase is when you own the money and time, yet the health is not good enough. This takes place in the retirement age, when the wealthy person is retired and his sons take over his business. Though he is enjoying a huge income, yet he doesn’t have the health to enjoy the money. In that age, people usually suffer from diseases such like high Uric Acid, high blood lipids, rheumatoid arthritis, or peptic ulcer, and this is how life is, however, on the other hand, the happiness of the believer wells up from within.

Imam Ibn Taimiyyah said:

“What can my enemies do to me, my paradise and garden are in my chest, and they are with me wherever I go. My expulsion from my homeland is tourism, my imprisonment is my privacy with Allah, and my killing is martyrdom.”

He, who didn’t taste the paradise of worldly life (closeness to Allah), will never step in the paradise of the hereafter.

* Whoever Has A Craving Start Will Have A Vivid Ending

Think and set up your plans.

When a messenger from Azerbaijan – a country in the north which was one of the Soviet union countries, at that time it was under Khalifah Umar’s ruling – was coming to see Umar and hate to knock at his door at night, the messenger headed to the Mosque where he found a man praying and crying while he was supplicating:

“O, Lord, did you accept my repentance so I can congratulate myself, or did you reject it so I should feel sorry for it?”

So the messenger asked:

“Who are you May Allah have mercy on you?”

To which Khalifah Umar answered:

“I am Umar.”

Taken by surprise the man said:

“Glory be to Allah, you are the leader of believers (Amirul Mu’mineen), praying right here and I hate to knock at your door because it is too late, Oh, leader of believers, don’t you go to sleep?”

To which Umar said:

“If I slept all night, I would lose myself in front of my Lord, and if I slept all day, I would be abandoning my citizens.”

Here, Khalifah Umar became the giant of Islam and one of the rightly guided Caliphs by setting up his plans.

Once he was delivering a Sermon when a thought crossed his mind that he is the most powerful person, so he said shifting the gear to an unrelated statement to the topic he was lecturing about:

“You are not but a sheep shepherd who worked for Makhzum tribe for money.”

When the Sermon is over, one of the Companions asked him:

“Why did you say so? And what did this phrase has to do with the Sermon’s topic?”

To which Umar answered:

“A thought crossed my mind while I was delivering the Sermon that I am the most powerful man, so I wanted to bring myself back to its real size, and I was a person who used to be a shepherd who works for Makhzum tribe for money.”

Therefore, set up your own plans, think, ask Allah to make a great believer out of you, perform the acts of worship, recite Qur’an, and seek knowledge, and be ware that whoever has a craving start will have a vivid ending, whoever is with Allah, Allah will be with him/her:

I used to repeat saying: If you were by Allah’s side, Allah will be by your side, if you draw closer to Him, he will be close to you, if you showed love for Him, He will love you, and if you walk towards Him, He will come to you running, and that meaning is supported by the following Hadith:

“He who comes closer to Me one span, I come closer to him a cubit; and he who comes closer to Me a cubit, I come closer to him a fathom; and if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running.” [Bukhari and Muslim, by Abu Hurairah]

As if Allah is saying: If only those, who turn away from me, know how much I long and wait for their turning back to me and their abandonment to sins, they will melt in loving me and will long to meet me, and if this is my will for those who turn their backs to me, so how about those who are drawing closer to me? So think.

I overheard a story of a family which I repeat occasionally: I know a family of a father, mother, sons and daughters who wake up one hour before Al-Fajr to pray night prayers, to recite Qur’an, to pray Al-Fajr together after Azan, then the kids study, the mother prepares food, and they all have breakfast at Seven AM, then everybody go to their schools or job. By Allah, these kinds of houses are paradise on earth. It is not a matter of small or big house, two room’s house could be paradise on earth, and a limited income could be paradise on earth, it is all about loving Allah and connecting to Him.

* You Should Taste Paradise On Earth Before the Hereafter

Let me ask all of you: Where did the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) find tranquility? He found it in Al-Ghar (small cave) where He and Abu Bakr resorted to, when they were followed by pagans, so the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to Abu Bakr when he was full of fear that they could find them:

“What do you think of two men whom are protected by Allah?”

Prophet Ibrahim (AS) found this tranquility in fire, Allah the Almighty said:

“We said: “O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Ibrahim (Abraham)!” [Surah Al-Anbiya, 69]

Prophet Yunus (AS) found this tranquility in the belly of the whale. Allah the Almighty said:

“But he cried through the darkness (saying): La ilaha illa Anta [none has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allah)], Glorified (and Exalted) are You [above all that (evil) they associate with You]. Truly, I have been of the wrong-doers.” So We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress. And thus We do deliver the believers (who believe in the Oneness of Allah, abstain from evil and work righteousness).” [Surah Al-Anbiya’, 87-88]

The people of the cave found this tranquility in the cave though they used to live in palaces. Allah the Most High said:

“Then seek refuge in the Cave, your Lord will open a way for you from His Mercy and will make easy for you your affair (i.e. will give you what you will need of provision, dwelling, etc.).” [Surah Al-Kahf, 16]

Dear respected brothers and sisters! You can find this tranquility in a small humble rented basement, with a mediocre wife, but you are connected to Allah and you know Him, and by doing so you will make a paradise out of this house. You should know that there is a paradise in the worldly life that you should know before entering the paradise of the hereafter, and the proof is in the following Qur’anic verse:

“And admit them to Paradise which He has made known to them (i.e. they will know their places in Paradise more than they used to know their houses in the world).” [Surah Muhammad, 6]

They knew it in the worldly life.

* Preparing For the Death Is One of the Means To Reach Paradise

It is all up to you, as tasting paradise on earth doesn’t need money, reputation, high position, kindred, or any middle man, all you have to do is just draw closer to the One (Allah), the Dayyan (judge) and you will be in this worldly paradise.
Hence, either you set up your own plans, or plans will be set up for you (against your will).

I attended once a funeral of one of our honourable brothers, and I thought to myself when his body was removed from the coffin and placed in the grave: The most reasonable person on earth is the one who prepares for this hour. So, what did you prepare for this hour? You should know that there is a companion that will be buried with you when you die, and whom you are buried with when you are alive, so if this companion was bountiful then you will be saved, and if this companion was mean you will be doomed, this companion is your deeds.

This is how life is, no matter how rich or powerful you are, you will die. The triumph lies in preparing for this hour, performing good deeds, obeying Allah, seeking knowledge, comprehending Qur’an, spending on the needy, honouring your parents, and rearing your kids, these are the means to reach paradise.

* Faith Is Moral and Scientific Level

Dear brothers and sisters! Set up your plans before plans are set up for you (against your will). Be a significant person and don’t be ordinary one. If you were a Doctor and you examined a person who was poisoned, and your report said that he died of natural causes, in this case, you are setting free his killers by cashing five millions of the one hundred millions of the victim’s wealth which were given to you by his heirs who killed him, so let me tell you, even if you took the whole hundred millions and you forged your report, you will be doomed in the sight of Allah.

The believer is a tough person who never goes against his principles not even under the stinging whips of the executioner, and not even under the temptation of glowing gold, as the believer is not for sell, and in there lies the greatness of this faith. Remember the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him):

“O my uncle! By Allah, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left on condition that I abandon this course, until Allah has made me victorious, or I perish therein, I would not abandon it.” [The Prophetic Biography]

This is how faith should be, as the believer is nothing but a moral state, and there is no way you can find a believer who lies, cheats, deceives, plots or beguiles, it is impossible. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

“The believer is molded of all characters except for lying and betraying.” [Ahmad in Musnad, by Abi Umamah]

Believing is a moral state and a scientific level. The believer is the person who knows Allah, and who comprehends the absolute truth.

* Whoever Knew Allah Would Know All About Everything

If you know Allah, you will know everything else, and if you miss knowing Allah, you will miss everything else, and Allah is the most beloved to you than everything else.

“O son of Adam, seek me and you will find me, and when you do, you will find everything else, and if you miss me, you will miss everything else and I am more beloved to you than anything else.”

Again, set up plans before plans are set up for you (against your will), and it is only you and Allah, and be aware that circumstances don’t count. I won’t accept that one will say: I have hardship at work, as this doesn’t count in the Divine’s perspective, and you should be certain that Allah will grant you higher income, or better wife, as when Allah is with you, who will be against you? And if Allah is against you, who will be with you? O Lord, what does he miss who finds you? And what does he find who misses you?

* Islam Is A Collective And Individual Religion

Islam is a collective religion, and an individual religion, namely, if it was only you to apply this religion, so do it, and you will ripe the fruits alone, as there is only One Allah there for you.

I know, all of the good young men in this Mosque long for a good wife, are not they? Long for a nice house, are not they? Long for a reasonable income, are not they? Well, this is the least that Allah will grant you, as Allah grants you paradise as well, a paradise of the width of heavens and earth.

Dear brothers and sisters! There is only one Allah, and you are created for paradise, and the more you draw closer to Allah, the different and exotic life you will get.

When I paid a brother of ours (who died later) a visit to congratulate him on his Hajj he said:

“By Allah, I am the happiest person on earth unless there is someone who is more pious than I am.”

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today Friday, Rabi’ul Thani 20, 1440 AH (December 28, 2018), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusaumurtada@gmail.com or +2348038289761.