Khutba: 9/11 and Anger

I was inspired to write this khutba from one of my role models, Sohaib Sultan, Muslim Chaplain at Princeton University.

Assalaamu Alaykum my dear brothers and sisters in Islam. This week is a week that has been and will continue to be filled with events to commemorate and contemplate the events of September 11, 2001. Exactly ten years ago, an event occurred that changed the course of history. We were very young when it happened, and so much of our experience with how America deals with the international community as well as the way it deals with its domestic issues has been shaped by what happened on that horrific day.I want you all to think for a moment where you were and what you were doing on that day. What were you feeling? What were your parents saying? Your relatives? Your friends? Think about this my dear brothers and sisters.Undoubtedly, you may have many people this week come up to you and ask you to give a statement as a Muslim living in America. I want to tell you that you are capable of giving such a statement. Oftentimes your experience and how you use Islam to sieve out the golden nuggets of truth are the best resources you can use to equip yourself for such a responsibility.Personally, I remember I was sitting in my English class when we heard what had happened and I kept praying to Allah, “Please Allah, do not let this be the doing of Muslims.” I remember going home and finding my father already home as he was verbally attacked at work and asked to leave. I remember talking to my aunt who works as an accountant in New York City and telling us that people ripped off her hijab while she was on the subway. She has yet to wear it ever since that day.

Of course, the ripple effects and aftershocks, we all continue to feel whether directly or indirectly. How do we deal with it? One of the most famous hadith is when a man came to the Prophet (sas) asking for advice and he replied, “La taghdub, la taghdub, la taghdub.” He said, Do not get angry,” and repeated it three times. Of course he knew this companion and knew this is the best advice that he can give this individual. In the same light, we are told that when we feel anger we should make wudu. If we are standing, we should sit down. If we are already sitting, we should lie on our sides. If we only read about these hadith, we may think that it is never appropriate to get angry. We may think that feeling emotional about something is not in line with the practice of our beloved messenger, Sayyidna Muhammad (sas). This cannot be further from the truth. Of course the Prophet (sas) was the most patient of people and of course he had full control over his emotions, however we must realize a very crucial point. There are a lot of injustices happening in the world that should actually make us angry, and if it doesn’t than there’s something seriously wrong with our state. However, the  anger that we feel has to be channeled into positive energy. The Prophet (s) was the most patient of people, but he would become angry when the rights of Allah or the rights of others were violated. If this anger is not channeled and is left uncontrolled, however, then we end up with things like 9/11.

If we never become angry about injustices, then we are living in a state of apathy. If we are living in a state of apathy, then we could care less about the horrific things done in the name of Islam. We quickly think that it’s not our problem when our neighbors are selling drugs on the street. We can click the remote control and change the channel when we find that the women of our ummah are being abused, held hostage in their own homes, and even killed in the name of modesty. This all should make us upset, ashamed, and angry. We should definitely be angry when members of the Tea Party are lobbying for the poorest of our country to be taxed more heavily or when CEOs of banks are making more money from their bonuses than most of us can even imagine. Why should we become angry at these things? It’s very simple- the laws of Allah are being violated.

How much do you think Allah hates injustice? Let’s take a look into one of Allah’s beautiful names- Al-Adl.

Allah’s justice is absolute and justice is the opposite of tyranny. Tyranny causes pain, destruction, and disturbance. Justice secures peace, balance, order, and harmony. Allah the Just is the enemy of the tyrants: He hates those who support tyrants and their friends, sympathizers, and acquaintances. These opposites- justice and tyranny- have wide implications more important than their simple moral and social consequences. They are equivalent to harmony versus disharmony, order verse chaos, right versus wrong. Allah tells us in the Qur’an:

O you who believe! Stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor; for God can best protect both.  Follow not the lust (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well acquainted with all that you do, (Suraht an-Nisaa, 135).

Imagine my dear brothers and sisters standing firmly for justice even if it is against our own selves. Allah does not want to inflict harm upon us, be assured of this, so think of the high standard that Allah expects of us to be just individuals.

Aqoolu qawli hadtha wa astaghfir Allahu lee wa lakum
(Sit down long enough to say three istighfaars)
(Get up, say dua’a)

My dear brothers and sisters, we know that Allah gave us emotions as a test for us. We have to control lustful desires, we have to control our anger, our jealousy, even our feelings of elation. Yet, these emotions should also drive us to accomplish great things. They should be the impetus of us realizing the good and forbidding the evil. We have the opportunity to do this, however, it is imperative that our emotions are channeled positively.

Sayyidna Muhammad (sas) said, “The strong man is not the one who can overpower others; rather, the strong man is the one who controls himself when he gets angry.”

It all begins with ourselves, the strong person is the one who gains dominance over his or her anger and directs it toward good, rather than allowing anger to dominate us and lead us to hell.

SubhanAllah, when we reflect on what happened on 9/11 in the name of our beloved religion, just knowing this one hadith shows us very clearly that this could not have possibly been done in the name of our religion.

My dear brothers and sisters, when people ask you if you are a Muslim- be proud of your affirmative response! You have been bestowed with a gift. Be the example of how a proper Muslim should act and go out of your way to be exemplary.

Alhamdulillah, we are all educated, and yet we often find ourselves succumbing to so many of our base desires. Let us not be influenced by the behavior of others. We may see on tv or on status updates that we should complain about simple things- like stepping in a puddle or missing an appointment. These can be annoying, but they are not worth our energy or time. We need to focus, collectively, on helping one another by channeling the frustrations that we feel and producing something beautiful.

Today, make a concerted effort to plant a seed. Not a physical seed- but if you have one, definitely plant it as well. Call a friend that you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Let your parents know that you love them. Be mindful of people that need help, whether opening doors or helping someone with their class. Isn’t it about time that we stop living for ourselves? Isn’t it about time that we trust that Allah will take care of our needs in order that we can help those who are truly in need of us?

Closing Dua’a

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