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Common Word, Common Lord

Common Word, Common Lord

Friday Sermon: The Test of the Beautiful

In the Name of God, the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful 

This is the first of several Friday sermons that I have given that I will write up and post here. 

 

The Test of the Beautiful 

In the seventh verse of the eighteenth chapter of the Quran, it states:

Behold, We have willed that all beauty on earth be a means by which we put humanity to a test, [showing] which of them are best in conduct.

Thus, everything that is beautiful on this earth is test for us, to see how we respond to this thing of beauty. If that thing of beauty is another human being, that is a test for us: do we respond to that beautiful person – man or woman – in the proper way? Do we lower our gaze when he or she walks by? Or, do we gawk and objectify said person?

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If we want to pursue a relationship with that person, do we go about that in the proper manner? Do we pursue the path of marriage? Or, do we simply satisfy our lust with that person in a manner that the Lord does not want?

If that thing of beauty is a natural resource: a river, an ocean, a tree, a mountain, a stream, or a rain forest; do we do our utmost to protect said natural beauty? Do we respect the earth and try to preserve her as much as we can for all of posterity? Or, do we exploit without end and care less for those who come after us?

Indeed, the Lord says:

[And remember that] it is God who has created the heavens and the earth, and who sends down water from the sky and thereby brings forth [all manner] of fruits for your sustenance; and who has made ships subservient to. you, so that they may sail through the sea at His behest; and has made the rivers subservient [to His laws, so that they be of use] to you; and has made the sun and the moon, both of them constant upon their courses, subservient [to His laws, so that they be of use] to you; and has made the night and the day subservient [to His laws, so that they be of use] to you. (14:32-33)

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Yet, we must learn how to benefit from the earth as much as we can, all the while protecting it from willful harm and neglect.

If that thing of beauty is a spouse, do we treat that spouse with love, mercy, and respect? Do we honor God by honoring that spouse? Or, do we abuse and neglect him or her? Do we cheat on that spouse, not caring about the damage such an action would cause? Do we see that spouse as a gift from God that should be cherished? Or, do we see that spouse as a slave to be worked for our benefit?

The Lord has answered such questions:

And among His wonders is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind so that you might incline towards them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you: in this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who think! (30:21)

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Our spouses are “wonders” from God, and in them we find tranquility and peace, love and mercy. Treat them with kindness we must.

If that thing of beauty is a child, do we honor that child with a good home? A good upbringing? Or, do we neglect that child and abuse him or her? Do we love that child with all our hearts? Care for the child? Protect that child from harm and evil? Or, do we look the other when evil strikes? Indeed, there are few things that are more beautiful than a child, and if we are blessed to have one, then we must do our best to show our gratitude to the Lord by raising our children to be upright citizens of the world, who are both good to God and good to His people.

If that thing of beauty is family, or friends, or neighbors, do we treat them with kindness and respect? Or do we mistreat and abuse them? Do we help them in their times of need? Do we support them when they need us, even if it is helping them put away their groceries? Do we treat them as we would treat ourselves? Indeed, we must.

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Yet, as with everything on this earth, these things of beauty will not be here forever. The Lord says in the next verse:

And, verily, [in time] We shall reduce all that is on [the earth] to barren dust! (18:8)

What is the implication of this? Should our response be, “Why bother, if all will become ‘dust in the wind'”? No. Since our time is limited, we must do the best we can to make the best of all the things of beauty with which we are blessed. We should try to spend every day to the fullest in doing good on earth: doing good by our family, our friends, our neighbors, our spouses, our children, and our planet.

And you know what the best thing is? When we do these things, we are necessarily doing good by the Lord, Who is the Most Beautiful of all that is beautiful in the heavens and the earth. The only difference is: this Thing of Beauty will endure and never go away. And that can only be a beautiful thing.

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Wow! They Called It “Terrorism”

In the Name of the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved

On the one year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, news surfaced of the arrest of 5 men accused of plotting to blow up a bridge over the Cuyahoga river in Ohio. When I heard on the radio that there was “no link to international terrorism,” I immediately thought to myself: they must be non-Muslims. Sure enough, I was right: they were five white guys who were self-described “anarchists.”

Further, since these guys were not Muslim, I wondered whether anyone, either in law enforcement or the media, would call them what they really were: terrorists. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.

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U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach, who announced the indictments, said: “This indictment in this case alleges that the defendants took specific and defined actions to further a terrorist plot.”

The head of the FBI in northern Ohio, Stephen D. Anthony, said that the work of law enforcement showed them “to be vigilant in its efforts to detect and disrupt any terrorism threat, domestic or international.”

Several news reports had “terror” in their headlines:

Chicago Tribune: 5 arrested in alleged terrorist plot to blow up Cleveland-area bridge.

ONNtv: Informant revealed in alleged bridge terror plot.

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NECN.com: 5 men charged in Cleveland terror plot.

Cleveland Plain-Dealer: A homegrown terror plot foiled.

This is quite heartening to see, because it signals – I hope – an increasing understanding that terrorism has no faith, no ethnicity, no language, no culture. All terrorists – no matter what their faith or motivation – are our enemies, not just the ones who claim to be Muslim.

As Marquette University (my alma mater) political science professor Risa Brooks wrote:

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focusing our attention on domestic terrorism of all types and not just that generated by Muslim Americans can help heal the social rifts generated by 9/11. Singling out Muslim militants when we talk about terrorism in the U.S. adds to the mutual alienation of Muslims and Americans of other backgrounds. By unifying in opposition to extremism of all types, we demonstrate to ourselves and to our terrorist adversaries abroad that we remain true to American values and principles.

Amen to that.

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Sharia in Action: Sisters Stepping Up for Children

In the Name of the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved

There has been so much hysteria, of late, around the issue of Sharia law and its supposed “threat” to the United States. Now that the general election contest is more in focus, the talk of Sharia will only intensify. Yet, as I have written previously, the “threat” of Sharia law is really nonexistent. Muslims in America are not conspiring to replace the Constitution with Sharia law.

Yet, let me show you where true Sharia law is being practiced: the campaign of “Sisters Steppin’ Up” (SSU) to build a children’s library in Palestine. SSU is made up of young Muslim women who, as their website says,

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empower young girls with confidence and leadership skills by using creative ways to strengthen mind, body, and faith.  We strive to form a stronger relationship with Allah, build bonds of sisterhood, and positively impact the community.

They are currently raising funds to build a children’s library in the Palestinian territories. They plan to have a fundraiser in the Chicago area April 20. 

Here is Sharia law: young Muslim women coming together to try to help children in war-torn areas live a better life by building a library for them. No amputations; no stonings; no horrific things that some Muslims have done or currently do in the name of Sharia. These things are horrific misinterpretation of Islamic law.

These children in SSU are practicing true Sharia law, seeking to help others in need. I pray their efforts are successful.

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Update: The Best Part of Easter for This Muslim

In the Name of the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved

Cadburry Mini Eggs. On sale. YUM. YUM.

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