In light of the recent attacks in San Bernardino which were declared as acts of terror, we as American Imams and khateebs must resist being swept away by the wave of emotions and fear of backlash from dedicating our Friday prayers or our Friday sermons to anything or anyone except Allah Be He Exalted, for this would constitute a breach in our commitment to tawheed (Islamic monotheism). For our Lord has declared;
فَمَنۡ كَانَ يَرۡجُوۡالِقَآءَ رَبِّهٖ فَلۡيَـعۡمَلۡ عَمَلًا صَالِحًـاوَّلَايُشۡرِكۡ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهٖۤ اَحَدًا
“And whoever wishes to meet his Lord then let him work deeds of righteousness and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord”. 18:110
Our Lord demands, and our congregations have a right that Imams are honest, forthright, sincere, and unhindered in what we impart to our communities in the way of scriptural exhortations, religious instructions, and advisements on the sacred day of Jum’ah. The faithful congregations that we serve in our nation’s mosques have placed in each of us their trust that we speak as free men. It is their right that we speak according to our knowledge of the Book and of Prophetic tradition (Sunna) and not according to the talking points suggested by Muslim politicians.
We should be reminded that Allah has ordained the Friday prayer to be for the remembrance of Allah. Thus it cannot serve as a memorial for any person living or dead;
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِي لِلصَّلَاةِ مِن يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَى ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
“O you who have attained to faith! When the call to prayer is sounded on the day of congregation, hasten to the remembrance of Allah, and leave all worldly commerce: this is for your own good, if you but knew it.” 62:9
Therefore, speak as you will dear brethren, on whatever topics that you see beneficial at this time, but deliver your sermons as free believing men of conscience, inspiration and choice, being obligated to no one except Allah, be He Exalted and Glorified. For it is hypocritical, and disingenuous for any of us to say that we stand for freedom of choice, freedom of speech, or liberty, and for the best interests of our religion, and our country, if we allow anyone, including Islamic organizations, Muslim leaders outside of our congregations, law enforcement agencies, the media, or politicians, to control the messages we deliver from the pulpit.
Lastly one of the most egregious forms of tyranny, is to restrict the words of a khateeb while he is speaking on Friday inside of the House of Allah. The message we deliver in the Friday sermon, should never be compromised, sold, auctioned or bartered, or loaned to anyone, at any time, in any mosque. If we allow that to happen, then we have betrayed our country, our community, our religion and ourselves.
Imam Luqman Ahmad
Imam Luqman Ahmad is the Imam and Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, California. He is also a founding member of COSVIO (Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations). This article represents his views, and not those of any other person or organization. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org