I made the Friday prayers today at the Rolling Meadows mosque, and I have to say it was an excellent experience. At a time when sound khutab are hard to come by, it was revealing to me that a Friday sermon can achieve its purpose on the back of either or both of two things:
- the merit of the message in the khutbah and/or
- the merit of the khateeb’s (sermon-giver’s) sincerity
I thought today’s sermon at the Rolling Meadows mosque was a glowing tribute to the latter. A brief explanation is due here.
When the unassuming Imam stood up and conveyed in the most mundane tones, a simple and mundane message, nobody knew ( I certainly did not know) how worthwhile the next few minutes of our lives would be.
“Remember Allah”, he said. And then a plethora of “the season of the Hajj is upon us”, and “men and women of every color and race and age and intellect will gather together in the worship of one Creator”, and such. Nothing earth-shattering for the regular listener, no hyperbole, the only semblance of any depth coming from a not-so-eloquent narration of a recorded conversation that occurred between a pilgrim and the esteemed Imam Junayd al-Baghdadi.
And that was it! So what am I raving about!?
I once heard Shaykh Amin say (and I paraphrase) that the whole point of the Jumuah khutbah is to take a break from the dunya and immerse oneself in Allah’s remembrance. That alone is the goal of a Friday sermon.
What made that happen today is a bit hard to explain, unless your imagination can fill in the gaps in my shoddy explanation here. At every mention of “Madinah”, “forgiveness”, “Hajj”, the khateeb choked up with tears. Tears. Now you know that nothing washes away dirt like tears, and if you don’t know that, you don’t know “dirt”.
So, if you do not possess the scholarship to break new ground in your khutbah, then please, please, do the next best thing (and may be you’ll even top the scholars). Pick the most simple reminders you can serve to Muslims, and (this is important) say it like you feel it. Mission accomplished in sha Allah. But then again, what do I know?
Oh, right! I know “dirt”.
They’re coming to you now,
My Lord, believers everywhere,
Responding to Ibrahim’s call
That once did pierce the air;
They’ve spent their wealth and shed
The threads that set themselves apart,
And donned the simple shroud that suits
A true believing heart,
They’ll watch their actions in these days,
To never hurt a fly,
And let the dirt without erase
The dirt within must die.
And tears, Lord, the tears flow
Like rivers on a land
That’s parched and thirsting for a show
Of Mercy that is grand.
So take them all on Arafah
And let upon them rains
Of love to wash their sins away
Till none of sins remains.
And we afar, can only hope
The goodness of those slaves
Will bring us strength to grasp the rope
That lifts us from our graves
And huddles us in throngs behind
The man you hold so close:
It is a high we long to find
Upon a day of lows.