Khutbah by Yasir Qadhi | Transcribed by Sameera
[The following is the transcript of a khutbah by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi on June 10, 2011, which is dedicated to the youth, especially in preparation for the summer months ahead. The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]
Beginning of Summer Vacation
My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, right now we are experiencing the beginning of the summer months, and our youth and our youngsters – our future generation of leaders – are in their summer vacation and are coming to the masājid. It is an ideal time to address them because we concentrate on the elders too much, so I ask your indulgence today to instead of addressing the elders in the crowd to direct the khutbah that is intended for our youth and intended for the next generation of Islam. And I ask my young brothers and sisters in Islam, especially those who are sitting in the back and are used to not listening to the khutbah – I ask you that today this khutbah is meant for you. Today's topic is meant for your ears and not for the ears of the elders.
My young brothers and sisters in Islam, when you look at the Qur'an, you find that Allāh has mentioned many stories of youth and many stories of those children who did so much and accomplished so many ideals, and so the Qur'an addresses youth along with addressing the elders.
Story of Prophet Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam)
One of the most fascinating stories of the Qur'an that deals with youth is the story of the Prophet Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam). Many stories are mentioned about the Prophet Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam) in the Qur'an. There are a number of incidents that occurred to him when he was a child and when he was a youth. All of you are aware of these stories, and we study them in Sunday school. We know that when Ibrahim was a young child probably less than thirteen years old, he realized that his nation was upon misguidance. He realized that they are worshipping idols, and it doesn't make sense to worship idols. He realized that there is nothing more logical and more rational than worshipping one God, the perfect God and that is Allāh (subhanahu wata'ala).
Without any revelation coming to him, he knew that only Allāh is worthy of worship. He was not a prophet at this time. Wahy (revelation) had not yet begun, but he knew that his nation was upon misguidance. He wanted to show to his people that this was not right what they were doing. What did he do? You all know the story. He entered into the temple when everybody was absent, and he took an axe and destroyed all of the smaller idols and then hung the axe on the biggest, largest and main idol.
When the townspeople returned, they were shocked to see that their whole temple had been destroyed and all of their idols had been destroyed. They said, “Who could have dared do this to our idols?” One of them said, “There was a little kid talking about them. They say his name is Ibrahim.” He is not famous, he is not a prophet yet, and nobody knows him, but he is a little kid talking about “why are you worshipping these gods?” Then when these gods are destroyed, the first culprit that comes to mind is this little kid, so they call him.
Can you imagine the entire city is surrounding him? The elders, the noblemen, and the king himself come. He singlehandedly is in the interrogation docket right there. Everybody's eyes are on him, and they ask him, “Did you do this?” What was his response? Where did he get the courage, intelligence and wisdom to utter what he uttered? Surrounded by his whole clan and his whole tribe and his whole civilization, this little kid says, “I didn't do it. Go ask these other idols. Surely they must have witnessed and seen what was going on. I mean, you worship them, so they must be intelligent, rational beings. They must be able to defend themselves. Why didn't they defend themselves? It looks like the biggest idol did it because he must have gotten jealous.” He made a mockery of their religion. Where did a little kid get the guts and intelligence to challenge his whole society and say, “What are you doing? How can you be worshipping these idols?”
When he gave them this argument and the argument was: “How can you worship a god that cannot even defend himself? This is what you call a religion? How can you worship a statue, a rock, a stone? It can't even talk and can't even speak.” When he gave them this argument, they were completely dumbfounded and couldn't respond. A little kid stumped them. They couldn't respond, and they had a private meeting. “What do we do? How can we respond?” Then they say, “Well you have to make an example. We have to persecute him. We have to kill him so nobody else does this.”
And so the brave men that they were, they gathered together to kill a thirteen-year old innocent child. They built a huge fire, as you all know. And they told him, “If you admit and say you were wrong, we will spare you. If you admit you were wrong and return to our religion, you will live.”
Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam), despite his age, stood his ground and said, “Allāh will protect me. My Lord will protect me.” When he was taken and thrown into the fire, Allāh from above the seven heavens commanded the fire, “Be a coolness and be a comfort for Ibrahim.”
Ibrahim's own father was one of the idol makers and one of those who earned a business selling idols. He was one of the main guys in the industry, and he didn't want to lose his business. His son is preaching a doctrine that will make him bankrupt. His son is preachingtawhid, la ilaha illAllah. His own father says to him, “Get out of here! You have no business remaining in my house! I am not going to take care of you!” Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam) says, “Ya abati (my dear father), I am coming to you with guidance. My dear father, how can you worship a false god that can't even hear and see? My dear father, don't worship Shaytan. My dear father, Allāh is forgiving and merciful. My dear father, my dear father, my dear father.”
His father says, “If you don't shut up, I will kick you out and stone you to death!” This is Ibrahim's father speaking to him. “If you don't stop doing this, I'm going to stone you to death!” What was Ibrahim's response? He says, “May peace be with you, my dear father. I will continue asking Allāh to guide you.”
Lessons from Prophet Ibrahim's Youth
And then the story goes on and Ibrahim becomes an adult, but this all occurred when Ibrahim was a young child. What can we gain, my dear young brothers and sisters – those of you who are at that age or before that age or have crossed that age? You have in Ibrahim a role model. You have in Ibrahim so many lessons to learn from.
First and foremost, the fact that he is thinking far more deeply and profoundly than the average thirteen-year old kid. He is not worried about he latest fads and the latest trends and what's cool and what's not. He is thinking about life, the meaning of life, the purpose of being on this earth. He is thinking long term and 'why am I here' and what is the best way to worship this God. Before even the book come and before he is a prophet, Ibrahim is thinking very profoundly because he is an intelligent kid. He is not going with the fad and the fashion. He is thinking about what is the meaning of life.
Secondly, you guys complain about peer pressure, and wallahi, I understand that peer pressure is bad. Of course it is – you want to conform and you want to fit into the crowd. Here is Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam). Forget about fitting into the crowd of his age, can you imagine the peer pressure on him? Can you imagine how it must have been like for him to singlehandedly stand up and not just tell his fellow thirteen-year old teenagers but all of society: “I am different. I am a Muslim, and I'm proud of that!”
Can you imagine the gall and the audacity and the courage that he must have had to ignore all of the that peer pressure because he knows that there is nothing cooler than being a Muslim. There is nothing that is more correct than worshipping Allāh (subhanahu wata'ala). He doesn't want to conform with his friends because he has a higher guidance than that. And so forget not just conforming with his friends, he broke away from all of society and everyone in society.
Another benefit that we gain: Yes, we are living in a time in America where people make fun of our religion. They say bad things about our God and about our Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam). It really hurts us, and a lot of times it hurts us so much that we become ashamed and we become embarrassed and we don't want people to know we are a Muslim because everybody is making fun of our religion. We don't want to be put in the limelight. We don't want all of the attention centered on us. Why? Because people ridicule and make fun of and make slurs. They are racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic. It is just difficult being a Muslim, and I know that our parents don't understand that.
I know that when you go to school it is a different world. Your parents are never going to know that world and the pressure there and the people that make fun of you and the pressure to be cool and friendly. This is something that our parents are not going to understand. You enter a different world. I understand that. But you are not alone. Ibrahim did it before you, and he did it in a far more difficult world. It wasn't your local high school, kids! He was facing death, he was facing persecution. The people weren't just mocking him by putting stupid names on him, by calling him names, and they weren't just throwing slurs at him. You all know the expression “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can't hurt me.” Well, here is Ibrahim and he wasn't even faced with sticks and stones, but he was faced with a fire.
He was faced with a fire, and he was told, “Choose between being a Muslim and between being a pagan.” He chose being a Muslim. When he chose being a Muslim, we gain another benefit: when you turn to Allāh, Allāh will help you. It doesn't matter how old you are. You don't need to be an adult to turn to Allāh. When you turn to Allāh, Allāh will help you and Allāh will protect you. It doesn't matter how young or how old you are. Allāh created you and Allāh created me. This is a type of persecution we are facing, but nothing as bad as Ibrahim, no question – nobody is threatening to kill us and nobody is threatening to throw us into a fire – but they are making fun of us and making fun of our names and making fun of our religion. Okay, it's difficult, but come on, let's get real. It's nothing compared to what Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam) dealt with, and he stood up singlehandedly and he turned to Allāh and said, “Allāh is going to help me.”
Next time people throw slurs at you, and the next time your friends make a sarcastic comment and the next time they try to diss you, you know what? Be a Muslim, and be proud of it! Turn to Allāh (subhanahu wata'ala), and make du‘ā’ to Allāh, “O Allāh, give me the strength like you gave to Ibrahim. O Allāh, give me that patience. O Allāh give me the manners that you gave to him as well.”
Also, another beautiful benefit we learn from: You know we all hear, and I know at this age we get tired of being told that Islam teaches us to be good to our parents. Yes, we all know thatJannah is under the feet of our mothers. We all know that we are not supposed to say anything back to them. Ok, but when you read the story of Ibrahim, what do you see? What do you see in how he dealt with his own father? His father didn't just put a lot of rules on him. His father didn't tell him, “You have to pray, you have to go to the masjid, you have to go to Sunday school.” My dear young brothers and sisters, these rules that your parents are giving you,wallahi, they are meant for your own good. I know you don't like hearing that, but it is meant for your good.
Ibrahim's father was not giving him rules for his good. Ibrahim's father was saying, “Go worship an idol.” Your father is saying, “Go to the masjid, go to Sunday school, memorize some Qur'an.” Your mother is saying, “Be a good child.” You can't compare that! Ibrahim's father said, “If you don't worship my idol, I'm going to kick you out of my house!” Can you imagine your mother and father being that nasty to you and that mean to you? It's inhuman. It's unbelievable.
Yet, despite all of that, what was Ibrahim's reaction? He is a Muslim, and he knows that it doesn't matter what your mother and father do to you – you bite your tongue down, you control your anger, and you never respond back rudely because you have no right to do that. It doesn't matter what they do to you. Ibrahim's father said, “I'm going to kick you out, and I'm going to stone you to death unless you worship my idol.” What did Ibrahim say? “Peace be unto you, my father, and I will continue to make du‘ā’ for you.” And he left. A thirteen-year old kid was kicked out of his house, but not one word and not one “uff” and not one “how could you? I am this and I am that” was said against the father who did that.
My young brothers and sisters, we are Muslims. We have ethics. We have manners, We have a system of living our lives. Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam) embodied that system as a child, as a teenager, and as an adult. I want every one of you to think about the story of Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam) and to derive so many benefits from it.
To summarize, so that the point is very clear, benefit number one: Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam) is thinking long term and is a visionary. He is not just running with the show. He is not just falling prey to every single fad and every single trend. Ibrahim is thinking long term.
Number two: Ibrahim has guts for the sake of Islam. Not for the sake of being cool, but for the sake of his Lord. It doesn't matter what people say, he has a mission on this earth, and that mission is to worship Allāh, and nobody is going to get in the way of that mission.
Number three: When the going gets tough, the Muslim turns to Allāh. When it gets tough, you don't just go into a shell and you don't pretend that you are not a Muslim and you don't just ignore everything. You return to Allāh (subhanahu wata'ala) and you make du‘ā’ to Allāh.
Number four: You act wisely. When Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam) was cornered and when he was put on that inquisition and trial, he managed to stump all of the adults. A Muslim kid is an intelligent kid. A Muslim kid is a smart kid. Ibrahim as a kid is able to stump all of the adults. That is what you call a visionary and that is what you call an intellectual. Once again, he is not wasting his time, but he is thinking and he is contemplating. Every one of us has a brain. What makes an intellectual an intellectual? It is simply the same reason why the bodybuilder becomes a bodybuilder. Every day he goes to the gym, and every day he works out. What is going to happen? He is going to get a body. Well, then what is going to happen when you use the brain that Allāh has given you? When you use it to think, to contemplate, to educate yourself, that is what Ibrahim did. He will develop a brain.
A Muslim kid is a smart kid, and therefore, I'll say it as bluntly as I can: a Muslim kid pays attention to his secular studies along with his religious studies. A Muslim kid gets straight A's in school because he is a Muslim kid. A Muslim kid is going to hit the books even if it is chemistry or physics or whatever it is. He is going to hit the books because he knows that every bit of knowledge is beneficial for him. The Muslim kid is an intelligent kid.
The last point that we are going to mention here – and again, so much can be derived, but time is of the essence here – is: A Muslim child understands that he never has the right to answer back to his parents, and he never has the right to be rude to his parents. Sure, if you don't like something, then speak in a good manner and in an intellectual manner like Ibrahim did: “My dear father, why are you doing this?” There is a way, and nobody is saying that you have to be silent. If you don't like something, try to negotiate with politeness and with manners. Never under any circumstance can you be rude to your mother and father.
These are simply some of the lessons that we derive from the story of the prophet Ibrahim as a young teenager. We pray that Allāh (subhanahu wata'ala) makes us of those who understand these beautiful lessons and morals and makes us of those who follow in the footsteps of the prophet Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam).
Second Part: Making the most of your summer vacation
My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, and my younger brothers and sisters in Islam in particular, one of the most interesting miracles that Allāh has given all of mankind is that of time. Time is a miracle and a creation of Allāh. Allāh created time, and it is something that none of us truly understands. Einstein became famous because he tried to just understand what exactly is time. What exactly does time do? Just by scratching the surface and talking a little bit about time, he became world famous.
We are never going to fully understand what time is. We are never going to fully understand how it is that all of us sitting here have the exact same amount of time per hour, per minute, per day. Some of us utilize it and others don't. Realize that time is so amazing that Allāh gives oaths by time and swears by time. What does it mean to swear? When Allāh swears, what this means is that Allāh gives a qasm in Arabic. You know when somebody says, “You're lying,” and then you say, “Wallahi (I swear by Allāh) I am telling the truth,” this is what we mean by swearing and by giving an oath.
We as Muslims can only swear using the Name of Allāh, and we are not allowed to put anything else in, but Allāh is allowed to use His creation to swear and to give oaths by. When He uses something of the creation, it shows that this aspect of the creation is amazing and miraculous. Our Lord sometimes swears by the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam). Our Lord sometimes swears by the creation of the heavens and earth, and in many verses, our Lord swears by time. Not just once but many times. W'al-fajr (the time of fajr), w'al-dhuha (the time of the sun rising up), w'al-‘aṣr (the time of the forenoon), w'al-shamsi wa'l-dhuhaha, w'al-layli idha yaghshaaha, w'al-nahaari idha tajalla. Allāh is swearing by all the time.
What this means is that time is a beautiful, amazing miracle that Allāh has given. One of the things about time that we all know is that we only get to spend it once. We can't go back and redo. We have it and we spend it and that's it. The wise person understands this point and utilizes his or her time for that which is beneficial because time will only come to you once.
Now we are at the beginning of the summer months here when you have two and a half long months ahead of you, and you don't know what you are going to do with that time. My dear young brothers and sisters in Islam, the wise child and the one who wants to follow in the footsteps of Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam) will take advantage of that time.
Believe you me, as you grow older and older, you will have less and less time. As responsibilities grow and as your education grows and as you get married and have your own children, do you think that you are going to have more time or less time? Right now Allāh has given you a solid amount of time with nothing to do. Your parents are taking care of you. Your mother cooks your dishes for you and does your laundry for you. How long do you think you are going to have all of this time just to kill? And look how we even call it 'killing time.' Killing is not good, even if you do it to time.
Look at how much time Allāh has given you. You have the summer months ahead of you. How are you going to take advantage of that? I'm not telling you that you shouldn't be spending time having fun and going to play and playing computer games. No, I'm not telling you that. Mortal Kombat is not haram – alḥamdulillāh it is halal. But too much of halal does become problematic. Candy is halal and chocolates are halal. What would happen if you ate chocolate all day and all night? Do you think that would be healthy for you?
Of course, it is halal to play computer games, but let's get real here. Grand Theft Auto is not going to teach you how to be a good person, and you know that. You know that even if your dad has no idea what the game is. You know that it's not going to teach you how to be a good Muslim and how to be a good human. Also, I mean come on let's get real here as well – we all know that it's cool to download the ways out of Call of Duty, but we as Muslims have a real call of duty and that call of duty is to answer Allāh (subhanahu wata'ala).
Don't you think, my young brothers and sisters, that here you are battling this evil monster or alien or whatever it is with your fingertips and going away at it for hours and hours, and you are all experts at it, but once you close that computer game and leave that fantasy world, don't you realize that there is real evil around you and that you have to battle not just with your thumbs and not just with the tips of your fingers but with your soul and desires and with your heart and your brain.
If you are studying through this to battle evil, if you are gaining skills to battle evil, well then use it in the real world. You want to know who a real monster is? It's not the little fantasy thing that you see on the pixels on your screen. It's somebody who tries to sell you drugs – that's a real monster. You know what real evil is? It is somebody who tells you to download stuff you shouldn't be downloading on the computer and to watch things you shouldn't be watching – that's real evil.
Let's see if you're as good at repelling that evil as you are moving on to the next level in Call of Duty because that is your real call of duty, and that is to be a Muslim kid and to be somebody who know that Allāh is watching him even if his mother and father are not watching him.
My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, our Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Seven people will be sheltered on the Day of Judgment when there is no shelter other than His Shelter.” And one of those he said is the young man or the young woman – a kid, basically – who grows up worshipping Allāh. As a young child and as a teenager and as a young adult, their passions and intellect and body and soul are interested in something higher than mere games and play.
And again, please don't get my wrong. It is completely permissible to play, but a little bit of chocolate is good for the day, not too much. A little bit of these things is good, and reading is better than playing computer games. Reading anything and not just Islamic books – reading fiction, reading science fiction and reading mystery. And better than fiction is to read actual books and to read Scientific American and something that is appealing to you. Read something of fact, of history or of geography – any science that you find interesting. That is even better than reading fiction. Better than reading non-fiction is to read about your own religion. And do a little bit of each.
Nobody is saying immerse yourself in Islam day and night. Nobody can do that. Play a little bit, go out and play outside as well. Playing outside is better than sitting inside and reading. Being physical and playing basketball and taking your bike out is better because your body benefits, but do a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
As you and play your games and as you go and play some basketball and shoot a few hoops and do whatever you want with your friends, also spend a little bit of time with the Book of Allāh. Memorize a different surah. Understand the translation of the chapters that you read. Take a book about the Prophet's (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) life and read it cover to cover. If you don't know, go to others for advice and ask which book is good for your age and ask which lecture you should listen to. There is so much out there targeting your age, and you have a whole summer ahead of you. By the time the summer finishes, have a goal. For example, memorize another half juz or another juz, study the life of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam).
My young brothers and sisters in Islam, this time that you have is not going to come back. Listen, I grew up playing computer games – definitely not the type you guys play, but way back we also played computer games. Believe me, I hardly remember all of the codes and all of the stuff, and it didn't benefit me at all. What is going to happen twenty or thirty years down the line with all of the time you spent on computer games?
But to this day, I remember what I did for the sake of Islam. I memorized a juz when I was how many years old, and I still have that juz with me, whereas the same summer I also played computer games, but those computer games are gone. A little bit of this and a little bit of that.
Yes, enjoy and have fun in life, but realize that life is more than fun and games. Realize that Allāh created you for a divine purpose, and therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, realize that Islam is the best blessing Allāh has ever given you. Islam is the best treasure. It is the best prize. There is nothing that is better than being a Muslim, and it doesn't matter how old and how young you are, to be a Muslim is something that is possible. You don't have to be an adult to be a good Muslim. The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “All children are born upon Islam.” There is a hadith: “All children are born upon the religion of Islam and are naturally inclined to be Muslim.”
And so here we have it in the life and times of the prophet Ibrahim ('alayhi salaam) a beautiful role model. And our Prophet Muḥammad (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) was told in the Qur'an: “O Muḥammad (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam), you have a role model in Ibrahim. You should look up to the prophet Ibrahim as well.” If this is something that he was told, then where do you think I stand and you stand?
My young brothers and sisters in Islam, I want to say that I understand that life is tough at your age. I understand that there are a lot of pressures and tensions. I might not know those pressures and tensions, but it was not too long ago that I was a kid. And I understand that our parents don't understand. I understand that. And you have to understand as well that our parents don't understand because they haven't lived our lives. They didn't go through the public high schools here. They didn't have the type of tensions and the type of peer pressures that you have. They are a generation that has come from a different land and place. Cut them some slack.
Let me tell you one thing: when you get to their age, and when you have your own kids, mark my words that you will be stricter with your own children than your parents were with you. You know all these rules that you are complaining about? When you get to the age of your parents and you have your own children, because you know reality better than your parents, and because you have experienced life in these schools and life growing up in America and you know the world better than your parents do in the world that you occupy, you will not want your children to do what you are doing. You will not want your children to have those opportunities and the access to evil that you have, so you are going to be even stricter with them. Believe me, I am a parent now and I grew up here as well, and that is exactly what I am doing. Talk is cheap, and at this age, you cannot fully comprehend this.
I want to conclude by saying that, my young brothers and sisters, do realize that whatever your parents are doing, they are doing it out of a sense of love and protection. Sometimes you don't understand the rules and yes, sometimes the rules are really not correct and not smart rules, but they are doing it out of love. You cannot compare that to what Ibrahim's father did. They are doing it to protect you. They are doing it to make you a better person.
And realize that no matter how harsh they are with you and how much they might get angry and scold you, believe you me, at the end of the day – and I speak on behalf of all the parents here – we're very proud of each and every one of you. We're proud of all that you have accomplished. We are proud that you are doing far more than we could have done. And I know that sometimes we don't say it as much as we should. I know that we sometimes don't encourage you too much, and we're always just rebuking you and scolding you and telling you to do this and that, but deep down inside, we're so proud of everything that you have done.
And I want to tell you as a parent that all that I am doing for my kids and all that your parents are doing for you, everything that is being done is for you and for the future generations. We are building this mosques not for me but for you, and we are having schools not for me but for you. We're going to work and earning money not for me but for you. All that we do, my young brothers and sisters, is meant for you because you are our pride and you are what gives us motivation. You are what allows us to be what we are.
A lot of times we don't say that as we should, but that's how parents are that we can't communicate our feelings like that, but I'll speak on behalf of your parents, and I'm saying this to my own kids as well that we are very proud of you, and we want you to have the best of this world and the next, and we want you to know that if we fall short and if we do things that we shouldn't do, we are doing this because we don't have experience. You are our kids. We are doing everything that we can, and we are doing this to make the world a better place for you. We are doing this to give you the best that we possibly can in this world and in the next.
And we hope that inshā'Allāh wa ta'ala that you are going to continue to make us proud and are going to continue to make us motivated. And we hope that once we are gone from this earth and you have your own children that you will then also pass that legacy down to them because we realize that the best legacy that we can give you is the legacy of Islam, and the best prize that we can protect for you is the prize to be a Muslim.
We pray that Allāh (subhanahu wata'ala) causes all of us to live as Muslims and die as Muslims and to be resurrected as Muslims. āmīn.