FRIDAY DISCOURSE

February 18, 2000

Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN

THE QUR'AN IS OUR GUIDE

As-salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

My Dear and Beloved Audience! May Allah's peace, mercy, abundance, and grace be with you. May He bless you and give you happiness in this world and in the hereafter.

a. The Importance of the Qur'an

Abdullah ibn-i Amr ibnil-As reported that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

RE. 227/12 (Al Qur'ânu ahabbu ilallâhi min es-semâwâti wal ardhe wa man fî hinne.)

With these few words, our beloved Prophet (pbuh) stated a very important point: "To Allah Almighty, the Glorious Qur'an is dearer than the heavens, the earth and everything in them." This is how important the Qur'an is! It is the word of Allah. It has such a high position and value in the sight of Allah. We should keep this fact in mind at all times and never forget it or overlook it.

We have the Qur'an in our hands. It is such a book that has been kept the way it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It has been read and studied for hundreds of years. It has guided the mankind to our times.

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Our libraries has hand-written copies dating all the way back to the time of the Rightly Guided Caliphs having the signature of Hadrat Ali (karramallahu wajhah). They all are identical. In the Topkapi Palace Museum, a copy of the Qur'an has the signature reading as "Aliyyibnu ebû Tâlib." Ahmed Ates, a professor of Early Arabic Language and Literature in Istanbul University, proved that the signature truly belong to Hadrat Ali (kw). "The names were spelled with ebû instead of ebî during their time. This is one of the proofs." The script style and the material on which it is written are also proofs that it belonged to the early Islamic era.

So, we have a copy of the Qur'an from the pen of Hadrat Ali. Each letter of the book has been preserved till today. It was written down by the Revelation Scribers as it was revealed. It has been memorized by countless Muslims and explained by scholars. It is the word of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. This is a very important point. It is a great honor to have the this Scripture as it was revealed to the beloved servant and messenger of Allah.

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Beside making him the father of mankind, Allah (ST) commissioned Adam (AS) as a prophet, too. Many other prophets passed between our Father Adam and the Last Prophet, our beloved Sayyid, Muhammad Moustapha (pbuh). Their number is told to be a hundred and twenty four thousand, which indicates their multitude. We do not know all of them with their names, but it is clearly stated by Allah that no single community was left without a prophet, a guide who called them to Allah's way, showed them the straight path and told them the truth. However, the authentic material given to these other prophets has not been properly conserved. We don't even have copies in their original language. They have been modified, re-written, not properly recorded with big discrepancies among different copies. The experts of these religions also admit that. The Qur'an, on the other hand, has been perfectly preserved. It is very precious. In the sight of Allah, it is the dearest; it is more beloved, lovely, glorious and honorable than the earth, the heavens, and everything in them. Consequently, we should always maintain our respect towards the Holy Qur'an just as our ancestors did it in the past.

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Our ancestors paid great respect to the Qur'an, they wrote the most valuable tafsirs (commentaries). With great seriousness they did their best to learn the Qur'an. They tried to arrange their lives according to its orders. Their actions, their trade, their anger and their love were all according to the Qur'an's orders. They tried to earn the pleasure of Allah and to be good servants to Him. They said, "Since this is the address of Allah (ST) to us, His revelation and His word, we want to be among His beloved servants and earn His pleasure by doing what is asked in it."

On the subject of regard for the Qur'an, the prayer of Sultan Murad the First of Ottomans in Kosovo war is well-known. The sincerity and generosity of Muhammad the Conqueror, Othman the Ghazi and Orhan the Ghazi are obvious from the testimonies accredited even by historians of some opponent countries. With good intentions these blessed people worked in the right way.

Our grandfathers have spent their lives and possessions in this way. They have done nice works and good deeds and left behind beneficial facilities. We have benefited from what they have left for centuries. Of course we should also work in the same way they did.

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The Holy Qur'an is a strong lifesaver rope and a life buoy from Allah. We must hold it tight, adhere to it so that in this stormy weather we can get out of this rough sea, which is swarmed with sharks, and reach the safety and be saved. By doing so, we may earn Allah's pleasure and be honored with His Grace and Paradise.

b. The Qur'an as an Intercessor and a Plaintiff on the Day of Judgment

The next hadith is reported by Abdullah ibn-i Mas'ud RA and Jabir RA. It is recorded in Tabarânî, Hulwânî, Ibn-i Hibban, and many other collections. About the Qur'an, our beloved Prophet (saw) said:

RE.227/9 (Al-Qur'ânu shâfiun wa mushaffaun, wa mâhilun musaddaqun man ja'alehû emâmahû qâdahû ilal-jannah, wa man ja'alehû khalfa zahrihî sâqahû ilan-nâr.) Sadaqa rasûlullah, fi mâ qâl, aw kamâ qâl.

"The glorious Qur'an has been given an intercession power. It will intercede on the Day of Judgment." In our previous hadith studies we had seen that the Qur'an will say, "My Lord, increase the honors and ranks of those believers who recited me, loved me and followed me." The Qur'an will ask Allah SWT to reward such believers and elevate their ranks higher and higher. Allah SWT will give the Qur'an that ability and power.

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(Wa mushaffaun) the Qur'an is also mushaffa i.e., one whose intercession is accepted. Not everybody can intercede on every matter or in every place. One has to have a high and respectable position to intercede. In addition to that, the intercessor must be recognized and accepted by both parties. The Qur'an has the authority, rank, and reputation for intercession on the Day of Judgment. In the previous hadith, we have seen how dear it is to Allah (SWT). The intercession of the Qur'an is accepted by Allah (SWT). The Qur'an will say, "My Lord, forgive this servant his sins, for he used to recite me, respect me, love me and follow me. He used to observe and uphold the messages in me." Upon this request, Allah will forgive that person. This is very important.

The Qur'an is also(mâhilun musaddaqun) a plaintiff or a prosecutor whose claims in the court are true and never rejected. That means the Qur'an is both an intercessor and a plaintiff on the Day of Judgment. It will ask Allah to forgive those who uphold the Qur'an and to punish those who disrespect and disregard the Qur'an. That is why we must visualize the spiritual personality of the Qur'an and show respect to it just like Othman the Ghazi (the founder of the great Ottoman State) did. Out of his great respect, he -- may Allah bless his soul -- chose not to sleep whole night in a room which had a copy of the Qur'an.

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The respect and regard for the Qur'an should not be superficial but sincere. We must read the Qur'an, study it and follow its message. Whatever the Qur'an states, we must accept it saying, "Amannâ wa saddaqnâ; sadaqal-lâhul azîm--We believe and we regard it as truth; Allah Almighty says the truth."

(Man ja'alehû emâmahû>"Whoever chooses the Qur'an as a guide and leader, (qâdahû ilal-jannah)he will be taken to Paradise by the Qur'an." If a person follows the Qur'an, he will enter Paradise. On the contrary, "(wa man ja'alehû khalfa zahrihî)--whoever turns his back to the Qur'an, (sâqahû ilan-nâr) he will be sent to Hellfire by the Qur'an." If a person disregards the Qur'an, disobeys it, leads a life in contradiction to the message of the Qur'an, then the Qur'an will take him to Hellfire.

One may ask, "How can the Qur'an take a person to Hellfire?" The answer is that the Qur'an will be a plaintiff or a prosecutor on the day of judgment. It will complain about the person: "This person did not read me, did not uphold my message, denied my truth." Upon this, it will be told, "You are right. Your complaint is valid. This person did commit these offenses. He will sent to Hellfire." Thus the person goes to Hellfire. That is why we have to study and learn Qur'an very well.

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When do we start studying Qur'an? I am over sixty years old and a professor of the Theology Department [of Ankara University]. I graduated from the Arabic Language and Literature Department of the College of Literature [of Istanbul University]. Graduating from the college and becoming a professor took so many years. Some of my students, too, became professors. They write books and send me copies. I take a red pen and mark some sections or paragraphs of the book, "This part is incorrect, this part has an error, this part is incomplete." It will take more years for them to be experts in the field. In brief, it takes almost an entire life to become well versed and an expert in Islamic studies.

Every day we witness many attacks on our religion, traditions and culture. The newspapers, television stations and radios are spreading inaccurate, incomplete or false information. These will have serious effects on people who lack proper knowledge. That is why we must be well educated in every field.

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We must educate our children, too. We must teach them Arabic. There are countless benefits of speaking Arabic. First, there are many Muslim countries in which Arabic is spoken. We have historical ties with all of them. As Ottomans, we ruled these countries for hundreds of years. Second, Arabic is one of the world languages such as English and French. It is an essential language in the study of world civilizations, history, literature, art, and culture. It is a living language. Third and the most important, Arabic is the language of Qur'an and hadith. Our major religious works, commentaries, jurisprudence books and many other works are written in Arabic. It is a must to know Arabic to understand these books. We must advise our children, "The more language you speak, the stronger your personality is. You have already learned English, now you start learning Arabic. Then you can learn this and that. You should speak fluently in those languages."

We must have our children memorize Qur'an. We have to teach them the traditions (Ahadith) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). We must teach them well because the best interpretation of the Qur'an is in the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh). He received the Qur'an, he taught the Qur'an and he practiced the teachings of the Qur'an. We need to learn how to apply the Qur'an in our lives by studying the traditions of our beloved Prophet (pbuh). That is why we ought to teach our children Arabic.

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We take the newborns into our hands and recite adhan to their ears before naming them. We offer supplications for them to be good servants of Allah. Later we sing lullabies for them:

"My son is going to be a great person, a governor;
My son is going to be a great scholar, a virtuous learner."

We have to educate them well for them to become scholars and virtuous and perfect persons. We should spend whatever is necessary for their education. If we have to pay a sack full of money for them, we should not withhold it. In turn, our child must be the top student in his class. We should not leave them alone and idle. We should love and encourage them and reward them for their success. We should have them love studying and learning.

Instilling love and interest in them for studying and learning new things is very important. If the child has an interest in good things, he will take them. On the contrary, if he is interested in bad things, he will do bad things. If you give him a cigarette, he will start smoking. If you give him heroin, he will be a heroin addict. It is entrusted in you. It is a trust from Allah. It is subject to your mercy and care. If you take good care of the child, he will be a good person. If you direct him to wrong ways, you will destroy your future as well as his. So, you pay utmost attention to raise your child as a good person.

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Your children must learn the Qur'an well because both our Prophet (pbuh) and the Qur'an will be intercessors on the Day of Judgment. We must learn about our Prophet and study his traditions. We must love him and have him love us by following his path. We must learn the Qur'an well and try our best to earn the blessings of the Qur'an and have it on our side on the Day of Judgment. May Allah grand all of us with the intercession of the Qur'an and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). May Allah shower us with His mercy, free us from Hellfire and give us abodes in Paradise without a trial on the Day of Judgment.

c. Listening to a Scholar

Here is the third hadith:

RE.227/3 (El-qàssu yantazirul-la'neta wel-mustemi'u yantazirur-rahmeta, wet-tâjiru yantazirur-rizqa, wel-muhtekiru yentazirul-la'nete, wen-nâh?yetu we men hawlehâ min imra'etin mujtemi'atin aleyhinne, la'netullàhi wel-melâiketi wen-nâsi ejmaîn.)

His hadith is reported unanimously by three Abdullahs; Abdullah ibn-i 'Amr, Abdullah ibn-i 'Omar, and Abdullah ibn-i Abbas -- may Allah be pleased with them-- who were among the great scholars in the early Islamic era. The hadith is recorded in the collections of Khatib-i Baghdâdî and Tabaranî.

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When a preacher climbs up to the pulpit, everybody expects him to explain the meaning of some verses of Qur'an or teach some sayings or traditions of Prophet Muhammad. He must talk about Islamic rules and how we apply them to our lives. If he speaks as expected, he is truly a preacher, a knowledgeable person; and his action is well-received and will be rewarded in the Hereafter.

Contrarily, if a person in the pulpit tells stories without any morals to be drawn or without a trace of information, he commits a serious offense. The preachers have a very serious responsibility because (wal mustemi'u rahmah) the audience listen to him with good intentions of learning something to earn the Mercy of Allah. Most likely the audience will receive the Mercy of Allah, yet (El-qàssu yantazirul-la'neta) "the sole-story-telling preacher will receive the curse of Allah for sure. Let him wait for it; it will come!"

That is why it is so important to preach the truth and avoid the idle talk. A preacher, a scholar must "sweat" while searching information and details in the sources in order to prepare for his sermon. He must utter the truth as the "pearls" of the knowledge. His words should be distinguished from the worthless idle talk just like the true gems and pearls distinguished from the fake ones and imitations.

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The sole-story telling preachers will face the curse of Allah, for they are asking for it. The audience will receive the Mercy of Allah because they listen to the preacher with good intentions. However, a listener must know to whom he should listen. He should investigate and find out who is a true scholar, good preacher and who is a "sole-story-telling preacher." The listener must be among the audience of the true scholar and avoid the "sole-story teller" and his misguidance.

A scholar, a preacher must be God-fearing and God-conscious; otherwise, he will not be considered as a true scholar in Islam. Such a person fails to save himself from the Hellfire because he does not fear Allah's wrath and anger. He will not be considered as a true scholar unless he becomes sincere, God-conscious and preaches the truth, the message of the Qur'an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, and disseminate information favored by Allah.

We all should avoid the fake scholars and imitation preachers. We must search for the true scholar just like we do our search when we want to buy something of a significant value. We would not like to be cheated, nor we would like to pay more money than its worth, When it comes to getting knowledge, we must seek the sound knowledge, the useful information and authentic source for the knowledge. We have to listen to the truthful, respectable, and blessed scholars.

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The imitation scholar not only wrongs himself but also misleads the people who listen to him. He takes them to a spiritual abyss and push them down. He allures the audience with nice words. Remember the proverb, "Friends criticize, enemies flatter." Should a listener pay attention to the flatter of the fake scholar? Could the fake scholar support his statements with the verses of the Qur'an? Of course, he can not!

We have the norms in the Qur'an, in the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh). When we read them, we can easily see what is "straight" and what is "crooked." I admire a wise saying of Hadrat Ali (kw): "(I'rifil-haqqa ta'rif ahlahû) Learn what is the truth, then you can see who follows the truth." Do not say that you like a person, so you would follow him. First find out what is the truth, then you will know who is truthful. One has to know the truth first.

Praying five times a day puts a person in line for five times a day, purifies his soul and keeps him away from offenses. Allah (SWT) ordered the prayer at such nice and proper times: You perform the fajr (dawn) prayer at home; the duhr (noon) prayer, during your lunch break. You offer the asr (late afternoon) prayer on the way home; the maghrib (evening) prayer, at home. Before going to bed, you make fresh wudu (ablution), brush your teeth, clean-up and offer your ish'a (late night) prayer.

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"Islam orders washing up [wudu] in the morning; is it bad?"

"Of course not! The western people do wash up in the morning."

"What about late night prayer?"

"Well, that is fine, too. The western people brush their teeth before going to bed."

"Evening prayer?"

"They wash up after the meal. It is fine."

"What about the noon prayer?"

"They wash their hands after lunch."

"The afternoon prayer?"

"I do not know about that"

"Is your objection only for the afternoon prayer?"

Islam is a very beautiful way of life. How great it is to realize that!

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"(Wa- tâjiru yantazirur-rizq) the tradesman should expect the sustenance and good earning that Allah apportions for him. (Wal-muhtekiru yantazirul-la'neh) one who piles up foodstuff and other scarce material to sell it for a high price when the supplies diminish while the demands increase should expect the curse of Allah (SWT), for it will fall on him for sure."

Trading is praised while the stockpiling goods for monopoly, for speculative high price, for profiteering and for taking advantage of people's dire needs is condemned in Islam.

"(Wan-nâhiyatu) professional female mourners hired to perform at funerals by chanting, screaming, crying, beating their knees and pulling their hair... (wa man hawlehâ min imra-etin mujtami'atin aleyhinne, la'netullâhi wal-malâikati wan-nâsi ajma'în)." It is not proper for women to gather around the professional mourner and participate the mourning, imitate the mourner, scream, tear clothes and display similar sign of sorrow because the death is the decision of Allah, and it should be respected as such.

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The mourners are not sincere; they are professional actors. They are called, "We have a funeral, we cannot mourn well. Can you mourn and cry for us?"

"How much money is there in it?"

"This much!"

"('Aleyhinne) on them, the professional mourners and their company, is (la'netullâhi wal-malâikati wan-nâsi ajma'în) the curse of Allah (SWT), the curse of the angels and the curse of all mankind." This may mean that they will face the curse of Allah, or it is a denunciation of such acts to warn people that they should not mourn like that.

Prophet Muhammad had no habit of cursing people or wishing bad things for them. That is why these words must be taken rather as a warning: "Never mourn like the professional mourners, or you may face the curse of Allah (SWT), the curse of angels and the curse of mankind."

The lesson we should draw from this hadith is that if we are at a position of teaching Islam, be it an imam at the mosque, a preacher or a mufti, we must teach information from the Qur'an and from the authentic sayings of the Prophet (pbuh). We should not misguide our audience or waste their time with idle talk, jokes, stories and alike. The audience will receive the mercy of Allah, but the mere-story telling preacher will face the curse.

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Another lesson to be drawn from this hadith is that trading is praised. It should be carried out lawfully, seriously, honestly, and truthfully. Allah provides sustenance and good earnings to the tradesman. However, speculative stockpiling of goods that people need is condemned. Such a profiteering stockpiler will face the curse of Allah.

The third lesson to be drawn from this hadith is that Allah does not approve loud cries and violent displays of sorrow for the deceased. Sooner or later everybody will experience death because is a decree from Allah (SWT). It should not be protested as such, for Allah does not like this kind of reactions. Even the lament of an ill person is considered as a complaint: "When a patient laments about his disease and the hard time he is experiencing, he would be complaining about Allah" because it is Allah Who gives the person the illness.

There are ahadith stating "if a person acts impatiently and denies his destiny when he faces a difficulty, he would be objecting to Allah (SWT)." In case of the death of a friend or a relative, we should accept it with patience and say: "It is a decree from Allah (SWT). May Allah bless the soul of the deceased and give patience to friends and relatives. Is there anything we can do to the benefit of the deceased?" We should read Qur'an, offer prayers and dhikr, and donate the rewards to the deceased. If there are any elements in the funeral ceremonies that are offensive to Allah and to His beloved Prophet, they should be abandoned and eliminated from our traditions.

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In some localities of Turkey, this custom of bringing professional mourners is still practiced. We have to let people know about this hadith and nicely invite then to abandon this custom. We have to be calm and keep our dignity at all times.

The deceased, too, will be adversely affected spiritually by the violent cries and screams. Offering prayers, reciting Qur'an, and other charitable act on behalf of the deceased will ease the spirit of the deceased.

We ought to read the ahadith of the Prophet (pbuh) and study the verses of the Qur'an, learn Islam correctly, and apply it to our lives properly. Improper customs might have been adopted from pre-Islamic times or from non-Muslim societies; we must get rid of them. We have to cleanse our lives from all kinds of impurities and lead a pure and clean life.

May Allah (SWT) make us successful in becoming a good Muslim. May we lead a good and fruitful life in this world and face our lord in the hereafter as one of His beloved servants. May He give all of us opportunities to produce charitable and rewarding works. May Allah bless you all.

As-salamu Alaikum wa rahmatullâhi wa barakatuh

February 18, 2000 -- Australia.

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