friday khutbahs (2016)

Muslims gather for congregational prayers on Fridays. At the beginning of each service, according to Islamic tradition, the most learned of the community should address the community regarding topics that are pressing and pertinent to the community and the obligations of the faithful.  Unfortunately, many khutbahs today do not engage or enliven the spirit of Muslims seeking inspiration, honest and direct confrontation with important issues, or spiritual comfort.  Dr. Abou El Fadl does not disappoint when it comes to tackling difficult issues, challenging the intellect and heart, and underscoring ethics, morality and virtue in the Islamic message through his khutbahs.  


"On the Prophet Muhammad's Message of Beauty"

On the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl calls on Muslims to embody the message of the prophet--to live a life of moderation, mercy, compassion, love and beauty in all that is said and done. He admonishes Muslims not to be lost in the pettiness and pedantics of a "ghetto mentality" now prevalent Muslim communities, but to become an active and relevant part of today's conversations and movements, particularly in the age of Donald Trump. Friday khutbah delivered at the Islamic Center of Southern California, December 9, 2016.

"What Should Muslims Do When the World is in Chaos"

When the world is full of ugliness and chaos, what is the taklif, or obligation upon a Muslim? When the world around you is crumbling in darkness, is it okay to simply refuse to partake in the production of beauty because the world is full of ugliness? The chaos of ugliness vampirically sucks the life blood out of faithful Muslims and turns everything dark. But what is a Muslim to do? In light of the many recent horrific and destabilizing events taking place around the world, which have left Muslims in despair, Dr. Abou El Fadl delivers an extremely important, stabilizing and uplifting message to remind Muslims of what is called for at such difficult times. Friday khutbah delivered July 15, 2016.

"What Goes Into Making a Terrorist?"

Reflecting back on the events of the month of Ramadan just ended, Dr. Abou El Fadl addresses the making of the atrocities that have taken place during this sacred month, and asks how it is possible that those who claim to be Muslim could commit such profoundly immoral acts at the opposite extreme of what should be a month of self-reflection, purification, and refrain from all that is negative or harmful. He explains the word hiraba, a word often used to refer to terrorism but which is most often not used according to its correct Islamic jurisprudential definition--hiraba is a criminal act in which the perpetrators: 1) strike by stealth; 2) do not discriminate between combatants and non-combatants in carrying out such acts; and 3) strike under circumstances where people are helpless to defend themselves--such as were the acts committed this past month. There is no disagreement among any jurists or any schools of thought that those who commit such crimes of hiraba are considered to be the lowest of all criminals and have reached the point where they are considered to be committing crimes against all of humanity. At this level of criminality, there is no acceptable justification for such crimes, regardless of the cause, motivation or reasons. Dr. Abou El Fadl further discusses in detail the three critical factors that combine to make a lethal combination for motivating impressionable youth -- particularly those who have led impious lives and are prone to mistakenly believe that one major act of self-sacrifice will wipe away their sins -- to engage in terrorist acts. It is not enough to say that ignorance is the cause. He explains that above and beyond ignorance, there is a three-part argument used by terror recruiters to convince impressionable minds -- each individual element alone would not be enough to move someone to commit hiraba, but when put together, the end result can be disastrous. The three pieces include: 1) the belief in a global conspiratorial war against Islam, for which there is an abundance of examples, not the least of which include the anti-Muslim rhetoric rampant in the recent Republican presidential debates in the U.S., for instance; 2) the general imperative of struggle or jihad (which in itself is a call for engaging in the striving to improve oneself generally, and not sufficient motivation on its own to convince one to commit hiraba); and 3) the extremist argument that there is only one true Islam (espoused by those who follow the extremist teachings of Wahhabism in which Sufism, Shiism and even Sunni Islam do not conform). According to this view, if a Muslim does not subscribe to their (extremist) view, then that Muslim is deemed to be a kafir (or infidel and outside of the fold of Islam) and should either repent and return to the "true Islam" (i.e. join the extremists) or be killed. Thus, the steep numbers of Muslim casualties in such crimes of terror. This summary does not include the important details and nuances of Dr. Abou El Fadl's original arguments and the viewer should not take this summary as a full and complete representation of Dr. Abou El Fadl's views. Friday khutbah delivered July 8, 2016.

"Longing for God and the Transformative Power of the Word"

In this continuation of powerful Ramadan khutbahs, Dr. Abou El Fadl challenges Muslims to reflect upon the transformative power of the remembrance of God and the Word--the Words of the Qur'an, which include Compassion, Mercy, Love, Kindness, Justice--and asks why these same words, which built an entire Islamic civilization at its height, now cease to move modern Muslims. He reminds us that Ramadan is not just a time for fasting, eating, praying and then going back to life as usual. It is a time for reflection, pause, renewal, and belief in the miracles of transformation that can come from God and the act of one's will. He reminds us that when we pray to God, God and God's angels pray back; and as we long for God, God longs back and wants to assist and enable us to come out of darkness and into the light, to emerge as better human beings. For those who want to believe, God is most merciful. He reminds us that historically and statistically, Ramadan was the month when Muslims produced the most change and good for all of humanity, and that in the remaining days of Ramadan, transformation is not just possible, but necessary, and more importantly, can be beautiful and miraculous. Friday khutbah delivered June 24, 2016.

"The Qur'an, the Sunnah and the Intellect"

Dr. Abou El Fadl delivers yet another powerful explication of the Instruments of Revelation--the Qur'an and the Sunnah--and the Gift of Continuous Revelation--the Intellect. All three--the Qur'an, the Sunnah and the Intellect--are divine gifts, interdependent and necessarily intertwined, that are tools to be utilized to discover God through our duty of worship (taabud) and reflection (tafakur), especially during Ramadan. He explains the role of each--the Qur'an, the Sunnah and the Intellect--and what happens when one is taken alone without the others. He reminds that those who have God as their Anchor need no other guidance, and those who anchor to other than God are as if adrift, unable to anchor to anything true or real. Friday khutbah delivered June 10, 2016.

"What It Means To Be The Light Upon The Nations"

Dr. Abou El Fadl describes the blessing and burden upon Muslims in their duty to be "The Light Upon The Nations" and all that entails. A powerful and enlightening talk on the challenges facing Islam and Muslims, and how Muslims should have as if the effect of the Light of the Divine on all their interactions with humanity; which is exactly why groups like ISIS are by definition the opposite of Light, and in fact, darkness. Friday khutbah delivered June 3, 2016.

"God and the Celestial Garb"

What is the condition of your "celestial garb"? In this khutbah, Dr. Abou El Fadl discusses an inspiring hadith in which Muslims can check themselves and the state of their being with God to evaluate where they are, where they have come from, and most importantly, where they are going and if God will be their companion in the Hereafter. Friday khutbah delivered May 21, 2016.

"Wisdom and Loving God as Revolution"

One of the most important Friday khutbahs ever delivered by Dr. Abou El Fadl. He discusses the gift of wisdom from God and how a true Muslim that exists in a state of wisdom exists in a constant state of growth and development, spiritually and intellectually, not just physically. If you are not moving and growing, but instead are stagnant and unchanging, you are effectively dead. The Islam that is popular today is one of a constant repetition of the same set of ideas and language, which is not the religion of wisdom and revelation, but a religion of atrophy and stupidity. The first converts of Islam in the Prophet's time were able to change the world because they grew as individuals, with unique capacities and abilities that were honored and developed. When one understands that the key to the treasures of wisdom (hikma) is the love of God and loving God, then everything transforms. Friday khutbah delivered April 29, 2016.

"Why Islam Matters"

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl delivers the Friday khutbah (sermon) for the Institute of Advanced Usuli Studies. In this week's khutbah, he continues his focus on the ethics of Islam and explains why the ethic of Islam goes beyond the Golden Rule of treating others as we want to be treated. Friday khutbah delivered April 8, 2016.

"Faith and Justice"

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl delivers the Friday khutbah (sermon) for the Institute of Advanced Usuli Studies. He addresses the question of whether the Muslim ummah has failed because they are using faith as an instrument of injustice or faith as an intoxicant for unjust purposes. He reminds Muslims of the original elevated commands on justice, creating goodness, and, as the Prophet Muhammad defined as fundamental for all Muslims, treating others as we want to be treated--and much more. Delivered April 1, 2016.