Latest Sermon | "Bad Deeds" Verse 21 An-Noor

Bismillahir Ramanir Raheem

Delivered By:- Mikail Abdul Aziz, Imam of Port Moresby Islamic Centre, Papua New Guinea.

All praises are due to Allah (SWT) alone, The Lord of the Universe and the Master of all creations. I bear witness that there is no god besides Allah (SWT) and that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is His Servant and True Messenger. May the peace and the blessings of Allah (SWT) be upon Prophet Muhammad (SAW), on his family members, all his companions and those who follow him till the Last Hour.

Assalamu Alaykum Wa-Rahmatullahi Wa-Barakatahu!

My topic today is “Bad Deeds”. Allah (SWT) says in verse 21 of Surah An-Noor (24):

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ  وَمَنْ يَتَّبِعْ خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَإِنَّهُ يَأْمُرُ بِالْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ  وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ مَا زَكَىٰ مِنْكُمْ مِنْ أَحَدٍ أَبَدًا وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُزَكِّي مَنْ يَشَاءُ  وَاللَّـهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

Which roughly means: “O you who believe! Follow not Satan’s footsteps. If any of you will follow the footsteps of Satan, he will (but) command what is shameful and evil. And were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you, not one of you would ever have been pure; but Allah does purify whom He pleases and Allah is One Who hears and knows (all things).”

My dear brothers and sisters! It is the mercy of Allah (SWT) that has provided human beings with guidance as to how to spend our life on this planet. We instinctively know what is good and what is bad. At the same time we have been given the choice of following either the path of piety or the path of sin. This choice available to us is made explicit in the Glorious Qur’an. Allah (SWT) says in Verse 3 of Surah Al-Dahr (chapter 76): إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا, meaning: “We showed him the way; whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will).”

Thus, it is left to each individual to decide whether to purify his soul with righteous deeds or to corrupt it with obscenity and indecency. The story of Adam and Eve and their fall from grace is told in several places in the Holy Qur’an. It narrates how both were tricked by Satan into disobeying Allah (SWT). When they were forgiven by Allah, the Most Merciful, and sent down to earth to fulfil their mission of Khilafah for which they were created, Satan sought Allah’s respite to continue to misguide them, leading them astray and tempting them to obscenity and disobedience. Allah (SWT) granted him his request and Satan vowed to lead Adam and his progeny away from the path of righteousness. To help human beings remain on the Straight Path and lead life of piety, Allah (SWT) sent His messengers to provide guidance.

My dear brothers and sisters! Allah’s messengers and prophets brought His Guidance and steered mankind to the Path of Truth and decency. Whereas Satan and his accomplices always tried to tempt them and lead them astray. This battle between good and evil has raged throughout human history. Allah (SWT) has forbidden all shameful and evil deeds and commanded in Surah Al-An’am (6:151): وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَۖ, meaning: “And do not even go near to immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed.” But if we follow Shaitan then he commands us to engage in such abominable acts.

My dear brothers and sisters! Al-Fahsha’ is the Qur’anic term for obscenity and indecency. It means everything that exceeds its limit. However, it is mainly associated with sexual immorality and those acts which human beings instinctively find repulsive. Such vices include adultery, fornication, homosexuality, nudity, and pornography or any other obscene act. The wave of modernity that has engulfed us has created a permissive society which has abandoned all moral codes of decency. This has resulted in sexual anarchy. Hence, we witness the uncontrolled indulgence of sexual gratification by unlawful means. Furthermore, the sanctity of marriage no longer exists. Co-habitation has become the prevalent mode of life. There is no shame in indulging in adultery and fornication. There are thousands of teenage pregnancies every year. Even schoolgirls as young as ten or twelve years old are sexually active and many give birth to illegitimate children.

My dear brothers and sisters! To combat this problem the government is providing contraceptive advice in schools and distributing free condoms instead of eradicating the root cause. Brothels are being legalised as the police say they are fighting a losing battle against prostitution. A homosexual relationship is no longer a stigma. Gay and lesbian couples are allowed to marry with legal blessing. The age of sexual acts between consenting people has been lowered to sixteen years. There is no limit on the number of sexual partners one may have. It is not uncommon to see women with four or five children, all by different men. No wonder child abuse and incest is rife and that there is unprecedented increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

My dear brothers and sisters! Pornography has become a very big business. It is available through newspapers, magazines, books, films and videos. With the advent of the Internet it has bombarded every household with such ease and access to people of all ages. Sex is used for selling anything from cars, shoes, soap-powder and to cosmetics and the like. Nudity is widely prevalent and it is very difficult to safeguard one’s gaze while walking along the streets or in the parks. By disregarding the commands of Allah (SWT) we are standing at the edge of a deep abyss. It is the crises of the standard of right and wrong - by what standard are right and wrong, decent and indecent to be judged? For Muslims the final standard and touchstone is the Shari’ah.

How can we save society and ourselves from this flood of immorality, shameful and evil deeds? To start with Allah (SWT) has endowed us with natural modesty, shyness and bashfulness. In Islamic terminology this is called Al-Haya. In essence, it is a feeling in one’s heart that keeps one away from indulging in evil deeds. It is very close to what is termed “one’s moral conscience” in Western society. If one has no conscience, one can perform whatever one likes without a care for what society might think. Conversely, someone with a conscience will feel ashamed to do any evil deed even if no one is watching. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) emphasised this on many occasions. Our beloved Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said: “Haya and Eemaan are two companions that go together. If one of them is lifted, the other is also lifted.” (Al-Hakim)

My dear brothers and sisters! Other acts forbidden by Allah (SWT) are evil deeds. In Qur’anic terminology these are munkar. These refer to actions which human beings abhor. Its opposite is Ma’ruuf. These acts are universally recognised and admired by human beings. The duty assigned to Muslims is called “Amr bil ma’ruuf, wal Nahy ‘anil munkar” (to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil). Evil acts include abusing others, lying, stealing, gambling, giving false evidence, corruption, taking bribes and being dishonest. So our task is to both to refrain from committing bad deeds and actively stopping other from committing them. This safeguards society from going astray.

This is well illustrated by the story of the people from Bani Israel who used to live near the sea. As a part of observing the sanctity of the Sabbath they were not allowed to fish on Saturday. Some of them seeing lots of fish on the surface of the water disregarded Allah’s command and continued to catch fish on Saturdays. Some concerned people actively argued with them to stop fishing while others who were equally opposed to their transgression said, as Allah (SWT) explains in Verse 164 of Surah Al-A’raf (chapter 7): لِمَ تَعِظُونَ قَوْمًا اللَّـهُ مُهْلِكُهُمْ أَوْ مُعَذِّبُهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا قَالُوا مَعْذِرَةً إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ, which roughly means: “Why do you preach to a people whom Allah will destroy or visit with a terrible punishment? Said the preachers: ‘to discharge our duty to your Lord and perchance they may fear’.”

My dear brothers and sisters! When Allah’s judgement came, those who disobeyed were perished and those who forbade were rescued. The fate of those who did not attempt to stop the transgression however is not mentioned - presumably they perished with the transgressors. It is our duty to stand up firmly against all evil deeds that are prevalent in society. We may be doing good deeds ourselves and we may, in our hearts, abhor some activities in which society is engaged. But if we do not actively stop others from committing evil deeds we may incur Allah’s wrath.

May Allah (SWT) give us courage to stand firm on our DIIN and actively preach goodness and stop those who are engaged in wrecking society with their evil deeds – Ameen.

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