Shaykh Hamza Yusuf's 2011 Eid Sermon: "Get Up. Remove Darkness With Light"

hamza yusuf eid speech video sandala zaytuna

From California on the day of `Eid-ul-fitr, renowned Muslim figure shaykh Hamza Yusuf gave the `Eid sermon (khutba) on Wednesday, 31st August, after completing 30 days of fasting in the Islamic month Ramadan. We have provided a transcript of the speech and encourage all viewers to learn, implement and share the beautiful wisdom of Allah and his Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf begins with a du`a (supplication).

"`Eid mubarak. Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, all praise belongs to Allah. Allah in the Qur'an says,

'They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the new moons. Say, "They are measurements of time for the people and for Hajj"...' (Qur'an, 2: 189)

The sighting of the new moon with the human eye has historically been the way of determining the new month, despite the fact they were quite capable of doing calculations for centuries.

We're living in a time where we have incredible technology, to monitor the the galaxy, to monitor planets. At one time we thought there were only five planets. Now we're discovering there could be up to 4 billion planets just in our own galaxy.

Th Prophet, peace be upon him, determined that the 29th day of Ramadan day is where we go out to search for the 30th moon, he called it, "The day of doubt". This is because there's no certainty whether you can sight the moon or not. According to the Naval Observatory website, it says it's not possible to sight a moon with certainty with the naked eye in the first 24 hrs of the new month. This is exactly what the Prophet's calling it. To eliminate it means there's absolutely no doubt and this still is not true. There is an uncertainty.

To those Muslims who hold onto tradition, "Sumu ri ru' ya tihi, fast when you see the moon." Here, "Ru' ya tihi" is a sight, it has to be seen with the eyes. "Wa afturili ri ru' ya tihi", the fuqaha determined that a group should see it, but not everybody has to see it. And Muslims end the month with what is called "jam`uh ghafeer", which is a majority, a large number of people confirming the new moon.

Two days ago we went out but we did not see the moon. There was one report in South America of a moon sighting; I personally did not feel comfortable, and I want to commend the SPIA for taking that same position just because if you hasten an act of worship (`ibadat) before its time, it's unacceptable. But if you delay an `ibadah for gaining certainty, you get a reward. So, by waiting an extra day to have certainty, all you can do is benefit!

Even yesterday when we went out to see the moon, it was a tiny sliver, a new moon. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "The end of time will not come until people who see a first day moon say, 'this is two days old!'"

Having said that, the people who broke their fast yesterday, insha'Allah that's valid because they were following their leadership and those who give fatwah, the accountability is on them - not everyone is responsible. I'm not saying in anyway it was invalid, I'm just saying that I certainly feel more comfortable having completed 30 days. Praise Allah.

Now at the end we learn Ramadan is a madrasah, a school to learn certain behavioral patterns to take for the rest of the year. So let us remind ourselves: The Lord of Ramdan is also the Lord of every month of the year - The Lord of Shawwal and Dhul Hijjah and Dhul Qa`da. Ramadan has ended, our behaviour needs to continue.

In Ramadan, people get closer to Allah because of the nature of Ramadan. They don't backbite (although this is prohibited outside of Ramadan). We're extra vigilant in order to train ourselves.

Imam Ghazali says, if you can control yourself with food and sexuality, then you can control all other things easier. These are two primary drives in the human being. The Eros drive, and the need for satiation, for food.

In learning to discipline the soul, we get closer to Allah. Prophet Muhammad said in a hadith placed in An-Nawawi's collection, which indicates it primacy as one of the central ahadith in Islam:

1) "At-Tahoor, shatrul 'imaan - Purification is half of faith".  (Hadith number 23, on Kalamullah)

An-Nawawi mentions in his commentary that Imam Ghazali said "at-tahoor" here means purification of the heart. Purifiying your heart is half of faith. One half is to enter into faith and the other half is tazkiya. Allah says about the soul, "He has succeeded who purifies it, And he has failed who instills it [with corruption]." - who stunts it. (Qur'an, 91:9-10). Tazkiyah is central to Islamic tradition and Ramadan is the month for tazkiyah, the purification of the heart and disciplining the soul.

Allah says, "O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous." (Qur'an, 2:183)

Ramadan is so that you can learn spiritual discipline, getting closer to God, being more obedient.

Then the Prophet said, saying alhamdulillah will fill the mizaan, the scales, which according to tradition is bigger than heavens and earth. And saying Subhan'Allahi aalhamdulllahi is filling what is between the heavens and earth.

He further said, "was-salatu noorun - prayer, the salah is a light". How is it a light? In a factual (muttawatir) hadith, he said, "Give good tidings to those who go in the darkness (at night prayer, 'isha and fajr) of complete light on the day of Judgement."

On Judgement Day, when you're moving forward there are stages where it becomes completely dark. And those who did not have prayer in this world, they don't have any light to see. So prayer is a light, it will guide you.

"Inna salata tanha anan fa` sha'i wal munkar - Prayer will prevent you from doing foul and disobedient things". It increases your light. The more spiritual light you have, the more you can contribute to the elimination of darkness in the world. Darkness cannot succees because it is not a positive quality, it is a negative quality.

If you enter darkness into a room filled with light, it can't dispel the light. But if you have a room filled with darkness, one bit of light that enters the room will illuminate all the darkeness. Light is positive! And that is what we are accruing with our spiritual practice, LIGHT, in order to dispel the negativities that exist in this world.

THIS Is the role of those who believe in God. Of those who believe there's a Day of Judgement and that you're going to be taken into account.

The Prophet went on to say, "Wa-sadaqah tu burhaan - And charity is a proof."

Charity is a proof of your belief, in how you give to others. Allah says "Inna al-insana khuliqa halu`a - Indeed, mankind was created in a state of anxiety" (Qur'an, 70:19). We come into the world screaming, in a state of 'hala'. Allah says in the same verse, "When evil touches him, he's impatient," he becomes completely destablised. And "when good touches him, he withholds," he's greedy, he's covetous, he wants to keep it for himself, he doesn't want to share -"Ill'al musalleen - EXCEPT those who pray."

This is a different state of mind, these believers are connected to Allah. They are constant in their prayer, some say it's "sujud al-qalb", the prostration of the heart that is in constant prayer. The heart has a prostration like the head. These are the believers who give in their wealth - for those who ask, those who don't ask and you can still see they have a need.

At the end of Ramadan we pay zakat-ul-fitr. Zakat-ul-fitr is a dedicated "sa'a" from each person, a portion that's given to those who need. It used to be a portion of grain but now, in the Hanafi madhab (school of thought) we pay money and distribute because it faciliates it for places that need it more than we do. We give zakat at the end of Ramadan because we have just spent learning about hunger, that there are many people who are hungry.

It's inexcusalbe that we have famine today! We have a globalised system and the means to take food anywhere on the planet, and yet we have people starving in East Afrca. Completely unacceptable. And then we have people vomiting from over-eating. You can go to the store and see rows and rows of dyspeptic medicines for indigestion, for people who eat too much, who don't need that food. Really, it's a billion dollar industry in the United States, from people over-eating. We have become an obese society. People taking more calories than they need.

`Umar radhi Allah `anhu (may Allah be pleased with him) once saw a large bellied man making tawaf (circumambulation of Kabah) and put his stick next to his stomach and said, "this would be better on someone else who needed it." Right?!

One of the Muritanian poets said, "I'm amazed at a religion that calls for the fraternity of mankind, and yet we see some dying from hunger and some from over-eating, from satiety." He's amazed at this, asking well, how can a religion who takes care of the needy allow this?

The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said, "Nobody is a believer who goes to bed full and his neighbour is hungry". It negates your faith! And now in a globalised society, your neighbour can be a thousand miles away. Because we know about all the people now, before they had exuses of distance, today we know!

Brothers and sisters, this religion calls us to reflect on death. The Prophet peace be upon him meditated on death, not in a morbid way, but to teach us the fragility of life. We're moving through life, and we'll be confronted with a momentous ovent.

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said to hold onto the rope of Allah, this Book. Everything you need is in the Qur'an as explained by Prophet Muhammad.

In conclusion, the central theme of the book of Allah is to believe in Allah and live righteously. What does this mean? When the Prophet, peace be upon him, was asked by a man for advice, he "Qul aman tu billah thum-mustaqim - say, I believe in Allah and then BE upright." And what is uprightness? All of the Qur'anic ethics can be summarised in one verse where Allah calls for us to come! Elevate yourself. When you ask someone "ta aala" it means to stand, to get up. Elevate yourselves!

And I will tell you what God says you should and should not do in the Qur'an, chapter 17, verses 22-35:
  • Don't associate partners with God
  • Show goodness to parents - filial piety. We're living in a time where parents are denegraded but you need to show filial piety.
  • Don't kill your children - no abortions or a fear of poverty. Allah says He will provide for you and for them! So the usool (above the head) and the fur'ooa` (below), the roots and the branches, are like the parents and the children.
Each one of us is a trunk and these are the roots to our trunk; our roots are our parents and our branches are our children. You need the whole tree to be holistic. You have to have a healthy whole tree, if you cut off the roots, you kill the trunk, and if you cut off the branches, there's no fruit. This is the tree of life. And this is why we're here - because of our parents, and this is why we continue - through our children. This tree of life needs to be nurtured and that is what Allah is calling us to do, to nurture this tree.

  • Don't go near fornication, do not go to theft and these other forbidden (haram) things that cause destruction to your societies. These are diseases of the heart, and diseases of society.
  • Do not kill any soul that Allah has sanctified - Muslim, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, it doesn't matter, it is a sanctifed soul. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, stood up for the funeral of a Jew, it's recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari, and it was at a time when there was friction between the Jews and Muslims. The Prophet stood up and the Sahaba said, "this is a Jewish man," and the Prophet said, "wa laysat nafsa? - isn't this a human soul?" He respected the soul, he stood out of respect for that soul going back to its Lord, irrespective of its creed or its colour or cast. It doesn't matter! It's a soul and we cannot judge that soul. Alalh will judge that soul. Don't kill any soul! Allah is telling you to do this in order ot behave rationally, to believe.
We've got madness in our community, just recently an idiot went into a masjid and killed 50 people thinking it was a good idea. We've got madness in these cycles of violence. The only thing tht will break this cycle is intelligent people refusing to be part of this madness and demanding that there will be a different way. Allah says, do not kill a sanctified soul. That is your religion.
  • Don't go near the orphans' wealth, don't touch it.
  • And be just in your economics. That's the basis of healthy society, is just economics. Look at the economic systems of other countries and look at ours. People were robbed, their houses were robbed. These banks that committed daylight, bank robbery. It used to be where you went in and robbed a bank but now the banks are robbing the people! This is how distorted it's gotten. The banks were bailed out with billions but Mr and Mrs B weren't bailed out, their house was taken. Allah says, don't consume one another's wealth with lies, with vanities. Don't do it. Allah says a balanced economy is for commercial transactions where both sides are pleased with it. Don't kill one another because when you have unjust economies you have wars. These are economic transgressions.
You wanna know about Afghanistan? Look at lithium. The trillion dollars of lithium that's in Afghanistand land - you wanna know why people are in Afghanistan? Because Afghanistan has the most important minerals for high tech industry in the world. This is the world we're living in, a world of greed. A world where politicians feed us lies, telling us it's going to better society. Zbigniew Brzezinski said there is a political awakening, making it very difficult for politiians to do what they used to do. People now see the inequities, the exploitation, they read it in the newspapers. It's not like the old days where they could hide.

Politicians need to step aside to let human beings live with dignity and justice. Really, just let them live. Because it's wrong what they're doing, it's evil. People deserve better than this. Human beings are trying to raise their children without having a fear that secret police will take their children away, or ending up in an orange suit somewhere off Cuba. A place with blindfolds and earphones to block out hearing - sensory deprivation, which a New York Times articles asked "Is torture justified?" What happened?! In my world, I grew up in an America where we had civil society, things like torture weren't even questions to be asked.

We were founded on principles of human dignity. They used to hide these things, like the syphilis studies. Yes - the very Nazis who did things to the Jews, had done on them. People are passing on these forward because some aren't seen as 'human' in South America as they are. Those things are hidden, they are nefarious deeds that were done in the past, in the dark, we can't do anything about that, but when they become OPEN: What responsibility do we have then when? When we can see what's being done in broad daylight?

Shame on us, shame on all of us. What's done in the dark is God's business, but what do we do when it's done in broad daylight (?)

Allah says, "We do not charge any soul except [with that within] its capacity. And when you testify, be just, even if it's against near relative." (Qur'an, 6:152) - Even if it's your community, your own Ummah. It doesn't matter what it is, if it's wrong we condemn that wrong. This is a high religion, a religion of ethics and community.

The Prophet peace be upon him said, a time will come when you will see darkness followed by darkenss. `Ali (ra) asked, what is the way out, and the Prophet replied,"Kitab Allah, book of God". The Qur'an has news of what went before us and what will come after, it is a judge and an arbitrator between you. Whoever leaves the Qur'an, does it out of arrogance, Allah will break his back. And if you seek guidance in other books, you will be lead astray.

The Prophet said to hold onto the strong rope of Allah, His Book. To make dhikr, the remembrance and learning the wisdoms of Allah, and this takes you to a straight path. Tongues will not be confusing if they quote the Qur'an, and he said you will not have diverse opinions if you follow the Qur'an, the ulema will never tire of it, and the pious will never grow bored or weary reciting it.

This is the book of God that even when the jinn heard it they said we've heard a wondrous book that must have a guidance.

If you judge by the Qur'an, you will be just, if you speak by the Qur'an, you will be truthful. If you act according to it, you will gain a reward, and if you call to it, you will be taken to a straight path. The Qur'an is a protection, a safety for whoever follows it."


Eid al-Fitr 2011 sermon delivered by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds in San Jose, California, on August 31, 2011.


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