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June 13, 2005

Seeing God and Goodness in All Things
(Retired khutbah #2)

Verily, We created all things with measuredness (Surah al-Qamar, verse 49)

And when it is asked of the muttaqeen (people of God-consciousness/awareness), “What has your Lord revealed?”, they say: “(only) Goodness”; for such who do excellence in this world is excellence; and the abode of the Hereafter is even better (than that); and pleasant indeed is the abode of the mutaqeen!” (Surah al-Nahl, verse 30)

One of the things that one may realize when he looks at the majesty and resplendence of Allah’s creation is how perfect everything has been made. The wondrous harmony that our bodies exemplify; the amazing phenomenon of the microscopic and subatomic world; the perfect symmetry in nature–reflect that this has not been made on a mere whim. Perhaps even more fascinating is when one looks to the heavens–“And you shall find no deficiencies in the creation of the Most Gracious”–this same order and measuredness is seen, and one’s heart fills with awe at such perfection, and the One who created this. Hence the Qur’an also mentions, “Verily the creation of the heavens and the earth is grander than the creation of mankind, but most men know not.”

The verse from Surah al-Qamar is yet another declaration of this cosmic measuredness. One of the knowledges that was common to many traditional communities, especially the Muslims, was the sacred act of looking at the heavens to see this order. The natural response of some peoples, such as the Confucians, was that they saw this heavenly order and sought to establish it in the worldly realm. Hence, the classical human response to seeing things with such perfection is to consider it as a beautiful occurrence. Humans admire and adore symmetry; even in the construction of buildings or in the selection of fashion models, there are certain ratios of symmetry that are sought because they are considered aesthetically pleasing (such as the  Fibonacci numbers, the Euclidean Golden Ratio, etc) and beautiful. The famous hadith of the Prophet (salallahu `alayhi wa sallam) states that, “Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty”; it implies, therefore, that such a Creator has created everything with beauty.

Therefore when things are made with measuredness, they are beautiful. And when one sees beauty, he recognizes the goodness that is contained therein. This is why the second verse from Surah al-Nahl mentions a quintessential aspect of the people of taqwa: their recognition that everything is goodness since it is from Allah. Once they recognize and internalize such goodness, the next logical consequence is for this to be manifest in their speech, their actions, and in their interactions with human beings. Having seen that everything given to them is good, they seek to produce only goodness. For this reason, they imbue their lives with excellence, and because of this, they get perks and benefits in this world. Yet, their recompense in the next world–the abode of the Hereafter–is even greater than anything they may receive in this world.

Goodness always involves a choice: one not only has to see goodness (for oftentimes it isn’t apparent), but one also has to choose it. This is perhaps why the word khayr is related to the Arabic word khiyarah (choice), emphasizing this relationship between choosing and goodness: one always has to choose between goodness and evil, and even the occurence of evil is only when one fails to make a good choice. All of the goodness that one has been given (food, shelter, intelligence, eyesight, etc.) was not only given by Allah, but He also chose to give it to each person for a specific reason. Things such as the praiseworthy qualities of human beings–compassion (rahmah), tolerance (samaahah), wisdom (hikmah… “And whosoever has been given wisdom has been given much goodness“)–are manifestations of that Divine Goodness that permeates throughout creation. Even knowledge of religion is a Divinely appropriated goodness that is given, as seen in the Hadith: “For whom God wishes goodness, He gives him deep understanding (yuwafiqhu) in the matters of religion.” For human beings then, recognizing this goodness involves making choices to see goodness on two unique yet interrelated levels.

The first is for one to see goodness in everything that Allah has given him, and to recognize the measuredness and purposefulness in everything (material, physical, spiritual) that is part of one’s life. Certainly, the first step in this is to recognize such goodness that one has been given by praising the One who gave it by saying the powerful words of Alhamdulillah (all praise is for God). Now, it’s easy to say this when things are going one’s way: school, work, family, etc. are all going well, it’s easy to praise God during these times. The real difficulty, is when things seemingly become “bad”, to be able to muster up the courage to praise God for the goodness even in those situations of “evil”. Our scholars say that evil–by our definitions–itself has many reasons for existing in the world; one of these reasons, as mentioned in the Ghazalian “things are understood by their opposites” quote, is to use evil as a measuring stick to understand what good is. For example, if one didn’t know what “darkness” (not daaahkness) was, how would one know what is light. Similarly, “evil” helps one to understand what is good. Again, one has to make a choice to see this, but perhaps this choice is made easier by recognizing that Allah only does acts of goodness; the problem is that human beings, due to our limited capacities, sometimes cannot see this goodness and are quick to consider it as evil. In doing so, the opportunity to infuse ihsan (excellence) is squandered, and who can say that such an opportunity will come again? The people of God-consciousness recognize that everything that happens to them is from God and therefore is good; they not only see this goodness, but then follow it up with their own acts of goodness.

Another aspect of recognizing that all this is from God is to see goodness even in the mundane acts that we do, such as seeking our sustenance. Oftentimes, we only view physical acts of worship such as prayer, dhikr (remembrance), etc. as worship of Allah, but the reality is that even these worldly acts are filled with goodness and therefore mediums of worship.  One doesn’t have to only be a scholar to have his/her livelihood to be a means of worship. This is because no matter what field one is studying and pursuing, all of the knowledge in that field came from Allah. For example, if someone is studying economics and they read of a brilliant theory by an economist that is logical, ordered, and beautiful… where did that knowledge of that theory come from? It wasn’t that this economist came up with this knowledge on his own. God chose to open that door of knowledge to that human being at that particular time in act of goodness such that this knowledge would benefit mankind. Therefore, all worldly occupations–from farming to writing sophisticated computer programs–the knowledge gained and used in all of these fields came from Him and thus is good. This is why in the commentary to the first five verses of Surah al-`Alaq, Imam al-Zamakhshari (may God have mercy on him) writes in the commentary to the verse “He who taught with the pen” that this teaching with the pen encompasses all of the worldly knowledge that has been given to mankind. The point then is to see this goodness, and to go forth even in one’s mundane tasks with the same spirit of excellence that one strives to instill in one’s worship.

The second point is to see the goodness that is latent in all human beings. This perhaps deserves a Part II to this post as this is getting to be quite long. I think I’ll choose to post that tomorrow.


Currently Watching:
1997 NBA Finals Game 5: Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz
Playing on: ESPN Classic
Note: This is the game where Jordan has the flu, is exhausted and has to be helped off the court, yet manages to drop 38 points nonetheless


From → Uncategorized

  1. Anonymous permalink

    Trying to make a rebound post eh? Good idea with this topic. I mean who can’t deny a religious post 2 eprops right?

  2. Good topic.

  3. jazakAllah khair for this post

  4. Anonymous permalink

    supposed to be studying. but what a good post.

  5. Anonymous permalink

    jordan sucks….
    but 2 props for the post…

  6. salam alaikum
    nice post…kr meant that he was watching the game where jordan pushed off to get the last second shot…oh wait, that was nearly every game…
    The bad boys knew how to handle jordan…throw him to the ground…thats right KR

  7. lol i’m being lazy… props for just posting…since I didnt read it

  8. I shall read this later…but I give you eprops in advance for putting in a dua for me.  I’m sure its wonderful, like all of your other khutbas, xanga posts, and ECM comments. 

  9. Anonymous permalink

    yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay a prop worthy post!

  10. Anonymous permalink

    wow…someone knows what to do with Xanga…

  11. Assalamu Alaikum! awesome props for ur post, brother. take care,ma salama

  12. Anonymous permalink

    Was this the khutbah where all the sisters in the back were holding up “Marry Me” signs?

  13. yes, but you forgot that their signs said “Marry Me Abrar” on them… they all thought you were going to give the khutbah and were pissed off (some of them even left and didnt pray jumu’ah) when they found out you weren’t giving it.

  14. hmm… intrigue.
    wasalaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu.

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