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Khutba #16


May I ask you to hold to Taq’wa, meaning piety and righteousness, and obey Allah’s Divine Commands!  Let us be aware of our eventuality and departure into the everlasting life.  May Allah provide us all with the spirit of righteousness and obedience as best means for our salvation.  I sincerely ask Allah to protect us from evilness and falsehood.


Let us ask ourselves some questions: 

  1. What is freedom in Islam? 

  2. What is the nature of freedom in Islam?

  3. What is the relationship and connection between spiritual freedom and social freedom?

  4. Is spiritual freedom possible without social freedom?

In general the word freedom is abused in the present age.  Nations fight for their freedom and human rights, but at the same time and in the name of freedom the tyrant enemy and its supporters threaten the people and infringe on their very rights.  Let us therefore deal with the meaning of freedom.  Allah (swt) says in Surah 3 (Aali Imraan), Ayah 64:


قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْاْ إِلَى كَلَمَةٍ سَوَاء بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللّهَ

وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضاً أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ

فَإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَقُولُواْ اشْهَدُواْ بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ

“Say: Oh people of the Book! Come unto that tenet which we and you hold in common: 

that we shall worship none but Allah [God],

and that we shall not ascribe divinity to none beside Him, and that we shall not take humans for our Lords beside Allah.  And if they turn away, then say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims”

Having quoted the Holy Quran, let us see what freedom means in Islam and its important criteria for humanity.  Islam is a truly humanistic school based on human rights; for the teachings of Islam insist on a parameter of no discrimination between human beings.  In Islam there exists no privileged country, race, special blood relation, a particular zone, or language.  None of these constitute criteria of privileges for human beings.  In Islam no person or a group can ever consider himself or itself of a higher station than others.  Islam teaches that neither personal status, nor a particular race can claim to be the privileged over others in any form.  Instead, the Holy Quran affirms that the criteria in Islam are human values, Taq’wa, piety and self-purification.  Islam has laid great emphasis on such matter.


It is narrated that the Prophet was passing by a place in Medina where a number of youthful men were competing (with pride) in their muscle power by lifting heavy weights.  When they saw the Prophet they pleaded with him to be the judge for the competition.  The Prophet (pbuh) agreed, but at the end of competition he asked: [1] 


“Do you know who is the strongest? 

It is the person who controls his anger, who does not allow his anger to overcome him.  Such a person uses his anger in ways that please God,

and exercises his powers to control his zeal for the unlawful [lustful] desires”


In such subtle manner the Prophet transformed a physical contest into a spiritual one successfully.  What he meant was that physical strength shows manliness, however true manliness is above that.  True manliness is in the strength of character and the use of will power.


Jalal al-Din Rumi[2] tells a story in his Mathnawi about Imam Ali as a young man of 24 or 25.  He portrays Ali in the finest picture of manliness.  Ali versus Amr ibn Abd Wid was in a duel since Amr had challenged the Muslims and Ali took him on.  Ali’s skillful robust attacks overwhelmed Amr who was the hero of pagan Quraish.  Ali threw Amr from the horse, tumbling to the ground.  (That took place in the battle of the Ditch).  Huffing and puffing, Amr was on his back, exhausted and breathless.  Though Ali was about to kill Amr, he gave Amr a chance; so he said, “Would you say “There is no deity but Allah, and Muhammad Rasool Allah, or would you rather be killed instead?”  Very humiliated, disgraced and full of spite, Amr spat in fury in the face of Ali.


As insulting this was to Ali, Ali did not lose his cool.  Ali got off Amr’s chest and gave him his sword, and asked Amr to fight another bout.  With the second round Ali finished the man swiftly, to the delight and pride of the Muslims.  Ali did not want to kill Amr who spat in his face, Ali wanted to kill Amr because the man was an enemy of God and the Muslims; he killed Amr for the sake of God!


Amr Abd Wid so slain was the hero of heroes, known to have already had killed 1000 challengers.  He was the hero of Quraish who came to annihilate the Muslims.  When Amr challenged the Muslims, no one ever dared to take his challenge, that is, except Ali.  When Ali killed the hero of the disbelievers in such a crucial encounter, he broke the psychology of the enemy Quraish, and destroyed their will power and malicious intent.  But Ali did it exclusively for the sake of the Almighty, pure and simple.  This was a magnificent example of self-control.


Nahjul Balaaghah tells us in Page 87, letter 31, that Ali (a.s.) addresses his son, Imam al-Hasan, advising:


واکرم نفسک عن کل دنیة  وان ساقتک الی الرغائب   

فانک لن تعتاض بما تبذل من نفسک عوضا     

ولا تکن عبد غیرک وقد جعلک الله حرا

Son! Consider yourself and your life above every mean [terrible] deed; Since God will not compensate you for it.  And let not make yourself a slave for others. Remember, Allah had created you free.  During the last two or three centuries, great advancement in science and technology had taken place.  Humanity and sciences such as knowledge, justice, freedom, and moral conscience have fallen from the pedestal they had.



Now let us see the meaning of freedom.  Freedom is a requisite of life and one of the greatest needs of living creatures, whether they are a) plants, b) animals, or c) humans.  The difference in the freedom of these categories lies in their differences of structure.  Humans need a freedom beyond that of plants and animals.


For man, freedom is the absence of barriers.  Free persons are the ones who fight against all obstacles and set the way for growth and perfection.  Social freedom means having freedom in connection with other individuals in society, so they do not hinder their growth, do not imprison them to check their activities, do not exploit or enslave them, do not exploit all their physical and mental powers for the sake of their own interest.  This is called social freedom, which may in its turn be of several types including political freedom.


In the Holy Quran, an explicit purpose of the Prophets is to offer mankind social liberty, and deliver them from mutual human enslavement.  We quote the Holy Quran, Surah 7 (al-A’raaf), Ayah 157:


وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالأَغْلاَلَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ ...

“….and to get rid of the shackles [the aghlal] that were upon them….”

The Quran is a wonderful book.  Normally, some ideas flourish in a particular period but lose their luster at other times.  But the case is different with the Quran, for its ideas and words possess a permanent luster and this is an epic and miracle in itself.  An example of that is the idea of social liberty.   We cannot find a sentence elsewhere or at anytime as more lively or eloquent than what we see in the Quran.  This is the sentence; the Holy Quran says in Surah 3 (Aali Imran), Ayah 64:


قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْاْ إِلَى كَلَمَةٍ سَوَاء بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ

أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللّهَ وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضاً أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَقُولُواْ اشْهَدُواْ بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ

“Say: Oh people of the Book! Come unto that tenet which we and you hold in common: 

that we shall worship none but Allah [God],

and that we shall not ascribe divinity to none beside Him, and that we shall not take humans for our Lords beside Allah.  And if they turn away, then say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims”

What banner is the Quran referring to?   The banner turns out to consist of two sentences:

The first one is that “nothing must be worshiped but the unique God; neither Christ or any other nor the devil should be worshiped, only God.  It clearly says: “That we worship none but Allah…”  This abolishes the order of servitude, the system of exploitation (of the exploiter and the exploited), of getting rid of inequality.  There are many but to be brief, let us mention a few.  The Quran, citing Moses in his argument with Pharaoh, quotes Pharaoh’s remarks:

“And you did that deed of yours which you did. You are one of the ungrateful” (26:19)

 Moses answers:

“And is it a favor of which you remind me that you have enslaved the children of Israel?” (26:22) for which Pharaoh retorts to Moses:

“You are the very man who grew up in our house and at our table and when you grew up you committed the crime of killing a man.”

All this argument was to make Moses feel low and under Pharaoh’s obligation.  But Moses answers back:

“Should I remain silent at your enslavement of my people solely because I have grown up in your house? I have come to save these slaves.”


The world of today deals with a paradox.  On the one hand it considers social freedom as sacred but on the other hand we see man abuses this freedom for the sake of benefiting himself.   Just read the history of the last three or four centuries, you will see that the major causes of wars, bloodsheds and misfortunes in the world is that individuals do not respect the freedom of others.


For the end of the 1st part of the Khutba, read Surah Al-Asr, take a short intermission, then start the 2nd part of the Khutba with a short Du’aa.


In the present age humanity is suffering due to weak morality, spirituality, piety, and ethics, in spite of all scientific and industrial development.  Continuously we witness murder of unarmed civilians, women, and children and how many of them have been kicked out of their homes to unknown places.


Unity is the basis of Islamic theology; therefore unity is the basis of its philosophy.  Accordingly, all people are members of one society.  With Unity, distinctions do not become differences, not of color, culture, class, or customs.  With mutual respect as fellow man, it is required that suitable, useful research, and scientific studies be done inclusively for Muslims and mankind, all together.


According to a well-known account Ali was born inside the Ka'ba.[3]  When he was a few years old, the Prophet (pbuh) asked Abu Talib, the father of Ali, to let young Ali live with him in his house.  Thus Ali grew up under the loving care, tutelage, and guardianship of the Holy Prophet.  About five years later Muhammad (pbuh) became the Prophet through the revelations in cave of Hiraa.  By then Ali was ten years old, and he became the first male to embrace Islam.  He was the first to become Muslim without having ever worshiped other than one God.


Imam Ali was always in the company of the Prophet, constantly observing and learning.  At a bleak moment when the infidels of Quraish attempted to kill the Prophet (pbuh), it was Ali who lay in the bed of the Prophet, for he was the very one the Prophet (pbuh) could trust in the most critical situation.  In Medina Ali was also constantly in the company of the Prophet, be it in private or in public.


The Prophet joined his beloved daughter Fatima to Ali in marriage.  When the Prophet was creating bonds of brotherhood among his companions he selected Ali as his brother.  Ali was present in all the wars defending Islam and the Prophet, that is except the battle of Tabuk when he was commanded to stay behind and be the governor of Medina (in place of the Prophet).  Ali never disobeyed the Prophet, and it was to such an extent that the Prophet said:[4] 

علي مع الحق   والحق مع علي

Ali is with the Truth and the Truth is with Ali



After the death of the Prophet, although Ali was foremost in religious matters and most outstanding among the companions of the Prophet, he was denied the Khilaafah.  Nevertheless he gave council to the Khalifas that preceded him, and did his best for Islam.  Ali began to train competent individuals in the Divine sciences for the ensuing twenty-five years.  When revolting people wantonly killed the third Khalifa, Ali became the Khalifa after people gave him their allegiance. 

Ali's rule proved to be the ideal and just as was the rule of the Prophet (pbuh), for Ali had graduated from the best school, and had the best tutor, and that was Muhammad (pbuh).


We end this Khutba by quoting a portion of the instructions Ali sent to his appointee al-Ashtar, who was to be the governor of Egypt:[5] 


ایاک والدماء وسفکها بغیر حلها  

فانه لیس شیء ادنی لنقمه ولا اعظم لتبعه ولا احری بزوال نعمه     وانقطاع مدة من سفک الدماء بغیر حقها

والله سبحانه مبتدی بالحکم بین العباد فیما تسافکوا من الدماء یوم القیامه

فلا تقوین سلطانک بسفک دم حرام  فان ذلک مما یضعفه ویوهنه بل یزیله وینقله

ولا عذر لک عند الله ولا عندی فی قتل العمد

    Beware of the sin of shedding blood without religious justification and sanction

    because there is nothing quicker to bring down the Wrath of Allah,

        o    to take away His Blessings,

        o    to make you more deserving of His Wrath,

        o    and to reduce the span of your life than to shed innocent blood.

    On the Day of Judgment Allah will first attend to sins of bloodshed carried out by man against man.

    Therefore, never try to strengthen your power by shedding innocent blood.  Such shedding blood, instead of making your position strong, will not only considerably weaken you but may also transfer your power totally, taking it away from you and entrusting it to somebody else.

    If you have intentionally killed a man then no excuse shall be acceptable to Allah or to me because punishment of such a crime is necessary.


Finally, let us read Surah Al-Nasr with a short Du’aa to close the Khutba.


[1] Wasa’il al-Shi’a, Hur al-Aamili, Vol. 2, Page 469.

[2] Mowlawi, Mathnawi, chapter 1, 3450.

[3] Murooj Al Dhahab, Al-Mas’oodi, Vol. 2, Page 349.  Mustadrak Al-Hakim, Vol. 3, Page 484.

[4] Manaaqib Ali, by Shahristani, Vol. 3, Page 62 and 218.  Also Ghaayat Al-Maraam Page 539.  Also Yanabi’ Al-Mawadda, Al-Qandoozi, Page 104.

[5]  Nahjul Balaaghah, Imam Ali (a.s.), Section of Letters, one paragraph from Letter to Al-Ashtar.

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