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Khutba # 30

The Basic Principles of Islamic Social Life


Let us endeavor toward piety, righteousness, and obedience to Allah’s Commands.  Take heed of your choices in life and their consequences for the hereafter; think about the eventuality of death and departure into the hereafter.  May Allah provide us with the spirit of piety and obedience to His Commands!


Surah 2 (al-Baqarah), Ayah 143 reminds us:


وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا

“We made you a balanced nation…”

Let us ask what is the social framework in Islam.  The answer is that social framework in Islam is based on very high principles designed to provide security and spiritual richness, not only for the individual but for the society as well.


In the above Ayah, the Quran asks of an Islamic society to be a model for all who want to lead a healthy and wholesome life.  Such a society should be a living testimony to its superb principles.  It shows the way of how to live a wholesome life, secure justice, and practice fair play.  That is why the Quran directs everybody to look for and tread the path of righteousness.  Surah 4 (al-Nisaa), Ayah 97 affirms:


إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلآئِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ قَالُواْ فِيمَ كُنتُمْ قَالُواْ كُنَّا مُسْتَضْعَفِينَ فِي الأَرْضِ قَالْوَاْ أَلَمْ تَكُنْ أَرْضُ اللّهِ وَاسِعَةً فَتُهَاجِرُواْ فِيهَا فَأُوْلَـئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ وَسَاءتْ مَصِيرًا

“Behold! When angels take the souls of the sinners they will ask: In what plight were you?  They answer: “Weak and Oppressed were we in the earth.”  [The angels] will say: “Wasn’t God’s earth spacious enough for you to move yourselves from evil?”  Such men will find their abode in hell, —What a wretched refuge!


Man is reminded not to neglect his duty to improve his social environment, or be content with his being on the right way personally.  In other words, man is responsible in both domains.  That is why a Muslim, while holding his individual responsibility, he has a collective duty too.  Whatever he beseeches from Allah he seeks it for us, in the plural, “and not for me, in the singular.  Look at the supplication in our daily prayers:


إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ   اهدِنَــــا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ

“You alone we worship and you alone we ask for help.  Guide us to the straight path”.

Also, consider the ritual blessing at the end of our Prayers: “Peace be upon us and upon the righteous subjects of God”.


The doctrines of Islam are based on the importance of both: the individual and the society.  The stress laid by Islam on enjoining the goodly works on the one hand and on restraining evilness and malice on the other hand, are good examples.  Islam lays responsibility on every individual whatever his position may be.  In other words:


  1. The Islamic society is an intentional and not an accidental society.  It has come by the will of its people on the basis of choice of a definite goal of life.

  2. The Islamic society is a society of systems and laws that pay heed both to the individual and to the social system, be it educational, political, or economic.

We know that only a wholesome and balanced body can continue to grow properly, and so is society.  Nowhere in the Quran or in the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad can we find any mention of superiority on account of color, class, origin or wealth.  On the contrary, there are many Quranic verses and Hadiths that remind mankind of principles that serve and enhance the social structure of the Islamic life.  Among them we are told that humanity represents one family, all springing from one father and mother, and all aspire to the same ultimate goal.


The unity of mankind is conceived in the light of the common parentage of Adam and Eve. When we realize that all of us belong to Adam and Eve, and we are the creation of God, there is no room then for racial prejudice, or social injustice, or second-class citizenship.  Both in the Quran and the Traditions of Muhammad (pbuh) there is a constant reminder of this important fact, the unity of humanity by nature and origin.


This is to eliminate racial pride, claims to national or ethnic superiority, and to pave the way for genuine brotherhood.  Allah says in the Holy Quran in Surah 49 (al-Hujuraat), Ayah 13:


يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

“O mankind! Behold, We have created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one

 another.   Verily the most honored of you with Allah is the greatest of you in piety.  God is all-knowing all-Aware.”


Humanity has not only the same origin but also the same ultimate goal.  According to Islam, humanity’s ultimate goal is God.  From God we come, for Him we live, and to Him we shall all return.


As described by the Quran, the sole purpose of creation is to worship God and serve His cause, meaning serving the cause of truth and justice, of love and mercy, of brotherhood and morality.  The Quran says in Surah 51 (al-Dhariyat), Ayah 56-58.


وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالإِنسَ إِلاّ لِيَعْبُدُونِ  مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ  إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ

“And [tell them O’ Muhammad]:

I have not created the Jin and mankind except to worship Me [Allah].  No sustenance do I require of them, nor do I require that they should feed Me.  For verily Allah Himself is the Provider  —Lord of Power—  Ever Steadfast.”

The relations between the individual and society are based on the unity of origin and ultimate goal of humanity.  This forms the background of social life in Islam.  The structure of social life in Islam is very lofty, sound, and comprehensive.  Among these elements are a) sincere love for one’s fellow man, b) mercy for the young ones, c) respect for elders, d) providing comfort and consolation for the distressed, e) visiting the sick, f) relieving the grieved, g) genuine feelings of brotherhood and social solidarity; h) respect for the rights of others to life, property, and honor, and i) mutual responsibility between the individual and society. In the Quran one finds numerous Divine instructions on the theme like this in Surah 3 (Aali Imran), Ayah 102-104:


يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ    وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَاذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَتَ اللّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاء فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا    وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىَ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا

“Oh you who believe! Pay heed to Allah with the degree due Him, and do not die but as Muslims. 

“Hold firmly to the Rope of Allah, altogether, and be not divided.”  “And remember Allah’s favor on you, when you were enemies but He joined your hearts together so by His Grace you became brethren, and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it…”


Surah 5 (al-Maa’ida), Ayah 1-2 says:


يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَوْفُواْ بِالْعُقُودِ      وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ

“O you who believe! Fulfill your obligations……

… and help one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancor.  Heed Allah, for Allah is strict in punishment”


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.


Because of the occasion, let us discuss the life of Imam Muhammad Al-Baaqir (a.s.).  Like the other Ma’soomeen, the character of Imam Al-Baaqir is a model and pattern for us.  He was the fifth Imam, born on the first of Rajab, 57th Hijrah, in the city of Medina.  He was present at the event of Karbala when he was four years old.  After his father passed away, and through the Divine command, and the decree of the Imams before him, he became the 5th Imam.  Al-Baaqir died in the year 114, after many years of Imamah.  According to some Shi’a traditions Al-Baaqir died by poisoning by Ibrahim Ibn Walid Ibn Abdullah, the nephew of Hisham, the Umayya Khalifa.


During the Imamah of Al-Baaqir (a.s.) many revolts and wars broke out against the oppressive rule of Benu Umayya.  The wars broke out in many corners of the Islamic world.  Moreover, there were disputes within the Umayya ruling dynasty itself, which kept the Khilaafah busy with its major problems; thus they left the members of Ahlul Bayt (the Household of the Prophet) alone or with little interference.  At the same time, the tragedy of Karbala and the ill treatment suffered by Ahlul Bayt (the family of the Prophet) at the hands of the Umayya government had attracted many Muslims to the Imams.[1]


Because of these factors, it became relatively easier for the people to go in large numbers to Medina to study at the hands of Imam al-Baaqir.  They came from many areas, traveling hundreds of miles, to be in Medina to learn the Islamic sciences at the hands of their beloved al-Baaqir.  Thus, possibilities for disseminating the Truths about Islam, and the sciences of the Household of the Prophet, became possible.  Up to this time, this was not easily possible.


By now innumerable sayings and teachings of al-Baaqir came forth, and a large number of illustrious men of science (scholars) were tutored and trained by him, eventually reaching the number of 300 scholars.


There is no doubt that the rights are not something to be given. They have to be taken.  Every Muslim must take care of his own defense.  Self-defense is not only their right but also one of the most basic duties of every Muslim, man and women, the young and the old, imposed upon him or her by the Shari’ah.  Self-defense is so emphasized and glorified by Islam that one who dies defending his life, property or honor is considered a martyr.


The Prophet (pbuh) has said:[2] 


من قا تل دون نفسه حتی یقتل فهو شهید   ومن قتل دون ماله فهو شهید   ومن قاتل دون اهله حتی یقتل فهو شهید   ومن قتل فی جنب الله فهو شهید

 “Whoever fights in self-defense until he is killed is a martyr.

Whoever is killed defending his property is a martyr.

Whoever fights in the defense of his family until he is killed is a martyr.

And whoever is killed for the sake of seeking nearness to God is a martyr”.



Death is inevitable, but the best form of death is death of the martyr, (which is not death at all).  Hence the Quran commands Muslims not to call those who have died a death of martyrdom as dead.  Surah 2 (al-Baqarah), Ayah 154 says:


وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ لِمَنْ يُقْتَلُ فِي سَبيلِ اللّهِ أَمْوَاتٌ بَلْ أَحْيَاء وَلَكِن لاَّ تَشْعُرُونَ

And call not those who are slain in the way of Allah as “dead” Nay, they are living,

though you perceive not.

Muslims, who are assaulted and killed because they are followers of Islam and take pride in being Muslims, are regarded as martyrs.  Martyrdom is the highest virtue and the highest good that a faithful man may hope to attain.  The noble Prophet (pbuh) has said:[3] 



فوق کلّ ذی برٍ برّ حتی یقتل فی سبیل الله    فاذا قتل فی سبیل الله فلیس فوقه بر

“ For every virtue agreeable to God there is a virtue that is higher to it.

But there is no piety or virtue higher than being killed in the way of God.”



The enemies of both Islam and Muslims imagine that by assaulting Muslims and shedding their blood, they will demoralize the Muslims and weaken their spirit.  Little do they know that a Muslim is one for whom it is the greatest reward to be killed by the enemies of God.  Hence we read in one of the prayers of Al-Imam Al-Sajjad (a.s.):[4] 


 ثمّ له الحمد  مکان کل نعمة له علینا  وعلی جمیع عباد الماضین والباقین   عدد ما احاط به علمه من جمیع الاشیاء   ومکان کل واحدة منها عددها أضعافاً مضاعفة   أبداً سرمداً إلی یوم القیامة، حمداً نسعد به فی السعداء من أولیائه   ونصیر به فی نظم الشهداء بسیوف أعدائه   إنّه ولیّ حمید.

“… We praise God with the highest degree, to reach the felicity of His Awliya’ [Devotees]

and be in the ranks of the martyrs killed by His enemies.

Verily, God is the most praiseworthy Lord”.



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


[1]  Usool al-Kaafi, Kulayni, Vol. 1, Page 469.

[2]  Kanz al-Ummal, Vol. 4, Page 420, Hadith 11236.

[3]  Wasa’il al-Shi’a, Vol. 10, Hadith 21.

[4]  Al-Saheefa al-Sajjadiya, Imam Zainul Abideen, Du'aa No. 1.

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