There is an image that is hard to ignore, that really puts Muslims to the ultimate test. The image is quite simply this: An excavator, a big monstrous truck beginning to tear down the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is accompanied with a caption stating the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque will begin on May 29th, inviting all Israelis to come to Al-Aqsa Mosque so that the tearing down, the dismantling, and the destroying of Al-Aqsa Mosque can begin.
This call for the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque to begin on the 29th was brought on by the Jewish Organization the Lehava and its founder, Bentzi Gopstein. This organization was one of the main organizations that, throughout this past Ramadan, repeatedly invaded Al-Aqsa Mosque and repeatedly violated the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque. May 29th, the day they want to start the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque, is Jerusalem Day. Lehava has made a name for itself because in their demonstrations, they regularly yell out, "Death to Arabs," and they have vowed to demolish the Dome of the Rock and to build what they believe is the third coming of the temple, in other words, to replace Al-Aqsa Mosque with the temple.
When an organization like Lehava finds that it is able to repeatedly violate the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and it finds that it has the weight of the Israeli State protecting and supporting it – ie., the Israeli State does not call members of Lehava terrorists, and it does not do like Muslims do, which is to throw their religious extremists in prison and torture them – Lehava finds that it has very warm relations with members of the Israeli State. They are protected by Israeli law, and honored by the Israeli system of rights and entitlements granted to Jews. But even more critically, as they violated the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque day after day, time after time, they have come to terms with the absolute silence and complicity of the Muslim world.
They continue to violate the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, but it did not affect Israeli-Emirati relations in the least. It did not affect Israeli-Saudi relations in the least. In fact, after having done what they did this Ramadan, Saudi Arabia committed billions of dollars to be invested in Israel, through Jared Kushner and his whole commercial economic deal of investing Arab money in Israel, getting Muslims to pay for their abusers. It is truly a remarkable episode in the history of colonialism, where we find colonized, very wealthy fat cats to actually bankroll the colonization and the continued abuse of their own kind.
The sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque continued to be violated day after day this past Ramadan, yet there was no reaction from Egypt, not even as little as calling back the Egyptian Ambassador to Israel. The message is very clear, the writing on the wall is obvious: Muslims have become so insignificant, so unsubstantial. If they actually destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque, what is the most that is going to happen? Tongue-in-cheek condemnations. American aid will continue uninterrupted, European support will continue uninterrupted, and Muslims will not make the type of stand that Europe and the West took when Russia invaded Ukraine. Apparently non-Muslim Europeans believe in their cause and their principles enough to be willing to make entirely un-pragmatic sacrifices; sacrifices that are fundamentally at odds with the school of political realism and school of pragmatism in international relations, to actually demonstrate that Europe and the West are an ideological civilization, and that even steep sacrifices are worthwhile for their system of belief.
Muslims – the people who inherited the Qur'an, a book of principles and ideals, and the people who have been honored by the Prophet Muhammad, the man who lived and died for ideals – have become slavish beings to the idea of material pragmatism, so much so that we are not even willing to bear the most minimal sacrifices to honor the root and foundation of their Father Abraham, and the center point of Al Isra wa Miʿraj for the Prophet Muhammad.
As I have said in previous khutbahs, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem in general, has always been a point of contention between East and West. At the times that the West has dominated Jerusalem, it dominated it in the name of the Romanized World. It was an ethnic racial domination. And every time that the West has dominated Jerusalem, it practiced its brand of racism against Easterners. After Easterners had lost control of Jerusalem for centuries, they only regained control of Jerusalem under the banner of Islam, the most comprehensive and inclusive of all the religions and of all the Abrahamic religions in particular.
How did we get to the point that an Israeli group is inviting Israelis to come on Jerusalem Day to begin the demolition of Al-Aqsa Mosque? Let me underscore that we know that the Israelis deliver on what they talk about. We know from 1948 that what begins as loose talk by the Israelis, they will eventually accomplish. We know that because we have lost the West Bank and Gaza after they have talked about Haaretz Israel [lit. “The Land of Israel”] for decades, as well as the Golan Heights, which was also imagined to be parts of Haaretz Israel. They practically have a free hand and free political authority and control in Sinai today.
How do we get to the point that we have a declaration that says, "The destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque will commence?" If we can call the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, Oman and Sudan, which all have a treaty now with Israel, if we can call all these leaders traitors, how do we explain the silence of Muslim institutions around the world? How do we explain the fact that most Muslims are not even aware that there is a very serious call to begin the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque on the 29th? How do we explain the silence of Muslims in khutbahs today across the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds?
How do we explain the fact that there will be jumu’as in the United States by many khatibs and that this, if not the only khutbah, will be one of very few khutbahs that talk about the proclaimed beginning of the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque? These people have made it very clear, they are actually going to rent the equipment. They are going to show up. And yes, this time, the police will likely prevent them from beginning the destruction, but we know that with persistence, they do what they start out to do. They accomplish what they start out to accomplish.
It is not just that. We live in a world that confronts Muslims day after day with existential questions about the relations that they have to their own faith and to the Qur'an. We all know about the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was assassinated in cold blood. We all know that Shireen Abu Akleh was an American Citizen. We all know that from 2000 until now, about 50 Palestinian journalists have been killed by Israelis. We all saw that during the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh, her funeral procession was attacked and the bearers of the coffin were beaten. Even worse, after the funeral procession, Israel went after those who were carrying the coffin and arrested them.
Shireen Abu Akleh was a journalist. Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by the Saudi government, was also a journalist. The individual who drew offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and was assassinated by a fanatic was also a journalist, and when a journalist who draws obscene cartoons of the Prophet is assassinated, the entire world is outraged and very serious questions about the relationship of Muslims to freedom of speech is raised. We even have moronic Muslims who abandon their faith, who are overtaken by a sense of embarrassment and guilt about their religious cohorts, who leave Islam altogether. The murder of Khashoggi by his own state is taken as a very serious human rights violation, maybe not as serious as killing the person who drew the offensive cartoons, but no one talks about Israel's relationship to freedom of speech or human rights.
Israel has already announced that it will conduct new no investigation in the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh, because it does not see any evidence of possible criminal conduct. Israel has already announced killing another Palestinian journalist with no consequence is not even worth investigating. Another article that I read talks about how when Israel bombed Gaza, killing hundreds of civilians including children, that much of the property that Israel targeted and destroyed was property constructed using US Dollars.
They targeted the water treatment centers that UNRWA, the Palestinian Refugee Agency belonging to the UN, had built for Palestinians in Gaza. UNRWA built these water treatment facilities using American money. Israel targeted these facilities and destroyed them. Israel targeted a Coca-Cola Manufacturer. Israel targeted hospitals that American money built through UNRWA. The US gave millions of dollars to a UN Agency, and that UN Agency built hospitals, schools, and water treatment facilities for Palestinians, which Israel promptly demolished. And not one single word of protest was uttered from the United States.
Not one single objection about the fact that these facilities that came from American money were destroyed by Israelis. Now the United States is again considering being put in that position, where UNRWA is saying, "If you do not give us the money to rebuild the water treatment facilities," telling America. Right now, 98% of water in Gaza is contaminated and children are dying in Gaza at alarming rates, and the US is embarrassed by the whole thing, but yet again, they give Israel a pass. I come back to, where are we? How could we as Muslims have become so inconsequential, so unimportant in the world we live in?
When God warns us in Surah Al-Rum – warns us in this natural, yet amazingly powerful way that only the Qur'an is capable of achieving – and invites us to reflect upon ourselves. God tells us about our own trends and psychological proclivities, that when God extends good to us and allows us a bit of victory, a bit of knowledge, a bit of wealth, it is not only that we become content, but we become arrogant and aloof. We enjoy whatever God has given us and think it is an entitlement, but we are also very quick to despair, to doubt, and to forget what a relationship between the Creator and the created means when God takes away anything from us.
God warns us that when corruption spreads on earth; when we have people like Shireen Abu Akleh killed and her funeral procession attacked and no one cares; when we have a country like the United States build hospitals and schools and water treatment facilities, and the Israelis come and demolish it there is not a voice of protest or objection; when we have Lehava chanting, "Death to Arabs," and no one calls this racist or ethnic bigotry, no one talks about supremacists and they announce that the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque will begin; meanwhile Muslims are going on their merry way. What happens when corruption [fasad] appears, as God says, in the oceans and on the lands by what people have themselves earned?
What can take us from this situation in which corruption spreads unchecked, because of what we have earned? God answers this in the preamble to verse 41. God says: Be kind and generous to your relatives. Does it stop there? No. Be kind and generous to the needy and the refugee, ie. the displaced. Do not live your life thinking, "Oh, the Palestinians lost their land. Not my problem." Do not live your life thinking, "Oh the Rohingyas are suffering a genocide, not my problem. The Uyghurs are suffering another genocide, not my problem."
God then reminds us in the most powerful and eloquent way: if your attitude towards life is to exist on this earth to multiply profits, to watch your bank account grow, to live in better and better quarters, to improve the car that you drive. If the center of your life is not riba - riba not just meaning “usury,” as we are accustomed to, but meaning if the focus of your existence is the “me” and “my comfort” and “my wellbeing,” then precisely what you have accomplished is that corruption will spread everywhere. What God wants from us in terms of material things is an attitude of zakat. Zakat here means purification; the primary goal of what I possess is to purify myself and to purify the world that I live in. It is a complete shift in consciousness. I do not own money to purchase material things, I own money to purify myself, to purify society, and to purify the world I live in.
Let me spell it out. Lehava is typical of the racist, colonial, settler Zionist organizations. If we had this attitude towards money, we would immediately find Muslims left and right saying, "How can I allow this corruption [fasad]; how could I allow for anyone to violate the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque this way?" When Lehava attempts to organize the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque, we would immediately find tons of Muslims willing to dedicate their entire life to defending the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque and we would find an equal number of Muslims willing to fund them so that they can dedicate their entire life to defending Al-Aqsa Mosque in whatever way possible, either through politics, through banking, through finance, or through scholarship.
Our relationship, although God repeatedly elevates our thinking and tells us, "Look to the moral and ethical issues that plague your day, and look to your izzah (dignity), and look to the dignity of Islam itself," we Muslims have turned our religion exactly like the Israelites did, into the play field for petty, small minds, preoccupied with small things. We have turned our God into the type of God that would say, "Oh, Al-Aqsa Mosque is being violated? Al-Aqsa Mosque is at risk of being destroyed? It is okay, as long as you are doing your prayers on time, and you are doing wudu correctly." What a petty God that is.
A God that would say, "I am pleased with you! Although my Al-Aqsa Mosque is going to be destroyed, I am pleased with you," because you preoccupy your mind with the smallest of details. This is a reflection of the God of the Qur'an, Who is always calling upon us to rise up to higher principles, to make ourselves count in this world before the Hereafter, to defend the dignity and honor of God and Islam. Yet we constantly turn our God into something petty.
God cares about whether a woman covers her hair, but apparently does not care if the Al-Aqsa Mosque is about to be torn down? You will find that all of this is going on, and Muslims still have the psychological and mental capacity to lose sleep over whether they are supposed to wear hijab or not. This is psychopathy. This is actually offensive to God. The God who taught us that if you do not think of the money you make as the means for purifying yourself and purifying the world; if your attitude towards your money is, "It is my money and I get to spend it whatever way I want," people will adopt that and think, "What is important is whether I wear hijab or not." No, what is far more important is your attitude towards your money, towards your time, towards Al-Aqsa Mosque, towards those who are allowed to live with the injustice that is consistently committed in this world all around you.
Remember this image well, because when it comes to reality and when these excavators, in due time, start destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque, I have vowed I will not answer from any Muslim any question about the idiotic minutia that preoccupies their minds and souls. When this begins, I will never talk about the technicalities of wudu, of prayer or of fasting. I will never talk about the technicalities of anything, because as far as I am concerned, we are cursed. When this begins, it does not matter. It just does not matter.
“Are you saying that I should work and give up all my money to fund lobbying organizations that work on changing the dynamics of power in the US Congress?”
“Are you saying that I should work and give up all my money to organizations that respond to Islamophobia, that return the gaze about things like the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh?”
“Are you saying that I should work night and day to make money, and then give up most of this money to those who work inside the American Government, making sure that Congress actually follows the laws that they passed, that would hold Israel accountable for destroying facilities that America built?”
“Are you saying all of that?” Yes, that is precisely what I am saying.
How have we reached the point that there are a hundred million Muslims in Egypt, right next door to Israel, who are entirely ineffective? There might as well be a thousand Muslims in Egypt, because the hundred million Muslims in Egypt are useless, are of no consequence. How could we have a country as populous as Pakistan, the hundreds of millions of Muslims in Pakistan, and they could as well be a thousand Muslims, because they are entirely ineffective, useless, and of no consequence in this world. Do you think this happens because we understand our God correctly? Do you think that this happens because we have a healthy relationship with our Qur'an? If your answer is yes, then there is something really wrong with your faith, because God promised us that if we are with God, God is with us.
How could we have hundreds of millions of Muslims in Iran? Again, other than the rhetoric, does Israel really think, even for a second, about Iran before violating the sanctity of Al-Aqsa repeatedly? Absolutely not. Does Lehava believe that God is with them as they plan to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque? Absolutely yes. Do they have any fear of Muslims around the world? Absolutely not. We have turned our God into a petty, small-minded, narrow-minded, ignorant god. We have made our God obsessed with wudu, but uninterested in the fate of Al-Aqsa Mosque. How unbelievable. But dire times need dire consequences. We do not live in an age where it is okay to just give what is excess. We do not live in an age where you can be number one and spend on satisfying your own desires and then donate what is excess. Dire times need dire solutions.
There are those who were too cowardly to dedicate their lives to Islam, and so they went into the physical sciences because they wanted to ensure an earning and a livelihood. I am talking about those people who become medical doctors, computer scientists, specialists in whatever field, and on the side, they are imams. On the side, they are specialists on God's will, on the Qur'an, and on Islamic Law. We must have too much respect for our religion to allow this to continue.
When these people had a choice, they chose to commit their lives to a field of knowledge that ensures them a level of income and a standard of livelihood. But the soldiers of God are addicted to sacrifice from the very beginning. From the very beginning, they do not think about their earning potential. They do not think about what jobs they are going to get. They do not think about what women are going to accept them in marriage. The soldiers of God think about only one thing: Sacrifice. So they commit themselves to learning Shari'a, the Qur'an, and the Hadith. It is we who create our leaders. If you look around and you see the world is corrupt, God tells us, "This is what you have earned through your own deeds."
This haunts me, because I know that these people have actually achieved every single time what they told us they plan to achieve. The sense of shame that this would happen in my lifetime is unbearable, is incomprehensible. It is unbearable. I pray that God allows me to keep my sanity and my rationality as I live with the minute to minute sense of intense anxiety, because the curse that will come upon Muslims from allowing this to happen is far greater than any curse that Muslims could have imagined falling upon them. If this happens, nothing we do will be blessed. Nothing we do is worth talking about.
I wish that Muslims would ask themselves a very simple question. For any so-called imam, organization or institution that meets today for jumu’a and chooses to continue to ignore the violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque, you as a Muslim have the obligation and duty to take a stand, to tell such an organization, "Since you are not committed to what really matters, since you do not have your sense of priorities straight, I will no longer be following you." Maybe if our imams and our so-called leaders felt pressure from those who follow them, it will induce them to change.