Lessons from Journeys: Isra wal Miraj and Riba-tanic

Duration: 42 min 37 sec

Date: 15-Jun-2012
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Khutba Notes on:

Lessons from Two Journeys: Isra wal Miraj and Riba-tanic

JOURNEY ONE: Al Isra wal Miraj

Today’s Khutba is about two types of journeys, the first is a journey to the Divine Presence. About this Journey Allah says in His Book:

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

"Exalted is He who took His slave by night from Al Masjid Al Haram to  Al Masjid Al Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing."

Isra wal Miraj as a journey itself consisted of two legs – the first is the Isra’ or Night Journey, a horizontal journey, which is the journey of the Prophet from the Masjid al Haraam to Masjid al Aqsa – this is the journey clearly referenced to in the Qu’ran, in the verses just quoted above.

The second leg of journey, the Mi’raaj, though parts of it could be said to be indicated in the Qu’ran, finds its categorical reference in Hadeeth. The Mi’raaj in contrast to the Isra’, was a vertical journey or ascent to the Heavens, in which the Prophet ascended through Allah’s majesty from the Bait al Maqdas, the Dome of the Rock, through the various heavens until he reached what is known as Sidrat-ul-Muntaha, or the furthermost lote tree. The Sidra or lote tree in classical Arabic lexicology was also a metaphor for the intellect, so as we see on this journey much of what he experienced in the physical had metaphorical dimensions as the Prophet literally passed beyond –the point which human intellect can comprehend; a point exclusively reserved for him in the intimate presence or meeting with his Lord.

In a reference to the Mi’raj, the Qu’ran says:

وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَى* عِندَ سِدْرَةِ الْمُنتَهَى* عِندَهَا جَنَّةُ الْمَأْوَى* إِذْ يَغْشَى السِّدْرَةَ مَا يَغْشَى* مَا زَاغَ البَصَرُ وَمَا طَغَى* لَقَدْ رَأَى مِنْ آيَاتِ رَبِّهِ الكُبْرَى

And indeed he (Muhammad) saw him [Jibrael (Gabriel)] at a second descent (i.e. another time). Near Sidrat-ul-Muntaha [lote-tree of the utmost boundary (beyond which none can pass)], Near it is the Paradise of Abode. When that which covered the lote-tree did cover it! The sight (of Prophet Muhammad) turned not aside (right or left), nor it transgressed beyond (the) limit (ordained for it).Indeed he (Muhammad) did see, of the Greatest Signs, of his Lord (Allah).

This two legged journey of the Prophet, was a physical journey, of the greatest spiritual magnitude, in it are many lessons for us to learn – amongst the key lessons we want to focus on in this Khutba are the lessons that preceded the start of this journey, lessons that in themselves were an integral part of acquiring the readiness for it.

The year before this miraculous event is referred to by biographers of the Prophet as the Year of Sadness (`Aam al-Huzn) in the life of our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) – it was in this year that he lost his beloved wife Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) and his beloved uncle Abu Talib and following that the persecution increased to the extent that the Prophet decided to visit Taif, described as one of the two Towns in the Qu’ran, which the Qu’ran refers to in the words of Walid Ibn Mughirah, as follows:

If only this Quran had been revealed to some great man of the two towns (Mecca and Taif)? [Qur'an 43:31]

Taif to the mushrikeen was a town comparable to Mecca in its grandeur, it too was a religious centre as pilgrims from every part of the country visited its so-called Temple of al-Lat – that in turn housed Hubal, the chief deity of Arabia. Taif was also, as it still is today, the summer resort of Meccan aristocracy. The inhabitants of Taif, endowed with diversified large farms and vineyards, were wealthy and prosperous. This wealth had in turn brought about conceit and boastfulness as embodied in the following description of the Quranic verse:

وَقَالُوا نَحْنُ أَكْثَرُ أَمْوَالًا وَأَوْلَادًا وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمُعَذَّبِينَ

We are more (than you) in wealth and children. We are not the punished! [Qur'an 34:35]

Once in Taif, the Prophet (peace be upon him) first met the chiefs and leaders of Banu Thaqif whom he invited to accept Islam. Their arrogance caused them to be rude and discourteous in their treatment of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Not being content with their insolence, they even stirred up some gangs of the town to harass him. These riff-raffs and roughians followed the Prophet (peace be upon him), abusing and throwing stones on him, basing themselves on either side of the path - they threw stones at him until his feet were injured and smeared with blood, until finally he was able to take refuge in an orchard.

It was in that state, that a most powerful and instructive prayer emerged from the lips of the Prophet, citing his helplessness and condition before his Lord. To put this prayer in context, it is worth remembering the backdrop it occurred in, after three years of suffering a boycott at the hands of the Quraysh as a result of which Muslims were reduced to eating grass and leaves off of trees; of losing his uncle Abu Talib (who was like his father) and then losing Khadija (his beloved wife) two months later and now being stoned and covered in blood, it was in that state the Prophet turned to his Lord and said:

اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي وقلة حيلتي وهواني على الناس

O Allah! Unto You do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness and of my lowliness before men.”

He didn’t turn outwards and point a finger at Allah, he didn’t say “O Allah, you know I am the Messenger of Allah, how can these things be happening to me?” No, he turned inward and recognized he was weak and he was helpless and he was low – and with this recognition he called upon Allah by the opposite through His being Strong (Al Qawiyy) Capable over all things (Al Qadeer) and His being Most High (Al Aleey) . SubhanAllah, even in that state he was teaching us adab, proper manners with the Divine, the Scholars of Islam say if we realize our attributes, Allah will realize His. In other words if we recognize and actualize our lowliness, Allah will actualize His Majesty and Lordliness in our life…but if on the other hand we claim independence and strength and control for ourselves, we will be left to our whims and the blows of fate that will inevitably come our way – all to make us realize – who is really in charge – who we are and who He is.

ياأرحم الراحمين أنت أرحم الراحمين

أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي

O Most Merciful of the Merciful. You are the Most Merciful of the Merciful.

You are the Lord of the weak and You are my Lord.

Allah asks us to call upon Him by the Most Beautiful of His Names, whenever we want Allah to manifest something of His Attributes in our lives, we should call Him by that name most befitting of the attribute. If we want His Mercy (and who is not in need of His Mercy!) we should call him by His name the Merciful. It is indeed the way of Mercy to look after the weak and the Prophet was once again affirming his weakness and the Lordliness of his Lord.

إلى من تكلني إلى عدو يتجهمني أم إلى بعيد مكلته إمري

Into whose hands have you placed me?  Unto an enemy who opresses me or unto some far off stranger who has been empowered over me?

This is a complaint of a beloved to his beloved; having called Allah by His Lordliness, the Prophet is mentioning the condition that he finds himself in and the difficulty it is for him. The nature of a test is that it is difficult, but in bearing that difficulty and hardship lies great success and wisdom – the Prophet was seeking help through the test, by turning to Allah and seeking His help through His lordliness. This is how we succeed, it is by Allah’s help that we travel to Him.

إن لم يكن بك غضب علي فلا أبالي ولكن عافيتك هي أوسع لي

If you are not displeased with me, then I care not, however your ease is better for me.

Here the Prophet is displaying the adab of the slave which is to be accepting of whatever his Master sends down, if the trial is a way of Allah manifesting His displeasure in which case, it is for the slave to repent and feel sorry - not because of the existence of the trial, but because of what it represents – the displeasure of Allah. If the trial is not because of that, it is for the slave to be patient; in all cases it is not the business of the slave to object to what is sent down, it is the right of one’s Lord to send down whatsoever He wishes and all good lies in what He chooses. However while the Prophet lets it be known that he is content with whatever Allah wants to do with him, he still asks for ease; because Allah loves to be asked for ease (Aafiya) and in a saheeh hadeeth, the best of things to ask for is Afiyaa’ (ease) in this life and the next – so the Prophet is teaching us dua’ and shows his slavehood in what he asks for.

أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أضاءت له السموات و الأرض

وأشرقت له الظلمات وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والأخره

“I take refuge in the Light of Your Countenance through which all darkness in the heavens and the earth is illuminated; and all affairs of this world and the next are rectified.”

The Prophet takes refuge in Allah, through Allah, he takes refuge in the fact that it is Allah who is the Guide and the one who enlightens and that it is Allah who is in charge of all affairs. This is pertinent for us as Muslims; when we reflect on global affairs many people complain of a lack of power and a lack of control and that is precisely the point – we’re not in charge – Allah is, perhaps once we truly realize that – things will get better. Allah is in control and at every moment of manifestation He is seeking to tell us something about Himself, what remains is for us to try and get that.

أن ينزل بي غضبك أو يحل علي سخطك

لك العتبى حتى ترضى ولاحول ولاقوة إلابك

“Lest Your anger descend upon me or lest Your wrath beset me. Yet it is Yours to reproach until You are well pleased. There is no power and no might except through You.”

Having taken refuge in Allah, through Allah – the Prophet was keen to allude to the nature of the request, that it was through the state of being an Abd’, that it is Allah’s right to do as He pleases with His slaves and that He is not asked about what He does with His dominion. The final sentence is the reality of the matter – “There is no Power nor Might except through Allah”, by realizing this, the Muslim realizes that whatever the contingent events around him may indicate – Allah is in charge and they have a Divine Purpose. The Prophet was aware of this deep reality and hence the stones and tests and trials he underwent only became a form of increase for him as he showed the appropriate reaction.

Thus, there was nothing personal there, there was no vendetta between the Prophet and Taif, rather it was a place for him to call upon his Lord and draw closer. Hence when his Lord then sent the Angel of mountains to seek the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) permission to join together the two hills between which Taif was located, he (peace be upon him) replied, that he rather hoped that Allah would bring forth from their loins people who will worship God alone, associating nothing with Him – and that is exactly what happened.

Let us think about that for a moment, the greatest of creation, the Messenger of Allah, the beloved of Allah being subjected to such a trial – a moment’s ponder will alert us as to this thus being the real nature of this world – an abode for being tested.

As Allah says:

أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَنْ يُتْرَكُوا أَنْ يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لا يُفْتَنُونَ

“Do People think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested?"

LESSON: The nature of this world is as the abode of the test (dar al imtihaan) – the greater the ranks sought, the greater the test, this is why the greatest in facing such tests – were the Prophets. In an authentic narration, the Prophet on being asked about who the most sorely tested in the world would be mentioned that it is the Prophets and then those next in rank, followed by those next in rank and so on. Thus the Prophet indicated that a man will be tested in accordance with the level of his religious commitment, if strong; the test will be more severe.

In that regards a great Scholar of Islam (Ibn Ataillah Al Iskandari) complained to his teacher (Abul Abbas Al Mursi) of his worries and his teacher replied:

There are only four states a servant of Allah finds himself in, no fifth, they are:

(a) Blessings [Ni’mat],

(b) Calamity [Niqmat],

(c) Obedience [Ta’a], and

(d) Disobedience [Ma’siya].

For (a), if one is in Blessings - then what Allah requires of you is Thankfulness.

For (b), if you are in a state of a Calamity - then what Allah requires of you is Patience.

For (c), if you are in a state of Obedience, then what Allah requires of you is the Witnessing of His blessings upon you.

Finally for (d), if you are Disobedient, then what Allah requires of you is Repenting Sincerely.

The Scholar then said there is no fifth state – so all one needs to do is see what Allah is sending your way and react accordingly.

Thus when the seeker reacts accordingly he is able to make each and every one of his states a blessing, a moment of moving towards Allah as the diagram below shows:

 Lessons from Two Journeys- Isra wal Miraj and Riba-tanic

 

In that regards the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

"Strange is the affair of the mu'min (the believer). Verily, all his affair is good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient (saabir) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the mu'min."

Thus, it is that through Sabr or patience in the face of a trial or test – that a Muslim ascends and this was the way of the Prophet, constant ascension – his future state was always greater than what preceded it.

 

To recap, the right response to a trial is that of patience, as the Prophet said:

اعْلَمْ أَنَّ فِي الصَّبْرِ عَلَى مَا تَكْرَهُ خَيْراً كَثِيراً، وَأَنَّ النَّصْرَ مَعَ الصَّبْرِ، وَأَنَّ الْفَرَجَ مَعَ الْكَرْبِ، وَأَنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْراً

Know that in Patience towards what you dislike there is a lot of good for you, and that victory comes with Patience, Relief with Affliction, and Ease with Hardship."

As the Arabs say, it is through opposites that things become known, at the onset of the test it may seem like a hardship, but if reacted to accordingly it becomes a blessing. By facing our trials with the correct response, we in turn generate the readiness in the state of our souls for the Spiritual unveilings that Allah wants to give us – and that is perhaps one of the greatest of lessons of Isra wal Miraj. For while facing these trials outwardly, the Prophet was being readied inwardly for the greatest journey any human would undertake, until finally, the great day arrived:

Anas b. Malik nararates: Abu Dharr used to relate that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: The roof of my house was cleft open when I was in Mecca and Gabriel descended and opened my heart and then washed it with the water of Zamzam. He then brought a gold basin full of wisdom and faith and after emptying it into my breast, he closed it up. [Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0313]

LESSON: The Prophet was purified, once again, pointing to the immensity of the journey he was about to undergo and the spiritual readiness required. This points to the need for us to purify our hearts, so we too can be ready to undertake the spiritual journeys that Allah has willed for us. As one the Scholars said: “Allah is constantly sending down spiritual unveilings on our hearts; but when these spiritual blessings find hearts distracted from Him, they return from whence they came.” The responsibility for one seeking to travel to Allah is to strive for readiness, to ensure his heart is not distracted from anything besides, just as the person seeking to catch fish, places his fish net in the sea, knowing that is not the net that guarantees catching of fish, but its being there ensures the fish are caught when they come his way – similarly the person seeking Allah, knows that his readiness does not warrant Allah sending him spiritual openings but that when Allah does send him, his readiness ensures he is able to benefit accordingly.

Then the Prophet was brought in front of a great riding steed:

“I was brought the Buraq, a long white beast, slightly bigger than a donkey but smaller than a mule which when striding, would place its next step as far as the eyes could see (the horizon). I mounted it until I reached al-Quds, Jerusalem. There I tied it up to the same ring used by the Prophets.” [Sahih Muslim and Sahih al-Bukhari]

The Prophet rode the riding mount of the Prophets, Buraq, whose name itself is derived from Barq or Lightning, a reference perhaps to the speed at which the animal would travel – the fastest speed known to man, the speed of light. Light is the fastest travelling entity in the world, it travels at the speed of approximately 700 million miles an hour – the result is it is constantly travelling towards the horizon; where-so-ever your eyes see until the next horizon and so on, continually, for light stretches continually towards the ever increasing horizon – and this was perhaps what was described as being the speed of Buraq, continually travelling with each stride; travelling as far as the eye can see by Allah’s special grace, and He knows best.

LESSON: If Allah wanted he could have transported the Prophet to the Farthest Mosque in a fraction without Buraq, but he tasked him to take the means, to take a steed and travel. This is how we are meant interact with the world, we take the means (asbaab) while trusting on the originator of means (musabbibul asbaab). Likewise on the spiritual path, we cannot just expect ourselves to be reformed without striving; without taking the means to remove the haraam from our lives, everything around us is created for a purpose. What is required of us is to take all permissible means available to journey to Allah, by doing our bit. After we do our bit, after we have made the required effort then we rely on Allah! Tie your ‘steed’ if you want to go to Paradise – our trust or Tawwakkul in Allah is always accompanied by effort. The Prophet said regarding leaving a camel untied as if relying on Allah to keep it safe, “First tie it, then rely on God!”

Upon arrival at the Farthest Mosque and entering it, the Prophet found himself in the midst of the most honourable gathering known to man: every Prophet and Messenger from Adam to Jesus, upon all of them be the peace of God Almighty, were present awaiting his arrival and to pray a two-unit prayer. Gabriel then asked the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah, to lead all the Prophets and Messengers in prayer – indicating his rank as the Final and Seal of the Messengers of Allah.

LESSON: This event is analogous to the passing of the baton of leadership to the Prophet. But the form of leadership it embodied is leadership in service or what we could call servant-leadership. This is why the Prophet said, the sayyid or leader of his people is he who serves. This type of servant-leadership of all nations passed till the end of time to the Final Messenger and those who follow him – i.e. his ummah. Those who follow him, are us. Hence if Allah has given us a form of leadership – we need to ask ourselves how we are exercising that - a servant-leader does not serve his own ego by managing and controlling people – rather he serves them and in turn Allah.

That is the way of it; the way of leadership in Islam is the way of service (khidma) - the servant-leader serves Allah; he is amongst the foremost of contributors to the wellbeing of others in this world as the Steward (Khilafa) of Allah. Today this is the service orientated leadership we need to revive as an ummah - where are the Believers today when we look at who is foremost in humanitarian service based on best practice? Where are the Believers today when we look at who is foremost in ecological protection and sustainability as Stewards?  Where are the Believers today when we look and see who is foremost in advocating for rights, social justice and safety for all, including animals? This was the way of the Prophet, it wasn’t to you your way and to mine, while we turn a blind eye to opression all around us. Allah Almighty mentions:

To you We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that has come to you. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way.  If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but it is to test you in what He has given you: So vie one with another in virtuous action. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which you used to dispute about. [Qur’an 5:48]

Upon completion of the prayer, the Prophet was given another choice, two vessels of gold were brought to the Prophet (peace be upon him), one full with milk and the other with wine (alcohol was not yet prohibited under Islamic Law). Jibreel (alayhis-salaam) asked the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to choose one of either of them and he selected the vessel containing milk and drank it. Jibreel (alayhis-salaam) then said: “You have been guided on al-Fitrah and you have attained al-Fitrah. Had you selected the wine, your nation would have been mislead.” [Sahih al-Bukhari vol: 6, no: 232] This confirmed the Prophet’s innate disposition towards righteousness, the innate disposition we all have – but which many of us dull through the dust of this world and its distractions.

LESSON: The human has a primordial disposition to recognise right and wrong, and this is the Fitrah that Allah has created human beings on. When one is heedless of this and elects to do wrong, then something has gone wrong in their system of being human. Being in remembrance of Allah keeps one alive to their inner moral compass, which will only lead one to safety and success. Allah confirms our primordial state which gives us this inner moral compass:

So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. Adhere to the Sound Nature of Allah upon which He has created mankind. No change should there be in the creation of Allah- that is the correct religion, but most of the people fail to understand. [Qur’an 30:30]

Following this inspired choice, the Prophet went on the vertical leg of the journey as he ascended into the Heavens from the site known as the Dome of the Rock today.

The journey of Isra wal Miraj was a journey providing a view into both the past and the future, on the Isra, the Prophet made pilgrimage and stopped and prayed at the sites where previous Prophets were inspired and had prayed.  He also saw where he would emigrate to, i.e. Madinah. On the Miraj, the vertical leg, he ascended the heavens, travelled every level of heaven and saw the consequences of those who do not make their prayers, who abstain from charity, commit adultery, hinder the path of others, eat usury, do not fulfill trusts, sow discord, backbite, slander, and gossip, and those who speak words that they can’t back up.  He saw the Dajjal. He also saw and heard Heaven and Hell.  He saw the Ummah of Islam in its entirety as well the Ummah or nations of other Prophets. He saw the pull of the Dunya (world) and the Devil. He saw how much life of this world he had left to live.  Finally as the Prophet ascended into the heavens, in the topmost level, the 7th level of Paradise (above which is the Presence of Allah, in a way that Allah knows best), the Prophet Muhammad met Prophet Ibrahim, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them both. Prophet Ibrahim was leaning on the walls of the Ka’bah of Heaven, called Bayt al-Ma’mūr.

This is amongst the highest of stations in Paradise, and one of its key occupants is one who strived and struggled on this earth, who built the Ka’bah of the earth - Prophet Ibrahim, upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah. He followed the path of righteousness and he did not enjoin partners with Allah, and was gifted such a high station.

LESSON: You reap what you sow. If you toil productively in this world in a manner pleasing to your Lord, you will also have the highest of stations in Paradise. It is as if Prophet Ibrahim, after building the House of Allah on earth receives a resting place in its equivalent the Heavenly House! Allah informs us of how we are recompensed:

Nay! Indeed, the record of the righteous is in ‘illiyyun. And what will explain to you what ‘Illiyun is? It is a register inscribed, to which bear witness those Nearest to God. Truly, the Righteous will be in Bliss, on adorned couches, observing. You will recognize in their faces the radiance of delight.  

[Qur’an 83:18-24]

It was then that the Prophet went where no other form of creation had gone before - to the intimate presence of the Divine Reality. The majority position of the Scholars of Islam is that he saw Allah —the One, the Only, the Maker of all things in a way that Allah knows best, about which He says:

مَا زَاغَ الْبَصَرُ وَمَا طَغَى* لَقَدْ رَأَى مِنْ آيَاتِ رَبِّهِ الْكُبْرَى

“The sight [of the Prophet] did not swerve, nor did it transgress [its limit]. Verily he certainly saw of the greatest Signs of his Lord."

 

As said before, the majority opinion of the Scholars of Islam is that the Prophet ‘saw’ Allah, in a way that befits His Majesty. It is important when discussing things such as this that we realize the limitations our intellects have to grasp this. As Muslims we always affirm that Allah is transcendently beyond possessing a body (jism), a form (sûra), and of being in a direction (jihât) with regard to His Essence (dhat); for to be so would be to resemble His creation, and there is nothing in creation like unto Him.

It is for this reason that there is a difference in opinion with regards to the ‘seeing’ of the Prophet, some Scholars say it was a figural manifestation (tajallî sûrî), others say it was a literal manifestation (tajallî haqiqî) – those who take the latter position, being in the majority, say this was only for the Prophet (peace be upon him) and is unique to his rank as being the Chosen One, Al Mustafa. The evidence they propose is the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas whereby the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – is reported to have said: “I saw my Lord” (ra’aytu rabbî). This is understood to be the seeing of the eyes (in a way Allah knows best), as for the seeing of the heart, this is possible for some of Allah’s creation who reach the rank of Ihsaan – as the Hadeeth of Jibraeel testifies. Concerning the seeing of the eyes, the Scholars of Islam hold that Prophet Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: My Lord! Show me Your Self, that I may gaze upon You (7:143), would not have happened lest the ability to see or gaze be from the possible, as the Prophets would not ask for something from the impossible. The Scholars thus say that this rank was reserved for the Prophet alone in this life, while the believers once free of the limitations of the human body will be able to gaze on their Lord in the next, as the Qu’ran says: On that day will faces be resplendent, looking towards their Lord (Qu’ran:75:22-23) How that happens –Allah knows best and is not a question the believer generally asks, as these verses like the one before are from the verses known as Mutashaabihat, verses that are allegorical and not categorical in their meaning – which means the correct response is to follow the way of the Salaf (early generations) in relegating their ultimate meanings (tafweedh) to Allah. The way of Islam is to believe in its reality while relegating its ultimate meaning to Allah through understanding that our intellects are unable to grasp this. However it is the position for the majority of Scholars of Islam that the Prophet did see Allah in this meeting of intimate companionship with Him in a way that Allah knows best; a meeting that was reserved for His beloved and which our intellects and hearts cannot grasp – except to know that this was the rank of the Prophet.

What is important for us though; is that the Prophet in that intimate gathering was given a gift – the gift of Salaat or Prayer. The Prophet said, “As-Salatul Mirajul Mumin” (Prayer is the Miraj (ascension) of the believer) – to inspire each and every one of us to take our own individual journeys to the Divine Presence – this is what our Salaat is intended for, may Allah give us this to taste. Second hand experience of hearing or reading another’s spiritual experience cannot compensate for the need to take one’s own – and this is what the Prophet was encouraging us to do. With regards to the prescription of the Salaat, Allah reduced the number of prayers from Fifty to Five times a day after the merciful plea of Prophet Muhammad for his Nation on the advice of Prophet Moses, upon whom be peace of Allah.

LESSON: Our Prayers like the Prophet’s ascension are meant to be journeys to the Divine Presence; we are meant to travel beyond the limited confines of this world to the unlimited vastness of Allah’s presence – the Ocean with no shore…as we drown therein. Why though would the Prophet Moses have repeatedly asked our Prophet to go back to the Divine Presence, time and time again to ask for the prayers to be reduced – when surely in the pre-eternal knowledge of Allah – this was always going to be the number of prayers we as the Ummah of the Prophet would have to pray? The reason or indication is that the Prophet Moses; was himself taking blessings and deriving spiritual increase from gazing at the Prophet’s blessed face, fresh from the intimate companionship of His Lord.

The mark of them (i.e. of their Faith) is on their faces [Qur’an 48:29]

Scholars say to gaze at a person of righteousness, in love and awe of his righteousness allows in turn for a spiritual increase (and the opposite in the case of one who is the opposite – as spiritual states travel through the gaze of the heart); this is perhaps what was occurring with the Prophet Moses, having been unable to enter the intimate companionship of Allah or see Allah with his eyes in a way that was reserved for the Prophet, as Allah had informed him: You will not see Me (lan tara`ani)"[Qu’ran. 7:143]; he was able to benefit from the rank of the Prophet who did see Allah and through gazing at the face that gazed at Allah – he arrived at a great portion of what Allah had intended for him and Allah knows best.

LESSON: Another lesson in the Prophet’s repeated returning to Allah is that just like the Prophet himself, we must turn to Allah regularly and not tire from it. This is a sign of intimacy, Allah loves that we ask Him and does not (metaphorically) tire until we tire and so frequent dua is nothing but an expression of our Slavehood. We should seek from him that which is good for us and He is Most Generous, but we should also know what the proper manners are when calling on Him, our duas should always be in a state of slavehood – and not a demand or condition that we place on Him. Some people foolishly make duas and then have anger or bitterness when what they ask does not come; not knowing that the key to dua is the poverty and helplessness we feel before Him, knowing that He knows what is best for us and that we don’t. Someone who places conditions on Allah, hasn’t really made du’a; at least in the manner that is required. As for those who do not make dua – they are of two types – those whose states make dua and who know that their hearts already speak of their poverty before Him; for such, their hearts make dua without them having to ask; as for the second type, they feel a mistaken sense of independence of Allah and such people are destined to either only turn to him in a state of tribulation, which if it causes them to change is really a blessing or if they don’t change in this life – they are destined to find themselves in a worse off place in the next.

And your Lord says: “Call on Me; I will answer your prayer: but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell – in humiliation!” [Qur’an 40:60]

When the Prophet returned from the Night Journey, he tried to explain the event to the Quraysh, many of his own immediate family, like Abu Jahl. Yet he was ridiculed by many, seen as strange and weird. The interesting thing is that what most amazed the Mushrikeen of Mecca was how the Prophet was able to take a journey to Jerusalem; in a journey that normally takes a night. It was the thing that they felt would most shake the faith of some of the Muslims; to some, it did. This was despite the fact that the Prophet had never before gone to Jerusalem, yet was able to describe the city in accurate detail. The fact that the Prophet described the city so accurately from a rational point of view alone perhaps should have been sufficient reason for those of sincerity to take heed and listen.

LESSON: Firstly, anyone who takes the journey to their Lord with vigour and conviction will be seen as strange by those who are busy with the glitter of this world. The nature of such people as materialists is that the material is their frame of reference – hence the biggest and most amazing thing for the Mushrikeen was the Prophet’s travelling to Jerusalem in a night; a journey which took them a month – yet even from a rational perspective – it was the lesser of the two amazing journeys that the Prophet had been on, having ascended through the Heavens afterwards. Thus it is that the blindness of materialism is first and foremost a blindness of true perception – as to the real nature of things.

Secondly, it is important for us to be aware that there were ‘muslims’ who fell into this trap as well; hence true belief in Allah and what He has revealed through the Messenger requires us to take heed of the reality of where we are – that the real abode for the believer is what comes after, i.e. the Hereafter. This means that being busy amassing wealth and success of this world is not the nature of the true believer as Allah Almighty reminds us:

Beautified in the perception of people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return. [Qur’an 3:14]

While the Quraysh mocked and belied the Prophet, they went to Abu Bakr; knowing that if they led him astray – they would lead the Ummah astray. Saying to Abu Bakr, "Look at what your companion is saying. He says he went to Jerusalem and came back in one night." They met with the sincerity of conviction of true belief. Abu Bakr’s response was that if the Prophet said that, then he was truthful for Abu Bakr believed in the Prophet concerning revelation descending to him from the heavens - in light of which the belief that he went to Jerusalem and came back in a short period of time was of far lesser magnitude. The insight Abu Bakr had; in stark contrast to the Mushrikeen was as a result of his faith, his genuiness in the Prophet saw him bestowed the name As-Siddīq due to this momentous event.

LESSON: The words of Allah, The Exalted and the Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings, are undeniably true. One does not need scientific proofs or things to fit in our limited frame of reference first in order to believe. Today, for many, Divine Guidance is questioned until science proves some meagre tangible fact. The Believer today must become familiar with the fact that it is not science that proves Divine Guidance; rather it is Divine Guidance that provides the guidance to assess the truths of science. By learning the religion of Islam, one finds its accuracy and conviction comes through works and states. Faith in turn needs to be based on solid foundations; when one bases one’s faith on shaky foundations then it is no surprise that that person finds his faith shaken with the slightest issue; the essentials of faith are not arrived at through observational empiricial rational based questioning, rather it is arrived out through us being people of sincerity with Allah, through us being people of Sidq, as Abu Bakr was with what Allah had tasked of him. Allah Almighty mentions:

O you who believe! Ask not about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if you ask about them while the Quran is being revealed, they will be made plain to you. Allah has forgiven that, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing. Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith. [Qur’an 5:101-102]

In conclusion, the upshot of Isra wal Miraj is that The favour of Allah is often graced upon us after some of our greatest trials and tribulations. When the Believer perseveres, in the twin pillars of gratitude and patience and finds himself consistently responding appropriately to the Divine Decree, Allah showers His Blessings upon such a grateful and patient servant, elevating his rank – and making him from those brought closer to Allah. These are the spiritual ascents we should aim for; our own ascents to the Divine presence that come through us demonstrating our patience in the face of calamity, thankfulness in the face of blessings, seeing His giving us our obedience and repenting sincerely to Allah whensover we fall short.

These reactions are the essence of our servitude - our ascension arises out of our servitude to Allah, striving through thick and thin, having confidence with Him and having reliance upon Him. Like gold through fire to be purified and therefore valued, so too does tribulation prepare us for what is better. To remind ourselves:

Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such trial has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until even their messenger and those who believed with him said, “When is the help of Allah!?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near. [Qur’an 2:214]

May we take heed of these and many other lessons in the profound event of the Isra wal Miraj. If noted and striven for, these lessons may well be the ascension of our own station with our Lord, for there is no success other than by and with Allah.

We end on a lighter celebratory note with a contemporary English Poem of this event, penned by the Nasheed Artist (Talib al Habib aka Dr.Asim Yusuf) about this journey, please feel free to click on the link [[1]] and sing along:

From the Sacred House to Jerusalem,

Through the seven heavens did he ascent

To the Love Divine beyond where or when,

Send peace on him and his family!

Like a moon set sail on the heaven’s seas.

Through the dark night riding on the lightning-steed

See! One born of earth strides the heaven’s fields!

Send peace on him and his family!

And the stars gave thanks and the moon did weep

As its beauty paled before the Hashimi

For what sun or moon can compare to him?

Send peace on him and his family!

 As his heart was strengthened and purified,

And was filled with wisdom and light on light

So the wells of Zamzam he sanctified,

Send peace on him and his family!

And the Prophets- Adam to Jesus Christ-

Came to honour him and to pray behind

One from whose lamp they had received their light.

Send peace on him and his family!

And the gates of heaven, so high and strong,

Opened joyfully for the one called upon

And the angels sang ‘peace on you, welcome!’

Send peace on him and his family!

When Gibril did falter, Muhammad rose,

Where no Prophet nor angel may approach

So beloved to the Beloved returned!

Send peace on him and his family!

 For the peace that comes to surrendered hearts.

For the mercy descending when the prayer is called

For the blessings born of your charity.

Send peace on him and his family!

Through perfection did he attain the heights.

He dispelled the dark with his beauty’s light

Oh! How blest are all of his qualities!

Send peace on him and his family!

Yes, let us send peace and blessings on him and his family, for he is our example – he is the one through whom we learn how to travel, we learn how to rise to our ascents to the Divine Presence. Were it not for the Prophet, we would not know many things; we would not know how to travel and in that regards let us turn to a very different contrasting journey – a journey that points to the outcome of one devoid of Prophetic guidance.

JOURNEY TWO: Riba-tanic

On the night the Prophet ascended to the Heavens, he also saw the state of people who indulged in certain sins, much of what he saw by way of punishment for these sins was an illusion to the nature of the sin itself. For example, he saw adulterers offered both fresh and tasty meat as well as rotten and infested one – despite the clear difference; they repeatedly chose the rotten one, an allusion to the nature of Zina, wherein a person chooses to satisfy a desire in a repulsive, spiritually harmful way that could otherwise be satisfied in a way that is halal.

About the sin of Riba or Usury, the Prophet saw the following:

On the night when I was taken up to Heaven, I came upon a people whose bellies were like houses and contained snakes which could be seen from outside their bellies. I asked Jibreel who they were and he told me that they were people who had practiced usury (dealing with interest).”

[Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Majah and at-Tirmidhee 2828]

Like the sin of Zina, the physical manifestation of the sin could be said to be an allusion to the nature of the sin itself, because Riba causes a ‘growth’ (which is literally what Riba means), but it is a bloated disproportionate growth that is harmful to both oneself and others (analogous to snakes in the belly). However the immediate dangerous nature of this growth is only apparent to those with perception; (as those from the outside could see the snakes from outside the bellies), as for those unable to perceive – they keep proceeding to ingest the snakes; i.e. indulge in Riba – all to their own detriment.

In the second half of the Khutba, as mentioned, we wanted to contrast the journey of Isra wal Miraj, which was a journey of humility; precipitated by being broken in-front of Allah, with a very different type of journey – a journey of arrogance. The arrogant journey is a journey that symbolizes the journey of Modern Man; a journey seeking to be independent from Allah, with a reliance of technology as being a means to distance one from one’s creator as opposed to better serve creation. Technology that instead of being synergistic and collaborative; is framed in the discourse of domination and control, where-in nature (for which we read: Allah) is seen as an adversary. For advocates of this dogma, the god of Technology, allows them to leave behind all vestiges of mortality and enter a realm without toil or travail, allow them to finally conquer death and pain. Being Omnipotent to its advocates, the god of Technology will repair the mess we have made of this world; it will cure all our social, medical, and environmental ills, messes that it has actually contributed to. For advocates of this god seek to we escape the consequences of sins of this life through ascending to their Heaven – technological utopia.

Although there may be a degree of exaggeration, it is deliberate, for to many, this is the defining myth of our generation. A myth being a story that provides a template for understanding ourselves and our world; as well as being a program that guides our choices and priorities. In the words of a noted contemporary author[2], the myth of this age has two components: The Technological Program and The Scientific Program, with the two being intimately related: technology providing our ability to control the world, arising from science, which in turn is the means by which we understand and explain the world. The author further elaborates on these Programs (adapted slightly) as follows (for nature, read Allah):

 

The Technological Program


Starting with stone tools and fire, technology has given us increasing control over nature, insulated us from her whims, and provided us with safety and comfort.

Unstated Aim: We don’t need Allah

The Scientific Program

By making methodical observations of the universe and creating and testing theories, we replace myth and superstition with a growing body of objective knowledge.

Unstated Aim: We don’t need Allah

Past:
We had very little control over the physical environment. We were at the mercy of nature.

Past:
We had very little understanding of the laws of the universe, so we resorted to myth and superstition in a vain attempt to explain the world.

Present:
Although there are still many problems to be solved, we have made great strides in our ability to engineer and control nature. We have conquered many illnesses, reduced the hardship of survival, moved mountains and drained lakes, augmented the processing power of our own brains with computers.

Present:
While there are still many things about the universe that we do not understand, we have discovered at least the basic framework of how the universe works: the laws of gravity, quantum mechanics, evolution, and so forth. We can explain most of the phenomena we observe, and we have plausible theories about the rest. Myth and superstition have no place.

Future:
Someday our control over nature will be complete. We will prolong human life indefinitely through freezing our brains and being able to download our consciousnesses, eliminate pain and suffering, eliminate labor, use nanotechnology to change the universe and travel to the stars and leaving earth behind entirely – while we become Gods of our own destiny.

Unstated aimed at Result: We become free of need of Allah.

Future:
Someday our understanding of nature will be complete. We will formulate a "Theory of Everything" that combines relativity and quantum mechanics into a single equation, and apply that theory to explain any and all observed phenomena. There will be no more mysteries – even the workings of the human brain will be fully understood according to scientific principles. We will become all knowing Gods of our own destiny.

Unstated aimed at Result: We become free of need of Allah.

 

The Problem with this myth; is that it just isn’t true: the more we seek technology as a means of alienation from Allah; the more our souls cry out and let us know our need of Him. Even nature itself, a reflection of what Allah is telling us about him – lets us know that; the more it reminds us who’s in charge. This world is a reflection of what we need to know of Him; since that is the purpose why we have been created: when we deny that or claim independence from Him; we’re setting ourselves up for a pretty firm lesson in who we are and who He is.

To remind ourselves, the journey or way of travelling of the Prophet on the Isra wal Miraj, was a way of poverty; a way of dependence, a way of slavehood, as Allah says:

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الأَقْصَى

Exalted is He who took His Slave by night from Al Masjid Al Haram to Al Masjid Al Aqsa.

This is a Slavehood of virtue; for things are known and given esteem by that which they are attached to: a slave of Allah, finds everything in creation being in his service; because the entire cosmos was created to serve Allah and when one is in the service of Him– the slave becomes the recipient of what the cosmos was intended for. As one of the great Scholars of Islam have said, “The slave when a slave of this world is a tiny speck in its sea; but when he becomes a slave of Allah – the world becomes a speck in his sea.” Thus it is attitude of slavehood and humility that is the way the believer travels; both physically and metaphorically, as Allah says:

The Slaves of the All-Merciful are those who walk on the Earth in humility [Qu’ran:25:63].

Perhaps an apt real life metaphor for a different type of journey; a journey founded on the technological myth of seeking independence from Allah discussed beforehand is the journey of the RMS Titanic[3]. RMS Titanic was a passenger liner ship that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in April, 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. What is relevant to us is that the Titanic was the pinnacle of technology of its time: it was the largest ship afloat, it was also the most grand, designed to be the last word in comfort and luxury, with an on-board gymnasium, swimming pool, libraries, high-class restaurants and opulent cabins. It boasted of advanced safety features such as a powerful wireless telegraph (amongst the first to use SOS Morse codes), watertight compartments and remotely activated watertight doors. Perhaps it was due to these features or partly because of outdated safety regulations that it only carried enough lifeboats for just over half her passengers. Either way at the time of its departure, this was not of much consideration, for many of the passengers on the Titanic included the wealthiest people in the world; with the upper deck and first class reserved for elite passengers who had access to a swimming pool, gymnasium, squash court, Turkish bath, electric bath, verandah cafe as well as a most impressive Grand Staircase connecting the ballroom to the upper deck. The aim of Titanic’s designers was to create an impression (for the elite) that the passengers were in a floating hotel rather than a ship. On the lower deck, it was an entirely different story; it was there that the majority of the passengers resided, where class divisions were clearly apparent, with most passengers accommodated in cabins sleeping between two and ten people and their being only two bathrooms, one each for men and women, for the entire Third Class complement.

The technology and luxury on the RMS Titanic led to its designers and publication marketing to refer to it as being "designed to be unsinkable" or as it became known amongst common parlance in the media at the time, “the unsinkable ship”. It was this hubris, the technological hubris of our age that provides the metaphorical significance of Titanic for us today. In the words of the writer and director of the 1997 Oscar winning movie, James Cameron[4], Titanic is a metaphor for the essential challenge of the human race in modern times. In a recent interview he warned that the human race is currently ''recklessly charging towards an iceberg'', indicating that the story of Titanic has a lot of ''meaning'' for us today. With reference to the incessant demands for growth brought about by interest based capitalism, he says, “There doesn't seem to be strong leadership in the world on critical issues and a lot of it is because of the influence of special interests to businesses.” Referring sarcastically to the Riba inspired solution of further economic growth and further inflation for what is essentially an unjust growth process in the first place, he says: “We've got to make the money, we've got to make the GDP, we've got to turn the economy around. So let's just turn a blind eye to the environment, to the ocean, to carbon pollution. This is the legacy that we're going to pass on to our kids.”

We at uaekhutba.com are inclined to agree with the Award Winning Director, the analogy and metaphor of the RMS Titanic is particularly apt for the economic system we’re in, it is a story of Riba and like the Titanic, Riba like Titanic is very good at being Big, generating growth for a privileged elite; but Riba like Titanic is leading us all to ruin, just as the Ship kept moving, the economy has to keep grow – all so that those on the upper deck can continue to believe in the Technological myth that the Titanic and Riba represents. This Khutba intended to look at this metaphor in more detail, hence we have decided to re-frame the Titanic in the not entirely fictional terms of Riba – below is the ‘Story of Riba-tanic’:

THE STORY OF RIBA-TANIC

Once upon a time there existed a huge Ship by the name of Riba-tanic.

It was bigger than any other Ship previously and was declared unsinkable by its designers.

As it set sail from the City of Southampton for the Promised Land of Wall Street, New York, it was inhabited by a variety of passengers. The basement and lower deck dubbed the Third World was mainly inhabited by Muslims and other poor citizens from Third World Nations who could not afford to travel on the upper deck, mainly due to their being in debt to the Ship ‘s main sponsors – CitiBar Refreshments and Goldman-Shack Restaurant. Some of the Third World passengers were also in debt to wealthy members and passengers of the upper deck, referred to as the First World. Let’s just say that the First World made for about 1% of the most exclusive travelling passengers on Riba-tanic.

The problem for most of the Third World passengers was that they could only come on the journey and pay the hefty ticket prices through taking interest based loans, with the rates being quite high and compounded on delay of payment, soon most of lower deck passengers were selling (read: giving away) anything they owned away to the Ship’s administration and the rich First World. In ever increasing debt, many of the lower deck passengers had no option except to offer their own selves as labour to the Ship’s administration, in some cases this meant their being given as servants to some of the wealthy First World passengers on the upper deck.

Now travelling on Riba-tanic, for the 1% at least, meant a luxury cruise being catered to by CitiBar and Goldman-Shack. They had cornered the market as far as luxury dining and travelling on Riba-tanic was concerned and in addition to being Riba-tanic’s major sponsors - alongside providing refreshments and entertainment were also in control of most of the administrative affairs of the Ship. This meant that they were aware that there were some Muslims and other passengers who despite having the money to stay on the Upper deck had opted to stay on the decks below out of their aversion to the inappropriate entertainment and general atmosphere above. Perhaps this was due to their faith principles or perhaps they simply wanted to stick with their own group of friends and relatives; most of whom simply could not afford to stay on the upper deck.

Never one to miss out on a commercial opportunity both Goldman-Shack and CitiBar were aware that these wealthy Muslims and other Third World Passengers were not in the best of comfort and ahem… not really contributing to their income – so they invited some of the select Muslims and other Third World Passengers to join them upstairs.

Now those invited had a dilemma, while they were pleased to get some fresh sea air compared to the dampness and darkness below, they felt uncomfortable with the Bar and general party atmosphere available on offer. This was not the best of atmospheres and the problem was that this was part and parcel of being on the upper deck. After all, this was what the existing 1% wanted and what CitiBar and Goldman-Shack were providing.

Some well intentioned learned Scholars of the Muslims started discussing possible solutions; “look we need to help the Muslims get a foothold on the upper deck" they said (the third world had some serious health detriments and only had two bathrooms between them all) – if that meant partaking in this atmosphere – to them, it was the lesser of the two evils. Others tried to be more innovative, let us replace their party music and alcoholic atmosphere with a faith based or Sharia-compliant alternative – so they sought out Islamic pop songs (nasheeds) and non-alcoholic Islamic beverages.

As the idea really caught on, CitiBar and Goldman-Shack began to concerned, after all, the upper deck was their market and they couldn’t allow for any competition or a change in atmosphere. Their concern however was swiftly allayed as the well intentioned Scholars sat with them and informed them that it wouldn’t really be that much different. As long as they changed some of the culturally offensive lyrics of some of the songs and only used select instruments – CitiBar (Bar) and Goldman-Shack (Shack) could still rule. In practise this meant the Bar and the Shack would provide the bands for nasheeds (Islamic pop songs) and provide non-alcoholic drinks and refreshments. Soon the Bar and the Shack started to take to the idea and the Muslims now had their “Sharia-compliant” entertainment on the upper deck. A small section of the Scholars felt that the Muslims should enjoy all of the range of entertainment on offer and promptly starting to try and find “Sharia-compliant” alternatives for whatever the Bar and the Shack offered – resulting in a ‘Sharia compliant’ alternative for a particularly intoxicating cocktail known as “The Derivatov”.  Of course with all of this, the Bar and the Shack became very prosperous and everyone seemed merry (well the remaining people on the lower deck didn't count!) and continued on their way –all looking forward to the entertainment on offer and the adventures awaiting upon arrival at Wall Street.

Wait…!

What’s that….an Iceberg up ahead…!

Could it just be that Riba-tanic was headed in the wrong direction? Could it be that wrong coordinates had been set for the ship’s path – that it was always going to crash being just a matter of “when” and not “if”? Was Riba-tanic doomed from the very start? Well, the people in charge didn’t think so and certainly the 1% of people enjoying themselves on the upper deck didn’t think so, as for the vast majority of people on the lower deck – as said before, they didn't really count!

With the shape of the Iceberg looming in the mist growing larger and larger …some people began to get concerned.

“Are we heading for that Iceberg – are we going to crash?” asked one of the people on the upper deck.

Staff at the Bar were quick to re-assure: “Crash…come on sir…this is Riba-tanic, the ship may occasionally stall when the engine is in a "bust" phase before it "booms" again, but how could it possibly crash? Look at all the progress we’ve made, the impressive structure of the ship…do you really think the people driving this ship would be stupid enough to not check the coordinates. I mean, look at everyone enjoying themselves on the upper deck – does that look like a ship in trouble to you – does that look like we’re going to crash? Even if we did hit an iceberg, don’t forget we’re the ‘unsinkable ship’, we’ll probably suffer some minor damage before we revamp the engine through a special process known as ‘quantitative easing’. No sir, don’t you worry yourself about any Icebergs – here have a Derivatov – it’s good stuff – pretty soon you’ll feel really light – just like you’re floating in a bubble, then you can speculate all you want and you’ll feel just fine.”

As the darkness of the night increased, the party on the upper deck got wilder and wilder – something about the intoxicating nature of the Derivatov and the other cocktails meant no one was really keen to take notice of the iceberg that loomed up ahead, instead it was all about the next Derivatov and all the fun they were going to have.

But the iceberg got bigger and bigger until it became too big to ignore. Those who weren’t intoxicated and did not quite believe in the unsinkability of Riba-tanic – being mostly from the lower decks, could see the predicament the ship was in –it was definitely going to crash! Placing their hope within the Captain in the Control Room, they rushed to tell him to re-direct the ship and steer it away from the Iceberg. However, the Captain was drunk and the rest of his team were too busy enjoying themselves either at the Bar or the Shack – having set the ship on auto-pilot, thinking the coordinates to be right – they were oblivious of what lay ahead. To them, after all, what could possibly happen – Riba-tanic was the unsinkable ship.

Without access to the Control Room and the corridors of power that led to it – the passengers seeing the Iceberg looming bigger and bigger ahead had fewer and fewer choices left - some felt they should break into the Control Room and try and re-direct the ship forcibly, however the security around the control room was tight, fully armed and dangerous with orders to shoot on sight. The irony being that the security being well paid were amongst the few on the night not drunk and able to carry out their job efficiently. Unknown to them though, it was their efficiency in following orders that was to the detriment of everyone, their employers and themselves included. Alas, increasingly, it seemed the crash was inevitable – with the best thing to do in the circumstances simply lying in preparing for the transition after the ship had crashed with the Iceberg.

Thus it was that a small group of passengers, keen to prepare themselves for the transition that would be needed after the crash - let’s call them the transition group - set about checking the life-boats and readying them to set sail, needless to say, the lifeboats would be smaller, not as grand and much slower than Riba-tanic – but at least they would be headed in the right direction.

In time, it happened, the inevitable did arrive – Riba-tanic crashed into the Iceberg…

Those who believed that Riba-tanic was unsinkable continued to play their songs and drink their cocktails…after all to them it was the unsinkable ship.

However Riba-tanic did have structural deficiencies – ironically, the belief of its staff that it would not crash, meant it had not been designed for a crash of this magnitude and had too few lifeboats. As the water poured in and the ship began to sink, more and more people scrambled for the lifeboats –- but there simply were not enough.

It was only the people who had prepared for the transition beforehand that had the time to set the life boats in order and check the supplies before disembarking. With limited time to lower the lifeboats to escape, they could only take so many people with them, many had simply left it too late to join.

As the ship began to sink – the already full lifeboats had to make a choice – they had to set sail away as quickly as possible, lest they be sucked into the whirlpool of Riba-tanic going under. The lifeboats we’re soon out of harm’s way and many of the people left behind had no option but to jump from the ship into the icy cool waters below.

Some, however, chose to stay on Riba-tanic; as the passengers on the lifeboat turned to catch a glimpse of the upper deck - remarkably the band was still playing.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------And that is the nature of Riba; those of us who can effect a change will continue to be entertained, continually told about the technical excellence and march of progress determined by the system, continually encouraged to consume more – until the consumer becomes the consumed.

[To see a detailed analysis of how the Story of Riba-tanic is relevant to the Global Economic system brought about by Riba today and how Islamic Finance interconnects with this story, please look out our forthcoming Khutba Paper entitled, “Riba-tanic: An Analysis.”, by entering your email address in our mailing list.]

 

 

 

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