Friday Sermon: A “bad” Muslim’s critique

by Mozzified Contributor Jabran Chaudhry

Friday. The holiest day of the week. The only day of the week I make it a point not to work (if possible), to have a solid breakfast, a nice long shower and then off to the mosque. I try to get in early, while there’s still parking and a spot in the front but this particular Friday, the traffic wasn’t so forgiving. So alas, I heard the Imam before I saw him and I uncontrollably rolled my eyes.

You see, at my local mosque we sometimes have “special guest” Imams give the sermon on Fridays. I’ve listened to this Imam before and with all due respect to him, I disagree with his approach. Instead of getting my weekly strengthening of iman, I got my weekly dose of annoyance.

The topic of Friday’s talk was the oft repeated hadith where the Prophet Muhammad (phuh) said to a man while he was advising him:

“Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth, before you become old; and your health, before you fall sick; and your richness, before you become poor; and your free time before you become busy; and your life, before your death.” (Musnad Imam Ahmed)

And so the Imam sahib began going through each of the five matters:

Youth before you become old.

As the Imam started, I thought to myself “here it comes.” And so it did. Every youth sitting in that mosque was suddenly the target. We played games too much. We didn’t learn our deen. We were “on the internet too much”. We socialized too much. Astagfirullah we “mixed” too much.

Oh yes, we as youth are an awful bunch Imam sahib. I’m sure you were the best of Muslims in your teens and twenties. But with all due respect, clumping us all together does not do us any favors. I know I can do more, but discouraging me further is not going to magically make me strive harder.

Health before you fall sick.

This part I didn’t end up paying much attention to. I was kind of fuming from the previous section. But I understand you, Imam sahib. My health is a blessing from Allah that I should make the most of.
Fine, you’ve drawn me back. I’m less annoyed now and a bit more attentive.

Richness before you become poor.

Oh things got interesting here. There was an attack on pretty much every Muslim with money. Apparently not enough charity was being given. Money for the construction of mosques was inadequate. We need to remember that charity doesn’t decrease our wealth…oh it went on.

Good stuff Imam sahib. You’ve made pretty much made every person listening to you annoyed now. Sorry I can’t afford to pay for mosques to be built. I just work two jobs for fun. Let’s not worry about my student debt or helping the family, let’s build mosques!

Free time before you become busy.

Oh you’re probably thinking it couldn’t get any worse. I was thinking the same. But in a gist, anything you do in your “downtime” is a waste of time. Period.

The best part was the Imam’s opinion on why TV is haram. Starting with a part of verse 219 from Surah Al-Baqara:

“They will ask thee about intoxicants and games of chance. Say’ In both there is great evil as well as some benefits for man; but the evil which they cause is greater than the benefit which they bring.”

Now since Allah made gambling and drinking alcohol haram because their evil is greater than their benefit, by extension TV should also be haram as its benefits are few compared to its evils.

Interestingly, that verse continues:

“And they ask you what they should spend. Say, “The excess [beyond needs].” Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought.”

Now Imam sahib, I’m no scholar of Islam but did you just take a verse of the Quran out of context to add support to some point you were trying to make? Hmmm…

Life before your death.

By this part of the sermon, I had already lost interest. But the Imam pretty much summarized everything he had said before. For emphasis though, he decided it would be a good idea to throw in what punishments in the grave that will be felt by those who did not practice Islam (be they Muslim or non-Muslim).

Then he made duaa for all of us. I could barely pay attention during salah because I kept thinking to myself how ridiculous that sermon was and how I had to come home and rant about it.

So here we are.

You may disagree with my view. That’s completely fine. You are entitled to your own opinion, as is today’s Imam. However, the main problem I have goes beyond being lectured to.

The main problem is, the youth of today need to be able to relate to our Imams, scholars, and elders. As more and more young minds get influenced with wrong ideas, our elders need to be more approachable so they can clarify any misunderstandings.

Now riddle me this, which teenager is going to approach an Imam who just told him/her that watching TV is haram? And to make matters worse, justified it by only quoting a part of a verse — something that we criticize Islamophobes for.

The sermons in our mosques need to inform us, be practical for the times, and encourage us to be better Muslims and human beings. We already get too much discouragement and marginalization from the media and certain parts of society. We don’t need to be hearing it from our own community leaders.

And with that, here ends my rant. Now to go devour some food because I don’t want to waste any more of my youth.

Jabran is from Sydney, Australia, where he’s currently pursuing a JD degree and works as a pharmacist. He may or may not own a kangaroo.