When a criminal plots their crime, they ensure that the crime occurs at a time when they will be able to take cover; and the reason they do this is because the only way to be able to escape and hide at the time of the crime is if they have some sort of protection around them. For example, crimes often occur at night. Why do criminals plot their crimes at night? Because, at night, it’s dark; and people are sleeping; it’s difficult to see; it’s difficult for—there are very few people watching; and so, if they have to commit a crime, they know that they can take cover in the fact that it’s dark; so, very few people will see them; and, of course, very few people are looking at that time as well.
If a criminal has to perform a crime during the day—let’s just say that there’s some reason they wanna perform a crime during the day, then they do it in the biggest crowd possible. Why do they do it in the biggest crowd possible? Because the moment the crime occurs, they can quickly slip under the cover of the rest of the people that are around them; and they won’t be detected; or, at least, that’s their hope. So, for example, somebody robs a bank—what do they do? They quickly disguise themselves; and as they’re leaving the bank, they throw off their disguise and try to look like everybody else because the moment they exit the bank and they enter the sea of humanity, it’ll be very difficult for you to be able to find the criminal. If there’s tens of thousands of people walking around, how are you going to be able to identify that this is the criminal out of these tens of thousands of people? So, they will—in the daytime—hide within the sea of humanity. So, these are the ways by which the criminal will be able to commit their crime and remain undetected.
Now, of course, that’s the criminal who’s interested in being a criminal; but what we should recognize is that all of us are criminals in the deen; and, there is only one place to hide; and that is the place that Allah SWT created a refuge; because, look, when we commit our crime in deen, we can’t hide from Allah; Allah sees; and it doesn’t matter if it’s night or day; Allah sees; and it doesn’t matter if it’s silent or if it’s out loud; Allah sees; and it doesn’t matter if we verbalize it or if it’s within our minds and hearts; Allah knows. There’s no way that we, as people who are trying to do the things that we should be doing—but constantly failing at those things—there’s no place that we can hide. We can’t hide from Allah’s knowledge. We can’t hide from Allah’s detection. We can’t hide by doing these crimes in the dark. However, there is one place that Allah SWT has created where people, despite their crimes, can hide; despite their Islamic crimes; or, despite their spiritual crimes, can hide; and that is in the jamaa’ah of the believers. When a person mixes and keeps the company of the pious, then Allah SWT includes them among the pious—despite the fact that they may be criminals. When a person mixes and keeps the company of the pious, then they come like the pious. They mix into the sea of the pious, despite the fact that they might be criminals.
Look, last week, we talked about the example of the individual who killed ninety-nine people. And remember we said that he killed ninety-nine people; and he felt some remorse for having killed ninety-nine people. He went to the most knowledgeable person that he knew; and he asked if there was forgiveness for him. The person said there is no forgiveness for you; so he killed that individual. So, now he killed ninety-nine people, plus a scholar. And he now had killed a hundred people. When he again felt remorse, he went to a pious person in the community and he asked, “Is there forgiveness for me?” The person said, “Yes, of course, there’s forgiveness for you, but you have to go to that group of pious people that’s living in this particular place”. So, he began to head towards that group of pious people who was living in one particular place. And, what was the notion? That, despite the fact that he had killed a hundred people, if he would enter the gathering of the pious, it would wash away that sin the same way that water washes away najasah, while maintaining its purity.
In fact, if you wanted to take the example, this was the example that I was discussing earlier today with some of the young huffaz. We were talking about water; and water is the same way. You can take a bucket of najasah; just pure najas; and you take it and dump it in Lake Michigan; the moment the najasah enters and mixes into the water, the najasah disappears; the whole thing remains water. The najasah disappears, but the lake, in this instance, remains pure. So, what does that show us? It shows us that even something that’s highly tainted and impure, when it mixes in something that is pure and large, the effect is that the impurity disappears in the ocean of purity; and that’s our example, as well. When we come to the masjid, we don’t come here because we’ve done something special; and we’re coming here to receive our crown. We don’t come here because we’re coming here to receive an award. We come here because we know that we have performed crimes against Allah. We have sinned in ways that we can’t even imagine. We never imagined what would be possible. And then we enter into the gathering in the masjid because by entering into this ocean of mercy, our impurity gets dissolved and we join that large community called an ummah—which is essentially pure. That’s the intention.
When a person goes for hajj, why do they come back like a newborn baby? Because Allah SWT has created such a gathering that the gathering becomes an ocean of humanity. And when it’s an ocean of humanity, individual sins are not able to withstand the ocean of humanity in the face of Allah’s mercy. So, this is to our advantage; and this is something that we, as Muslims, should always remember. I get people, they ask me all the time. They say, “You know, I wanna come to the gatherings, but I do this sin. I wanna come to the masjid, but I’m doing this sin. I want to go for hajj, but I’m doing this sin”. So, what’s the answer? The answer is, of course, that’s the time you should come. This is the place where we come to wash our sins. This isn’t a place where we come to get an award. If we are coming to the masjid it’s because we’re sinning. That’s the time that the person should come into the gathering. If somebody’s coming here, and has no problems, then they don’t need to be here. The expectation is that people will bring their problems to this place. When people come to the masjid and they receive twenty-seven times reward for coming to the masjid, they are coming to the masjid as sinners; and the gathering in the masjid is washing away their sins. We are people that are dependent on the community. We are not independent of the community. We don’t win by hiding. We win by joining.
You know, the criminal—there’s a person; he’s a criminal. And he goes and commits a crime; and he keeps his black mask on; and walks outside; he’s gonna be arrested in five minutes. It doesn’t matter if there’s a million people around him. He will be arrested in five minutes if he tries to keep himself separate and distinct from everybody else. He has to merge into the community. He has to merge into the population. And when he merges into the population, he’ll be counted as one of them. So, in the same way, we merge into the community. We don’t stay at the edge; we come to the center. And the more we sin, the more we come to the center; the more we’re dependent on the ocean of the community. We are not independent. People, they try to hide; they say, “You know, I’m doing this; I’m doing that. I’m not coming to the masjid anymore. I’m doing this; I’m doing that. I’m not coming to the gatherings anymore. I’m doing ‘X’; I’m doing ‘Y’; I’m not gonna go for ’umrah anymore”. It’s totally the opposite. When we recognize that we’re making mistakes, the way by which we wash those effects of those mistakes away—the way by which we allow ourselves to be included in the community is by joining the gatherings. In the same way that, if you have an ocean and you have najas, the ocean completely erases the najas.
There was a scholar who made a very interesting statement. They were praying and after they completed the prayer, they turned to everybody and they said, “It’s the mercy of our Lord that our sins can be washed away by this gathering”. What does that mean? It mean’s that when a group of people come together, they create such a large body of water that, despite the impurities in them, the largeness of that body negates those impurities; just like when you have a small amount of water – and I was talking about this with these kids; I don’t know if they’re sitting here or not – but when you have a small amount of water and a little bit of impurity goes into it, even if you can’t see the impurity, the whole bucket becomes rendered impure. It’s a principle of fiqh. If you have a invisible drop of impurity on your finger— invisible; you cannot see it –and you put your hand into a bucket of water, the whole bucket becomes impure because of the low amount of the water; because of the low volume of the water. But if you have a big ocean, or a lake of water, and you take a bucket of visible blood, for example – or something visibly impure – and you pour it into the water, once the effect is off the water—meaning, you don’t see the color change; obviously, in the water, once it begins to dissolve and spread, the whole ocean remains pure. It’s as if the najas doesn’t exist.
Look, in Lake Michigan, everyday, sewage is being flushed into Lake Michigan. Everyday, animals are dying in Lake Michigan. Some days, people jump into Lake Michigan and commit suicide. People kill themselves in Lake Michigan. There’s so much impurity going into the lake. But the lake is so grand and big that, assuming that certain minimal criteria are not trespassed – meaning, you don’t see a change in the color; you don’t see a change in the odor; you don’t see a change in the taste that’s obvious from the impurity – the whole body of water remains impure; it’s as if the impurity never existed. Nobody turns on the tap and says, “You know, this is impure water”. Everybody turns on the tap and makes wudu. Why? Because when you have a large body of water, it is very hard to make it impure, despite the fact that you are constantly putting impurity into it. Same with the community. When there is an individual that recognizes their impurity but joins the gathering; joins the community; merges themselves into the community; joins for prayer; joins for ‘umrah; joins for hajj; becomes part of the community; then, their impurities are washed away because of the vastness of that body of humanity. And this is the mercy from our Lord. This is something that we should forever be grateful for and thankful for; that we have opportunity to hide, despite our crimes.
Now, all that will change on the Day of Judgment; because on the Day of Judgment, Allah SWT will separate the criminals from the rest of humanity. But in this life, we have that opportunity. Look, there’s an individual—group of people gather together to perform dhikr; group of people gather together for the sake of Allah. How many times before have we said there are angels whose sole purpose in creation is to scan the universe to detect these type of gatherings. They detect the gathering; as soon as they detect the gathering, they begin to pile on top of one another until they eventually reach the throne of Allah and they announce to Allah that, “There’s a group of people that has gathered together in order to remember you”. So, Allah SWT says to the angels, “Be my witness. I’ve forgiven every single one of them”. Now, what happened? A group of impure individuals came together, but when they created a body that was significant enough – of course with the purpose of worshiping Allah – the entire body becomes pure, despite the fact that each individual component was impure. Then, what happens? Then, they say, “But there’s this random individual who sat down; who had no intention; they didn’t have an intention to worship Allah or to remember Allah; they just randomly sat down because they saw the body; they saw the body of humanity”. So, Allah says, “Be my witness. I have forgiven them, as well”. Why? Because the barakah of the large body, with a proper background, is such that it even wipes away the sins of the individual who randomly sits. Just like when you randomly throw impurity into Lake Michigan, it still remains pure.
So, for us, we seek out the largest gathering possible. You know, people make the mistake; they say, “I’m gonna go live in this place where there’s very few Muslims”. When there’s very few Muslims, there’s a really small body. And when there’s a really small body, it’s very hard to hide. It’s very hard to become pure. But when there’s a group of people that has created an ocean that attracts Allah’s mercy; and they’re all on the same page; they’re coming to the masjid, seeking their Lord; they’re coming to the masjid to extinguish the fire underneath their feet; they’re coming to the masjid to rectify what they’ve been doing since the last time they came to the masjid; then, for them, that gathering becomes one in which they are able to save themselves, despite their inability to do so otherwise. This is a great blessing for us. And every person should recognize this. The biggest mistake we can make is to run from the gathering; is to run from the masjid; is to run from prayer; is to run from the place where the pious are meeting. Despite who we are, we should always maintain that connection; and that connection is what saves us.
So, in the same way that any criminal would know that, “If I’m gonna commit a crime in the day, I should at least disguise myself so I look like everybody else”, at least we should make the effort to disguise ourselves as people of piety. And the beauty of it is that Allah SWT accepts it; He accepts it; and it becomes a means of forgiveness for all those involved.
Like I’ve mentioned before too, in the past; there was an individual companion who came to Rasulullah SAS and described what he felt to be a transgression in his mind. Of course, they had extreme piety; so, for them, the slightest of what they deemed to be a deviation, they saw as a transgression. So, he felt that he had transgressed. So, he said to Rasulullah SAS, “Punish me. Give me some punishment so that I can expiate my sin”—quote, unquote, sin. So, Rasulullah SAS told him, “Sit down”. The time for prayer came. They prayed the prayer and Rasulullah SAS began to turn away; and move on to the next thing. So, the person came back and reminded the Prophet SAS that, “Look, my punishment”. So, the Prophet SAS explained that, “The salaah expiates that which came before it”. What does that mean? The salaah is an ocean. It is an ocean of Allah’s mercy. A person can bring their sins to that ocean and those sins can be rendered insignificant, given the volume of mercy that arises through that type of gathering.
So, for us, it’s an opportunity. When we make a mistake, we run to the gathering. When we find that we’re lacking, we join the gathering. When we find that something’s missing and we’re not able to do what we should do, we don’t hide. We put ourselves forward. And that’s what saves us. So it should never be—the deception actually is the opposite. Shaytan knows this. He knows how easy it is to earn Allah’s forgiveness. He knows that all the person has to do is walk in the door and they’re forgiven; so, shaytan plants in the mind of the individual that, “I should run. Who am I to come to the masjid? I should run the other way. Who am I to show my face? I should run the other way. Who am I to pollute the gathering? I should run the other way”. It’s actually the opposite. We’re dependent on the pollution because that’s what attracts Allah’s mercy; because Allah loves to forgive. And if there weren’t a group of people that were transgressing, Allah would remove them and replace them with another group of people that does transgress so that He could forgive. That’s not the purpose – to be perfect. The purpose is to seek Allah when we’re not perfect. There’s a big difference. The purpose is not to be perfect. That’s not possible. Only Allah is perfect. The purpose is to seek Allah when we make a mistake and are imperfect. That’s the sign of a servant. That’s what causes us to bow down. It’s when we recognize that there’s a distinguishing factor between ourselves and Allah; and that Allah is so great and so grand; and without even the slightest defect. That is what elevates us. And what causes us to lower ourselves with humility is to recognize all of our imperfections; and the fact that we can’t even do what we’re supposed to do, despite the fact that it’s so minimal; and despite the fact that Allah has given us so much.
So, in any circumstance, this is something that we should impress upon ourselves – which is that, when we make mistakes; first of all, we all make mistakes; and we should use the gathering as a means to wash away those mistakes. And we should recognize our dependency on these types of gatherings in order to maintain ourselves in a large body of Allah’s mercy. We’re dependent on the masjid. We’re dependent on the community. We’re dependent on the gatherings. And we should appreciate each of those and take advantage of those. It’s not wise to move to a place where there’s three Muslim families; and there’s no masjid; and then you’re trying to survive. It doesn’t work that way. By a person running away in that manner, they won’t survive. Sure, if there’s an absolute need; the person has no opportunity; there’s no other way; they have to take this job in this one particular corner of the Earth; and there’s no other way around it; or, they have to go for da’wah; or whatever it might be; that’s a different story. But, I’m just saying, when people make a decision to move away from the community, it’s a very dangerous decision; and we should be consistent with the community, despite what we think we might be; despite any lack of sincerity or effort, or ability that we might see within ourselves.
So, we ask Allah SWT to make us among those who are always able to take advantage of the gatherings. We ask that He create gatherings for us so that we are able to enter. And we ask that He allow us to be able to take advantage of His infinite mercy such that, by these gatherings, we are able to wash away the countless that we perform.
wa akhiru da’waana ‘anil humdulillahi rabbil ‘aalameen