Khutbah By Nouman Ali Khan – Ask With Humility
This Khutbah was recorded at Southern Methodist University in Dallas on September 23rd, 2016
While Aya 108 of Surat Al-Baqarah seems to condemn asking too many questions, says Nouman Ali Khan, it must be analyzed in context to reconcile it with the fact that throughout the Quran, Allah not only encourages Muslims to ask, but also acknowledges and honors the questioners.
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Probably surely suddenly were silly Emily Waterloo aka melissani koko de la Sabina Angela motiva La ilaha illallah wa la la mina Latina Amina Amina, sorry hurt, whatever, whatever so the subject I mean, yeah, but I mean from
today's hold by is really about one thing it's about questions. Allah has always had a look on actually encourages questions. So for instance in one of the most profound sutras in the Quran surah Yusuf Allah says, look at kind of Yousuf our equity, he is totally silent. Allah says for use of and in use of and his brothers, there are many signs or lessons or even miracles for those who ask questions. So the idea sometimes Allah says there are IR there's guidance for people of taqwa, their guidance for people of remembrance, there's guidance for the Grateful people, and hear a lot praises people who ask questions. In other words, you're supposed to be inquisitive in this religion, you're
not supposed to take things at face value, you're supposed to inquire and understand and come to conviction for yourself. Similarly, people would come and ask the prophets, lots of different kinds of questions, all kinds of questions. And when they did, Allah didn't actually criticize them. Allah would actually honor them, but even by even mentioning them and making them part of the Quran, yes, aluna annual humbly will miss it. You can imagine somebody came and asked the prophets, I saw them. What's so bad about wine? What's the big deal? Why can't we consume it? You know, and you would imagine that Allah would reveal some kind of condemnation, to the people who dare even ask, but
that's not the case. And luck could have just revealed the answer. You know, how we believe that every word in the Koran is divinely revealed, is strategic, it has a purpose, nothing is extra, nothing can be taken away, and nothing can be added on. So everything is exactly in the amount and the color that it's supposed to be. The fact that Allah could have just said, alcohol is this, this and this. It's good for you. It's bad for you, whatever I wanted to say, a lot actually first acknowledges the fact that they came and asked you Yes, aluna I mean, the company will base it, they come and ask you, they asked you about alcohol, and they asked you about or wine they asked you
about gambling? You know, yes, alula Anisha ramita lymphie, they asked you about the secret months? As a matter of fact, what's important for the people is not that part of the ayah. They asked you obviously they they know they asked what what matters to them is the answer. So just why not just reveal the answer. This is actually one of the benefits of doing that is Allah acknowledging, honoring the people who even came and asked, acknowledging them. Now these people who asked these questions, forever became a part of the Quran, like we recite them when we recite these IOD. So questions themselves are actually a noble thing in this religion. And it's it's something that we
don't condemn. As a matter of fact, from the very beginning, you find in the Quran, Allah azza wa jal, when he told us the story of the angels, and the creation of Adam alayhis salaam, one of the first things that starts that story often creates the tension in that story is the angels actually asking a question at a geography heaven ucdp How is the mark? Are you really going to put on the earth somebody is going to cause a lot of corruption, somebody's going to spill blood, they asked a question. And what's incredible about angels is that we know like in the Quran, we learn in our interview angels number one, they don't disobey Allah, they asked when Allah moron you know, will be
able to hear from your father they they do whatever Allah commands them to do. You know, with Luna, my sense, they do whatever they're told, they're caught and they're all they do is declare a less perfection, and they seek Allah's forgiveness. They're not blasphemous, they're constantly in obedience to Allah. And yet the same angels question a lot. Why are you putting a human being on the earth? What's the point of that? They're asking a question. In other words, asking questions, in and of itself is not blasphemous, it's not a problem. It's not a bad thing to do. And if it were, the angels would never have done it. The angels would never have asked a question. Now that on the one
hand, but then the idea that I wanted to share with you is on the other hand, unless I'm to Luna and to saludos Hola, como como su Isla Musab in common. Are you intending to ask your messenger the way Musa was asked before? much before? Well, many will go for will Imani la sala Seville and whoever one would replace whoever were to replace their faith with disbelief has gone far away from the straight path. there they've lost their their way far away from the path that they're supposed to be on. That this is seems to suggest. How dare you ask questions the way Musa was asked. Don't ask your prophet the way Moosa was asked because if you do, you've essentially replaced your faith with
disbelief. So there seems to be this opposing view on the one hand the Quran celebrates questions. On the one hand Actually I have done this I lead come and ask for Allah Allah Vickery in kotula tala moon as the people who have remembrance if you yourself, don't know, you know, salmony go ask them, ask, ask and ask. And on the other hand, how dare you ask? So we have to reconcile this and that's really the point of my hotbar today is what we know what the function and purpose of this is. The first thing I'd like to share with you is that the study of the Quran is a sensitive study and one of the most fundamental
Like approaches to the study of the text of the Quran is that you have to take into consideration the context, the place in which a statement is mentioned. for you that are university students, this is all too easy to understand you never take a sentence in a chapter, you know, ignorant of the paragraph that belongs to or the chapter that it belongs to, or the textbook that it belongs to. Context is everything. Outside of context, you can barely make sense of anything. The statement that I just shared with you where Allah says, Are you intending to question your messenger the way moose ours, is actually a statement occurring in circle Baqarah. And it's part of a very long passage in
Bukhara, where Allah mentions quite a few of the ongoings of the Israelites, the children of Israel. And within those that discussion, there are a number of questions that the Israelites asked Musa so when Allah is saying, Now are you going to ask him the way Musa was asked? Are you do you want to ask him the way Musa was asked, there's already a context in which we've learned how was Musab questioned? How was he asked. And before I share that with you, I'd like to actually give you a like an easier example to understand this point. In a classroom, I've been in the teaching profession for a long time. In the classroom, there are different kinds of questions. There's an inquisitive
student who just wants to understand, and he or she dares to raise their hand or raise their voice and say, Look, I don't I don't get this, or how does that make any sense? Doesn't this contradict that? Etc, etc? They ask a question. And a seasoned teacher knows well enough that the moment they hear this question, this the student really wants to understand they're eager to understand better, right? And they'll welcome those kinds of questions because it creates fruitful discussion in the classroom. But then there's the class clown, there's the guy who is not interested in learning. And B is interested in making sure nobody else learns, either. They'd like to turn the classroom
experience into an entertaining experience. And the way they do that, is that they'll actually ask really obnoxious, ridiculous, condescending, sarcastic kinds of questions. And a seasoned teacher, or anybody would have the wit would know that this guy is pulling my leg, like he's not really asking you a question to understand. He's asking you a question to distract from the actual subject matter, or to be insulting, or to be condescending, sometimes even in a question. You could be insulting to somebody, like, for example, just to take an easy example. A couple of people are talking. Are you for real?
That's a question. But it's the kind of question that puts you in a question somebody or their integrity, or whether or not they're serious, or whether or not they're, they're telling the truth. You know, are you kidding me? at a tequila huzefa literally in the Quran? Are you taking us for a joke? Are you serious? This is how they asked musasa. There's the question that is inquisitive, that you want to prove it, you want to learn. That's all you're interested in. You want to reconcile a contradiction, you want to understand something better, something's not adding up to you. Those are the kinds of questions that the book of Allah and this religion welcomes open door policy, then
there are the kinds of questions that are just meant to be obnoxious.
And it's actually not even in the way the question is phrased. But it's the attitude that lies behind that question, the motivations behind that question. There are a couple of things here. What is it that you're asking? And why are you asking? And how are you asking? There's three pieces to this. What are you asking? Why are you asking? And how are you asking? Now the thing with musala? Look, you can't tell why somebody is asking because intentions lie inside the heart. There's no way for me to tell. So all I can judge and you can judge for others is number one, what are they asking? And number two? How are they asking? That's all we can judge, though, what you're asking if it's
clearly purposeful. It's meant to serve some kind of higher understanding. It's a welcome question. But even then, even if it's a good question, the Quran makes sure that we don't just ask that we asked properly, that the house should be taken care of, that we should take into consideration the mannerism, the tone, you know, like, for example, I have a student, very passionate student, and he'll discuss the most the simplest of things. I mean, just yesterday, he talked to me about some issue in Arabic grammar. It's not like a human and gopher issue. It's the labeling of a sentence and how it should be organized or whatever. And his voice rose, and he got really passionate. And at
this age, we Easy, easy, we're just discussing nouns. This is not like, you know, some great cause where blood is being spilled relax, because Yeah, I know, I get a little worked up. It's okay. It's okay. You know, you don't have to get worked up about stuff you can ask in a civilized way you can keep yourself cool. And so there's the what and there's the how now when Allah says come out to Isla musalman Cabo, there are a couple of things there. Obviously the intention, I can only check for myself, I can't check your intentions and you can't check mine. But what we ask and how we ask is important. It doesn't matter. The manner in which you speak to somebody the words you choose to use,
the tone you choose to use, the facial expressions you make, that's all part of the hell don't do that before the prophets lie Selim the way people did with musante Santa
Don't Don't be condescending. You know, the Quran even makes a point out of out of indicating that facial expressions are offensive. The way you stare at someone can be offensive. You know, some bizarre, bizarre bizarre. So my advice was taqwa. He frowned and he stared loosely conical kabhi. I'm sorry, him, they look at you in a way that makes you want to almost trip up the way they stare you down, like a Lowell highlight, you know, lots of other calendars don't have swelled up cheeks, when you meet with people, don't be stuck up when you meet with people, all these all these expressions in the Quran about how your face looks when you deal with people. Right? So this is part
of you know how to ask, but that's actually not even the point of Michael. But this was one of the preliminary things I wanted to say about this ayah. But the other thing that I really wanted to talk to you about is the kinds of questions we have to deal with today, especially as Muslims, and especially probably you guys, as college students. The kinds of questions you face about Islam are of every variety. You know, why do you guys believe this? Why do you guys do that? Is it true in Islam, there's this or that or the other, and there's no end to these things. There's no end to the number of questions there are about Islam and violence, for example, the Jihad questions or Islam
and its relationship with women, or Islam, and, you know, pluralism and our acceptance of other worldviews, or the exclusivity of Islam in the afterlife and all kinds of things right. And you get asked about these things, from a humanist point of view, from a moral point of view, how can you believe these things in the modern world? And you know, how is this supposed to be a tolerant religion? I mean, you call it peace, but then you say this, this, this and this, right. So you're bombarded with that kind of stuff all the time. And one of the things that I wanted to highlight in you know, as part of this ayah is what Allah has always had does with with questions. By the way,
the Quran does record condescending questions to the Quran does record sarcastic questions. It does record people that ask questions for the wrong reasons, also, and teaches us how to deal with that as well. A lot, a lot does do that as well. So what I wanted to break this down into are two kinds of questions.
There are root questions, and there are branch questions. That's obviously the imagery of a tree, isn't it? Root questions and branch questions. The thing about a branch is if you know, let's say every time you address a branch question, you've cut off that branch. The thing about a branch is when you cut it off, another one will grow in its place, and maybe two will grow in its place. You cut off and chop off another Ranch, another two or three will grow in this place. You'll have a conversation with someone about how Islam this treats women, you can have that conversation for four or five hours, it's going to lead to a question about slavery, which is going to lead to a question
about jihad, which is going to lead to a question about Islam and politics, which is going to lead and it's going to keep going and about six hours in you're going to come back to Islam and women. Really, didn't we just do that one. You're gonna come back in circles and circles and circles and circle and they're not going to end. somebody thinks, well, you know, here are the 100 questions that are being asked about Islam. If we can just answer these questions, we're good. Then Then the problem is solved. These from from my own understanding of the Quran, Allah knows best. A lot of these questions are actually branch questions. They address one bit of the problem. But they don't
address the root of the problem. Yes, these questions do have answers, but answering them before you deal with the root of the problem is pointless? Not that these questions don't deserve answers they do. But the thing is, there's a deeper problem here. The Quran, it makes itself concerned, it concerns itself primarily with the root questions. And the root questions most people don't ask. They actually don't ask. They can feed. It's a long list of questions. Some of them may be the fundamental core or root questions. A lot of them are branch questions, and they're all mixed in together. So what I'd like to share with you today a little bit is what are some of those root
questions like? Is there really a god?
Is this really revelation from God is Mohammed really a messenger of God, he speaks on behalf of the Creator of all things. You know, Angel, an angel really did descend on him and gave him this message. This is what you actually believe in, what's your basis for believing that you guys actually do believe that once you die, that life carries on that were our bodies are decayed, they're turning into dirt, they're, you know, the, the mat, the thing that made up our bodies has now mixed in with the with the elements of the earth, insects and all kinds of, you know, microbes have had their way with us. And we're deteriorated to a point where they're, they're this piece of
grass right here may have been a grave but when you dig it now 1000 years later, there's nothing to be found nothing but dirt. And you're saying that we're gonna come back from all of this restored entirely. And then on top of that, there's a new kind of life where there is no aging. There's eternity. And you get to live forever and there's a kind of fire that burns but doesn't kill and it's much harder than this fire. This is the stuff you guys believe. This is what you actually are convinced of this absolutely convinced of this.
You know what these are? These are fundamental questions, they boil down to three things. They boil down to questions about God about Allah,
about the message itself rissalah revelation, the entire institution of Revelation, and a life after death, whether we're talking about the life in the grave, or Judgment Day, or hell, or heaven doesn't matter, it's another life, another life beyond this one. The Quran concerns itself with these three, it actually primarily concerns itself with these three, Allah, this Allah.
When you answer these questions to the satisfaction of a human soul, someone's internalized that these are actual realities. This is, in fact, Revelation, I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am content in the depth of my heart, that this is in fact the Word of God, then those other questions, you may still have them. But when you receive their answers, you'll actually be satisfied. You'll actually be content. And another incredible thing will happen. There are some questions to which you will never find answers.
Because he knows everything and you don't and you've accepted that already. So you'll ask What does Alif laam Meem mean? And you'll be you'll be given the answer Allah knows and I don't
and you won't, you won't have a problem saying, I can't accept that I'm that's not good enough for me, I need to know everything. That's not going to be a problem anymore. Because you've accepted a higher authority. You've accepted a divine source you see a large alien This is saying, Are you going to question your messenger in a way that indicates that you have a problem with the roots?
What is the root Eman? What is human human Billa emonda rissalah human will
look at the look at this ayah again, are you intending to ask your messenger the way Musa was asked before um to the Buddha and Tallulah Sula Komatsu, illa musalman COVID Romania taba, delco frabill Eamon
bola Saba subete, whoever were to replace faith with disbelief. So the questions go back to what matters of faith, actual matters of faith. Now, a lot of times, for example, there are Muslims, there are Muslims in this audience and they're Muslims around the world that really have some deep questions. Maybe they were asked by non Muslims or they started thinking about them themselves. And maybe they have questions like Allah is way too harsh man's the the God of the Quran is really, really harsh. Why is he going to punish people forever in hell or things like that, we will have the kind of question, you know, why why are there such tough punishments in Islam? You know, why our
hands being chopped? And people being stoned? And that stuff seems barbaric? How can that stuff be in the modern world, etc? And like, these are questions you might have, but you're scared to ask your mom because she'll have heart palpitations, and then she'll start reciting Quran on you and like, you know, and then, you know, then force you to go to ombre with her. And, you know,
like, so you're scared to ask, you don't even ask? Or if you know, if you were to ask your father or your cousin or your brother, like a stock rule, what are you saying, bro? You know, you need to watch this video. You know, like,
yeah. So that that happens, right? So you don't actually ask you keep it inside. A lot of young people, a lot of people actually have questions about their face. They haven't heard satisfactory answers about the fundamentals of their faith. Why are they believers to begin with? They have those questions, but we've created a culture in which you cannot ask, you cannot engage those questions, you cannot arrive at a satisfactory answer. Because we have made these questions into taboo. And as a result of that, a lot of people walk around without the outside looks like they're Muslim. They're praying, they're, you know, they come in and eat prayer at least. But on the inside, there are these
questions that are just unanswered, and sometimes they just come out, because you can only keep these things inside for so long. And then at some party or some gathering, they just pour out and then you're like, What? What did you How can you see these things? I never knew you were like a closet COVID or something, you know?
This is why the ayah doesn't just say Don't ask. It's amazing. Even I shouldn't comment on this. He says I'm just a lunala sulaco No, una escuela con? Are you intending to question your messenger? Allah didn't say are you questioning your messenger? He says are you intending to?
The criticism in the ayah is actually not about asking questions. It's about the intention. In other words, the thoughts that are there, unless critic critiquing the thoughts themselves, do you have these thoughts? And do you not address these thoughts? The way Musa was asked before and the reason the Moosa case is mentioned, and like to conclude with that in Sharla, is that what Musa alayhis salam, he showed his people some incredible things. They saw water that retains its shape, refuse to retain its shape by the command of a line, water part, a body of water parts so they can pass right through. They saw you know, piece of wood turned into
A snake. They saw clouds following them like an umbrella. They saw some incredible, incredible things, they saw a boulder, spring out 12 gushes of water. Now if you and I happen to be there in that crowd, there will be no doubt left. There's a God that says, messenger. This is some pretty heavy stuff. I'm not going to question it. Intellectually there will be no doubt left in your mind. There would be nothing, no question left in your mind that that, in fact, is God's Messenger. There's no way to question that. You see, Were you there when the water thing happened, bro, we walk right through it. There is no way that happens without any divine intervention. Right? So
intellectually are completely satisfied. But the irony of it is, after being completely intellectually satisfied, in sort of Bukhara,
the Israelites as the most condescending, skeptical kinds of questions of Moosa.
In other words, they were logically convinced Yes or no? Yes. Were there rational doubts addressed? Yes. Did they still ask blasphemous questions? Yes. How can that be? How can you question after being convinced? You have every reason to be convinced now? What room do you have left to ask questions, this is actually an oversimplification in our times, we feel if you and I are logically or intellectually convinced, then faith is there. And until we're logically and rationally not convinced, then faith is not there. Being logically convinced being rationally convinced is a is a piece of argument. But there's another piece of argument, there's another piece of our faith. And
that piece of our faith has to do with our pride, our greed, our stubbornness, our ego. There's this other thing that isn't rational at all, our our inner self. These people had no reason to doubt the religion intellectually.
But they had every reason to criticize the religion, because it went against what they really wanted to do themselves, it went against their greed, it went against their desire for comfort in one against the other things that we have inside of us. Human beings are not purely rational creatures, if you were purely rational creatures, you wouldn't take a nap three hours before the exam.
But you're like, I'm tired, I'm just gonna pass just one more run of the game. Just one more run, let me get to the next save point. And then I'll start, that's not rational, that's just your laziness. Some, there's other parts to you that aren't you're not a machine, there are things you desire to do. There are things you lust doing, there are things you have greed for that sacrifice, even common sense, you do that in everything in life. But when it comes to the faith, we say the faith has to be purely logical.
It has to be purely on rational terms, that's silly. There are matters of the heart, there are matters of the self, they do get in the way, their pride got in the way, their their eagerness got in the way, in other places, their cowardice got in the way, their laziness got in the way, you know, and then they asked these kinds of questions, or on is actually saying, in a very profound way that Allah will address on the one hand, your intellectual curiosity. But if you think that that's all there is to you, that you don't have to humble yourself, that you don't have to put yourself in check. That you don't have to accept that there is in fact a heart, you're not discussing some
abstract God, you're, you're dealing with a law, that you have to actually put yourself in a in the position that you were created, until you can do that. You won't find faith, you will not find it. This is the last example I'm giving you of this latter point, that there is something more than just a rational when it comes to accepting our faith, okay?
Allah azza wa jal will describe the human being in the Quran, how He created him. And a lot of times people focus on Oh, look, the Quran is a scientific miracle because it mentioned the sperm and dimensioned this and that, and the other, you know, wireles has been money, you're gonna,
you're gonna question whether I can create it, you know, what I made you from the first time
I made you from a fluid that people wash off their clothes. This is what I made you What does Allah doing when he talks like that? He's putting me in you in our place, you are gonna question me, that's what you're gonna do. This is what you're gonna question what I am capable of, you know, if A and I gave this example, it's hard for us to relate to in the United States, maybe not for long. But if this was a kingdom, and a king, and a king did issue a verdict, right? People doesn't make any sense. I'm not gonna follow that. Or a cop pulls you over and says pull over to the side. Why that's I don't want to go on that side.
That's not make any sense. You know, I like the left side better. I'm a lefty.
You're gonna talk to a cop like that. No, you know, why not? Because you've accepted his authority.
You realize that he's in a position of authority and you're not and you're gonna follow those injunctions. You're gonna have a like, you can hate cops all you want when he's pulled you over and you roll the window down.
You are in a humble position.
You can call them pigs or this or that whatever you want later on or before. But once you roll down the window, how are you officer nice hat like, yeah, that's, there's gonna be a different attitude to you. You know? Why is that? Because you recognize you're dealing with someone that has authority over you right now. We talk about Allah, we talk about Islam, we talk about the Quran, we talk about the prophets, I saw them as subjects. We don't talk about Allah like he's an authority, witnessing our conversation, having power over what we do, and what we say. And there are consequences on the attitude that we show him. So hard Allah, there's no humility in the way we speak. So you see
philosophy, professors can talk about God, however they feel like, right? They just can't they don't have any concern for humility. When they speak about God. Well, if he is there, then well, how come this does that, like they can just whatever whatever comes in their head they can utter, for a believer who's now come to the conviction that there is, in fact, a god, what should necessarily come with that is he's all hearing.
He's all hearing. He's a witness to all things, which means he's a witness to me right now. Would you speak about your boss the same way if he was in the room? Or if he wasn't in the room?
Would you speak about an elder the same way? What would he do? Is there an effect when you realize somebody's present? Does it change your tone? does it impact you? And for if it's not impacting us, and it's just an abstract philosophical subject, there's no there's no faith. That's not faith at all. Woman yet about the local family man for Kabbalah so as to be male, Larissa will keep us from being lost from that even path and make us of those who do genuinely ask questions but ask the right way, and ask for the right reasons, and are able to distinguish between the questions that are distractions or branches, and the questions that are at the heart of the matter and May Allah azza
wa jal make our hearts at rest and at peace with this beautiful gift is Islam that Allah has given us. barakallahu li walakum glucuronic hakima el camino al
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