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January 20, 2023

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد:

يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ قُوٓاْ أَنفُسَكُمۡ وَأَهۡلِيكُمۡ نَارً۬ا وَقُودُهَا ٱلنَّاسُ وَٱلۡحِجَارَةُ عَلَيۡہَا مَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ۬ شِدَادٌ۬ لَّا يَعۡصُونَ ٱللَّهَ مَآ أَمَرَهُمۡ وَيَفۡعَلُونَ مَا يُؤۡمَرُونَ

O believers! Protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, overseen by formidable and severe angels, who never disobey whatever Allâh orders - always doing as commanded. [Quran 66:6]

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ : أَلَا كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ. فَالْإِمَامُ الَّذِي عَلَى النَّاسِ رَاعٍ وَهُوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ. وَالرَّجُلُ رَاعٍ عَلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ وَهُوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ. وَالْمَرْأَةُ رَاعِيَةٌ عَلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِ زَوْجِهَا وَوَلَدِهِ وَهِيَ مَسْئُولَةٌ عَنْهُمْ. وَعَبْدُ الرَّجُلِ رَاعٍ عَلَى مَالِ سَيِّدِهِ وَهُوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْهُ. أَلَا فَكُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عن رَعِيَّتِهِ. (متفق عليه) ه

Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with both) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people (imam) is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his/her master and he /she is responsible for it. No doubt, every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his/her flock.” [al-Bukhari and Muslim]

There are different types and styles of leadership in general, but in the above Quranic Ayah/Verse and Prophetic Hadith, “Guardian Leadership” in Islam is highlighted and stringently emphasized by Allah Almighty (SWT) and His Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW). A heavy burden is hereby placed on us to fulfill our roles and responsibilities, which include our duties to Almighty Allah, and to fulfill the rights others have upon us. And that is because if we are negligent in this regard then we could face an existential threat to ourselves and to future generations. May Allah protect us and our children, and give us strength and courage to meet our obligations. And may He bless us with opportunities to do as much good as possible.

In the Hadith above, we are reminded that we all have Roles and Responsibilities, no matter in what capacity we find ourselves, that help us realize and fulfill the purpose of our existence. This includes being informed and cognizant of these roles and responsibilities, and always striving to execute them to the best of our abilities. We cannot in fact execute them without knowing the Rights of Allah (حقوق الله) that are due upon us, including the rights that our souls also have on us (in allowing them to submit to Allah as well as taking good overall care of them - spiritually, intellectually, psychologically, emotionally and physically). Then there are the Rights of Others (حقوق العباد), starting with our immediate family (spouse and children - see above ayah), extended family, friends and neighbors, local community - Muslims and others - and so forth.

In relaying the gravity of the three “R”s alluded to above (Rights, Roles and Responsibilities), it is noteworthy to point out that in the above ayah, we don't see any mention of Allah's mercy or forgiveness or the like, as we do in many verses of the Quran. The message is forthright and the mood is stern. The consequences are severe if the order (“Protect yourselves and your families from a Fire ….”) is not heeded. And the harsh realities of Hell and the angels guarding it should also be a major deterrent for us in falling short of our duties with regard to ourselves and our family.

There are many narrations, or versions of the above Hadith, and in the one referenced the Prophet (SAW) said: “The imam (leader of people) is a guardian and is responsible for his people”. The term ‘imam’ was traditionally used for a political, social, spiritual and/or intellectual leader. His/her role has to be one of a service leader; the old Arabic adage says: “The leader of a people is indeed their servant”.

Besides the importance of service leadership, it is vital that we also have and provide (as well as implement - in our individual capacities) enlightened leadership: one that is supportive, inspirational or motivational, and ultimately transformational. This kind of “shepherd” or guardian is informed and engaging, ethical and empathetic (as part of what is often referred to as ‘compassionate leadership’), and transparent and accountable. May Allah help and guide us in the right direction.

This is, in sha Allah, the start of another year for us together and we are planning on introducing some new and diverse initiatives for the local Muslim community in particular. This is in addition to all the services and programs offered at the masjid and beyond. The goal is to mutually benefit the Muslims living in the area as well as the other faith and civic groups. It is imperative too that we continue to strive and grow, with Allah’s divine help (tawfeeq) and blessings (barakah). The initiatives will invariably only be truly effective and successful with your participation, God willing. In fact you should look upon them as great opportunities for rewarding experiences for you and your family. You may have seen some of these new programs and more details about the other ones will be forthcoming soon, in sha Allah.

We ask Allah Almighty to bless us with His help and His pleasure. May He always guide us to the path of righteousness and cooperation, the path that leads eventually to Paradise. And may Allah protect us from the punishment of Hell and of the grave, and grant us and our loved ones, dead and alive, forgiveness and mercy. All praises are due to Almighty Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful, Lord of the Universe. Blessings and Peace be upon Prophet Muhammad, his family and companions. And Peace be with you all.

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