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Grand Mufti: Mercy is the key to open hearts and to change the violent image of Islam worldwide
As part of Dar al Iftaa’s constant efforts in communicating with the broader Muslim world, a lecture was conducted by the Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa to a group of Muslim students from Singapore in which he talked about some essential key points when it comes to dealing with non Muslims.
Here is the transcription of the Grand Mufti’s lecture:
In the name of God, most Gracious, most Merciful. All praise is due to God and peace and blessings be upon our Messenger of God, his household and his companions along with those who follow them with righteousness.
I greet you all with the greetings of Islam so peace be upon you all. Welcome to Dar al Iftaa and to Egypt and I hope you enjoy your stay here and get back safely to your home country and act as a pleasant advocates to Islam with your fine manners and amicable characters.
When it comes to the issue of dealing with non Muslims whether in Singapore or else where, the matter depends emphatically on the prophetic tradition which takes precedence over all else and for this reason it is called (hadith al awaliyyah). This hadith is usually the first hadith which is narrated by the sheikh to his students and we have received this hadith from our sheikhs through a solid chain of narration. Following the long tradition, I would like to start my talk with narrating this hadith so it would be the first of the hadiths that I will narrate to you. Every sheikh tells his students prior to narrating the hadith of precedence “my sheikh narrated this hadith to me and it was the first hadith he said, the hadith is reported by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al- ‘As that the Prophet said “the merciful ones are bestowed with mercy from God; have mercy on those on earth and the One in the sky will have mercy on you”.
There are two versions of this hadith, the first makes God’s mercy conditional on having mercy on those on earth, whereas the second version makes God’s mercy as a sort of supplication or plead for mercy to descend upon those who have mercy on those on earth.
This haidth is essential in dealing with others as the Arabic proposition of “on” in the term on earth is very powerful as it includes both animate and inanimate objects. Imam al Razi and Imam al Burhan al Bajouri among many other imams stated that we should pay attention to two concepts the first is the community of calling (ummat al da’wah) and the community of acceptance (ummat al Ijabah). The first community which we call to Islam are about 7 billion people on the face of the earth so this community includes all people. As for the second community, it encompasses those who responded to the message of Islam and embraced it.
Therefore we are between brothers in humanity and brothers in religion and it is incumbent upon you to have mercy on those who are on earth. Islam expanded the range of mercy to make it as the broad headline for being a human and for this reason God started the Quran with “in the name of God most Merciful most Gracious” and did not say “in the name of God most Merciful Most vengeful” for example or “In the name of God the vengeful the slayer”. So God incorporated beauty and mercy as titles with which He would be known. God expanded the range of mercy to include animals as well and for this reason the Prophet said “a woman entered hell fire because of a cat which she imprisoned, she neither fed the cat nor let it out to eat from land” and also said “a prostitute woman from the Israelites entered paradise because she offered water for a thirsty dog so God forgave her and granted her paradise”. (al Bukhari).
God further extended his mercy to encompass inanimate objects as well and not only humans and animals. For this reason God informed us that this whole universe which surrounds us is praising and glorifying God. God said in the Quran “The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him and there is not a thing but glorifies His Praise. But you understand not their glorification. Truly, He is Ever Forbearing, Oft-Forgiving” (17:44)
God made this animate object eligible to praise and thus we should deal with them with mercy. The Prophet said to lady ‘Aisha “O ‘Aisha mercy does not encompass anything except it beautifies it and is not extracted from anything except it mars it.”
If we adopted the path of mercy, if we understood that God started his holy Quran with it, that God obliged Himself with it along with understanding the interrelated circles of mercy which encompass the whole universe, we would be able to deal with other people in a way which leads to improving the image of Islam in his eyes and made him experience the beauty and the mercy of Islam first hand. The other party will automatically feel the soft hearts of Muslims and that they have an open heart with which they love all people.
The current propagated image on Muslims today around the world is violence cruelty and corruption. God reiterated in the Quran numerously that he does not like corruption on earth or the perpetrators of corrupting acts.
Therefore it is incumbent upon us to change this image with which Muslims are known and we should encompass them with mercy and wish guidance for them. We should also remember the Prophet’s words when he said “to guide one person to Islam is better than everything on which the sun shines and sets”
Thank you so much for coming and May God bless you all with his divine mercy.