Young Americans’ Attitude Towards The Qur’an

By Nouman Ali Khan

Mp3 of Lecture:


In the brief Khutbah today, as you all know, it’s the final farewell Friday sermon of the month of Ramadan, the month of the Qur’an. I figured it would be appropriate to share some realities in regards to the Book of Allah, and our times, and the attitudes that Muslims and Non-Muslims have towards Allah’s Book, and what needs to be done about it Insha’Allahu ta’ala.  First and foremost, I want to share with you something you already know: we live in a religiously pluralistic society; a society in which many different people follow many different religions. You have people of different faiths at your work, people of different faiths at your school, at your college, at your university, in your neighborhood, pretty much everybody else. It’s a diversified society in terms of religion.

And when people live in such a society, there are certain ideas that aren’t even said, but they creep into the thought process of the people, and this is something that creeps into the thought process of the Christian, the Jew, the Hindu, the agnostic, whoever, and even sometimes the Muslim. And this idea of, you know, part of getting along with everybody, and part of, sort of, respecting everybody else, one of the ideas that is pumped into a pluralistic society is that all these religions – people follow these different religions because they come from different backgrounds. They come from different cultures. You’re from Morocco, and you’re from Spain, and you’re from, you know, Egypt, or you’re from Bangladesh or something, that’s why you’re Muslim. You know, I’m from the Philippines, I’m from Sri Lanka, or wherever else, and that’s why I’m a Buddhist, or that’s why I’m a Hindu, or that’s why I’m a Catholic, or that’s why I’m a Protestant, etc.  So really, we’ve just learned to accept religious differences almost as though they are cultural differences, right? So this idea is presented that religious differences; there’s no distinction between them – it’s just, you could think of it like another cultural difference. So the fact that you fast, in the month of Ramadan, and your neighbors know that you fast, they think that it’s such a cool thing to do in their culture. The first thing that comes in their minds isn’t religion; the first thing that comes in their minds is these Eastern people, these brown people, these yellow people, these colored people, they fast: it’s a thing they do out there, right? That’s what it is. And you know sometimes the Muslims themselves, especially the youth, start thinking like that: “Yeah, we are Muslim because we were born in a Muslim family” or “that’s our heritage; that’s how we are. These are the kinds of things we do because we’re from that background.” And the idea and the conviction that we are Muslim because it is the truth; it has nothing to do where we come from or what our parents are. The fact that the Deen of Allah, Islam, is the truth – that idea becomes diluted. It gets reduced to just a culture, gets reduced to just a religious heritage – that’s all it is. And when you lose sight of the fact that this is the truth, then you don’t feel the urgency to want to share the truth with others. You’re okay with the fact that somebody else is whatever other religion, and you are this religion; it’s just traditional differences. You know, these are differences of heritage. But when you’re convinced this is the truth, and then when you’re convinced of that, you know everybody else – what they have is falsehood – then you feel a sense of urgency to want to share the truth with others.   

If there is a building on fire and you’re the only one who knows it’s on fire, it’s only decency that you would want to let other people know: “Listen, we need to get out of here; it’s on fire.” There’s a sense of urgency that creeps up into you. But this sense of urgency is gone; it’s gone because we don’t associate the Deen of Allah, the Book of Allah, the legacy of His Messenger (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) as being the ultimate truth that demands to be shared with humanity. That’s one problem: a change of attitude needs to take place. Here’s another change of attitude that I want to talk to you about. Those of us who do work in the field of Da’wah, or organizations, groups, writers, websites, etc., dedicating to spreading and, you know, enlightening the people of Islam in whatever capacity – may Allah help all the efforts of Da’wah, big and small, local and national. May Allah help all of them and put Barakah in their work and accept the work from them, and may Allah make all of us contributors to the work of Dawah in all lands, including this one. Now, having said all of that, the work of Da’wah, of sharing the message of Islam with the larger society – let’s just talk about it in the American context briefly. This work has a few obstacles in front of it, and this work has right now been reorganized, and it’s been shaped not according to our liking or according to the principles of our Book in our legacy, but according to a different agenda. And this is what I wanted to bring before you. You know, in the Prophet’s time (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam), the Qur’an was the main vehicle of Dawah. The Messenger (alayhis salaatu wa salaam) was commanded, “وَاتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِن كِتَابِ رَبِّكَ- Read what has been revealed to you from the Book.” Read it onto the people. Recite it onto them. “فَذَكِّرْ بِالْقُرْآنِ مَن يَخَافُ وَعِيدِ. Remind by means of the Qur’an.” Makkan Surah, right? Who are you reminding by Qur’an? Whoever fears the promise; even if a disbeliever has some fear of the promise, they will be reminded by the Qur’an. The Qur’an was a means by which the message of Allah was delivered to people. You know, when this message was delivered, some people didn’t want to hear it; some people wanted to distract this conversation. They didn’t want to have this conversation that’s the central message of the Book. So they started this tactic, you can call it irrelevant questions, they started asking the Messenger (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) questions that are almost tangents so that he would be so busy answering those questions, he never gets to talk about what he wants to talk about. So they would say to him, “We will believe in what you have to say, but just answer this: who sends you revelation? Which angel? What’s his name? If you just tell us that, we’ll believe”. So the Ayaat come down and he answers properly and he says, “Jibreel”, and they say, “Well, we don’t like him actually. Let’s ask you another question. How about this: who are the people of the cave? If you just answer that, we’re going to believe.” So the Qur’an answers, “أَصْحَابَ الْكَهْفِ”, right? We recite this in Surah Kahf. So now, when that answer was given: “Well no, we have another question actually: what is the Ruh? Where does it come from? Who’s Dhul-Qarnain?”

Are these central questions? You have to understand the central idea was believe in this Messenger, the central concept was ‘La Ilaha Ill Allah”, the central concept was don’t change with your tongue the book that Allah had revealed to you – don’t hide what Allah had sent to you; that was the message. They don’t want to accept that message, so what’s the easiest tactic? Change the conversation by changing the questions. It’s a very clever tactic, it’s very clever, and you know, it’s even used today; you go on a TV – it’s a TV interview – and the host, the guy who’s hosting the show, and there’s an expert, some scholar, whatever area. Maybe it’s a historian, maybe it’s a political scientist, whatever. That historian will never get to say what he wants to say because the host keeps on changing the question; he controls the entire conversation. What I’m trying to get across is that whoever controls the questions controls the conversations. This is true in media, this is true in Da’wah; this is true in discourse in general. Whoever controls the questions controls the conversation. The thing in the Qur’an is that Allah did address some of their questions and then He stopped. Then Allah started asking questions himself because Allah (Azza wa Jal) himself takes control of the conversation – “أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ? Why don’t you think?” “أَمْ لَكُمْ كِتَابٌ فِيهِ تَدْرُسُونَ? Do you have a book that you study from? هَاتُوا بُرْهَانَكُمْ Bring it forward!” Asking questions and making demands from the people who disbelieve.

However, now we’re living in times when we are not the ones – the Muslims are not the ones, the Da’ees are not the ones asking the questions. Questions are being asked of us. “Hey, how come Islam condones terrorism?” “How come you people hate women so much?” “How come you do this? How come you do that?” and we’re put in a position that we’re constantly telling people, “No, No, No. Islam is not this. No, Islam is not that. No, Islam is not that either. And it’s not this either. And no, this is not what the Qur’an actually says. And this is not the Sunnah.” So we’re so busy telling the people what Islam is not, that we don’t get to tell them what Islam is. We never get a chance to speak because the questions are not in our control.

We have to understand the Ayah I recited before you from Surah Anbiya is a very powerful Ayah. In this Ayah, He depicts the message of this Deen and the book of Allah and this truth, this La Ilaha Ill Allah, this Muhammadar Rasulullah (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) that is running in our blood. This truth. Allah gives it an image – sometimes in the Qur’an, a lesson is taught by means of drawing a picture in your mind. Allah says, “بَلْ نَقْذِفُ بِالْحَقِّ عَلَى الْبَاطِلِ” – “We spear the truth against the falsehood”. The image being drawn is that the Truth, Islam, is like a spear. Truth is like a weapon, and its being hurled, its being launched against falsehood, who is a guy running away from the spear obviously. So who’s on the offensive? The spear! And who’s running away? The falsehood! Compare that to our times; who’s actually running after who? It’s like the guy is running after the spear; it’s the other way around. We’re on the run. We’re not the one asking the questions. The tables have been turned. Then Allah describes, “فَيَدْمَغُهُ – Then the spear dashes the skull of falsehood in.” Now, this is a very graphic image in the Ayah; Allah doesn’t just say, “Truth defeats falsehood.” Truth kills falsehood; it bashes its skull in; its brains get bashed up. In other words, what we’re learning is that truth has no tolerance for falsehood. Islam has no tolerance for ideas that are contrary to the truth. We’re not saying we’re intolerant of Non-Muslims – that’s not what we’re saying. We are saying truth cannot stand falsehood. Truth has no tolerance; no, it cannot stand next to it and be okay. If it sees it, it has to bash its skull in it. That’s what it has to do. That’s what it must do by definition. In other words, truth is incredibly offended by the existence of falsehood. It’s offended by the existence of falsehood. And we are in a time now that falsehood is offended by the existence of Islam. It’s offended by the existence of the truth.

This is one problem that I wanted to share with you. But add to this one more thing. The elders among us, those of us that come from the Muslim countries especially – maybe they were attending Halaqaat when they were younger. They were in the company of scholars when they were younger. They built this love and affection for the Deen as they were growing up. So they have this غيرة for Islam, they have this chivalry towards Islam. They have courage and this confidence for the Deen. But that confidence does not exist today amongst their own children. It does not exist today among our youth. Our youth are only at the Masjid because we drag them here. They’re only at Sunday school because you left without them. They’re not here. They’re not at the Halaqaat; the Halaqaat are filled with people with grey beards and white beards. They’re not being attended by the sixteen-year-olds and the fourteen-year-olds and you know what? When they go to school, they are learning that ‘Izlam’ worships the moon-god; that is what they are learning in public school. I was listening to a preacher – you know, I live in Texas, and there’s a lot of Christian talk radio shows. And now, there are actually talk radio shows dedicated to the Muslim audience; they want to talk to Muslims, want to bring them from darkness to light and they want to bring them to Jesus. They’re talking to Muslims and they’re inviting them to call in. They actually have a supposedly Qur’an expert on the radio show: “We want to share our faith with you. We understand you think, you know, that believing that Jesus is the Son of God is Shirk, and they know these terminologies, and they can quotes Ayaat from the Qur’an.

They’re actually out there to give the message of Christianity to Muslims, right? And I’m listening and their evidences are almost, WAllahi, laughable. They are laughable, but you know, I also got very scared when I was listening. I called in to see just what happens and they hanged up on me, but I was very scared – you know why? What’s the biggest weapon these people have? What’s the biggest weapon those who call to falsehood and instead of falsehood being on the run, now it’s attacking the truth, right? What’s the biggest weapon they have? The biggest weapon they have is the ignorance of the Muslims. The biggest weapon they have is that we don’t know our Deen. Our kids don’t know their Deen; they don’t have the confidence that this is the truth. Instead, and this is the point that I want to actually conclude with because this is the heart of the matter, what I want to share with you. I don’t just want to bring the problem before you; I want to share with you how do we get to a solution. How do we start fixing things too?

Look, in our times, if you want to learn something about the Qur’an, of course you ask the ultimate Shaykh…Google, right? You put in ‘Qur’an’ or whatever, and you want to learn something about the Qur’an and a bunch of hits come up. You know, on the internet, in the media, on YouTube, whatever else, there is far more literature, and media, and content available against the Qur’an and attacking the Qur’an. There’s far more against the Qur’an and very little in comparison available in defense of the Qur’an or pro-the-book-of-Allah. The criticisms far outweigh the appreciation of the Book of Allah. I want to share something else with you: for a millennium and a half, this Ummah and its scholars that span every continent, every continent, they have been obsessed with the miraculous power of this Book. They have been obsessed with the Qur’an’s incredible majesty and how it can’t possibly be the words of a human being. Thousands upon thousands of scholars have given their entire lives studying the miracle of the Qur’an in the Muslim tradition. And then, for the last three to four hundred years, the Christian tradition (move up Insha’Allahu wa ta’ala; the crowd is filling up, so move as much as you can). In the Christian World and the European World, the Qur’an started being studied formally about four hundred years ago; they started studying Islam. Why did they start studying Islam? So that they can defeat the new enemy, that was the idea, right? So they have been writing critical works against the Qur’an for about four hundred years now in the Christian World basically, ok?

 If you try to, say, we’re not even talking about the non-Muslim, let’s just talk about the Muslim – if the Muslim wants to learn something about the Qur’an, do they have today, more access to what has been written by our own scholars about the Qur’an, or do they have easier access to what is the attacks on the Qur’an? They have easier access to the attacks on the Qur’an. Even the Muslim today says, “How come this Ayah says, “One day is equal to fifty thousand” and that Ayah says, “One day is equal to one thousand”? How come He says over here this, how come he says over here that? The Muslim is asking these questions. The Muslim is saying how come this doesn’t make any sense, about the Quran. We have reached that point. We have reached that point. Here we were, supposed to poke questions to others, and now our own are asking questions about their own Book. That is the reality in which we live. How do we counter this reality? How do we produce youth, especially youth, young men and women, that we are so scared, so defensive, right? One of the things before I conclude this Khutbah is the impact of this mentality. This mentality that we have to constantly answer and defend ourselves, right? Instead of Islam being on the ideological offensive, it’s on the defensive constantly. What is the consequence of that? We have the idea that we have to protect our children from the Fitna of the outside world, right? This is Haraam, and that’s Haraam, and how are we going to raise our children when we’re scared to death about what’s going to happen to our kids – isn’t that the case?

You know, if we were really producing children of Islam, if we were producing members of this Ummah, carriers of this message, then the entire high school would be scared. “Man, my kid’s Christianity’s going to go away because there’s a Muslim kid in the school.” They would have that kind of confidence. We wouldn’t shake because of what’s around us; everything around us would shake because we are there. That’s the kind of confidence Islam puts into someone when they understand what they believe, when they have the Book of Allah empowering them, right? I know of a case of a brother I know actually that when he was in high school, he had memorized Qur’an before he studied his Deen, and he went into public school. And his parents were told, “Don’t put him in public school. Keep him in an Islamic school, or keep him in a Madrassa” and this and that, but he said, “No, I want to go to a public school”. Ask him why he wants to go to a public school: “Those people need the message” – that’s what he said. That’s a fifteen-year-old kid. And he goes – by the time he graduates from high school, eighteen kids become Muslim in that high school. This is confidence in your Deen. This is what we’re supposed to produce.

We’re supposed to – you know, they say in sports, the best defense is offense, right? The best preservation of our youth is the production of Da’ees. You produce people that carry this message, and deliver this message, and are content with this message, and are deeply confident with this message. You produce that and you don’t have to worry about them, you know, they’re not going to end up at the nightclub, and they’re not going to do alcohol, and they’re not going to have a girlfriend. You’re not going to worry about these things because they have a higher mission in life then. You have empowered them with something greater. When there’s a void of a higher purpose in life, then you have these problems. Then they look for other things to fulfill that void. But our Deen give us purpose. WAllahi, it empowers youth and it puts them on a different scale. It puts them on a different platform than anybody else. You know, we’ve become a people that want to protect ourselves, cut ourselves off from the rest of society. The only justification ‘Ulama have told for you decades now, I’m not the first one to tell you this, the only justification for Muslims living in this land is Da’wah. That’s the only real justification. Before all this hiding away and saying, “Oh my God”, if we’re like that, then there’s a serious problem. If we don’t know how to handle somebody who walks into the Masjid, a Jehovah’s witness, or a preacher, or a guy with tattoos all over his body, walks into the Masjid and we don’t know how to handle it; that’s our problem, not his problem. That’s our problem; we don’t know how to deal with them. We don’t know how to deal with the larger society. And we were here to deliver this message, to carry this message in our speech and our actions. In the four or five minutes that I have left, I want to share with you a couple of things, Bi’idhnIllah, that are hopefully food for thought for you and your family Insha’Allahu wa ta’ala. First and foremost, there are two things about the Qur’an that, at least in the Qur’anic studies, not in the larger Islamic studies, just in the Qur’anic studies, that all families should be aware of. This book is something we should understand, but it’s at the same time something that we should also appreciate. The Qur’an is not something just to be understood, but it is also something to be appreciated. What does that mean? We have to appreciate the fact that this is actually from Allah. We have to appreciate the fact that a human being couldn’t possibly produce this. It couldn’t possibly be from a human – it’s impossible. That cannot be.

Now, how do you come to that appreciation until you become a student of its power and its majesty, until even for the English speaker – you know, the vast majority of Muslims today are not Arabs or Arabic speakers, the vast majority of Muslims. But if you ask the question what is the amazing power of the Qur’an, what makes it so perfect, what makes it so flawless, what makes it so inimitable (it can’t be reproduced), the answer will always be its pristine Arabic. It’s Arabic is so perfect that it cannot be reproduced. Isn’t this the answer that you always get? Now, for the majority of Muslims who don’t know Arabic, are they ever going to benefit from that answer? No. So do we stop there and say well, the natural knowledgeable person comes in and says, “I want to know why the Qur’an’s a miracle” and the Shaykh tells him it has amazing Arabic and it couldn’t be by a human being. The poets couldn’t come up with anything like it. He says, “Well, I want to know how that works. That’s not enough for me. How is it better than Shakespeare? How is it better than any other literature? I want to know more.”

“Well, you have to know Arabic?” “Uhh, I don’t have time to learn Arabic.” “Well, too bad for you.” We can’t do that. We can’t do that, just because we’re living in a time, this Da’wah, this miracle, this beauty of this book. Yes, all the Balagha of the Qur’an cannot be shared with people in any other language. But a lot of it can be. A lot of the beauty and the power and the majesty of this Book can be shared. A lot of the questions can be answered. You know, when the average Muslim is even asking, “How come the Qur’an repeats itself so much? How come it says the same thing over and over and over again? How come a little bit of the story here, a little bit here, a little bit there, a little bit there? And why are they placed so sporadically, right? Muslims are asking these questions. WAllahi, Muslims are asking these questions. “How come for example in the Qur’an, there’s a Makki Surah, there’s a Madani Surah, there’s a Makki Surah – it’s all chronologically all over the place. How come “اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ”, the first revelation, is not in the beginning – it’s all the way at the end, right? All these kinds of questions, Muslims are asking today, and they have answers, but we have to sit and seek them. We have to sit and actually explore this. And when you do explore this, you will come to the conclusion that this Book, this Book, is superior in terms of its beauty. You will appreciate it – it is superior than any literature ever known to man. You will come to that conclusion yourself. And when you come to that conclusion yourself, then you have the confidence in this Deen that cannot be shaken. You have to have confidence in this Book first. I wanted to share with you in the beginning, I’ll do this in the conclusion now, the Ayahs from Surah Ankabut, “وَقَالُوا لَوْلَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ” The Kuffar said, “How come no miracle comes to him? How come he just has words? How come the sky doesn’t crack open, water coming out of the ground, or maybe gold being delivered from the sand? Some miracle – show us something! The previous Prophets, you know, a dead guy come back to life, a river parted, some pretty cool stuff happened. How come he doesn’t show us a miraculous sign? Allah says, “قُلْ إِنَّمَا الْآيَاتُ عِندَ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّمَا أَنَا نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ. Allah tells the Messenger to say, “The miraculous signs belong to Allah. And I am only here to clearly warn. I am a clear warner to you.” That’s it. The next Ayah says, “أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِهِمْ أَنَّا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ – Isn’t it enough for them that we have sent the Book to be read to them? We have sent the Book onto you to be read to them?” They asked for a miracle and Allah said, “Isn’t the Book enough?”

Allah said, “Isn’t the Book enough”, right? They wanted to be convinced, they wanted to see something super natural, they wanted to see something that couldn’t be human, and Allah says, “Isn’t the Book enough?” If Allah said the Book is enough then, then it’s true even now and it’s still enough. We’re not studying it. We’re not spending the time. We are not appreciating its miracle. The Book is still enough. “أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِهِمْ أَنَّا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ ” SubhanAllah, it’s such a powerful message, this Book is such an empowering message, but we have to stop being apologetic, we have to stop being defensive. We have to learn to equip ourselves what that spear, the spear of knowledge of this Deen, of confidence of this Deen, of really standing up and saying, “Yes, we have the truth. We’re not just another religion and please just accept us as another acceptable religion in society.” They’re okay with Chinese Americans, they’re okay with Sri Lankan Americans, and they’re okay with Hispanic Americans, and they should be okay with Muslim Americans then too. They should be, but we’re here for more than that. We’re not just here so that people are okay with us – we’re not just here for that, we’re here for a higher purpose. We’re here to deliver a message, and, you know, in the history of the Prophets, whenever a Prophet got up to deliver the message, they got in trouble. They suffered because they delivered a message – every one of them. So if you are thinking you should be okay here, then think again. If we’re going to do Da’wah and if we don’t do Da’wah, then Allah’s punishment will come. If we don’t do our job, Allah’s punishment will come, and if we do our job, then Allah will test us definitely. He will definitely test us. May Allah (Azza wa Jal) make us capable and strong, to withstand that test. May Allah make us an Ummah that carries the message of Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) with confidence. May Allah (Azza wa Jal) infuse into our youth especially, the ones that are surrounded by Kufr and surrounded by Shirk and surrounded by doubt; they’re surrounded by these things, may Allah make them carriers of this message with great confidence. May Allah (Azza wa Jal) infuse into ourselves and our families a love of the Sunnah of the Messenger (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) and a love of learning, and reciting, and remembering Allah by means of His Book.