UnMosqued -- A Khutbah (Sermon)

The goal of the film is simply to start a conversation. We need to have open conversations about where we want to take our Muslim community and how we can get there. Ultimately, unMosqued is a vision. What will our Muslim community look like in ten years?

After touring a dozen states, visiting approximately forty masajed, and collecting over 1,500 minutes of film, we are pleased to announce that we have an answer. I'm excited to tell you right now that the answer is you!

And the answer is me. We are the solution.

This might seem unfair, but we started the unMosqued dialogue by blaming the Imams. The Imam is supposed to be the Chief People Officer, but they rarely know the names of everyone in their flock, or even worse, they don't understand the local culture or even speak the same language. Then we interviewed the Imams and every single one of them said that they felt castrated by the board of directors because it's the board that writes the Imams' job descriptions. It's the board that hires and fires the Imams, so, ultimately it's the board that decides how effective they want the Imam to be.

So we pointed the finger at the board of directors and started interviewing them. We found out that the board members are simply the volunteers who vacuum carpets, replace batteries in smoke detectors, and serve food in iftaar lines. Sometimes, board members are the biggest donors, but more often than not, they are the only people who are willing to do anything at all in the community. So, the boards are actually products of our communities—we create our boards, you create your board.

Now, I am looking at you—the average community members. Ultimately you decide what your community does and how it behaves. You are the most important person in your community—not the Imam, not the Board, and not the big donors.

What Would Isa (A) do?

Where are young people going for spiritual messages today? Some of my students allowed me to join them at their church. I noticed energetic youth ministers leading children into colorful activity centers. Ushers led us to comfortable seats in the amphitheater, and we shook hands with everyone sitting around us. The women were dressed conservatively and men and women sat near each other. I investigated the restroom, which was immaculate. The sermon was simple but extremely relevant; I still remember the topic. There was no brimstone, no hard sell, and not a single request for a dime. They obviously had money.

Then there is a small church in a strip mall close to my house. They don't have money or a lot of space, but they offer second-marriage counseling and skill-building courses in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Those courses are all free and in Spanish. They hold weekly meetings for men's groups, women's groups, and senior's groups, and they offer service projects for teenagers. But what impressed me the most is that the parking lot is packed almost every evening, not just on Sundays.

What is drawing those people in? Look closely at the message of Jesus (A). In Surah Maryam, verse 31, Isa (A) says, "I am a blessing everywhere I go." Wa ja'alanee Mubārakan ayna ma kunt [19:31].

Isa said that Allah made him a blessing in whatever he did and wherever he went. We know for a fact, that in his life, he made things better. It is guidance for believers. Our mantra should be, "Make it Better."

An early scholar named Sufyan Ibn 'Uyaynah said, "The believer is like rain, wherever he goes he brings goodness." When you travel in your car, when you go to the gym, when you eat a restaurant, when you go home to your family, and even when you check your email—everywhere that you go look for an opportunity to apply Wa ja'ala-nee Mubārakan ayna ma kunt.

The goal is to leave a place better than you found it. Your presence should be evident by the fact that that place is happier, sweeter, more organized, and more blessed when you leave it. Here's the key: Start small. Remember that this is a micro-habit. Take out just one piece of trash from your car. Greet one new person with a smile. Offer a warm compliment to your spouse tonight. Commit to doing something … anything small.

Ultimately, nobody may ever notice, not a single person. But the Creator will notice every single time. He asks, "Is there any reward for goodness other than goodness?" [55:60]

Editor's Note: This article is condensed from an actual khutbah (Friday sermon) given by Atif Mahmud, a co-producer of the "UnMosqued" documentary. The full text of the khutbah with Arabic can also be seen on FridaysMatters.

8/27/2014 4:00:00 AM