On Tuesday November 16, 2010, the Islamic Center of Topeka in Topeka Kansas was packed with Muslims from the surrounding areas for the Eid prayer.
The Eid prayer is an event that takes place twice in the Islamic calendar year. The first Eid commemorates the conclusion of Ramadan which is the 30 day period of fasting.
The second Eid marks the end of the pilgrimage season in Mecca where Muslims are commanded to visit at least once during their life time per funds availability.
The second Eid also commemorates the test of Abraham when he was commanded by God to sacrifice his son Ishmael. At the very moment when Abraham was to commit the act, God stopped him and substituted an animal to take Ishmael’s place. Thus does Abraham represent the turning of oneself to true faith.
Imam Omar Hazim gave a very encouraging Eid sermon reminding the Muslims to turn their faces to true faith.
He began by praising God and honoring Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the messenger of God.
He called the Eid a day of “recurring happiness” that God has established annually until the Day of Judgment.
“No just estimate have they made of Allah for Allah is he who has power and is able to carry out his will,” quoted Omar from the Quran. He further states that many books have been written and much has been said about the nature and power of God, but they all fall short of His True Glory.
Omar prayed that God would bless those who went on the journey to Mecca for the hajj (pilgrimage); for it is an arduous journey that will test a person’s fortitude. Omar asked God to protect the pilgrim (Hajji) and accept those who pass away during the pilgrimage into paradise.
We must also remember the oppressed, stated Omar; for there are Muslims in the world who have no freedom of travel. Those who are being killed and prevented from having the basic freedom that God tells us we should have, continued Omar.
“The Quran says those who Allah wants to guide he opens there chest to Islam,” stated Omar. This includes the heart which is in the chest and recognized as the seat of our emotions and feelings of love. This is why when we perform a duty for Allah we feel a since of joy and satisfaction, continued Omar.
In chapter 13 of the Quran it states “those who believe and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah, for surely without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” As such we find satisfaction in the daily duties and in the performance of our religious rituals, concluded Omar.
Omar added that rituals are the outward expression of the inner self that has deep love for God. “When you go to perform the rituals of hajj take provisions to feed yourself and provide comfort but the best of provisions is taqwa (God-consciousness), quoted Omar.
Wisdom is a part of the concept of sacrifice, said Omar. We know about the sacrifice of Abraham. Sacrifice is very important in Islam. We should sacrifice our time, wisdom, and wealth for the greater good of the community. This is what God taught Abraham. Not to sacrifice others but our own selves without the taking of others lives, continued Omar. It is to give something to the world that will help remove darkness, corruption, poverty and ignorance.
“The Quran tells us in Chapter 2:149, “from whencesoever thou startest forth, turn Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque; that is indeed the truth from the Lord. And Allah is not unmindful of what ye do,” and in chapter 30:30 it states, “so set thou thy face steadily and truly to the Faith,” quoted Omar.
Commenting on these verses Imam Omar states that what God is telling us is much more than a physical turning to Mecca for prayer. Turning to the qibla [direction of prayer; Mecca] is definitely important. “But it is much more than that. The word for face is wajaka which means character, personality, and behavior of a person. The total philosophy of a person’s life should be turned to the faith in purity,” stated Omar.
That qibla that we turn to represent righteousness and justice, and is the same as the one Prophet Muhammad told Bilal to stand on; the top of the Kaaba and call the people to prayer. “As such each and every one of us should stand on truth, righteousness and justice. Don’t be influenced by the foolishness of others but be influenced by the Quran,” encouraged Omar.
Concluding this very dynamic sermon Imam Omar offered up this verse called the “verse of righteousness” for those present to ponder over;
“It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.” (Quran 2:177)
Omar concluded by stating that we should continue to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Ishmael throughout our lifetime and teach the next generations to come. But we should know that the merits of those who went before us are their merits, and we cannot live by the merits of those who went before us because we will be judge not by theirs but our own.