Amr Khaled was recently named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Persons in the world, and he had been invited to the United States. Transcript: CAIR/ISNA – ‘An Evening with Amr Khaled’
On Saturday, May 12, the Maryland and Virginia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MD/VA), in cooperation with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), co-hosted an evening with world-renowned Muslim television personality Amr Khaled. The following is a rough transcript of his speech. He spoke in Arabic, and the major points were interpreted and typed at the time.
It’s an honor for me to be amongst you. I wish I could meet you one by one. I am here because your presence is an honor for me. This is my first time to come to the US. I came because Time Magazine honored me, but I said I must meet with the Muslims, even if that is not why I came. I thank CAIR and ISNA for the invitation.
My goal is that you leave happy. I want us to leave with a goal in mind and a sense of joy in our hearts. My goal is to fulfill the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that says, “Whoever puts joy in the hearts of the believers, his reward is not less than Paradise.”
My lecture is a message to Muslims in the US. I have lectured to Muslims in Europe many times.
I have five points.
The first point comes from a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): “God has certain angels who go around on the streets seeking out people who remember God. And when they find such a group, they call one another: ‘Here, we have found what we are looking for.’ So they surround them with their wings, from the earth to the heavens.”
Can you imagine their wings above you? Can you imagine their compassion?
[Hadith continues] “So God will ask the angels: ‘How have you found My servants?’ They will say, ‘We found them remembering You.’ ‘Have they seen Me?’ ‘No.’ ‘So how would their state be if they actually saw Me?’ ‘What are they asking for?’ ‘They are asking for Jannah.’ ‘Have they seen it?’ ‘No.’
‘What do they seek refuge from?’ ‘Hellfire.’ God will say: ‘Bear witness my angels, I have forgiven them.’”
What exactly will God forgive? It depends on your intention. If you intention is, “O God, I am coming for Your reward,” then God may forgive you. You may be a sinful person, but your intention and action at that time may grant you God’s forgiveness.
A group of the angels will say “O God, among them is a person who is not here for you sake.” God will say: “They are the group no one amongst them will be left out.”
Balance of Matter and Spirit
So what is the message? We need to have a balance between materialistic life and spirituality. Don’t let materialism overcome you. Don’t think you will be forgiven because you are sitting in a big group of people. You can sit with your family remembering God and you will be forgiven.
This Hadith tells us that remembering God even if at home can be a source of angels coming into our homes. Have balance—that’s the first message. Remember God in any way you can, in whatever language you speak.
So my question to American Muslims is: has the materialistic life overcome you? Do you remember the last time you cried out of fear of God? Let us renew ourselves.
The first message to Muslims in America: have balance between materialism and the sprit.
Be a good Muslim role model
The second message: I can relate to your emotions and your feelings and your experience. I feel what 9/11 has done to you. You are all crying aloud: “This is not Islam. We reject this.”
At the same time, we don’t agree with what is happening in Iraq. We feel confusion, pain. I see the pain you have from the media and its war against Islam.
And these are things that American organizations are saying. Saying: “This is not our faith, this is not Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s religion.”
I know you are afraid for your kids, the next generation. Will they turn their backs on Islam? Will they hate our countries, the ones we grew up in?
I feel the pain of the women, whether they wear hijab or not, as they walk through the streets.
But I am here to tell you that there has to be a solution.
I see your confusion. Where is the truth from falsehood? You may not express yourself, but the emotions are down deep. You came to provide for your families. Do we isolate ourselves from society? Or do I completely assimilate and forget my faith and my background? Do I hate the society I live in?
These are all negative responses. These are not the responses of the people who follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The solution is for everyone to say: “I represent Islam even if I stand alone. Even if everyone is confused and lost, I will still stand alone to say ‘I am the example of Islam’.”
Even if the whole world is upside down, we must be the example of truth, we must carry the character of Islam, be a living model of Islam.
I must be like the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “The believer is like rain, wherever he goes is goodness.”
Everyone can be the best of servants to God. Our knowledge might be limited, but our reward might be great.
In the Muslim world, we are all talking with one another. But here, you are addressing others, people who don’t understand Islam.
Intentions must be pure, and your goal must be that you take every step as a representative of Islam. If the media are unfair to us, we are our own media. If you can do this, your reward will be great.
I am offering you a task that will give you the reward of scholars who memorize the Quran and have great knowledge. Be successful here in life just out of love for your faith.
I can’t live hating the society I’m in. I have to be proactive. I have to get involved. Don’t be minimal in the effort you can make. Be successful in whatever area of life you are in. Respect those who are successful.
So my second message to you is be good emissaries for Islam.
How many of you know the story of Yusuf (as)? He was jailed for 9 years, having been falsely accused. If you were in his place, and all the media spread lies about you, and you knew that disaster would occur in the society and you had the solution, what would you do?
The first option you would have is to ask to be released and then you would give the solution.
The second: “Let me out,” then lie to them.
The third, be hardheaded: “I’m not leaving and I’m not telling the solution.”
The fourth: give them the solution, and don’t ask to be released. And this is what Prophet Yusuf did. He said to himself: “They can’t use this as a bargaining chip. I need to give the solution to prevent disaster for the whole society.” Does it matter if his people accepted Islam or not? It doesn’t, because this is a human concept.
Don’t leave this place tonight before making a promise to yourself that you will be a living representative of Islam. Sisters who wear hijab, practicing brothers, please make this your mission in life.
In one battle, the right side of the army was weak. So the commander sent them a paper to read. And suddenly they became very strong. The paper said, “Don’t embarrass the Muslims.”
So I implore you, please make us proud. Be active in the society, don’t isolate yourselves. If you isolate yourselves, you will lose your children. Your children will notice that you are benefiting from the society but not giving back. They will have no respect for you. They want to be among those who give back to society
It doesn’t matter if you send them to Islamic school, you will lose them.
I have a friend whose name is Usama who lives in Austria. He volunteered at the fire station. The fire chief found out he was Muslim and said, “We don’t just put out fires at Muslim homes.” Usama said, “That’s why I came.” In 6 months, people in the town loved him more than anyone else.
Instead of crying about what happens to Muslims, be proactive. Are you going to cry to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on the Day of Judgment?
It’s not a matter of knowledge; it’s a matter of sincerity and action. I want you to imagine having lived in the US for 30 years, and you died and you are in your coffin. And four of your friends follow the funeral procession, talking about you. One of them says, “He did absolutely nothing.”
Imagine that your non-Muslim neighbors follow the procession. And they say, “America lost a great person today.”
Imagine on the Day of Judgment, you see a chest of drawers, each representing a part of your life. You pull one out, and it has nothing. You pull another, and it has you and your family time. Another, and all it has is sins. You pull the last one, and you see your prayers and your good deeds
Sometimes I ask myself, is anything that I do useful? Do I see any results? I am tired of people attacking me in the newspapers. I don’t see my kids as much as I’d like to. Don’t worry about results. God sent you with a mission to reform.
The third message: Don’t be embarrassed of your faith or your background. Don’t hide, don’t be ashamed of your hijab, your identity, your faith. Always be proud of your faith, your background. Be proud of your service to your society.
The point is, you get involved in the society, but retain your identity. It doesn’t mean that I lose my culture. Support causes in the Muslim world. You have to be concerned for Iraq, for masjid al-Aqsa. We have to show concern for people who are unjustly being imprisoned in Guantanamo. Have care for development in the Muslim world.
The fourth message: having hope. Never lose hope. Raise your kids to have hope that the country they live in will improve and Islam will be fine, that Muslim countries will progress.
Having hope is proof that you trust God. Remember that Islam will never leave the universe. You know the solar eclipse? The sun has not really disappeared. Birds just wait on the branches, they don’t go back to their nests, because they know that the sun has not really set.
Islam is rich, has many things to offer to society. We have values, morals.
Strong hearts always have room for compassion and forgiveness regardless of injustice. Weak hearts always have a sense of revenge that controls them.
We want to show the world that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) faced a lot of injustice, was kicked out of this home, and persecuted for 23 years, but when he entered Mecca, victorious, he quickly told them, “Go free.”
Just like I said a moment ago, have hope.
I don’t know if I will see you again, please remember the words I am telling you. You must represent Islam. You must have balance between spirituality and materialism, and be proud.
I was asked by Time Magazine to say a few words at their event. So I said, “My role model in life is the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).” And the hall was silent. I was the only Arab, and probably the only Muslim in the hall. When I made that statement, all fear that was in my heart left.
I told them that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught us kindness, justice, mercy, coexistence with others, that God created us different so that we can get to know one another. When I said this, the audience applauded before I finished. They were smiling, and I was proud and happy for what I had achieved. Each one of you has to achieve the same within your circle of influence.
Repentance and Fresh Start
The fifth message: Let us renew our lives. Let us promise God a new beginning. We need to repent to God.
The meaning of repentance is that God accepts you. And I want to offer a new meaning for repentance.
Why did God institute repentance? You can have a pile of sins and ask forgiveness, and God will forgive. Repentance is a source of hope. Let’s renew ourselves and our relationship with God. Repent from the fact that you are isolating yourself. Repent of the fact that you weren’t representing Islam correctly. I’m telling you to start a new chapter in your life.
God put us on earth as vicegerents. If there was no room for repentance, anyone who made a mistake would just be kicked out. Maybe someone here in this hall, to himself, is making a promise to God: “This is the last time I will do the things I have done.”
Why don’t we all make a promise to God to make a new start? You have a great opportunity to earn a lot of reward.
God says in the Quran: “Do they not know that God accepts repentance form His servants?’
Another verse says, “O My servants who have greatly transgressed against yourselves, do not lose hope of the mercy of Allah.”
A Hadith says: “God has a door; it takes 70 years to reach it. This door is the door of repentance.
It doesn’t matter how many sins you have, whenever you return to God He is waiting for you to turn back to Him.”
There are three conditions for repentance: Regret, not returning to it, and cessation.
The best day in your life should be the day God forgives your sins.
One of the companions, Kab ibn Malik, didn’t stand in support of his community at a time of need, so the community shunned him for 50 days. Then God revealed a verse declaring His forgiveness. A man ran up a hill and yelled at the top of his lungs, “God has forgiven you, Kab!” So he ran to meet the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) smiled and told him to sit. He said: “Glad tidings of the best day in your life, the day God has forgiven you.”
Let’s start a new page in all aspects of our lives. This is my message to my American Muslim friends, brothers, and sisters.
O God, forgive our sins, grant us salvation from hellfire, guard our sins, forgive our mistakes, accept our repentance, accept us, forgive us tonight.
O God, make Your angels witnesses to Your forgiveness for us. Have mercy on us, o God. Let us start anew, and begin a new life from today.
O God, accept from us all. Ameen.
Thank you all very much.