Address By Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo
Resident Alim / Imam
Wessex Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat – Al Mahdi Centre
22nd November, 2011
Dean of Portsmouth Cathedral The Very Reverend David Brindley, respected Church Warden, Elders of the Anglican Church, Representatives from the St John’s Catholic Cathedral, Rev Stuart Holt Dean Bishop’s Waltham Deanery, Rev Elizabeth Groves representing the Vicar of St. Nicholas, Wickham Village, Imam of Jamia mosque in Portsmouth Sheikh Aminur Rahman, the Muslim community, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I greet you Salamun alaykum, May peace be upon you all.
Today we all, as neighbours, members of the faith community, have come together to celebrate the birth of the Masih, Jesus son of Mary. By this gesture we have practised love to our neighbour as he taught us, love to our community, as he taught us.
This is truly a blessed gift for our communities. Subhanallah- Glory to God.
Recently I have been watching the news and there is coverage of the anti-capitalist protesters camped outside St Paul's Cathedral. There was a banner which gave me food for thought.
Was there a banner which struck you?
The banner which caught my attention has left me posing several questions to myself. It made me wonder at what is happening within our community.
I ask myself the question: Was this a message for all of us?
It was food for thought because I find myself asking myself a question: What is my role in answering this question?
What did the banner read? It read: “What would Jesus do?”
People who strung the banner across columns of the cathedral are watching us. They follow us. They measure us.
So as we draw into the days of Christmas, the festival to celebrate the nativity of Jesus, a great Divine representative of God, it is most appropriate that we reflect on this question fluttering on the banner.
So what would Jesus do?
To answer this question we have to ask ourselves three questions:
- Why has somebody who lived over 2000 years ago, a mystic who forsook the world suddenly become important?
- Is he important because his teachings have suddenly become relevant?
- Is there a message in this for faith communities?
Jesus has become important not because he is Jesus as a person. He has become important because his teachings have emerged from the purest of sources- the Divine Realm. He has become important because we are now realising that man-made problems are not solved by man-made solutions.
The response to greed and avarice is no more huge banking bonuses because when interest rates are just above zero and mortgage payments are still at 5- 6%.There is something wrong in the society. There is a gap between the have and have-nots.
The banking crisis is not only a monetary crisis. Going deeper, as they say:- under the iceberg, it is a social crisis, moral bankruptcy and spiritual bank crisis.
Our society has these days moved away from love and substituted love for humans with love for social status, positions and possessions such as flashy cars, personalised name plates, mansions, designer clothes, flat screen gadgets.
We all long to have the ipod, the iphone, the ipad ...we have become the “I” generation.
Because we have substituted our hearts with everything, but God, the heart that was to be love for “WE” has now become love only for “I”.
The spiritual bankruptcy that has occurred or is still ongoing is because we have relied on the bankers to solve our economic problems. The markets are still driving the economics.
My dear friends. The bankers have defaulted on this promissory note they have given us. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation which they have with those their money they have been entrusted with, the bankers have given the payee a bad cheque. A cheque which has come back marked – “Refer to Drawer.”
And now the people have learnt the pristine message of Jesus (p.b.u.h.) when he drove out all those who were buying and selling, overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. (Matthew 21:12)
So perhaps the banner fluttering with the caption: “What would Jesus do?” is referring to this as a solution. I don’t know.
Or perhaps the banner is saying that we want faith to provide us with a solution. Or perhaps the banner is trying to scream: Give faith a chance.
So if faith is to be given a chance are we all as people of faith sufficiently cleansed?
Are we striving towards Tazkiyatun Nafs- Purification of Self?
The birth of the blessed prophet Jesus is a miracle in a world historically where there was little or no hope.
Says the Almighty in Holy Quran Chapter 3: The family of Imran, Verse 45 :
When the angels said O Maryam O Mary! Surely Allah God gives glad tidings of a word from Him whose name is the Messiah Isa (Jesus) son of Mary, prominent in this world and in the hereafter and of those who are near to God.
Is Christmas the only opportunity to cleanse ourselves or do we have opportunities to cleanse ourselves throughout the year?
When we have cleansed ourselves of the ‘I’, only then we as people of faith will be able to give a response to the question on the banner: “What would Jesus do?”
On behalf of my community, the Wessex Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat , I would like to extend heartiest felicitations on the auspicious occasion of celebration of birth of AL MASIH ISA IBN MARYAM AL MUQADDASAH RASULULLAHI WA KALIMATUHU the Messiah, Isa son of Maryam the chaste lady, the Apostle of Allah and the word of Allah.
In conclusion, let us pray by supplications narrated from Jesus:
O Allah! You are the deity of all who are in heaven and the deity of all on the earth. There is no deity in them other than You. And you are the All Wise for all in heaven and the All wise for all on earth. There is no All Wise in them other than You. There is no king in them other than You. Your power in heaven is like Your power on the Earth. And your sovereignty in heaven is like Your sovereignty on the earth. I ask you by your All generous Name and Your radiant Face and Your eternal Kingdom.
O God who takes away grief, removes sadness, disposes of sorrow, answers the prayers of the needy, O the Merciful of this world and the hereafter You are merciful to me and to all things, so be merciful to me....
LET US NOW MENTION OUR PRAYERS : HAJAT :
O Lord Grant good health and swift recovery to the ill persons, bless the soul of the departed members of our community, grant strength and relief to the distressed, persons affected by various calamities round the globe, protect our scholars whose prayers protect us, continue to abundantly shower upon us your blessings and bounties upon us....AAMIN
Before ending my address, may I request the Dean to convey my warm greetings and kind regards to the Bishop Christopher and his wife Reverend Sally.
On behalf of my Shia Ithna Asheri Muslim Community of Wessex, the muslims in Portsmouth and on my own behalf, I offer our heartiest felicitations, greetings and best wishes to all our Christian brethren and a prosperous happy New Year 2012!
Fazle Abbas Datoo
Wessex Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat