Allah is Great. Allah is Great. Allah is Great.

All praise to Allah for His Blessings.

We thank Him for honoring us to fast, pray, perform charity and recite the Quran.

We thank Him for the gift of faith, health, family and peace and security in this country.

We seek His forgiveness and turn to Him in repentance.

We seek His protection against all deadly diseases and character vices.

The Prophet said, “He who is not grateful to others cannot be grateful to Allah.”

Let us, therefore, thank those who have been working hard to protect us: the physicians, nurses, health personnel, volunteers, and government officials from  all three levels: the federal, provincial, and municipal for their sacrifices in keeping our communities safe. May God reward their efforts, and may the All-Merciful protect them and their families.

Today we are bidding farewell to the blessed month of Ramadan and celebrating Eid.

While feeling the joy of Eid, we also feel sad for in the coming days we will miss the fragrance of fasting, sweet recitations and heartfelt prayers.

While celebrating Eid, let us not forget our loved ones who were with us in previous years. Some of them died as victims of COVID-19. May the All-Merciful shower them all with His Mercy.

While celebrating Eid, let us also reflect on the lessons from Ramadan.

First of all, it is evident that Ramadan came and went too fast.

It reminds us about the transient nature of this worldly life.

Allah tells us in the Quran about what will happen on the Day of Judgment:

“He will say, “How many years did you tarry on earth?” They will say, “We tarried a day or part of a day. But ask those who keep count.”   He will say, “You tarried but a little, if you but knew.” (Qur’an: 23:112-114)

We must also never forget the lessons of the flight of time:  

 “By the flight of time, truly mankind is in loss, save those who believe, perform righteous deeds, encourage  one another to the truth, and encourage one another to patience.” (Qur’an: 103: 1-3)

This year Ramadan came at a most critical time in our lives during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 Pandemic arrived giving us a sudden jolt. It exposed the frailty of the human condition. It shook our over-confidence and dependence on our own devices.

It taught us that after all, we are not all that powerful and that we can never dispense with our Creator.

There are many lessons for us to take to heart as we face the challenges upon us today.  I would like to mention three of them:

The First Lesson:

COVID-19 teaches us that we cannot continue our relentless assault on the environment without paying a hefty price. Countless species of living beings have been reduced to extinction by us.

It does not stop there. The threat facing humanity because of our greed and wasteful habits is endangering the future of humanity. The environment, the land, and the sea and the ecosystem are all at the point of no return.

“Corruption has become rampant on land and sea as a result of people’s actions and He will make them taste the consequences of some of their own actions so that they may turn back.” (Qur’an: 30:41

 Degradation of the environment has now reached a tipping point. Scientists say unless we take immediate steps to reverse the process, we are all doomed.

In the words of Alex Steffen, the co-author of the Planetary Boundaries report, 

“It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future… and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive”. He further states, “History has shown that civilizations have risen, stuck to their core values, and then collapsed because they didn’t change. That’s where we are today.”

It is in this context we must invoke the lessons of Ramadan and Prophetic wisdom.

The Prophet taught us that each one of us ought to make a difference starting with the little things: consuming less, returning to the basics, curbing our greed, and using resources wisely.

Moderation is key. When the Prophet said that we should not waste water even while performing ablution, he was not simply speaking about wasting water; he was teaching us not to waste any resources. If we continue to waste, we will leave nothing for future generations.

COVID-19 has taught us how to manage without the extras. Let us stick to this habit, and go with less. Our mantra should be to: ‘simplify, simplify and then simplify some more’.

The Second Lesson:

Ramadan is all about practicing self-restraint and developing empathy. Even as we hurt ourselves by treating the environment as an enemy to be conquered and defeated, we hurt ourselves when we treat our fellow humans as those to defeat and oppress. Such a mindset is against God’s laws.  Just as we are one with nature; we are one with humanity. We are not independent of each other.

Let us practice empathy. The challenges facing humanity must be tackled collectively as a single human family. That is what Islam teaches us in the Qur’an.

We are lucky to live in a country where our leaders have demonstrated empathy. I refer especially to our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has come out day after day to provide support for the vulnerable during this pandemic.Watching him, I cannot not fail to remember the pious Caliph Umar who himself became gaunt and pale by taking upon himself the suffering of his subjects as they were facing a major famine.

That is the kind of leadership the world needs to save us from ourselves. Care for others as you would care for yourself.

Let the words of our beloved Prophet inspire us: 

“Show mercy to those on earth: You will receive the mercy of the One in heaven.”

At this time, let us remember the thousands, if not millions, who are forced out of their homes and often left to die in refugee camps, at sea or to rot on the ground. Muslims who fasted ought to do better than others in dealing with such crises.

By saying this I am not denying that there are individuals and organizations doing their best. They are the ones living Islam at its best. May Allah reward them and give us the honor of supporting them.

The Third Lesson:

There is no reason to despair; faith in God is also about faith in ourselves to improve our condition. Faith teaches hope; it teaches us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, to see the light, we need to train ourselves to look at the events with the eyes of the heart.

Truly it is not the (physical) eyes that go blind, but it is hearts within breasts that go blind.”

Let us open the eyes of the heart and learn from our mistakes. Let us focus on the things that matter and leave behind the frivolous. Even as Ramadan came and went, likewise, this world will pass away. Then we will arrive at our final destination: To stand for judgment before the Lord of Reckoning (Maaliki yawmi al-ddeen). It is He who will dispense justice to all.  So, let us get ready to meet our Lord.

And let us mend our ways and work together for a better world and a better tomorrow.

I want you all to join me with your hearts and hands in supplication to the Lord of the worlds:

 Our Lord, we thank You. We seek Your protection against the imminent threats facing us because of our own misdeeds;

Turn towards us with Your mercy. Inspire us to change our ways: our thoughts, words, and actions;

Our Lord, we beg your mercy and ask of You to accept our prayers, fasts, and acts of charity;

We implore You to have mercy on us and lift this test and crisis;

Our Lord, have mercy on those who have passed away. Reward them for their good deeds, and forgive their sins and admit them into Your mercy and Paradise;

Our Lord, millions all over the world suffer oppression and persecution. Our Lord, come to their aid, answer the prayers of the oppressed and defeat their oppressors;

Our Lord, guide those who are straying away from the path back to the path of faith and truth. Make us all steadfast on the straight path;

Guide us all to stand for the truth and justice so that we make a difference in our communities;

Our Lord, we are helpless. You alone have power, so empower us to overcome the challenges we face;

Our Lord, we are poor. You alone are the rich, so enrich us and give us sufficiency.

Our Lord, You are the Healer and Curer. Bless us with true healing and cure;

Our Lord, You are All-Merciful. You taught us to be merciful, so inspire us to be merciful towards Your creation. Amen.