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Central Sermon: “Each of Us Resembles Our Deeds”

Allah, exalted is He, revealed in the Quran:

‎قُلْ كُلٌّ يَعْمَلُ عَلَىٰ شَاكِلَتِهِ فَرَبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنْ هُوَ أَهْدَىٰ سَبِيلًا

“Say, ‘Everyone acts according to his own disposition, but your Lord knows best who is rightly guided.’” (Al-Isra’, 84.)

In this verse, the term “شَاكِلَتِهِ” is used and has been translated as “disposition” or “character.” In the Arabic language, this term is generally used to describe a path from which several ways branch out. It refers to the way of life or the path that a person is accustomed to and on which they have been raised and have grown.

Hasan al-Basri and Qatada say that the expression “عَلَىٰ شَاكِلَتِهِ” means: everyone acts and behaves according to their intentions and goals, while Muqatil believes that it means: everyone acts and behaves according to their character, nature, or temperament.

Sheikh As-Sa’di, in his commentary on this verse, said: “Everyone behaves according to their current state, so if it is a chosen group of good and pious people, they will be occupied only with work for Allah, and if it is those who have strayed from the right path, they are fit for nothing but working for the creatures, and their actions are in accordance with their worldly goals.”

Imam Al-Baghawi, in his commentary on this verse, said: “Everyone acts or behaves according to what resembles them.”

And a popular proverb says: “Each person resembles their deeds.”

Imam Ar-Razi, for his part, considers that the term “شَاكِلَتِهِ” implies that everyone acts according to what corresponds to the essence and requirements of their soul. Thus, if this soul is noble, free, and excellent, tending towards heights, then noble and honorable actions emanate from it, as it is said in the verse: “From good land grow diverse plants by the permission of its Lord” (Al-A’raf, 58). That is, from fertile land grow various useful plants.

And if this soul is despicable, evil, low, then one can expect nothing but despicable and corrupt actions from it, as it is said in the continuation of the cited verse: “But from poor land, only scant vegetation comes forth with difficulty. Thus do We vary the signs for a people who are grateful.” (Al-A’raf, 58)

Thus, a person’s behavior and visible actions reflect the reality of what is in their soul, good or bad, and no matter how much some hypocritical people try to hide the truth and the real state of their soul, this reality will inevitably manifest in their actions and deeds. For every container exudes the smell of what it contains, and even if we manage to hide our reality and true nature from people for a while, Allah will make sure that it is revealed through our actions.

Therefore, it is not necessary for us to proclaim someone a hypocrite or a traitor – indeed, as Muslims, we should not do so – because that person will reveal themselves through their actions, whether they are a politician, a journalist, a doctor, a minister, a religious official, a teacher, or a simple worker.

A hypocrite can only offer hypocrisy, even if they deceive many people with their speech and rhetoric. None of us can show and offer what we do not have. You cannot show love when your heart harbors hate; you cannot show and offer sincerity when your heart is filled with hypocrisy and corruption.

And those who supported them without reservation feel the bitter regret of having been ready to sacrifice their lives and property for someone who is not even worth sacrificing an apple peel for. The verse at the beginning of the text, Allah, exalted is He, concludes with these words: “But your Lord knows best who is rightly guided.” That is, Allah knows who among you is inclined to guidance, who desires guidance, so He guides them on the right path, and Allah also knows which heart is not inclined to guidance, so He lets it stray on the paths of misguidance.

In summary, this verse is an invitation and an encouragement for believers to persevere on the right path and not deviate to the left or right so as not to go astray, and to judge people based on their actions, not their words, as well as a warning for those who go astray that if they persist in their misguidance and their distance from Allah’s guidance, they will be losers in this world and the hereafter. And that, in truth, is the real loss!

(Central khutbah by the religious leader Hafiz Hilmija Redžić on June 28, 2024, at the “Centre Islamique et Culturel Afnane” in Differdange)

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