By Imam Murtadha Gusau, Kogi

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful 

Verily, all praise is for Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls [and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, [alone and without any partner] and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.

“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [Ali Imran 3:102]

“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women, and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship) Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you).” [al-Nisa’ 4:1]

“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth). He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAW) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hellfire and made to enter Paradise).” [al-Ahzaab 33:70-71]

As to what proceeds: Verily the best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW). The worst of affairs are the newly-invented affairs in the religion and every newly invented affair in the religion is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the hellfire. As to what proceeds:

Servants of Allah! 

As a model in human relationships, the methods that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used in spreading his cause and mission will prove to be effective if we can apply them successfully in our own educational activities.

What is more important than what we teach in education is how we teach it. Of course, we have to teach good and useful things to people and youth, but this must be done in effective ways. It is known that the students who do not like a teacher generally do not like the subject either. A good educator should care about and love his addressee and he should be genial and positive; in fact, he should devote himself to his profession and students. Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) devoted himself to his duty. He had more of the qualities that an educator should have. Psychologists say that the way you speak is actually more important than what you say. According to research, the words spoken contribute seven per cent of the effect; the tone of voice thirty-eight per cent; and the gestures and body language have fifty-five per cent of the effect in communication between people.

Brothers and Sisters!

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the most effective orator of all the times. He knew how to address the hearts, and thus he became the beloved one of the hearts. He first made himself loved, and then sought the ways to educate people. He used a style in his speeches that affected people and made them think, so he achieved permanent behaviour change in people by means of the best educational methods.
* He rewarded and appreciated positive behaviours
If we want to lead people to behave positively and prevent them from acting badly, the safest way to do this is to reward and appreciate positive action.
To be loved and appreciated is what people crave. In the process of learning, people conclude from the appreciation and approval of the educators what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong.
Ibn Abbas (RA) tells: 
“One day I prepared some water in a pot so that the Prophet could perform ablution. When the Prophet saw the pot, he asked who had prepared it. Once he learned that it was me who had prepared it, he prayed for me, “O Allah! Increase his understanding in religion”. (Sahih al-Bukhari)
* He used to give examples suitable to the topic
One of the best methods of education is giving examples, as stories and examples more stick in the mind. Man can look at the face of the truth through these examples and stories and can perceive it more easily. The information given in the form of a story becomes more significant in the mind, and is remembered for much longer. We should read Islamic stories to our children, tell them about historical events and prefer to give all messages in form of stories. For this purpose the Prophet (PBUH) highlighted the significance of the prayer with such a metaphor:
“What would you say if there were a river in front of a man’s house and he bathed in it five times a day, would he remain dirty?” Those who were there replied, “No, no dirt would remain on that man”. Upon this the Prophet (PBUH) said, “This is how it is with the five daily prayers. Allah (SWT) cleans sins by means of them.” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sunan al-Tirmidhi)
* He taught by practice
One of the most effective ways of teaching is demonstrating by means of practice. People do not forget what they are taught with practice. Teaching by practice is the most fruitful method of teaching. Our Prophet (PBUH) saw a boy who was skinning a sheep and said to him:
“Let me teach you.” He put his hand between the skin and the meat until he reached up to the armpit of the sheep, and then he said: “Skin it like that, young man!” (Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah)
Again our beloved Prophet showed a man who asked about how to perform ablution. In some narrations it is said that he repeated it three times. (Ibn Majah) 
Teaching by practice engages both the eyes and the ears, and thus helps the information to stick in the mind.
* He used to explain making use of drawings
Another way of providing information which will stay permanently in the mind of the learners is to make use of drawings and figures. According to the scientists, the right lobe of brain records drawings straight into the photographic memory and it does not forget them for a long time. For that reason, teaching making use of drawings and visual methods encourages the subject matter to be understood well.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) explained the features of the ways of Allah and Satan by drawing shapes on the ground while sitting together with Jabir (RA). Jabir (RA) told the story as follows: 
“When I was sitting together with the Prophet, he drew a line in front of him and said, “This is it; this is the path of Allah (SWT)”. Then he drew two lines to the right of this line and two lines to the left of the same line and said, “And these are the paths of the Shaytan (Satan)”. Then he put his hand over the line in the middle and recited the following verse: “This is my straight path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths, lest they scatter you from His Path. This He has enjoined upon you, that you keep from disobedience to Him in reverence for Him and piety to deserve His protection.” (Surah An’am, 6:153)
* He used to repeat things
Underlining and repeating the important points during teaching is an important teaching method for making the subject matter remain in the mind. The learner feels that what is repeated is important. To be able to memorize information, we repeat it. Through repetition the information is transferred from the short term memory to the long term memory. Since the information is strengthened in the mind, it may be easily recalled even if a long time passes. For this reason, when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) introduced new information to his companions, he often used to repeat it three times and in that way he tried to get the important points to stick in the mind. Also the number of repetitions could change according to the capacity of the interlocutors. Some might get it when it was said just once and some might need more repetitions. 
Anas (RA) said: 

“When the Messenger of Allah said a sentence he used to repeat it up to three times making sure that it was understood.” (Hakim)

* He made learners write
Learning by writing is one of the best ways of education. While writing the attention is focused on the subject and you have a text if you want to remember the topic in a detailed way. Writing once is equal to reading ten times. By writing, we engrave the topic both on the paper and in our minds and hearts. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said as follows regarding this issue: 

“Bind knowledge by writing.” 

Furthermore, emancipation of the prisoners of the war in return for teaching literacy to people shows the significance that he attached to reading and writing. (Abu Dawud)

* He used to criticize the behaviour not the agent

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent to promote good morality. His words of advice were reflected from Allah who is the Compassionate as a reflection of mercy, thus, he would say good words and commit good deeds. He knew that evil words blemish the heart, and evil in the heart reflects upon the soul. For this reason, he never said an evil word to friend or foe. The Prophet would not speak in a way that would break anybody’s heart. When he was treated badly, he did not take it personally and he generalized it and then corrected it. When someone complained to him about someone, or he saw a fault in someone, he did not fling the fault in the agent’s face.
Educationalists and psychologists say that for sustainable long-term education, a stable and uncritical relationship between teacher and learner is a must.
When we look at our Prophet (PBUH), he would say, “what is the matter with those people that they say or do so and so!” and thus he made people realize that what is wrong is the behaviour, and he did not insult or scold people. He did not criticize the person, but rather the faulty action, and he tried to correct it in the best way.
When we consider the life and practices of the Prophet (PBUH), we see that if we apply his lofty methods when we are in a difficult position, the problems will be solved, our paths will be illuminated, and we will easily see the farthest horizons. If we avoid practising these methods just through negligence, we will be the losers. It is a big mistake to consider them unimportant. Those who make the methods of the Prophet into good habits for themselves will find that they act straightforwardly and become successful.

THE SEVEN PHASES OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD’s LIFE

My respected people!

Traditional scholarship’s divides Prophet Muhammad’s life into Makkan and Madinahn phases. This is chronologically valid and represents the two broad aspects of his life before and after the watershed event of the Migration. It is historically important and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
Additionally I believe Prophet Muhammad’s struggle can be naturally divided into seven phases. Each phase brings forth a different aspect of his personality and highlights a different facet of his mission.
Studying the Messenger’s mission for its various phases and analyzing its internal dynamics is important as it gives the narrative relevance for today. Since his life is better documented than the lives of other prophets and leaders of major world religions, it is possible to build this analysis on a historical foundation.
The Search for Light in a Period of Darkness: 
1. Prophet Muhammad as the Seeker of Truth
As his biography (Sirah) is recorded we find Prophet Muhammad pondering over societal ills for years. The society he was born in was in a state of moral, religious, economic and social chaos. It is difficult to resist drawing analogies between the seventh century world and the state of the human morality in today’s world at the beginning of the new millennium. The nuclear man-woman two-parent family, as a core unit of society has eroded seriously in the West. Brazen sexual exploitation in the media is commonplace and illicit sex condoned and even accepted. Violence at home, against women, children, and violence in the streets, is frightfully routine. Substance abuse is widespread, with United States as the largest consumer of drugs in the world. Alcoholism is rampant, especially among college students, with only feeble attempts being made to address the problem. African- Americans have been liberated as slaves for a century and a half, yet many are still trapped in an unending cycle of poverty and discrimination, which is in a way a form of economic slavery. Because of a system that allows unrestrained growth of wealth without encouraging proper redistribution, economic disparities and injustices continue to grow at an alarming rate.
There are many excellent characteristics in Western societies, especially in the US that include the freedom of thought, speech and assembly, a tolerant attitude toward eccentricities in human nature and an ambition to be a just and compassionate society. These qualities of the ordinary American however are not always reflected in the policy makers and political leaders.
The unraveling of the moral fabric in today’s society must weigh heavily on the minds of individuals with insight. They can draw personal solace and inspiration from the Prophet Muhammad’s life.The Arab tribal society of the Seventh century, whose structure was based on greed, debauchery, and violence, was changed in a very short time, by the Prophet, into a society with one of the highest moral standards in history. Compassion, humility, devotion to Allah (God) and egalitarianism replaced the old well-entrenched tribal attitudes of pride in wealth, family and class and self-centered behaviour. Women, for the first time in history, had rights and dignity, and the vulnerable and weak sections of the society were protected. Sexuality was removed from public prurience and became private and wholesome. Wealth was re-circulated so that even the poorest segments of the society were infused with energy and indigence became nearly extinct.
2. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a Warner and Exhorter
Servants of Allah!

During one of his meditative trips to a cave near Makkah, Prophet Muhammad receives the revelation. Divine revelation is the reaffirmation of the fact that celestial knowledge is essential in guiding the inherently limited human intellect. The profundity of this realization that he is the recipient of this divine revelation and the enormity of the task ahead overawes him. Initially he shares the message only with his closest family and a few loyal supporters. It is both fascinating and revealing that even the individual who would later be rated as the most influential man in human history had these initial periods of doubt and uncertainty about his mission. It was the reassurance from the Quran and the confidence and support of his wife Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her), and his close Companions which provided him the support he needs-surely a lesson for us lesser mortals!
3. Muhammad (PBUH) The Stoic Optimist
The next facet of his life is of bringing about proactive change by inviting people (Da’awah) to Islam. With it comes the inevitable hostility of the entrenched powers in the society. Change is always threatening, and the greater the change, the more threatening it is. This would be true of the change against any established system of practices, whether it be economic, social or behavioural. It would also be true for change in personal behaviour like wearing immodest clothing, promiscuity, and consumption of intoxicants. Changing attitudes that valued pride in wealth and country or class and colour of the skin over all else would also be difficult. Not surprisingly the struggle for change becomes life threatening. Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had to lay his life on the line and on several occasions the nascent Muslim community faced the possibility of total extinction. Fortitude in the face of adversity is the salient feature of this phase. The patience and stoicism Muhammad displays during this phase has been a source of strength to many a Muslim who has found himself beleaguered by apparently hopeless circumstances.
4. Muhammad The Pluralistic Leader
The Migration, which marks the beginning of the next phase, involves careful planning and meticulous execution. He demonstrates that self-help and reliance on Allah go together and are both essential for success. With his nomination by the community in Madinah to a position of leadership, he shows another facet of his personality: the capacity to create a truly pluralistic society with equity and dignity for all religious and ethnic groups. In a very short period after the Migration to Madinah, Prophet Muhammad proves he is capable of uniting various factions and setting exemplary standards of cooperation between them. He makes a seamless switch from being a person under constant persecution to a leader with a large administrative and judicial responsibility. The “Covenant (Constitution) of Madinah” that lays out the rules of living in a pluralistic society is a document that needs to be studied carefully and implemented to the fullest extent in today’s inescapably multi-religious and multi-cultural world.
5. Muhammad The Courageous Yet Reluctant Warrior
After a brief respite, his mission is consumed by the need to fight wars of survival. These three wars in four years, Badr, Uhud and Ahzab or Khandaq, besides posing a physical threat, must have been extremely distracting and demanding of his time and energy. Yet the work of building the community goes on.
It is important to remember that even though faced with very aggressive proponents the Prophet and his followers never initiated or instigated any wars. Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims engaged in these battles with great discipline, avoiding injury to the innocent and using only the minimum force needed. Women, children and non-combatants were not to be harmed. When the enemy stopped fighting, he was to be given immediate sanctuary. Striking a blow in anger, even in battle, was prohibited. He uses innovative strategies in the battles, which include the use of the trench as a defense. During the digging of the trench he is an active participant. He consults frequently (Shura) with his companions and follows the majority opinion (Consensus or Ijma’), even when it sometimes goes against his own judgment.
6. Muhammad The Statesman Par Excellence and Teacher
During the next phase, he shows the capacity to compromise and demonstrates the foresight and wisdom to realize that peace, even at seemingly unfavourable terms, is better than hostility. The “Treaty of Hudaibiyyah” also needs to be studied and emulated by all who negotiate with their opponents. The peace dividend, following this treaty with the Quraish, is huge and results in an exponential increase in the number of Muslims.
This also allows the building of a model and just society that functions in a coherent manner. Wealth is allowed to be accumulated but has to be circulated fairly into even the tiniest capillaries of the community’s economic system. It is an egalitarian society with equity and justice for all, governed by mutual consultation, equality before the law and protection of its most vulnerable members, women, children, orphans, indigents and slaves.
As illustrated by many incidents from this phase of his life, the Prophet proves to be an exemplary statesman. He mediates disputes, defuses potentially explosive situations with ease, allowing the parties to the conflict to walk away as friends and allies. He is unafraid to take risks but is never reckless and compromises for the sake of peace. His emissaries to other nations bring with them a message of cooperation seeking common ground. When he gives a pledge, he always keeps it. If the other party breaks the pledge, he does not flinch from measures that are appropriate to maintain the sanctity of the pledge.
7. Muhammad The Compassionate Ruler and Spiritual Leader
The final phase begins with the conquest of Makkah, which is a demonstration of meticulous planning and the use of overwhelming force to achieve a victory with practically no loss of life on either side of the battle front. The stunning magnanimity and humility shown during victory by Prophet Muhammad and his Companions is unmatched in history. He is humble in victory, compassionate, and forgiving to even his most intractable opponents.
The Prophet’s final Sermon consolidates the social, economic, and moral changes that have been brought about in the society. It is time to prepare for the end.
The anatomy of the mission, its growth and evolution in some ways parallels the various stages of human life itself. These various phases reflect not only the growing sophistication of the message but also the increasing maturity of the audience to whom the message is directed. The audience grows in its understanding of what it would take to bear the burden of passing on the message to posterity. The Prophet’s mission in its most fundamental analysis was to interpret and spread the Quranic ideology. This Quran centered spirituality remains the constant theme through all of the phases of his life. The Quran says about him:
“Indeed there is for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern.” (Quran 33:21) 
His beloved wife Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) calls him the living embodiment of the Quran. It is this complementary bequest of the Quran and Sunnah that is our special blessing.
Over time, many differences based on aqidah, politics, personality cults and egos have emerged amongst the followers of Islam. In spite of many heterodox sects, the core messages of Quran, and its realization in the life of the Prophet are alive and potent, and continue to provide spiritual solace, intellectual satisfaction and societal discipline to many making Islam the fastest growing religion in the world. Mashaa Allah.
I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray that He lets us recognize the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.
O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us, ameen.
My respected people! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Al-Mighty, and any mistakes are my own and we seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and Companions. 
With this I conclude my Khutbah (Sermon) and ask Allah, the Almighty and the sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving Most Merciful.
This is a Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) prepared for delivery on Friday, Rabi’ul Akhir 1st, 1438 A.H. (December 30, 2016), By Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State Nigeria. 

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