Praise be to God. There is no other god except God. Throughout my whole life, I (Alban Fejza) have never heard about any famous person in books or on TV, or anyone in history who has achieved a lot, with whom I would like to switch places. Even people for whom I have a lot of respect, like Niels Bohr, Paul Dirac, Edward Witten, I never felt like I would switch places with them, if I was offered a chance. Ironically, even with people who are more spiritually fulfilled than me, spiritually happier people, I never felt like I want to switch places with them, like with Muhammad, or Jesus, or Moses, or David, and I feel like I would not want to switch places with this last group mostly because I am afraid that if I was in their place, and had to go through what they went, I would quit halfway. So, even though, I can relate to specific stories from the biography of Muhammad or Moses or David and their struggles, as I am sure you can also relate to a lot of those stories, it is very hard for me to relate to their whole life. I don’t think we really can appreciate what they went through, if we didn’t go through the whole thing, which is why I don’t think that I can relate to them enough to want to switch places. But, recently, when I was reading the Bible for some research I was doing, I read about someone and said, “You know what? I would agree to switch places with this guy”. I am talking about Apostle Peter, Messenger Peter, who was one of the Disciples of Jesus. When I read about his life, it just feels like better enough than mine to make me want his life, but at the same time within reach to make me feel like I can relate to it. And Peter is a very good example of an active believer who made mistakes, but he did it again and again and failure never stopped him. He was not afraid of humiliation. He saw it as an honor. He did the right thing with the wrong outcomes so many times. He tries to walk on water when Jesus invites him, started sinking when his faith wavered, but the next day he does not become passive just so that he can avoid the mistakes and the humiliation. No. He keeps being active. When Jesus offers to wash his feet, Peter refuses first. And actually this is the right thing to do, except in that case it did not produce the right results. Jesus ends up washing his feet anyway. When they come to arrest Jesus, what does Peter do, he takes his sword and hits one of the solders in his ear, and cuts his ear, which was actually the right thing to do, to protect God’s messenger, except in that case it did not produce the correct results. Jesus heals the ear of the soldier, by God’s leave, because he was meant to be arrested anyway. When Peter is put under pressure after Jesus is arrested, he denies Jesus three times, and yet he repents and becomes even more active after Jesus is gone. He starts preaching, and they threaten him with jail, and put him in jail, and when he gets out, he does not stop preaching. Then there are internal disputes between believers because Paul turned the religion into a philosophy so that he can preach it to the Greeks, which was the official language of the Roman Empire at that time, and the Greeks were more accepting of philosophy. So, Paul transforms the religion into a philosophy, and accuses Peter for doing the wrong thing, when it was Paul who was doing the wrong thing, and Paul becomes more dominant eventually, and did Peter stop being active? He did not get discouraged by Paul’s success in the wrong direction.
So, if I have criticized any of you at any time, please don’t stop being active. I am happy that you did whatever you did. I wasn’t trying to stop you or discourage you. I was just trying to improve a small portion from the whole thing which you were doing. So, if we could go back in time, and you asked me whether you should not do something at all so that you can avoid the portion which was a mistake, or whether you should do it again with the mistake included as a portion in it. I would say ‘Do it again’. I am satisfied with all of you (submitters) so far, all of you who are listening to this Friday Sermon today. Whenever any of you comes to my mind, it’s always in a positive light. I am happy with what you have done so far. We can always do more, of course, but I am happy with our current spiritual achievements. God has really guided us, despite very confusing times with so much information and so many pitfalls, and so many tricks, and twists and turns. Now, let me tell you why I am happier with active people with more mistakes, rather than people who are not so active but with much fewer mistakes. Let’s do a calculation.
Let’s say that you are not very active. Let’s say that you try to do 10 good deeds, and two of them are mistakes. So, let’s say that 20% of your deeds are mistakes. So, you have 8 good deeds, and 2 mistakes. Now, according to verse 6:160, you get rewarded tenfold for each good deed, and you get punished only once for every sin. So, in total, you will have 80 good deeds and 2 sins. That equals to 78 good deeds.
Let’s say that now you become twice as active. Let’s say that you do 20 good deeds. Now, in this case the percentage of mistakes increases because you can not be as careful with 20 deeds as you were with 10 deeds. You will have less time to be careful. So, now your mistake percentage increases. If it was 20% then, now it will be 30%. But let’s calculate how many credits you will earn if you do 20 good deeds, and 30% of them are mistakes. So, from 20 deeds, 6 of them are mistakes. The 14 good deeds are rewarded tenfold. So, now you have 140 good deeds minus 6 mistakes. That is 134 good deeds. So, even though in the eyes of the people you will appear like a person who makes more mistakes, in fact you are earning more credits than before. Now you are earning the credits for 134 good deeds, while your less active version of yourself earned only 78 good deeds. So, let’s not be afraid of mistakes. Let’s be more active. Our credits will increase much more, even though our percentage of mistakes for each good deed will increase. And what matters in the end is how many credits you have, not your mistake percentage, so let’s maximize the number of good deeds, by choosing to be active submitters, rather than a passive submitter. This is why the Quran says in verse [4:95] “Not equal are the sedentary among the believers who are not handicapped, and those who strive in the cause of GOD with their money and their lives. GOD exalts the active submitters with their money and their lives above the passive submitters. For both, GOD promises salvation, but GOD exalts the active submitters over the passive submitters with a great recompense.”
Now, as you can see the verse says that we can be active with our money or with our lives, with our time. Some people are very busy with work or things like that, then you can be active with your money. Others might have time, but not much money, then you can be active with your time. So, try to use your strengths to be active. One thing I know for sure: Sitting on the couch and watching TV is not being active. Scrolling on your phone up and down is not being active. Typing and sharing links might be active, but not scrolling up and down. And each of us have our strengths, which God has gifted us. We can use God’s gifts to be active.