Sermon: Be The Change – Julie Siddiqi
Written by Writings & Sermons by others — 11 June 2016
An absolute honour and privilege to be here and to be sharing this occasion with Sarah Haskel and her family on her Bat Mitzvah.
Before I properly start I want to acknowledge and say how inspired I am by the amazing work of this Synagogue and to acknowledge the fantastic volunteers I just sat and listened to upstairs, all being very humble about the amazing work they all do. The Jewish community in Britain should be very proud of the voluntary service it gives back to society. The Muslim communities are still work in progress on this and have a lot to learn. We give millions of pounds in charity, especially in this month of Ramadan when more is emphasised, but we are not yet so good at maybe giving our time in service and that is something we need to learn and develop. It seems to me that within Jewish homes and families, volunteering is very often part of the DNA of people, it’s what they do!
I have been motivated and inspired by Mitzvah Day, the one day of social action that a lot of people in this room are very involved with. I shamelessly copied the model and set up Sadaqa Day and it is going very well. There is so much we can do together.
Life is temporary, we all have a short time in the world.
This weekend we are all celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday – she has seen so much including world wars and more, all over the world..
I’m sure if we ever had a chance and asked her she would say that time has gone quick in many ways.
None of us know how long we will live for
Some of us may live to 90 but some of us surely won’t
We just never know when our time on this earth is up
Islamic teachings tell us that it is important that we keep a balance in the world, we must live fully and good lives but be like a traveller I was just listening to song on the way here with lyrics along that line. “Live like a traveller, only passing through…..”
Yesterday we witnessed one of the most moving and inspiring memorials ever, that of the late Muhammad Ali. Here on my keyring you can see one of his sayings:
“Don’t count the days, make the days count”
“Conduct yourself in this world as if you are here to stay forever. And yet prepare for eternity as if you are to die tomorrow” Prophet Muhammad
Keep the balance. Live a good life, but always be aware of others around you.
All of this is of course a reminder to myself first. Ramadan is a time to reflect and we have more conversations with God and we try to do our best and work on being a better person by the end of the month.
What impression do we want to leave on earth? What kind of person do we want to be? Can we be the sort of person that lights up a room or are we the sort of person that people hide from when they know we are coming?
“People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, people will never forget how you made them feel” Maya Angelou
Muhammad Ali touched peoples’ lives. People have been speaking about him from all over the world. It has been very inspiring.
“What is it about the man that elicits this outpouring of sincere emotion? Answer is that when people see goodness in a person they respond by reflecting goodness back at that person and on their fellow men and women” Jacob Zuma at funeral of Nelson Mandela
‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” Ghandi
We should always be looking outwards but always be checking ourselves too. Islamic teachings tell us that intention is very important.
One of my American teachers talks about “Humble Swagger” and I’ve always really liked it. “Swagger’ is on its own a negative word and denotes someone who is showing off, over-confident perhaps. But if you put the word humble in front of it, the meaning changes and becomes much more positive. Be confident about who we are and what we can offer the world but always remain humble too, always being ready to serve others.
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not you, then who? And if not now, when?”
Can we lead a life of service to others? Life is short, we really do have limited time in our day to day lives, how can we fit anything else in. Whether we are studying for exams or have young growing families or we are working a job, we wonder how we can find more hours in the day sometimes.
“No one has ever become poor from giving” Anne Frank
“It is in the giving that we receive” St Francis of Asisi
We all know how good we feel when we do good things for others.
No one can do everything…. but everyone can do something
“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world” Dr Seus
It strikes me that there is a link between us as individuals and peace in our big world. Things seem bad, things are often ugly coming from our TV screens. But I’m kind of with John Lennon on this, I really do think we can and should give peace a chance. Anyone not old enough to know who John Lennon was, look him up and see some of the crazy things he did when he was alive to bring about change and peace in the world.
“Peace is not something you wish for. It’s something you make, something you are, something you give away” John Lennon
Peace is a doing word, it is active. Doesn’t happen by accident.
Can we all be part of the solution?
Can we make the world a better place, even though we are only in it for a short time? Can we play our part in our own way to change the way things are in the world.
It means that we have humble swagger – we remain confident about who and what we are but we also admit mistakes, look at our role, what difference can we make and we go ahead, believing in ourselves and in what we have to offer.
Now at a time like this when I am fasting so many hours and doing as much prayers and other things as possible this saying from Muhammad may seem unbelievable, how can anything be better than the things we are doing this month of Ramadan?!
“Do you know what is better than charity, fasting and prayers? It is keeping peace and good relations between people” Prophet Muhammad
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” Ghandi
“God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” Holy Quran
Often it is easier to blame others than it is to look at ourselves
Just remember, when we point our finger at others there are 3 fingers pointing back at us. Something to reflect on and think about
I will now read a clever poem, you will have to listen hard to keep up!
Again, I mention the great man, Muhammad Ali who said:
“The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room
here on Earth” Muhammad Ali
But other people make it hard for us sometimes. We may have worked on our grand plan to change the world – then other people do bad things or stupid things or they try and get in our way. But we can’t let them. Remember we can’t do everything, but we should all do something. We need to try. We can’t live with regret later in our lives that we didn’t do what we wanted to do.
I’ll end with the poem from Mother Theresa who gave her life in service to others in a way that many of us will never even come close to:
Thank you all for listening
Whose Job Is It Anyway?
This is a story about four people named
Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody
There was an important job to be done and
Everybody was asked to do it
Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it
Anybody could have done it, by Nobody did it
Somebody got angry about that
Because it was Everybody’s job
Everybody thought Anybody could do it but
Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn’t do it
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when
Nobody did what Anybody could have done
People are unreasonable and self-centred
Forgive them anyway
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives
Be kind anyway
If you are honest, people may cheat you
Be honest anyway
If you find happiness, people may be jealous
Be happy anyway
The good you do today may be forgotten
Do good anyway
Give the world your best and it may never be enough
Give your best anyway
For you see, in the end it is between
You and God
It was never between you and them anyway