Listening to lectures is about the closest Muslims can get to beneficial entertainment. I’ve heard some people who say we shouldn’t just listen to Islamic lectures as entertainment. They say we shouldn’t go to hear a speaker just so we can have a laugh and feel good about ourselves.
I’m not sure I agree with that. I’ve tried my best to leave television and movies behind the past couple of months, and were it not for Islamic lectures online, I’m not sure how I would fill my time. And I include watching stupid YouTube videos and Netflix in the same category as television and movies. They’re all basically entertainment that doesn’t benefit me in this life nor the next.
Not to say that watching TV and movies are haram (forbidden). But I’d just rather not waste what little time I have left on this world doing so. I still let my kids watch restricted TV and my wife watches some also.
My point is, I find listening to Muslim speakers and lecturers a good, beneficial, and yes, entertaining way to spend my time that won’t lead to sin (Inshallah).
I’ve even decided to stop watching sports. I suddenly decided to stop watching TV just as the NBA playoffs and Major League Baseball season were starting up. But what benefit is there to me to watch all of these games? I’m not going to earn money for it. Watching them will not teach me anything. And it certainly won’t lead me to paradise.
In fact, sometimes watching sports on TV leads to sin. For example, I decided to watch a little bit of one game a few weeks ago. As I was watching the players run up and down the court, the camera panned across a woman sitting in the front row. She wasn’t a cheerleader or anything; just some average lady who happened to be lucky enough or related to the right person to get courtside seats to an NBA playoffs game.
As she was watching the game, she was leaning forward with her elbows resting on her knees. She was wearing a low-cut blouse that showed about eight inches of her cleavage.
That was it for me. I had to turn the TV off. Why subject myself to sin just for the sake of entertainment? It would only be a matter of minutes before the camera panned over her again and chances are I would see more of her “goodies.”
For this reason and many others I prefer to get my entertainment by listening to Islamic lectures. I’m not even comfortable watching documentaries though I probably would if Michael Moore makes another one.
My Top 5
Alright, back to the topic of this post. A list of my favorite Muslim speakers. These first five are not in any particular order. But these are the ones I’ve heard the most.
I may be biased because I was roommates with his sons in Trinidad. Nonetheless, Bilal Philips is probably my all time favorite lecturer. He doesn’t have a great style of delivery and he is not a particularly outstanding speaker. But I get so much knowledge listening to his talks. I know he’s kinda Salafi, but I’m able to overlook that in this case.
What I like most about Bilal Philips is that his talks are very intellectual and fact based. He doesn’t spew out a lot of stats and numbers; but he uses logic and common sense along with his Islamic knowledge to back up what he says.
The fact that he’s also easy to understand helps a lot. He has a slight Jamaican accent, but I don’t have to adjust my hearing the way I do for Ahmed Deedat.
Speaking of which…
Yes, I know he’s returned to Allah. And I know he hasn’t given a lecture in over 15 years. But his stuff still rocks. It takes a while to get used to his heavy South African accent, but when he got going, he was one of the best there was. He spoke with passion; he was funny; he could even be downright antagonistic when he wanted to be.
Listening to Ahmed Deedat was like listening to your grandfather but a lot more interesting. My only fault with him was that his talks were very one-dimensional. But he was the best at what he did. When it came to humbling and schooling the Christian missionary types who sought to convert Muslims using underhanded and nefarious means, Ahmed Deedat know how to handle them.
Once again, I may be biased with this one. I grew up listening to Imam Siraj even before he became an internationally known speaker. He doesn’t have an accent (from my point of view) and he brings that Baptist minister, “raise the roof” energy and passion to his talks.
The best thing about Imam Siraj Wahaj is that he’s so down to earth. I’ve met him on several occasions, and he’s just as accessible and charismatic in person as he appears to be behind the lectern. And he often speaks about topics that many of us have to deal with.
I’ve heard Imam Siraj talk about:
- Domestic violence
- Police brutality
- American Imperialism
And much, much more.
Nouman Ali Khan
Three years ago, I’d never even heard of this guy. Then he came to Birmingham back in 2009 and gave one of the best Khutbahs I’ve ever heard. I didn’t even know who he was back then, but I figured it out later on. I’ve been listening to more of his lectures of late than anyone else on this list.
I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s got the whole package, but he does have many qualities that the others lack.
He speaks often on regular topics that many people deal with (unlike Bilal Philips).
He speaks with a regular American accent (unlike Ahmed Deedat).
I usually come away having gained some Islamic knowledge (unlike Siraj Wahaj).
For these reasons, I really enjoy listening to Nouman Ali Khan. He doesn’t speak with as much passion as Siraj Wahaj and Ahmed Deedat. But he does speak with a subtle, controlled force that makes you listen to what he has to say.
This might get me put on the no-fly list.
But seriously, Anwar al-Awlaki’s lectures on the Life of the Prophets, and the Hereafter, and the early companions were fantastic. Yes, there were a few hints of extremism in them, but for the most part, they were packed with knowledge and information.
Unfortunately, he went off the rails (or was pushed off) and much of his later stuff was definitely extreme.
May Allah forgive him for his sins.
There are many speakers that I enjoy listening to who didn’t make it into my top five. And someone recently suggested I listen to Muhammad Al Shareef from khutbah.com. Inshallah, I’m going to find some of his lectures after I put up this post.
Here is my list of honorable mentions:
- Abdullah Hakim Quick
- Waleed Basyouni
- Khalid Yasin
- Yahya Ibrahim
- Zakir Naik
- Mohammed Al-Shareef
- Yasir Qadhi
- Yusuf Estes
- Abdul Rahim Green
- Abu Yusuf Riyad ul Haq
- Imran Hosein
If I’ve missed anyone you feel deserves an honorable mention or any other sort of mention, please let me know. I need something to do besides watch TV!