On Friday night Habib Umar was at Masjid al-Istighfar after magrib prayers. There was a joyful maulud celebration, after which Habib gave a talk. The topic he was given was Ummah Cemerlang (Excellent Ummah), obviously a reference to our standard progressive Islam message that we have been getting every Friday. Habib had a spiritual aspect to all this, as is his principle. He said sometimes it is said that the ummah has to achieve success by mastering politics, economics, wealth and power. Habib said this is not correct, because wealth and power belong only to Allah. How we achieve success is by excellence in our akhlaq (ethics and manners), and all the others will be given by Allah. He cited how the successful forefathers of ours did not have wealth or power, but had the best of akhlaq, and because they had that one thing, Allah opened up the world to them. The best example is of course our Master Rasulullah, who did not have wealth or power, but all he had was perfection of character. Habib described how our Master showed the best of behaviour not only to his family and to the believers, but to the unbelievers and to his enemies as well. Once Abu Jahal had dug a pit trap to snare our beloved Master. However, it was God's will that Abu Jahal would fall into the trap himself by accident. It was also by God's will that by coincidence, our beloved Master the Prophet of God came by and saw Abu Jahal suffering in the trap, and rescued him from it, in spite of knowing that the trap had been intended for him. Rescue your enemy? Can we fathom the depth of compassion of the Prophet? We all know that we are commanded in the Qur'an to reciprocate evil with good, but how often have you heard that being taught to you nowadays? Habib mentioned how the mu'min is someone (according to a famous hadith from our Master the Prophet of God) from whose hand everyone else is safe from harm. Least of all a believer will hurt his own friend or family, women or children (I think everyone in the audience immediately thought of the news in the papers of al Qaeda's child suicide bombers). We live in depraved times. We wallow so deeply in the squalor of our depravity that we have lost all sense of goodness and kindness. It takes someone from outside the usual noise and clamour of the media and politics to tell us what is important ... again. Habib made me reallise how wrong the path has been that I have taken, for the path well-trodden leads not always to paradise, but to perdition. Al-Istighfar. How appropriate is the name of the mosque. God forgive us all.