We were talking about what built a man like Ibrahim (AS) who Allahﷻ loved and called him His Khaleel. It was this connection with Allahﷻ that built the man Ibrahim (AS) who when he was in his 80’s Allahﷻ blessed with a son, Ismail (AS). Then when Ismail (AS) was still nursing Allahﷻ ordered Ibrahim (AS) to take him and his mother Hajar (AS) and leave them in the barren valley of Bakka. Plot this route from Palestine to Makkah. Ibrahim (AS), and our mother Hajar (AS) walked that route. Who guided them? What route map did they follow? How did Ibrahim (AS) know that he had reached his destination? The stories of the Qur’an are meant for us to reflect on. To put ourselves in that place and ask, ‘What would I have done?’ The answer depends on my connection with Allahﷻ. On my Tawakkul on Him. My trust in Him. Real trust. Not a claim of trust. He left them. No explanation because that was part of the instruction. It was a test for both. She called out to him. ‘Where are you going, leaving us here?’ No response. ‘Did your Rabb order you to do this?’ He nods his head. ‘Then go. He will not allow us to perish.’ Ya Allahﷻ, Ya Kareem, where does this come from? This complete faith in You. Ya Rabb have mercy on us. This is a very tough standard to be compared to. Please cover us with your Grace and forgive us.
When he reached a place where his wife couldn’t see him, he stops and says:
رَّبَّنَآ إِنِّىٓ أَسْكَنتُ مِن ذُرِّيَّتِى بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِى زَرْعٍ عِندَ بَيْتِكَ ٱلْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ فَٱجْعَلْ أَفْـِٔدَةً مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ تَهْوِىٓ إِلَيْهِمْ وَٱرْزُقْهُم مِّنَ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ
Ibrahim 14: 37 O our Rabb! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in an uncultivable valley by Your Sacred House (The Ka’bah); in order, O our Rabb, that they may establish As-Salat, so fill some hearts among people with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks.
Let us put ourselves in the place of Ibrahim (AS). Assuming we even get to where he is at, at this juncture, what is the dua we would make? The first thing that I would ask for would be safety for my family so that they can survive and not become a meal for the first predator that comes along. Then I would ask for food for them and shelter, so that they can continue to survive. But what is Ibrahim (AS) asking for? The totally amazing thing is that Ibrahim (AS) is not even asking for safety. What does he understand that I don’t? He knows, not just as information, but deep down in his being, that if Allahﷻ ordered him to do this, the safety of his family is a given. To ask for that would really mean that he didn’t understand who Allahﷻ is and would in a way be a lack of Adab. It would be like you leaving your child with me while you have to go away for a weekend and saying, ‘Yawar Bhai, please make sure that he is safe and cared for.’ I would consider that an insult and would hand your child back to you and say, ‘Please leave him with whoever you don’t need to say this to.’
Why is Allahﷻ telling us this story? What we wish for depends on our position and our knowledge. When I board a plane, I think about my seat, inflight service, a nice meal and then a nice snooze. The pilot also boards the same plane with me. What is he thinking? Seat, food, and snooze? Why is he thinking differently from me? Because he is the pilot. His job is not to ride in the plane but to fly it. His priorities are different because of his role and his knowledge. What is our role as Muslims? What did Allahﷻ send us to do? But what are we doing?
In Ibrahim (AS)’s language, first and foremost, note the Adab. He takes the responsibility for the predicament of leaving his wife and baby in a dangerous place, totally alone and defenseless. He doesn’t say, ‘Well, you know why I had to do this. Now please take care of them.’ He says, ‘I have left them in this place so that they may establish Your worship. Give them followers and supporters. And provide them with high end food; fruits.’ He is not asking for bread. He is asking for dessert. He knows that if Allahﷻ wants to use you, He will provide you with sustenance. So, if I want to ask for something then I am going to ask for the best and highest level of it. His order of precedence in the dua also shows us what is truly important. Everything begins with recognizing our Rabb and worshipping Him as is His right. Everything good flows from that.
Then comes the final test before he is to be given the job of building the House of Allahﷻ. Maybe 5-8 years later, he returns to the place where he had left his wife and son. Maybe he had no news of them until then. But Allahﷻ sends him a dream. It is a very strange and difficult dream. He sees that he is sacrificing his little son, slaughtering him as a sacrifice, to Allahﷻ. This is what is going on in his mind and heart as he is walking the miles back to Bakkah from Palestine. How easy it is to tell the story! How much more difficult is reality? Allahﷻ tells us what happened when he reached there.
فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ ٱلسَّعْىَ قَالَ يَـٰبُنَىَّ إِنِّىٓ أَرَىٰ فِى ٱلْمَنَامِ أَنِّىٓ أَذْبَحُكَ فَٱنظُرْ مَاذَا تَرَىٰ قَالَ يَـٰٓأَبَتِ ٱفْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ سَتَجِدُنِىٓ إِن شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ
Saafaat 37: 102 And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (in sacrifice to Allah), so look what do you see! He said: O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’Allah (if Allah will), you shall find me of As-Sabirin (patient).
He asked: مَاذَا تَرَىٰ (What do you see?) Not: ماذا تعتقد؟ (What do you think?) I know that colloquially speaking you can sayمَاذَا تَرَىٰ instead of ماذا تعتقد meaning the same thing.
Obviously, he is not asking ‘What do you see?’ in a physical sense. But by see is meant ‘understand’, which is not the same as think. Thought is in our control. We can choose what to think and usually that is a good place to be. Understanding, however, means to see the truth behind the experience. You are not controlling anything. It is like a doctor diagnosing a disease. He sees the signs and understands what is happening and what is creating those signs. He is not choosing anything. Given a choice he would choose perfect health for his patient. But he has no power to choose. However, on his correct understanding and interpretation of signs lies the best chance for his patient to get the right treatment. That is the meaning of ‘seeing’ and that is what makes it different from merely ‘looking’. The language of the Qur’an is extremely specific. And it is my Husn Zann about my Rabb that He used the word He did so that we could learn from it. And Allahﷻ knows best.
أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ فَتَكُونَ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ يَعْقِلُونَ بِهَآ أَوْ ءَاذَانٌ يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا فَإِنَّهَا لَا تَعْمَى ٱلْأَبْصَـٰرُ وَلَـٰكِن تَعْمَى ٱلْقُلُوبُ ٱلَّتِى فِى ٱلصُّدُورِ
Hajj 22: 46 Have they not travelled throughout the land so their hearts may reason, and their ears may listen? Indeed, it is not the eyes that are blind, but it is the hearts in the chests that grow blind.
This is a conversation between a 90-year-old man and his less than 10-year-old son. A son he saw as a tiny nursing baby. For the son this is the first time he is seeing his father. What must have been going through his mind?
Think about the question. Ibrahim (AS) is asking his son how he experiences Allahﷻ. Not what he thinks about Allahﷻ. When will we ever reach here if we never reflect because we are stuck inside our phones. We have enslaved ourselves to our gadgets and expect technology to solve all our problems. Then let us find a Jannah App to get there.
His son is the product of a single mother, but the way he was raised, he not only knows his father and loves and respects him but knows that he is a Rasool of Allahﷻ. He knows what that means and so is not surprised at the question. He has been raised so that he is connected to Allahﷻ and knows his heart. When his father says, ‘Look, what do you see?’, he doesn’t need to ask, ‘Look where?’ He knows where to look. He doesn’t hesitate. He is not confused. He answers:
يَـٰٓأَبَتِ ٱفْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ سَتَجِدُنِىٓ إِن شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ
He said: O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’Allah (if Allah will), you shall find me of As-Sabirin (patient).
Remember that Ismail (AS) grew up in an agrarian society where people kept flocks of sheep and cattle and ate meat. Seeing animals being slaughtered was part of his life. In such societies children are involved in the work of housekeeping, farming, and animal husbandry from the earliest time. Boys follow their fathers or father figures and girls follow their mothers and learn life skills from them. Slaughtering was not strange to little Ismail. So, when he answered he did it from a place of knowledge. Their Rabb loved this so much that He told us the story of what happened thereafter. Think about this, Allahﷻ is our Witness. He is the Witness of everyone and everything, no matter what. But with Ibrahim (AS) and his family, Allahﷻ is their Witness proudly praising them. That’s the difference. That is why Allahﷻ told us their story in such loving detail so that we can aspire to be like them. May Allahﷻ help us to be people who He will love.
فَلَمَّآ أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُۥ لِلْجَبِينِ
وَنَـٰدَيْنَـٰهُ أَن يَـٰٓإِبْرَٰهِيمُ
قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ ٱلرُّءْيَآ إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِى ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ
إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَهُوَ ٱلْبَلَـٰٓؤُا۟ ٱلْمُبِينُ
وَفَدَيْنَـٰهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ
وَتَرَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ فِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرِينَ
سَلَـٰمٌ عَلَىٰٓ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ
Saafaat 37: 103-6 Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering); And We called out to him: O Abraham! You have fulfilled the dream (vision)! Verily! Thus, do We reward the Muhsinun. Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (a ram). And We left for him (a good remembrance) among generations (to come) in later times. Salamun (peace) be upon Ibrahim!
The reward of such a life was that Allahﷻ gave the honor of building His House, the Ka’aba to Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS), and made his place of standing, Maqaam Ibrahim, a blessed place and called it a sign of Allahﷻ and made the whole story of their obedience, the Manasik (rites) of Hajj. Ibrahim (AS) obeyed Allahﷻ and Allahﷻ made that obedience an act of worship for everyone after him. Hajar (AS) ran between the hills because she was doing her part in obeying Allahﷻ, and Allahﷻ made that act an act of worship for everyone after her. Ismail (AS) displayed submission and patience with the order of Allahﷻ and Allahﷻ made it an act of worship for everyone who comes after him. Not just any ordinary act, but an act of worship, the Hajj, the reward of which is complete cleansing from sin. That story is remembered and enacted and has benefited uncounted millions of Muslims for 4000 years and still counting. That is the reward of submission to Allahﷻ.
Finally, all this happened because of one single but critical attitude about which Allahﷻ told us and mentioned it as the signature of Ibrahim (AS).
إِذْ قَالَ لَهُۥ رَبُّهُۥٓ أَسْلِمْ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ
Baqara 2: 131 When his Rabb said to him, Submit (be a Muslim)! He said, I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Rabb of the 'Alamin (all that exists).
My brothers and sisters, I remind myself and you that all goodness begins with submission to Allahﷻ. Without submission we are outside the gate. When we submit, the gate opens for us and Allahﷻ then introduces us to His marvels and rewards. All success in this world, all power, all influence, lies in becoming someone that Allahﷻ loves. For such a person, love and respect for him, obedience to him, influence in his words, and remembrance for him long after he has passed are established in the hearts of people. Nobody remembers your possessions. People remember what you did for them. Those who love Allahﷻ, benefit others and so they are remembered. I ask Allahﷻ to count us among those who love Him and who He loves.