We just finished Ramadan which Allahﷻ sent us to make us Muttaqoon. I remind myself and you that all the promises of Allahﷻ are for Muttaqoon. So, it is worth the effort to become a Muttaqi and benefit. In Ramadan we reminded ourselves that we are Muslim. That we have submitted our will to the Will of Allahﷻ, by following the order of Allahﷻ, we held ourselves back during the specified hours from things which are otherwise Halaal. This reinforces the meaning of being a Muslim – someone who submits to Allahﷻ. This is the secret to the greatest wealth – Ta’alluq Ma’Allahﷻ. It is this connection that Allahﷻ told us about in the story of His Khaleel, Ibrahim (AS). I want you watch this happen. Allahﷻ said:
وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَٰهِـۧمُ رَبِّ أَرِنِى كَيْفَ تُحْىِ ٱلْمَوْتَىٰ قَالَ أَوَلَمْ تُؤْمِن قَالَ بَلَىٰ وَلَـٰكِن لِّيَطْمَئِنَّ قَلْبِى قَالَ فَخُذْ أَرْبَعَةً مِّنَ ٱلطَّيْرِ فَصُرْهُنَّ إِلَيْكَ ثُمَّ ٱجْعَلْ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ جَبَلٍ مِّنْهُنَّ جُزْءًا ثُمَّ ٱدْعُهُنَّ يَأْتِينَكَ سَعْيًا وَٱعْلَمْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
Baqara 2: 260 And (remember) when Ibrahim said, My Rabb! Show me how You give life to the dead. He (Allah) said: Do you not believe? He [Ibrahim] said: Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in Faith. He said: Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill, and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.
What always strikes me in this Ayah is how natural this conversation is. What does it say about the sense of Allahﷻ’s presence that Ibrahim (AS) must have felt that he simply asked a question. This is not a formal dua in Salah. It is just a natural conversation between two who know each other very well. It shows such a level of comfort that I can only marvel at it. Ibrahim (AS) must have been a young boy when he asked this question. Allahﷻ loved that so much that He answered him in such an affectionate way – ‘Don’t you believe?’ Ibrahim (AS) replied, ‘He [Ibrahim] said: Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in Faith.’ That is why Rasoolullahﷺ said about this response, ‘If Ibrahim could say this, then we have an even greater right to say it.’ So, Allahﷻ gave Ibrahim (AS) a whole project to answer his question. Take four birds of four different species. He is not asking him to get domestic birds, chickens, ducks, geese. Four wild birds. Then tame them so that they come to him when he calls them. Not put them in cages. Free flying birds. I always wonder why we don’t do this as a class project when teaching the Tafsir of this Ayah. To return to the story, this means that young Ibrahim (AS) must find the nests of four birds, learn about their lifecycle. Wait for their eggs to hatch and for the fledglings to be of exactly the right age. Too young and they will die. Too old and he will not be able to catch or train them. He must learn about what they eat. And he must do that for four different species. All this takes time. When it is done, he must slaughter the birds, chop them up, mix it all together, separate the mince into many piles and put one pile on each hill. Then he must return to the center and call them. Put yourself in his place and feel what he must have felt when he saw those birds come to him as if nothing had happened to them. Just thinking about it makes my skin tingle with excitement and awe. Imagine Ibrahim (AS) to whom it happened. This is the meaning of connecting to Allahﷻ. Feel Allahﷻ in your heart.
Think about this. Ibrahim (AS) was not the only one who asked this question. Allahﷻ told us about another man who asked the same question, but in a different tone, and how he was answered. Allahﷻ said:
أَوْ كَٱلَّذِى مَرَّ عَلَىٰ قَرْيَةٍ وَهِىَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِهَا قَالَ أَنَّىٰ يُحْىِۦ هَـٰذِهِ ٱللَّهُ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا فَأَمَاتَهُ ٱللَّهُ مِا۟ئَةَ عَامٍ ثُمَّ بَعَثَهُۥ قَالَ كَمْ لَبِثْتَ قَالَ لَبِثْتُ يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ قَالَ بَل لَّبِثْتَ مِا۟ئَةَ عَامٍ فَٱنظُرْ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِكَ وَشَرَابِكَ لَمْ يَتَسَنَّهْ وَٱنظُرْ إِلَىٰ حِمَارِكَ وَلِنَجْعَلَكَ ءَايَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَٱنظُرْ إِلَى ٱلْعِظَامِ كَيْفَ نُنشِزُهَا ثُمَّ نَكْسُوهَا لَحْمًا فَلَمَّا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُۥ قَالَ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
Baqara 2: 259 Or like the one who passed by a town, and it had tumbled over its roofs. He said: Oh! How will Allah ever bring it to life after its death? So, Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again). He said: How long did you remain (dead)? He (the man) said: (Perhaps) I remained (dead) a day or part of a day. He said: Nay, you have remained (dead) for a hundred years, look at your food and your drink, they show no change; and look at your donkey! And thus, We have made of you a sign for the people. Look at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh. When this was clearly shown to him, he said, “I know (now) that Allah can do all things.”
What do you think will happen if I die just now and wake up 100 years later in 2123. All my relatives and friends will be dead. My money and cards won’t work. My clothes will be outdated. I will have no ID. I am not even sure if I will understand what people will be saying. New world, new ways, new gadgets, everything strange, everything a challenge. I will be totally Yateem – vulnerable, alone, powerless. That is what would have happened to that man. He got his answer but how? Different strokes for different folks.
My Shaikh used to say, ‘Build your Ta’alluq with Allahﷻ, then it is not what happens normally that will happen to you. What happens to you depends on who you are in the sight of Allahﷻ. So, build your connection with Allahﷻ and He will give the world into your hands.’
Fast forward to the time when as a young man, we see Ibrahim (AS) tied up securely with ropes, sitting in the cup of the trebuchet, about to be launched into a huge fire, kindled to burn him alive. Stand there and look at his face. What do you see? I see a totally calm face with a smile, as if to say, “Let me see what my Rabb wants to show me now.” Suddenly Jibreel (AS) appears before him. ‘Ya Ibrahim, tell me, what can I do for you?’ I see the smile grow more beautiful and brighter. To Jibreel (AS) he says, ‘Nothing. Thank you very much my friend. Nothing at all.’ Inside he is saying, ‘You know me better than I know myself. What did you think I would say?’ Jibreel (AS) disappears. He has gone to Allahﷻ who knows what is going on. ‘Ya Rabbi, your Khaleel is about to be burnt alive. I asked him if I could help him. He refused to tell me. Please do something.’ Allahﷻ says, ‘Go now and tell him that I sent you and I want to know what he wants from me.’ Jibreel (AS) reappears and says, ‘Ibrahim, your Rabb sent me and wants to know what you want from Him.’ The smile is now like the sun. He replies, ‘Ya Jibreel my friend, my Rabb doesn’t need to ask.’ In his heart He is saying, ‘Ya Rabbi, it is not what I want, it is what you want. Because I want whatever you want.’
When the slave removed the means from between himself and his Rabb, Allahﷻ addressed the fire directly and commanded:
قُلْنَا يَـٰنَارُ كُونِى بَرْدًا وَسَلَـٰمًا عَلَىٰٓ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ
Anbiya 21: 69 We (Allah) said: O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Ibrahim
What were the options to save Ibrahim (AS)? Cloudburst that extinguishes the fire. Jibreel (AS) ordered to pick him up from midair and take him away. Makes for nice camera footage. A tornado picks up the king of the people trying to burn him and throws him into the fire. That would have been quite symbolic too. Sudden attack by enemies which reorders all priorities and maybe other means. But none of those would have accomplished Allahﷻ’s purpose which was to demonstrate His Power.
Remember, you are a bystander watching all this happening. What do you see? You see a huge fire that nobody can go near. It is so massive that they must launch Ibrahim (AS) into it with a siege machine. You see him sitting in the cup of the trebuchet with a huge smile on his face, which keeps growing brighter. You wonder what kind of man is this? What’s wrong with him? Can’t he see the danger that he is in? What is it that he doesn’t understand? Or, if you can think that far, then maybe you are asking yourself, ‘What is he seeing that I can’t? What does he know that I don’t?’ You see the crowd baying for his blood. Massive crowd. Huge noise. Imagine a soccer match and multiply that a hundred times. They are waiting for the king to give the signal for the trebuchet to be fired. The king raises his hand and chops down and the trebuchet is released. Ibrahim (AS) flies through the air and falls into the fire and disappears from the sight of the crowd and from your sight. There is a massive cheer as the people rejoice at their success. Nobody, not you, not anyone there, saw the reality of what happened. Until, in the fullness of time, Ibrahim (AS) walks out of the fire, safe and sound. His rope had incinerated but not a hair on his body was even singed. So, who was successful? What did it look like to you? But what was the reality? What does success look like to you today? What is the reality? The stories of the Qur’an not for entertainment. They are to reflect upon and apply to our lives. Our fires are interest-based banking, Haraam businesses, eating and drinking Haraam or doubtful things, pornography, cigarettes, lotteries, drugs and alcohol, fornication. Add to this list.
All are legal in this land. But all are Haraam with Allahﷻ. What will we choose? Will we do what it takes for Allahﷻ to save us from our fires or will our fires consume us? That is our choice. I remind myself and you that Allahﷻ created us to worship Him. Allahﷻ said:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ ٱلْجِنَّ وَٱلْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
مَآ أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَآ أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ هُوَ ٱلرَّزَّاقُ ذُو ٱلْقُوَّةِ ٱلْمَتِينُ
Dhariyaat 51: 56-58 And I (Allah) created not the jinn and humans except they should worship Me (Alone). I seek not any provision from them (for themselves or for My creatures) nor do I ask that they should feed Me (feed themselves or My creatures). Verily, Allah is the All-Provider, Owner of Power, the Strongest.
This is the greatest secret. Do your job. When we do the job that we are supposed to do, to give us sustenance is the responsibility of the One who gave us that job. In this case, created us for that job. What more can we ask? Ibrahim (AS)’s story is a beautiful example of this which Allahﷻ narrated for us so that we may take heed. I ask Allahﷻ for His help for us to live a life in total obedience and submission to Him.