We spoke last week about the essence of Islam, which is to submit our will to the Will of Allah. Ibrahim epitomizes that. Allah said about him:
إِذْ قَالَ لَهُۥ رَبُّهُۥٓ أَسْلِمْ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ
Baqara 2: 13 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).
To me, this Ayah is the slogan of Islam. Qaala Aslim. Qaala Aslamtu. The life of Ibrahim, his wife Hajar and his son Ismail is a living example of what it means to be Muslim. Allah loved it so much that He made Ibrahim His Khaleel and told us his story, immortalizing it for all time.
It begins with the relationship between Ibrahim and Allah from the time that Ibrahim was a young boy. Allah mentioned one instance:
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 strikes you in this story? Put yourself as a fly on the wall and watch this conversation happening. Here is this little boy – we don’t know how old he was, but my guess is that he was perhaps not a teenager – looking up at the sky and asking His Rabb to show him something which is totally incredible. There is no doubt in him. It sounds as if for him, this is normal. And then see how his and our Rabb, Allah responds. He responds with another question, but He asks that in such an intimate, conversational tone, with such affection that it leaves me with so much hope that when I meet Him, I will be meeting the Rabb of Ibrahim who has time for a little boy’s questions. I ask myself and I ask you, when was the last time you spoke to Allah? I don’t mean making dua or Salah or Dhikr. I mean, talk. When did you last tell Him your story? When did you ask him, not for a favor, but a question? And if you didn’t, then ask yourself, why not? It is this Ta’alluq, this connection, which is the very essence and purpose of Islam. Iqbal said:
شوق تیرا اگر نہ ہو میری نماز کا امام میرا قیام بھی حجاب، میرا سجود بھی حجاب
Then Allah answers the question in a way that experientially demonstrates His Khudrat (power) to Ibrahim. See the instructions that Allah gives. Did you ever reflect on how long all this must have taken? Does anyone even teach Tafsir in this way? Ask, why not? What if we did?
Remember, Allah didn’t tell him to take four chickens. He told him to take four wild birds and tame them. Anyone who knows anything about wild birds will tell you that the only way to do that is to take fledglings from their nest. We are not talking about four fledglings or chicks from the same nest. We are talking about four different species. Imagine this as a project for a young boy. He must find out the location of nests of different species of birds. What time of the year they lay eggs? How long it takes for them to raise their young, which will be different for each species? What should he feed the young chick? If he gives it the wrong food, it will die. When he has all four, he must spend time with them, get them used to coming to him to be fed. What an amazing experience for a young boy or girl to be so close to Allah’s creation! Then when they are tame and love him and he loves them, Allah says, ‘Now slaughter them; chop them up; mix it all up and separate the whole mess into portions and take each to the top of one hill and put it there. Then return to the valley between the hills and call them and they will come to you in haste.’ My brothers and sisters, reflect on this. Imagine this. Put yourself there and see it happen. How exhilarating it must be for the little boy Ibrahim to see it all happen before his eyes! This is the meaning of Ta’alluq. Talk to Allah and see what happens. Keep it secret. Tell nobody. Let it be between you and Allah. Do something that only He knows. That is why the poet said:
Hal laka sirrun ind Allah? Bainaka anta wa baina-Allah
Hal laka sadaqatun takhfaa? La ya’alamuha illa-Allah
Islam is about knowing Allah. Not just knowing about Allah. But knowing Allah at the deepest, most intimate level of our beings. Allah honored us by calling us Muslims, from the Millat of Ibrahim.