Sacrifice – Eid ul Adha – 2022

اللهُ أَكْبَرُ اللهُ أَكْبَرُ لَا إلَهَ إلَّا اللهُ وَاَللهُ أَكْبَرُ اللهُ أَكْبَرُ وَلِلهِ الْحَمْدُ

We know the story of Eid ul Adha. Ibrahim (AS) went to sacrifice his son. Allah substituted him with a ram. Muslims commemorate this sacrifice annually in honor of Ibrahim (AS)’s Uboodiyat and as our own solidarity with that. But is this only about death of sheep and celebration for us? Or is there more?

Ibrahim (AS)’s life and the lives of his family, his wife Hajar (AS) and his son Ismail (AS) are symbols of Uboodiyat (obedience as slaves of Allah). Allah liked them and their attitude and actions so much that He honored them for all time and made their story the Arkaan of Hajj. It begins with Allah’s statement when He praised Ibrahim (AS) and said:

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).”

This is the first marker we need to take note of and understand that all goodness begins with obedience. Total obedience. Because selective obedience is disobedience. Islam clearly demands total obedience to Allah in the way that was demonstrated by His Messenger Muhammadur Rasoolullah. Allah said:

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱدْخُلُوا۟ فِى ٱلسِّلْمِ كَآفَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ خُطُوَٰتِ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنِ إِنَّهُۥ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ

Baqara 2: 208. O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam and do not follow the footsteps of Shaytaan. Verily! He is to you a plain enemy.

Allah is addressing those who believe. Ostensibly they have already entered Islam. Yet Allah orders them to enter Islam completely. This means that those who pick and choose what they will do or not, obey or not obey, have not entered Islam completely and are following the footsteps of Shaytaan. Allah warned us against this. Please remember that the one who follows the footsteps of someone else is responsible for his own decision. He can’t blame anyone else for it. Shaytaan will say to those who followed him:

وَقَالَ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ لَمَّا قُضِىَ ٱلْأَمْرُ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ وَعَدَكُمْ وَعْدَ ٱلْحَقِّ وَوَعَدتُّكُمْ فَأَخْلَفْتُكُمْ وَمَا كَانَ لِىَ عَلَيْكُم مِّن سُلْطَـٰنٍ إِلَّآ أَن دَعَوْتُكُمْ فَٱسْتَجَبْتُمْ لِى فَلَا تَلُومُونِى وَلُومُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَكُم مَّآ أَنَا۠ بِمُصْرِخِكُمْ وَمَآ أَنتُم بِمُصْرِخِىَّ إِنِّى كَفَرْتُ بِمَآ أَشْرَكْتُمُونِ مِن قَبْلُ إِنَّ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

Ibrahim 14: 22. And Shaytaan will say when the matter has been decided: “Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, so you responded to me. So, blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Shaytaan) as a partner with Allah (by obeying Shaytaan in the life of the world). Verily, there is a painful torment for the Zalimun (evil doers).”

The second marker in the life of Ibrahim (AS) that we need to take note of is his connection with his Rabb. The most beautiful example from his life is his conversation with Allah when he was a boy. Allah told us about this in Ibrahim (AS)’s words.

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 (Allah) 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.”

I have spoken about this whole incident and its many implications in detail many times before so won’t go into it now. I will suffice to say that I can’t think of a more beautiful example of the connection between an Abd and his Rabb.

We fast forward to another conversation, a test that was so severe that I always wonder at the strength of Imaan of Ibrahim (AS), until I recall the earlier incident of: Rabbi arini kaifa tuhyil mautha. Anyone who could ask that and was answered, is at a place where everything else becomes easy. That is why I keep harping about creating and maintaining our connection with Allah. Ta’alluq Ma’Allah is the root cause of all goodness. The life of Ibrahim (AS) demonstrates that beautifully.

The test and conversation I refer to is between Ibrahim (AS) and Allah after he left his wife and newborn son in the barren valley of Makkah. Allah told us what he said:

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 family to dwell in an uncultivable valley by Your Sacred House (the Ka’bah at Makkah); in order, O our Rabb, that they may establish As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks.

Put yourself in the place of Ibrahim (AS) and see what you would have asked Allah for, seeing the life-threatening challenges your young family would be faced with in that hostile environment. The sequence of dua that I would make would be for safety and security, food and water, support, and companionship.

Yet what Ibrahim (AS) asked for is to establish Salah, influence over others and fruits (tertiary blessings; not basic). Strange expectations, until you understand that the one asking, knows His Rabb and knows the keys to success. He knows that everything good begins with obedience to Allah which is the establishment of Salah. If only we understand that the rules have not changed. Everything good begins with Salah. And for those who establish it, Allah gives influence and His high blessings in this world and the next.

Fast forward again to another conversation. This time between a father of over 80 years old and a little son, “old enough to walk with him”. Allah considered it important enough to mention this. And then He reported the conversation. A conversation which is one of the strangest that I can imagine, until I remind myself about who was talking to whom? It is Khaleelullah talking to the man who is to be given the title Zabeehullah (sacrificed for Allah). Not man, little boy. But what a little boy! First listen to the conversation:

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

Saffaat 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 (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look what you see!” He said: “O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’Allah (if Allah wills), you shall find me of As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).”

Look in your heart. What do you see? You ask a little boy that and expect to get an intelligent answer? And that too about slaughtering him? Remember this was a little boy who knew all about slaughter. He lived in an agrarian society with domestic animals which they slaughtered and ate and used their skins for their tents and clothing and so on. So, when his father said to him, “I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look what you see!”; you can be sure the little boy knew what slaughter meant. If you see his answer, you can see that he knew what slaughter meant; that it meant pain as he had never experienced before. That is why he says, سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَاء اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ

As they say, the rest is history. Allah declared that Ibrahim (AS) had fulfilled his covenant and passed the test and praised him in words that are recited in Salah and his action is commemorated and honored and will be, until there are Muslims on the face of the earth. Allah said:

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

كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِى ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ

إِنَّهُۥ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

Saffaat 37: 103. 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); 104. And We called out to him: “O Ibrahim! 105. You have fulfilled the dream (vision)!” Verily! Thus do We reward the Muhsinun (good-doers). 106. Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial. 107. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (a ram); 108. And We left for him (a goodly remembrance) among generations (to come) in later times. 109. Salamun (peace) be upon Ibrahim!” 110. Thus indeed do We reward the Muhsinun (good-doers). 111. Verily, he was one of Our believing slaves.

What do you say about those about whose Imaan and Taqwa, Allah Himself is the witness?

So, why is all this important to us today, apart from the commemoration?

It is important because it reiterates the following Fundamental Principles:

  1. All goodness and success begins with complete and total obedience to Allah
  2. We will be held responsible for our decisions. All that we chose to do or chose not to dodefines brand value and character‘.
  3. Obedience is a result of a connection. A connection of love, without any formality and which gives precedence to the One we are connected with (Allah) over everything and everyone else. Selective obedience is disobedience.
  4. To connect with Allah we must sacrifice those things we love which may come in the way of building that connection. In our case that would be all and every desire that takes us away from Allah and obedience to Him. The question we need to ask ourselves is, ‘What am I willing to sacrifice for Allah?’ Remember, sacrifice means pain and we will do it only when the reward seems greater to us than the pain. When it is more important for us to please Allah than to avoid the pain. That is what this Eid teaches us. And that is my bottom-line question to myself and you – WHAT ARE WE WILLING TO GIVE TO ALLAH?

The result of Ibrahim (AS)’s obedience and the obedience of his family was that Allah made their actions, rituals of the highest Ibaadah (worship) in Islam, Hajj. Hajj is a re-enactment of all the incidents that I mentioned which involve Ibrahim (AS), Hajar (AS) and Ismail (AS). Allah made them rituals of worship for all those who came after them. Every Nabi, every Rasool, every Wali of Allah, every scholar, and every ordinary Muslim performs these rituals. To those who do, Allah gives the highest reward, forgiveness of all sins. All because of Ibrahim (AS). What a man! That is why Allah said about him, ‘Kaana Ummah’ i.e. Allah said that Ibrahim (AS) was a nation in himself.

Today as we celebrate this blessed festival, let us reflect on the changes that we need to bring in our lives to make them obedient to Allah and on the Sunnah of His Messenger Muhammadur Rasoolullah. That is the true meaning of celebrating Eid ul Adha – to sacrifice our desires and our disobedience before Allah and to become one of the Millat-e-Ibrahim. It is not about sheep.

It is about us.

Eid Mubarak to all of you.