بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
By Ruhaifa Adil
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لله وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ واتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَاتَّخَذَ اللّهُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ خَلِيلاً
“Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Ibrahim, the true in Faith? For Allah did take Ibrahim for a friend.”
Dhul-Hijjah arrives with many of us bidding farewell to relatives dressed in white, proclaiming Labbaik (“Here I am!”) as they embark on their journey to the blessed land of Makkah to perform Hajj.
The fifth pillar of Islam, Hajj, is decreed on every able Muslim, and is a manifestation of the legacy of Ibrahim’s (as) unwavering submission to the Will of Allah. The sacrifice and steadfastness of Ibrahim (as) and his family is embedded in almost every ritual of Hajj. From the circumambulation of the Kaaba to the sacrifice on the day of Eid, honour has been granted to this one man, which will continue till the end of times!
What was so special about Ibrahim (as) that he has been honoured in this manner? Why did Allah bestow upon him the title of Khaleellulah – Allah’s friend? Why was he so beloved to Allah that Muslims send blessings and peace on him in every prayer?
Let’s take a look at how we can be like Ibrahim (as) this Dhul-Hijjah – in order to emulate not only his actions but his spirit as well!
1. Surrender ourselves
“When his Lord said to him: ‘Surrender!’ he said: ‘I have surrendered to the Lord of all the worlds.’” (Surah Al-Baqarah:131)
The key to Ibrahim’s (as) success was his total submission to Allah’s will. Let’s place ourselves in Ibrahim’s (as) shoes in times of trouble. Whenever we face rejection and opposition from our family, we can think of how Ibrahim (as) must have felt when his own family threw him into the blazing fire; when tested with an affliction upon our children, we can imagine holding a knife to our only son’s throat; while following Allah’s commands that go against our own desires, we can think of Ibrahim (as) having to leave his wife and child alone, in the middle of a barren desert, with no food, water, lodging, or supplies – an almost certain death for the two of them.
During such times of trials, difficulties, sorrow, and conflict, let us say what Ibrahim (as) said, “I have surrendered to the Lord of all the worlds.” And believe that Allah will reward us handsomely!
2. Sacrifice our children
The story of Ibrahim’s (as) dream, and his unquestioning acceptance of Allah’s command to sacrifice his son, is not new to any of us. Every Eid-ul-Adha we offer sacrifice by slaughtering an animal as an ode to this great man’s willingness to give up everything for Allah. This Dhul-Hijjah let us too not only sacrifice an animal, but truly follow the example of Ibrahim (as) and “sacrifice” our children for Allah.
How can we “sacrifice” our children for the sake of Allah? Raise them on the path of Islam, instill in them a love for our Creator, and develop in them the desire to follow His commands. Teach them to sacrifice their sleep in order to pray Tahajjud (the night prayer). Help them take time out from their extracurricular activities to bond with the Quran. Nurture Eeman in them, and cultivate in them a love of Prophet Muhammad (sa). Every time you are tempted to not wake them up for Fajr because they haven’t had enough sleep, pelt the thoughts away as Ibrahim (as) stoned Shaytan when he tried to stop him from carrying out Allah’s commands. Make the Dua that Ibrahim (as) made:
“Our Lord! And make us submissive unto You and of our offspring a nation submissive unto You…” (Surah Al-Baqarah:128)
Let’s make our children our Ismaeel and may Allah reward us in our progeny with a Muhammad.
3. Reject the glitter and glamour
Questioning the glitter of the bright shiny star, the shimmer of the luminous moon, and the radiance of the powerful sun, Ibrahim (as) went out in search of the one true God. We face many stars, suns, and moons during our lifetime, which invite us to prefer them over Allah, to choose them over His wishes, to be mesmerized with them, and to forget Him.
Whenever we see the dazzle and sparkle, and the shine and shimmer of those inviting us to do things against Allah’s commands and His remembrance, remember to reject them with the words of Ibrahim (as): “…O my people! I am indeed free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah. For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens & the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.” (Surah Al-An’am:78-79)
Let us not make the world and whatever is in it, our deities. Let us remember that this sparkling world is subservient to Allah, just as we are meant to be.
4. Be Allah’s friend
Ibrahim’s (as) reliance on Allah is unparalleled in history. Unnerved in every test and tribulation that came his way, he kept climbing to greater heights of patience and courage till Allah called him His friend. No wonder his readiness to slaughter his son has been preserved for time immemorial as an integral part of Islam. His courage in leaving his family in the barren dessert of Makkah is remembered by every pilgrim who walks the distance between the hills of Safa and Marwah seven times.
We too need to rely upon Allah as our only true friend. We need to trust that He knows what is best for us, and turn to Him with our secrets. We should be sure that His advice is the most sincere, and choose Him over our other friends. And if Allah chooses us as well, know that we have achieved success.
5. Be utterly grateful
When the going gets tough, the tough become grateful. At least this is what we see in the life of Ibrahim (as). Allah did not grant him children for many years, and when He did, Ibrahim (as) was tested with the severest of trials with regard to them. How did he respond?
“Alhamdulillah (Praise to Allah), who has granted to me in old age Ismaeel and Ishaq. Indeed, my Lord is the Hearer of supplication.” (Surah Ibrahim:39)
Whenever he faced a trial, Ibrahim (as) thanked Allah for what he had rather than complain about what he didn’t. When Allah tests us with hardship, let us also be thankful, and focus on the good which Allah has given us. And remember Allah’s promise: “…If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favour]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” (Surah Ibrahim:7)
6. Be humble
Finally, when we have followed the way of Ibrahim (as), and are proud of having achieved an Ibrahimian (not Herculean) task, let us put away our pride at our accomplishment and say in the words of Ibrahim (as): “…Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. Verily! You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” (Surah Al-Baqarah:127)
May this Dhul-Hijjah be the one that leads us to imbibe some of the characteristics of Ibrahim (as)! Ameen.