By Zahra Anjum
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
One of the most inspiring stories in the Quran is that of Ibrahim (as) and his family. A believer is mesmerized by their level of faith and conviction, their sacrifices and struggle, their love for Allah, and their willingness to do the utmost for His sake. We see that young Ibrahim (as), unique in his ideas, was brave enough to challenge and confront the whole idol-worshipping society. We see him unwavering in the face of the towering flames that were ignited to burn him. We see him surpass in love for Allah with a knife on his son. We see Ismail (as) surrendering readily to be slaughtered for his Lord. And we see Hajar (as) pleased and content with the will of Allah, as she is left alone in a barren land.
In order to remind the believers about their beautiful example, Allah (swt) has ensured that their legacy continues in the form of the rituals of Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha. Each year, when I recall their story and reflect on it, a chest of reminders opens up. These much needed reminders rekindle our faith and help face the daily struggles that we come across as Muslims.
1. An isolated believer? Do not be discouraged!
“Indeed, Abraham was a [comprehensive] leader, devoutly obedient to Allah, inclining toward truth, and he was not of those who associate others with Allah.” (Surah An-Nahl 16: 120)
Are you feeling sidelined because you practice Islam? Do people avoid you because of your hijab or Islamic lifestyle? Do you sometimes feel like an isolated stranger? Find solace in the example of Ibrahim (as), and do not be discouraged. Being alone is better than surrendering to false desires and ideas. Ibrahim was alone in the whole world of disbelievers. He did not have many followers except for his nephew Loot (as), wives Sarah and Hajar, and later his sons. Hold fast to the truth, even if it means being alone or being in small numbers.
2. Dunya or Akhirah? Define your priority!
If we look closely at the family of Ibrahim (as), we can observe that Allah was their priority and they did everything accordingly. Their eyes were set on their true purpose of life: to gain the pleasure of Almighty Allah.
Do not linger purposelessly; sit yourself down these ten days of Dhul-Hijjah and make a conscious decision of ‘choosing’ between this world and the next. Thereafter, your lifestyle, your choices, and your path will be governed by your decision. The places you visit, the dress you wear, the activities you indulge in, the people you meet, the career you adopt, and the things that you listen and see will all reflect your choice. Now you have to consult Allah before every step. For example, if you have chosen the hereafter, you cannot continue your job in any other place that involves something Haram (forbidden).
3. A life of sacrifice
“Do the people think that they will be left to say: We believe, and they will not be tried?” (Surah Ankabut 29:2)
Now that we have chosen Allah as our priority and have started walking on His path, the test is bound to come; are we sincere in our choice and love of Allah? Are we ready to pay some price for our faith? Some sacrifices shall be required at every bend in the road: our comfort, our desires, our likes and dislikes, our time, and our wealth. However, Ibrahim (as) reminds us that the sacrifices are worth it.
It is not necessary that you are tested by something very big; these tests come in small packages every day. For example, you long to buy a particular dress but sacrifice your feelings because it is a dress that will not help you guard your modesty. Or you long to listen to an old song but you sacrifice your desire. You wish to live comfortably but you sacrifice your comfort and spend your time in serving Islam and raising the banner of Tawheed (monotheism).
4. Trust Allah
Hajar is our first teacher of trust in Allah. When Ibrahim (as) walked away, she asked him, “O Ibrahim! To whom are you leaving us?” He replied: “I am leaving you to Allah.” She then replied: “I am satisfied to be with Allah.” (Bukhari)
This was her level of trust. She was in a barren land with an infant child, with nothing but a few dates and a water skin. There was no visible support, and yet she felt satisfied when she came to know that she was in the care of Allah. Aren’t we all in the care of Allah likewise?
Muslims do not crumble or lose hope in the face of difficulties; they put their trust in Allah. We must learn to trust His plans, His wisdom, and His commands.
Moreover, she did not just sit and cry herself away. She started running between the mountains and made every possible effort to look for water. This is exactly what Prophet Muhammad (sa) taught us when a man asked him: “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I untie her and trust in Allah?” The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Tie her and trust in Allah.” (Tirmidhi; reliable)
Zahra Anjum is a freelance writer, editor and translator based in Islamabad, Pakistan.
© IIPH 2015