By Shitta Ibraheem
A walk down one’s street, the majority of gatherings, greetings either on the social media or physically as well as the activities of many humans across the globe will largely feature the commemoration of the tradition laid down by the father of all religion, Abraham.
During the Hajj, Muslims remember and commemorate the trials and triumphs of the Prophet Ibraheem (peace be upon him) who, according to the Holy Quran, was was an example, obedient to Allah, by nature upright, and he was not of the polytheists. And Allah also said that he was grateful and therefore was chosen and was guided unto a right path.
The model which Allah has made Prophet Ibrahim and other Muslim Prophets is the way every Muslim should be. Their lifestyle is not only a perfect model of Submission to Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala but also a beautiful example of an ideal parent-child understanding without any generation gap.
There are many lessons we should learn from their story, but for the sake of brevity, I will refer only to the episode of sacrifice.
As you know, Ibraheem was born in a society where many false gods such as idols, stars, planets and moons were being worshiped and offerings were made to them. Animals and even humans were sacrificed to keep those false gods happy.
Hence he dedicated his life to inviting people to monotheism as his mission of his existence was to bring the message of Islam (the total submission to the will of Allah in every aspect of one’s life) to his nation. This is also the same mission of the prophets before and after him to establish a society of Muslim which should reflect a model of peace, love, caring, sharing, fairness, justice, generosity, human equality, dignity, balance and moderation.
At the time Ishmael (peace be upon him) was born, Abraham had gone to Canaan as commanded by Allah leaving his wife, Hajar and the little baby in the desert which came to be known today as the city of Makkah.
Being a desert, the wife and her little son soon ran out of sustenance leading to her having no milk in her to breastfeed him. She ran frantically between the two mountains of Al Safa and Al Marwa in search of water and food but couldn’t get. This running was done about seven times before she collapsed beside her son whose from beneath his feet, a gush of water miraculously sprang. The water is known today as Zam Zam.
Because of the love, admiration and total submission, Abraham has for Allah, and the desire to achieve his Prophetic mission of inviting people to the true religion, he has prayed fervently to God to bless him with an offspring.
And when Allah granted him his son, Isma’el, He put them to test about their faith by revealing to Abraham through his dream to sacrifice his only son.
Abraham narrated his dream to his son because he couldn’t carry on with it without his consent. Isma’el did not hesitate to offer himself for sacrifice as he believed it is the will of Allah. Although this great trial was heavy in the mind of the father as he has lived all his life without no offspring and his wife was barren and have both reached old age before Allah blessed them with this young man who should now be sacrificed.
His mature response, his insight into the nature of dad’s dreams, his willingness to sacrifice his life for the sake of Allah and commitment to Allah’s submission
were all unparalleled. The most amazing and noteworthy, however, was the perfect coherence and unity of thought, attitude and outlook between the father and the son. We do not see any generation gap between the two because both of them were looking at life through an Islamic paradigm – that a Muslim must submit to Allah in any circumstances and that love for Allah is over and above any other love in the life of a Muslim.
Once Abraham attempted to slaughter his beloved son, Isma’el, who lay patiently under the sparking, sharp knife, a ram was sent to Abraham to substitute for his son, hence Allah confirming that all his prayers have been answered and his sacrifice fulfilled.
The commemoration of this rite is what has been misunderstood by the people outside the faith.
Allah has given us power over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking the life of such animal.
Muslims slaughter animals in the same way throughout the year. By saying the name of Allah at the time of slaughter, we are reminded that life is sacred.
It is also very important to understand that the sacrifice itself, as practiced by Muslims, has nothing to do with atoning for our sins or using the blood to wash ourselves from sin. This is a misunderstanding by those of previous generations as the Almighty categorically states that.
“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him” (Qur’an 22:37).
Among the virtues of this blessed celebration is that the meet are divided into three parts, one for one’s family, another for the beg-nots and the other for the beggars.
Meanwhile, the willingness to share with these people should not be restricted to this festive period alone, it should be done always.
There are many things to be shared among ourselves or as alms, things that are tangible such as money, food, shelter, cloths, cutleries, books, buckets and even needle; and the intangibles such as love, respect, kindness, knowledge, smile which the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him) has described as an act of charity. All must be in balance and moderation.
Government of the day too ought to know that the treasures granted every nation is meant to be judiciously “shared” among the citizenry as these resources are their rights.
A good government which imbibes judicious sharing and distribution of wealth which reach substantially to the grassroots will see its nationals complying to formulated policies and the same resources channeled to the right industries burgeoning.