Going through Surah Saffat (37), I came across a very beautiful section. Right after Allah (swt) talks about Ibrahim (as) when he, as a young man taught his people about Shirk and Tauheed, it is mentioned that when Ibrahim (as) grew old, Allah (swt) blessed him with a beautiful son named Ismail (as). Ismail (as) learnt to walk but we don’t know his exact age. Some scholars state that he had just started to walk, while others say that he could actually walk at the same pace as his father Ibrahim (as), so he might have been thirteen years of age.
Nevertheless, Ibrahim (as) saw in his dream that he was killing his son. This is mentioned in the Quran:
“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 think!’ He said: ‘O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’Allah (if Allah will), you shall find me of As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).’” (As-Saffat 37:102)
Ibrahim (as) beautified his son Ismail (as) on that day, put on him his best clothes, and fed him a great breakfast. Then he took him to the place of slaughtering. Some scholars of Tafseer state it was Mina, which is in Makkah, while others say it was Syria.
“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).” (As-Saffat 37:103)
When Ibrahim (as) laid Ismail (as) on the ground and sharpened his sword, tears rolled down his cheeks. Verse 103 states “Falamma Aslama” (“when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah)”) and “Wa Tallaho lil Jabeen” (“he had laid him prostrate on his forehead”). This is strange because when you place someone on the ground, you generally have him lie face up, so when you cut the neck, you simply slit the windpipe. If you place him face down, you will have to cut his spinal cord in the bones.
So why did Ibrahim (as) put him face down? And what was the purpose of asking Ibrahim (as) to slaughter his son? The whole objective was to see whether Ibrahim (as) loved Allah (swt) more than his son. It was a test as to whether he will sacrifice his most precious son who was granted to Ibrahim (as) after many years of being childless. Ibrahim (as) had not been granted Ishaq (as) till that time.
Ibrahim (as) knew that the one thing which could destroy his sacrifice for Allah (swt) was a weak intention. He made his son lie on his face so that his heart would not wither at the last moment out of love for his son, which would render his sacrifice to Allah (swt) as improper. Similarly, Ismail (as) out of love for Allah (swt) allowed his father to sacrifice himself. Just as they both willingly submitted, Allah (swt) called out from the Heaven:
“You have fulfilled the vision…” (As-Saffat 37:105)
Allah said: “Qad Sadaqata.” (“You have fulfilled the vision.”) You had said you would do what We ordered you to do, and you remained true to your promise.
This is an example of how much we truly love Allah (swt) that we are willing to sacrifice even our family. Many of us do not love Allah (swt) enough. When it comes to financial issues, we love our families more. This is shown in a lack of donations to worthy causes. For instance, once we have donated, we don’t offer it a second time because we feel our families need it more for their food, good schooling, and whatever else.
We don’t even give Allah (swt) enough time. Whatever we offer Him is always divided. We prefer our families over Allah (swt). We even make fun of those who go out in the cause of Allah (swt), and criticize them that they are not available for their families. But look at our beloved Prophet (sa), who did not spend all the time with his family. He gave his wives only two nights/days in a month on average. And he said: “I am the best of you to my wives.” (Tirmidhi) You know why? Because what matters is not the amount of time but the quality of time and care given. It is neither about how you are away from your family, but how you are in touch with them and in contact with them when you are away. How do you carry out your responsibility as a father and as a husband? Even when you are absent, your presence can be felt. That is what our Prophet (sa) taught us – the respect, responsibility, and love you should feel whether you are there or not.
When my wife asks me: “Why are you travelling again?” I ask her in return: “Is going out for Dawah, lectures, and conferences a waste of time?” I dare you to ask your family the same. In Al-Baqarah, verse 165, what does Allah (swt) say? It is an amazing Ayah: “And from mankind are some, who take (for worship) others beside Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those, who believe, love Allah more (than anything else)…”
How do the non-Muslims and other disbelievers love their god? They will fight for them, they will die for them, and they will donate 20% of their annual income to the cause of their gods. On an average, Evangelists or Christians pay 10% to their church. 15% of America is Evangelist; that is how they are growing so fast. They love their god so much that they have armies ready to support their religion along with money and time. Today, you find an Evangelist who would leave his job, his beautiful house on the prairie, his blonde wife, and his children, or take them all to the deepest and darkest part of Africa to explain, translate, and read the Bible in some weird language. He would simply give Dawah in some extreme corner of the earth to native people, because he is doing it for Jesus Christ.
Where are the Muslims who would do this? Why is it that we only hear about one or two Sheikhs who are ready to go and do this? Aren’t their lives worth anything? Where is our love for Allah (swt)? Where is our sacrifice? Where is our readiness to sacrifice our Dunya for the comfort of the Akhirah? If we claim to be believers, we ought to love Allah (swt) more than the disbelievers love their gods. The Jews are ready to set up their own country, and the Evangelists are eager to travel anywhere their religion demands. This is how much the Hindus, the Christians, and all others love their gods.
How about us? Who amongst us is ready to dedicate his life for Allah (swt)? Who is ready to prioritize Allah’s (swt) love over his love for his family? Ask yourself this question. It is very important. This is a real test. Are you a believer, and is your love more for Allah (swt) than the disbelievers’ love for their gods?
I ask Allah (swt) to forgive us for this deficiency and have His mercy on us. True love cannot be defined. Al-Ghazali states: “Love is known by its signs.” Its feeling and existence is felt in the heart. Can you define air? You can only feel it. This is how you know it is around you. Let us also show our love for Allah (swt) through actions, and prove that we love Him more than the Mushrikeen (polytheists) love their deities – we must show it with our money, our time, and through our deeds.
May Allah (swt) make it easy for us. Ameen.
Transcribed for Hiba by Nazeer Osmany.