Could you sacrifice what you love most for Allah?
Tonight we continued with Surat as-Saffat, and we recited many stories in this surah.
One of these is part of the story of Ibrahim.
About one quarter of the Quran involves stories which Allah has told us of different nations and prophets and messengers, to teach us different lessons.
In this surah we are talking about the muhsineen, when Allah talks about Ibrahim, Ilyaas, Musa, Haroon, (peace be upon them) etc.
We all know the story of Ibrahim’s big test. He was very old and had no children, then he married Hajar, and they had Isma’il.
Sara was somewhat jealous, and later – by this time she was in her 70s or 80s – the angels came to her to tell her the good news, that she would receive a baby. She was smiling, and we are told in Surah Hud (11:72) that she wonders ‘How come? How will I have a child, when I am an old woman, and my husband is an old man?’
Then the angels gave her the good news: this is the command of your Lord. And not only this, but after Ishaq you will live to see a grandchild, Yaqub, as well.
This is part of the story. The other part is what we have read today in Surat as-Saffat, when Allah tested Ibrahim.
After a long wait, Ibrahim received the first boy, Isma’il. Then because of jealousy, he had to separate Hajar and Sara, and he took Isma’il to Makkah. And our Prophet (peace be on him) is from the descendants of Isma’il.
So he left Isma’il in Makkah for a few years, and was going back and forth to Makkah. When Isma’il was over puberty – which means probably around 15-16 years old – then Allah tested Ibrahim. ‘O my son, I have seen in a dream that I’m sacrificing you. So what do you think?’ Look at the reply of this 15 or 16 year old boy to his dad: ‘My father, do whatever you have been commanded to do. You will find me patient.’ [37:102]
And the amazing thing here is: how did Isma’il understand that this was a revelation? Why didn’t he say, ‘It might just be a dream, come on, Dad. You would sacrifice me for a dream?’ No, he understood that dreams and visions of prophets are revelations. We see the same in the story of Yusuf: his dream was a revelation, which became reality after so many years.
Allah says, ‘This was the real test.’ [37:106]
Waiting so long, until he was probably in his 80s, then he got his first son, and he is now an adult. So he pinned his hope sin his son, and then suddenly Allah told him, this is where your heart is now, this is where your passion is, and you have to sacrifice it. This is the real test.
Which one will be the priority? You passion as a father, to cling to your son, or your duty as a messenger to respond to the call of Allah Almighty? Both are difficult, but of course the command of Allah has to take priority and prevail over everything. So then, ‘When they submitted to the command of Allah, and Ibrahim laid Isma’il on his forehead,’ [37:103], then Allah replaced with a big sheep. ‘You have already fulfilled the command.’ [37:105] You have passed the test.
How many of us pass the test? We have plenty of tests. Nothing like this, slaughtering your son – whatever your test is, it won’t be on that level.
However, Allah is teaching us that our commitment to Allah has to be greater than anything else. It has to be so strong that we are willing to sacrifice our life for His sake, if it’s required. But we see that Allah did not make this common practice, otherwise every Eid people would sacrifice their son! But no, we only sacrifice a sheep, to remember that sacrifice is for Allah’s sake.
It’s a lesson that we need to learn in our life: nothing should prevail over Allah Almighty’s commands. So we ask Allah to enable us to pass these tests, and to make our commitment to Allah very strong, in the footsteps of Ibrahim. Ameen
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Ramadan Night 2
Transcribed by Hana Khan
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