قالَ يا أَبَتِ افْعَلْ ما تُؤْمَرُ سَتَجِدُنِي إِنْ شاءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ
Qāla yā abati if‘al mā tumaru satajidunī in shā Allahu minas-sābirīn
He said, Father! Do whatever you have been commanded. If Allah wishes, you will find me to be patient
(Surat al-Sāffāt, No. 37, Āyat 102)
One of the beautiful events that is celebrated in the month of Dhul-Hijjah is the Eid of Adhā (the Festival of Sacrifice). This is the Eid that displays the faith and submission of Prophet Ibrāhīm ‘alayhis salām and his willingness to sacrifice his son after being ordered to do so by Allah ‘azza wajall. We are familiar with the story when Prophet Ibrāhīm saw in his dream that Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā ordered him to sacrifice his son, Prophet Ismā‘īl ‘alayhis-salām. He saw the same dream 3 times, on the 8th, 9th and 10th of Dhul-Hijjah. After he saw the dream for the third time, he went to his son and asked: My son! I see in a dream that I am sacrificing you. See what you think. (Q 37:102). It is at this time we see the same level of faith and submission in Prophet Ismail as is found in his father. He replied saying: Father! Do whatever you have been commanded. If Allah wishes, you will find me to be patient. (Q 37:102)
The story that continues after this is well known and is repeated by all those who go for Hajj every year. Looking at this verse, we see that the focus is the test itself that Allah (swt) puts His Prophet through. Prophet Ibrāhīm had lived a long life and had accomplished many things already. But he did not have an offspring. In his old age he prayed to Allah ‘azza wajall and asked Him for a pious child: My Lord, grant me from among the righteous. (Q 37:100)
Allah (swt) answered the prayer of His Prophet and granted him a son, Ismā‘īl, who would later also become a Prophet. Just as this son was becoming of an age where he could be useful to his family, and willfully be a servant to God; Allah (swt) ordered Prophet Ibrāhīm to sacrifice his son. What a test! How would we respond to such a test?
There are many things in our lives that we pray for. Things we think we really need and that would complete our lives. These could be children, it could be a home, more money, better health. The list of things we think we need is endless. Often these wants are granted to us because Almighty Allah is most generous. However, after receiving these things that we feel complete our lives, we must ask ourselves, are they replacing the position of Allah (swt) in our hearts? Truly, there can only be one true love in our lives and the heart has room for only one. Imam al-Sādiq ‘alayhis-salām is reported to have said: Man’s faith in Allah will not be pure until Allah becomes more beloved to him than his own self, his father, his mother, his children, his wife, his wealth and all people. (Bihār, 67:25)
We see from this verse that Allah (swt) wanted to test Prophet Ibrāhīm to make sure that even after he had been given what he asked for, Allah still held a primary position of love in his heart. And of course, he responded immaculately.
We must evaluate our lives and appreciate the infinite bounties of Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā upon us. But that is not enough. We need to take the next step to check whether our love and devotion to the gifts given to us have replaced the position of Allah (swt) in our hearts. If they have, we have to warn and remind ourselves of the promise of Allah: Say, ‘If your fathers and your sons, your brethren, your spouses, and your kinsfolk, the possessions that you have acquired, the business you fear may suffer, and the dwellings you are fond of, are dearer to you than Allah and His Apostle and to waging jihad in His way, then wait until Allah issues His edict, and Allah does not guide the transgressing lot’. (Q 9:24)
Prophet Ibrāhīm successfully displayed to Allah (swt) that He alone has a place in his heart. Let us read this verse and remind ourselves that we too must show Allah that He is indeed the sole owner of our hearts.
Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī, Al-Amthal fí Tafsīr Kitāb Allah al- Munzal, ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān.