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وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَاعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
Wa-idh yarfa‘u Ibrāhīmul-qawa‘ida minal-bayti wa Ismā‘īlu rabbanā taqabbal minnā innaka antas-samī‘ul ‘alīm.
And mention when Ibrahim was raising the foundations of the House and Ismail, [saying], “Our Lord, accept this from us. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing”
(Surat Al-Baqarah, No.2, Āyat 127)
Prophet Ibrāhīm ‘alayhis-salām will always be remembered by all believers due to the sacrifices he made for Allah ‘azza wajall, and for establishing the Ka‘bah – the House that all Muslims turn to in their daily prayers. Even though Prophet Abraham left such a legacy, what we learn from this verse is that his main desire was to ensure that his actions are accepted by Allah. He beautifully says in this verse: Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing (Q 2:127). It shows the greatness of the Prophet. Despite his position, he was humbly beseeching for acceptance.
What we learn from this verse is that as believers our main objective is to ensure that everything that we do is accepted by Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā. It is not the greatness or smallness of the action that matters. If the action is accepted by Allah, a small action can have tremendous value. It also does not matter how people react to the deeds performed. At the end of the day, the satisfaction and acceptance of others will not matter if Allah is not satisfied and happy with our actions.
An important question we have to ask is how do we ensure that our actions are accepted by Allah? Allah gives us an easy blueprint to follow when He says: Relate to them in truth the story of Adam’s two sons—how each offered a sacrifice. It was accepted from one of them (i.e., Hābil) and it was not accepted from the other (i.e., Qābil). So, he (Qābil) threatened, “I will kill you!” He (Hābil) replied, “Allah only accepts the offering of the sincerely devout (God-conscious).” (Q 5: 27)
What we see from this verse is that with Allah the criterion is the attitude behind the action. Others may only see the end results of the action, but Allah is able to see behind it and before it. Was it done with God in mind? Seeking His pleasure, keeping His rules and wishes in mind? The attitude and thought process behind the action is what gives it value. God consciousness behind a deed produces a spiritual effect which will always remain! It is not fleeting and transient, like the outward results of the action. It is possible that a person performs the best of actions but due to unforeseen circumstances they were not able to complete what they intended. The grace and kindness of Allah (swt) is such that He will still accept that action even though it did not produce the desired material effect.
When we seek to perform any action, let us recite these words of Prophet Ibrāhīm. It will instil a humility within us, knowing that whatever we do is only of value if it is accepted by Allah.
Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shīrāzī, Al-Amthal fí Tafsīr Kitāb Allah al- Munzal, ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān.
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