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#FollowIbrahim: Let’s Imbibe 7 Cs from the Life of Prophet Ibrahim

Eid al-Adha is much more than a mere meat-eating festival or holiday. It’s a day to renew our allegiance to our Creator and while sacrificing animals, whom we have adored and cared for, try to imbibe the spirit of obedience with which the original sacrifice was offered.

– Dr. Khan Yasir

Eid al-Adha is one of the two Islamic festivals. Its meaningful history is connected to the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham in the Bible) and his ultimate sacrifice. But that’s not the only significant incident in his life. As mentioned at length in the Quran, his life is full of lessons. Today, as we are gearing up to celebrate yet another Eid al-Adha, let’s pause, ponder and imbibe some lessons from the inspiring life of Prophet Ibrahim. The first draft of these lessons was earlier prepared for SIO Delhi as part of its week-long online campaign #FollowIbrahim in 2015.

Before we proceed further, I would like to mention two conversations (on separate occasions) that Prophet Ibrahim had with his wife Hajira and son Ismail (Hagar and Ishmael in the Bible) to highlight their exemplary faith and submission.

On Allah’s command when Prophet Ibrahim was leaving his wife Hajira and suckling child Ismail in the desert, she asked, “Where are you going? Leaving us in this wilderness where there is no one, nor is there anything?” Prophet Ibrahim couldn’t muster an answer. She changed the question, “Has Allah ordered you to do so?” He nodded, “Yes.” And then she exclaimed calmly: “Then He will not abandon us.” (Sahih al-Bukhari). Her faith in Allah was exemplary!

When Prophet Ibrahim confided in his son Ismail that Allah is commanding him to sacrifice his only son, his reply was: “Father, do what you have been told. In’sha’Allah, you’ll find me unwavering.” (Surah As-Saffat). Remember he was then in his teens. His submission to Allah was exemplary!

We need to understand that to nurture this exemplary faith and submission – in ourselves, in our wives, in our children, in our family – should be the hallmark of our Eid al-Adha. I have discussed this aspect of Ibrahamic model at length elsewhere. (See “Ideal Family: The Example of the Household of Prophet Ibrahim” published in Radiance Viewsweekly, 14 Feb 2021)

Now let’s turn to the lessons and pledge to follow the example of Prophet Ibrahim.

    1. Contemplations:

The young Ibrahim, not a Prophet then, was not an enemy of his time. He also did not follow the wrong ways of his society. Instead, he invested his time in deep contemplations. He pondered and deliberated over signs of nature; over stars, moon and sun; and of course over the purpose of life, etc. His quest was so sincere that he finally reached the truth. (See Surah Al-An’am: 76-79)

There is a lesson in his CONTEMPLATIONS. Shall we ponder or squander our life is the billion dollar question. And we also need to introspect our attitude towards the truth when it manifests itself but adherence and allegiance to the same remains a daunting task.

      1. Calmness:

A Messenger of Allah is, both morally and intellectually, the most refined personality of his times. So was Prophet Ibrahim, facing Namrud – the king. “I am god…” Namrud claimed and then asked, “…who do you think is your god?” “My God is the one Who gives life and takes it,” replied Prophet Ibrahim. “I can do this,” boasted Namrud. He was either trying to be oversmart or was dumb enough to believe that he had life and death in his hands. Most of us would have countered Namrud’s assertion – after all there is a thick line between having the control over life and death as-a-king and as-the-God, the very Creator of the life and the death. We would have taken the discussion on the philosophical plane; would have engaged in an academic battle… but not Prophet Ibrahim. He was a Messenger of Allah. The aim of his dialogue was not to satisfy his ego; exhibit his mental acumen; and prove his intellectual superiority… The aim was just to convey the truth. He calmly replied, “My God is one who makes the sun rise from the east and sets it in the west, if you are god then do otherwise.” The king stared Ibrahim… speechless. (See Surah Al-Baqra: 258)

There is a lesson in this CALMNESS. Such calmness stems from the strength of faith besides knowledge and wisdom. Do we remain calm in the face of storms?

      1. Conviction:

The Prophet Ibrahim neither feared his relentless society nor his hostile father. He proclaimed the truth before one and all. When he smashed the useless and toothless idols to prove the foolishness of his idol-worshipping society, all the hell broke loose on him. He didn’t flinch and he never compromised. For this crime he was thrown in a huge fire. The fire, obeying the orders of its Creator, metamorphosed itself. (See Surah Al-Ambiya: 51-69) Consequently, Prophet Ibrahim roamed around in fire and walked out of it triumphantly. Allama Iqbal concludes,

آج بھی ہو جو براہیم سا ایماں پیدا
آگ کرسکتی ہے اندازگلستاں پیدا

(If we match Ibrahim’s strength of conviction and determination (iman) even today; Flames can transform into flowers once again)

There is a lesson in his CONVICTION. We often narrate and praise it, but how many of us do work hard to attain this strength of conviction?

      1. Courage:

It’s more than natural to love one’s own family, society, and native place. While this love is generally appreciable, sometimes it does become a fetter – especially so for a person who intends to tread the path of righteousness! Prophet Ibrahim too faced this crossroad. He loved his father, his clan, his society and his native place like all the human beings. But he loved the truth still more. When he had to choose between his father, clan, society, homeland and all the comforts on one side and the path of truth with all its hardships on another, he was courageous enough to choose wisely. He left all his world behind and migrated to unknown destinations. (See Surah Maryam: 41-49)

There is a lesson in his COURAGE. Now the billion dollar question is: Do we dare venturing out of our comfort zones for the sake of our ideals and follow the path of Prophet Ibrahim?

      1. Compliance:

We hold that youth in a great esteem who alight the fire of faith in his heart and takes on the world singlehandedly with a desire to revolutionise it. But comparatively, his task is easier than having to sacrifice one’s wife and only son in eighties. This was what Prophet Ibrahim had to do. He was asked to leave his wife (Hajira) and suckling child (Ismail) in a desert. The bright future of the child and of that barren piece of desert i.e. Makkah was in the scheme of his Lord, Prophet Ibrahim himself was not in the know of all that. Still, he complied. (See Surah Ibrahim: 37)

There is a lesson in his COMPLIANCE. Are we ready to abide by divine injunctions as an individual and as a family? Even at the cost of our so-called worldly interests?

      1. Commitment:

The life of Prophet Ibrahim is a life full of trials and tribulations. Most rigorous of the tests that Prophet Ibrahim faced was a dream in which he saw himself slaughtering his only son. He was then in his nineties. Anyone could have overlooked such an ‘outlandish’ dream… but not Prophet Ibrahim. He narrated his dream to his son, Ismail. The pious son, in his teens, replied, “Father, do what you have been told. In’sha’Allah, you’ll find me unwavering.” Then the father flung down the son and was about to slice him with a knife when he heard his Lord, “You have indeed fulfilled your dream” (as in the dream he had not slaughtered his son but saw himself in the act of slaughtering). Later, an angel gave him a lamb to sacrifice. (See Surah As-Saffat: 102-108)

Thousands of years later, on the anniversary of this grand sacrifice by Prophet Ibrahim, that commitment is still celebrated worldwide as Eid al-Adha. His life proves that trials are meant to exalt us high if only we endure with patience and unswerving resolve. There is a lesson in his COMMITMENT. Let’s recall our own commitments with our Lord – the Lord of Ibrahim – at this auspicious occasion of Eid al-Adha and solemnly resolve to Follow Ibrahim.

      1. Consistency:

The Quran, at numerous places, exhorts us to follow the exemplary path as shown by the Prophet Ibrahim (for e.g. Surah Aal e Imran: 95). It is because there are precious lessons in every chapter of the life-history of Prophet Ibrahim.

From his early age CONTEMPLATIONS to the CALMNESS with which he exhorted and debated with his father, his society and even the mighty king… From his CONVICTION to walk down the inferno for the sake of truth to the COURAGE to leave his family, society and country for his ideals… From his COMPLIANCE and obedience to Allah in leaving his wife and suckling child in a desert to the COMMITMENT to sacrifice his only child – everything about Prophet Ibrahim is special.

These and other episodes of his life prove that Prophet Ibrahim was tested time and again and in every test he performed with CONSISTENCY.

Let’s try to inculcate these 7 Cs in our lives as well!

A very happy Eid al-Adha to all of you! But remember…

Eid al-Adha is much more than a mere meat-eating festival or holiday. It’s a day to renew our allegiance to our Creator and while sacrificing animals, whom we have adored and cared for, try to imbibe the spirit of obedience with which the original sacrifice was offered.

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