The month of Dhul Hijjah is upon us and stories of old are retold. These stories are not just bed time tales but lessons for us to reflect on. These lessons have the capacity to change the lives of those who deeply ponder upon them. There are also many signs today for us to be inspired by. We only need to switch on the TV and see the swarms of pilgrims from every corner of the globe, gathering together for the sake of Allah. Rich man standing shoulder to shoulder with poor man, black man foot to foot with white man. Each of them robed in two white garments of humility. A beautiful spectacle for the blessed eye to behold and an amazing sight for every one of us to see; the unity of the Muslim ummah.
One of the most poignant stories for us to think about is the story of Prophet Ibrahim, as, and his beloved son Ismail, as. Prophet Ibrahim held a strong love for his son, Ismail. He was strongly affectionate towards him and they shared a special bond of father and son. So when one night Prophet Ibrahim was inspired by Allah through a dream to sacrifice his beloved son Ibrahim became troubled. Ibrahim went straight to Ismail to tell him what he saw in his dream and to talk about what they should do. Allah tells us about this;
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 Allâh), so look what you think!” He said: “O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Inshâ’ Allâh (if Allâh will), you shall find me of As-Sâbirun (the patient).” Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allâh), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering); And We called out to him: “O Abraham! You have fulfilled the dream!” Verily! thus do We reward the Muhsinûn (good-doers). Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial. (37:102 – 106)
As you can tell from the above verse, Ismail readily submitted to this dream, believing this was the command of Allah and that they should both submit. Allah did not want Ismail to be killed but He wanted to see if Ibrahim was willing to carry out this command. This was a great test. Allah chose the most beloved thing to Ibrahim; his son, and asked him to slaughter him. Allah wanted to know if Ibrahim was willing to give up his son, never to see him again in this life. So when Ibrahim was about to lower his blade upon the next of his son, Allah replaced him with the ram. Year after year we are reminded of this story so that we can be left with a burning question – what are we willing to give up for the sake of Allah?
Allah was asking Ibrahim to give up something halal, something good, a prophet of Allah, his beautiful son. What about all those things Allah asks us to give up? The difference between the test of Ibrahim and our test is that Allah is only asking us to give up the things that are not permissible and those things that are not permissible are never good for us. All those things we need to stop doing are damaging us and those around us. Yet we are holding onto them, unable to give them up. We become addicted to those harmful things believing we need them and unable to control our urges. We need to turn this around.
Look at Ibrahim. Allah commanded him to give up the most treasured thing to him and he was willing to give it up immediately. Ismail was willing to give up his own life to carry out this command of Allah! These two amazing Prophets need to be our role models. Allah is asking us to submit to Him and give up all the things that get in the way of that submission. Has not the time come for us to shed ourselves of our addictions and turn back to Allah. When better to do this than during the ten best days of the year? Maybe we have slipped since Ramadan left us. Now is our chance to throw ourselves back into our dean and try again. These ten days the rewards with Allah are maximised. We pushed ourselves during the best ten nights of the year in Ramadan, so how about we start striving now during the ten best days? It’s time to start slaughtering some of our bad habits!