Written by Sabiha Basit.
Prophet Abraham (AS) was an astounding prophet who grew up just like us and faced challenges in life. But it was through successfully overcoming his struggles that he earned his honorable titles, including “a Giant in scripture” and ultimately became one of the most important figures in multiple religions. He is so highly regarded, that the Bible calls him “the father of all those having faith” (Romans 4:11). The numerous life lessons that are depicted in sacred texts regarding Abraham have left religious followers inspired and in awe, but perhaps the Prophet Abraham’s biggest accomplishment is uniting the three monotheistic religions.
The story sacrificing his son, Ishmael, according to the Qur’an (or Isaac in the Bible) is regarded as the most strikingly dramatic yet insightful example of the importance of obedience and trust to God, and is mentioned in the Bible as well as the Torah. His story is so celebrated that Muslims annually dedicate a holiday to commemorate Abraham and Ishmael’s sacrifice.
The story as narrated in the Qur’an states that Prophet Abraham (AS) told his son Ishmael about a recurring dream in which the prophet sacrifices him. Prophet Abraham asked his son what he thought of the dream, and Ishmael expressed his willingness to sacrifice his own life for God Almighty. Just before the slaughter was to take place, however, God prevents Abraham from following through on his intentions.
The willingness to sacrifice life and child for the submission to God’s command is what the celebration of Eid-ul-Adha commemorates. This holiday will be celebrated on Sept. 1 by American Muslims this year. In addition to spending time with family and friends, Muslims will be participating in the slaughtering of animals, such as cows and goats to remember Abraham’s sacrifice. However, it is crucial to remember that the sacrificing of animals is a part of Islam but it is not an act of spiritual atonement.
Spiritually, the moral of the famous story is about trusting and having faith in God. Trust is a difficult thing to give to someone, but with God and during hard times, it can even be more difficult. However, establishing trust is one of the most important parts in our relationship with Allah, and Prophet Abraham is a prime exemplar of this.
So, in order to commemorate Prophet Abraham’s (AS) unflinching obedience to God, each and every one of us should strive to sacrifice our own worldly desires and possessions. Prophet Abraham (AS) made his sacrifice for the cause of religion so that a new nation is created again in the dusty lands of Arabia. As a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I can rest assured to say that many Ahmadis have made tremendous sacrifices, whether it is their precious time or their whole life, in order to present the true picture of Islam. Prophet Abraham (AS) has taught us the importance of sacrifice in our lives, whether they are big or small.
However, in today’s age, all of us continue to struggle to make sacrifices in order to succeed. Until we are ready to give up something, we will never reach our goals. We should understand that God is always at work in shaping us for a greater purpose, and this sometimes comes by life’s tests. We should keep in mind that it is the results of many sacrifices that have led us to enjoy our lives. From soldiers to scientists to doctors, there are many people who sacrificed so the less fortunate can live better lives. It is those sacrifices and the likes of Prophet Abraham’s (AS) that should reflect upon and in turn, reciprocate these actions during Eid.