Perspectives on some of our Sages
It was the supreme act of submission and sacrifice
At the Islamic Center of Bloomington we hold many inter-faith and intra-faith programs on an ongoing basis. These are strictly apolitical. We invite many faith groups to the center, mostly Christians and Jews from different denominations and have very meaningful sessions in which we listen to one another and try to develop a deeper understanding of each tradition. Recently we had a session with the Jewish community of Bloomington over the topic ‘Perspectives on some of our Sages’. There were presentations on Prophet Musa/Moses, Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham and Khatija/Deborah by Muslim and Jewish speakers respectively. While all presentations were very interesting, there is one observation I would like to share with the reader. Prophet Ibrahim’s story of the sacrifice of his son.
As many of us know, thousands of years ago Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was ordered by God to sacrifice his son in-order to test his faith and resolve in God. Prophet Ibrahim (AS), more popularly known as Khalilullah (friend of Allah) passed this test with flying colors. With his unshakeable faith in God he set out to sacrifice his son in total submission. Seeing this grand display of faith and submission by Ibrahim (AS), God in his infinite Mercy replaced his son by a ram and it was sacrificed instead. In the 21st century, however, it is hard for us to imagine this scene - a father taking his son to the alter for sacrifice. To the postmodern man it might sound barbaric or even lunacy. His frame of reference and worldview is completely different and cannot make sense of it. The take away for us as Muslims, however, is to see the intensity of faith and submission of Ibrahim (AS) and the level of trial/test God gave him. He was asked to kill his own son, with his own hands. We neither have the intensity of faith as Ibrahim (AS) had nor will God put such a big test on our shoulders. The Quran says ‘Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope’. These days people get upset over petty issues they come across. Small misfortunes (which might be tests for us) appear as calamities to us, and most often we curse all, not even leaving God out of it, if we believe in one that is. We have lost the virtue of Faith and Patience. All this tells us how close Ibrahim (AS) was to God and how alienated and weak we have become.
Well as the discussion proceeded, it appears that the Jews and Muslim differ on who the sacrificial son was. For the Jews it is Isaac (AS) and for the Muslims it is Ismail (AS). And it was amazing to see how much time was spent on discussing whether it was Isaac or Ismail, while in my view the point was being missed. The point in this story is not about which son it was but it is about the epic story of a father and his son willing to lay their lives in total submission to their faith in God. Both sides argue for what they believe but let’s open our minds and see the bigger picture. Isaac (AS) or Ismail (AS), both were his sons. Sacrificing either would have been equally painful and in that is the lesson.
The writer is the Vice President of the Islamic Center of Bloomington. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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