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The Concept of Sacrifice in Islam
‫قال هللا تعالى‬
Allah swt says: ‘Say (O Muhammad pbuh): "Verily, my Salat
(prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are all for
Allah, the Lord of the whole Universe’
‫أيها المؤمنون‬: If someone were to ask us what Islam is, how would
we answer? We may start by enumerating upon the Five Pillars
or explaining the meaning of the word ‘Islam’ and the requirement
to submit to the will of Allah. There are pamphlets and books
elucidating all aspects of Islamic beliefs and teachings. These
may help someone to understand but may still leave many
aspects unanswered. This is very similar to a lay person asking
about the workings of complicated machinery, such as aircraft
engines or electron microscopes. Any amount of verbal
explanation and written material may still leave him bewildered. It
is much easier, therefore to give a better explanation if we have a
model at hand. The person enquiring can then see for himself
and can follow the explanations given of how things work.
To see the model of Islam is to see the life of prophet Ibrahim
(pbuh). The salient features of his personality are manifested in
his life of total submission to the obedience of Allah swt.
To start with, the direction of his life was entirely focussed
towards Allah. In surah al-Anam v79, Ibrahim (pbuh) says:
Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created
the heavens and the earth Hanifa (Islamic Monotheism) and I
am not of the Polytheists’
Brothers in Islam: To implement this conviction we see that all his
relations and dealings with his family, his society and his nation,
whether personal or societal were governed strictly under Divine
supremacy. He firmly enjoined himself to Allah and severed all
other relationships. He left his home, his parents and his birth
place to wander in the wilderness rather than compromise his
beliefs. So complete and thorough was his submission that no
sooner was he asked to submit then instantaneously submitted to
the Divine will: surah al-Baqra v131.
When his Lord said to him, "Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)!" He
said, "I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of
the Universe."
He was extremely selfless and sincere for the cause of the
propagation of the Divine Message. Thus, he was not worried
about his own well-being, but was concerned about the Message
of Allah be perpetuated not only in his life time but in the
centuries to come. He established institutions and society in such
a way that future generations should continue to be blessed. For
this purpose, he and his son Ismail (as) built the Kabah, the first
house on earth for the worship of Allah swt. Then, he established
the institution of Hajj and his earnest prayer for the Muslim
Ummah to continue his mission. These efforts are the testimony
of his love, devotion and the far-sightedness so that the Oneness
of Allah swt continues to permeate throughout the ages. Thus,
when he was laying the foundation of the Kabah with his son
Ismael (as) they prayed: surah al-Baqrah v128-129.
"Our Lord! And make us submissive unto You and of our
offspring a nation submissive unto You, and show us all the
ceremonies of pilgrimage – i.e. Hajj and 'Umrah, and accept
our repentance. Truly, You are the One Who accepts
repentance, the Most Merciful. (128)
"Our Lord! Send amongst them a Messenger of their own,
who shall recite unto them Your Verses and instruct them in
the Book (this Qur'ân) and Al-Hikmah, and purify them.
Verily! You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise."
Above all his life was full of sacrifices. The supreme test came
when he was asked by Allah swt to sacrifice his son. Without
hesitation both father and son submitted themselves in
obedience. Surah as-Saffat v103-1-5.
Then, when they had both submitted themselves, and he had
laid him prostrate on his forehead; (103) And We called out
to him: "O Ibrahim! (104) You have fulfilled the dream!"
Verily! Thus do We reward the good-doers.
‫أيها المسلمون‬: Yet another perfect model we find in the life of the
prophet Mohammad (pbuh). He was persecuted in Makkah,
stoned and ridiculed in Taif, and suffered economic and social
boycott and was banished. Even in Madina he was slandered
and harassed by the combined forces of the Quraish, the Jews
and the hypocrites. But he left us the best example of sacrifice
and forbearance, which Allah has asked us to follow: Surah alAhzab v21.
Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) you have a good
example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with)
Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.
Sacrifice is the essential requirement to test the sincerity of our
Iman. The path of Islam is the path of struggle. We will not be left
alone just by saying that we believe. We will be tested so as to
establish whether our belief is superficial or rooted firm in our
hearts and manifested on our actions. The glorious Quran
mentions this fact in several places so that we should not be
perturbed when these trials come and so that we remain
steadfast in our Iman: Surah Ankabut v2-3.
Do people think that they will be left alone because they say:
"We believe” and will not be tested (2) And We indeed tested
those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make
(it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly
make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars.
Brothers in Islam: Just as to purify gold it has to be put in a
crucible and heated so that all its impurities are evaporated,
similarly it is only by trial and tribulation that we shape and
develop our personalities. Those who stay firm, persevere and
strive hard receive Allah’s guidance and reward. Thus, after
going through severe trials, tests and untold sacrifices was
Ibrahim (pbuh) granted the honour of ‘leader of mankind’: Surah
al-Baqrah v124.
Or you think that you will enter Paradise without such (trials)
as came to those who passed away before you? They were
afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so
shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed
along with him said, "When (will come) the Help of Allah?"
Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!
What should we sacrifice? To start with we are asked to sacrifice
our possessions- things that we love to own and collect. Gold and
silver, houses and cars, clothes and jewellery, cattle and land- all
of which are the possessions of this world. Then we love our
families and ourselves. All of these are to be sacrificed in the way
of Allah if need be.
Brothers in Islam: Much more difficult is the sacrifice of time. All
‘Ibadah’ require our commitment to find time to fulfil our
obligations to Allah and our fellow human beings. Still more
difficult is to forgo our own opinions and submit our ego to the
dictates of the Shariah. Customs and traditions sometimes
conflict with the clear injunctions of the Shariah. We may have to
overcome the bitterness of family and withstand pressure of
society. It is only then that we really succeed in obeying Allah.
The sacrifice of a goat, sheep or camel is just symbolic. We see
the innocent animal is firmly in our control and is prepared to die
for the will of its Creator. Are we really ready to sacrifice our lives,
possession, our inner desires and our ego? Are we willing to
place ourselves like the helpless animal in the control of the will
of our Creator? That is the real sacrifice. Otherwise each year
Eid-ul-Adah comes and we diligently sacrifice some animals and
we feel satisfied when we have fulfilled our obligation- no doubt
we have performed an act of Ibadah for which we will be
rewarded. Surah al-Hajj v37.
It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but
it is the piety from you that reaches Him. Thus have We
made them subject to you that you may magnify Allah for
His Guidance to you. And give glad tidings (O Muhammad
pbuh) to the doers of good.
Let us prepare ourselves for a life of sacrifice. Without making
sacrifices we will not be able to start the revival of Islam. We
should be ready to sacrifice our time, our wealth, our resources,
and our lives, our personal likes and dislikes. If we sincerely
strive in Allah’s way He will open His doors of success for us.
This is His promise. Allah swt says in Surah Ankabut v69.
As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will
surely guide them to Our Paths. And verily, Allah is with the
good doers."
Together we can fulfil the obligation for which this Ummah is
created. Without making sacrifices the revival of Islam will only
remain a dream. This is the way to achieve Allah’s pleasure. This
is the way of prophet Ibrahim and prophet Muhammad (pbut).