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Home Talks Surrender The Greatest Sacrifice

The Greatest Sacrifice

Abraham had made a vow “for the sake of my Generous Lord I would even sacrifice my own son, if Allah were to grant me one”.  A few years later, a radiant son was born to the venerable Abraham - the prophet Ishmael.
A gentle and learned child, the Prophet Ishmael eventually reached the age of seven.  The Prophet Abraham was now inseparable from his son. He took him along wherever he travelled, praising the Lord unceasingly and experienced all the joys of fatherhood as he observed his son’s fine character, good behaviour and filial piety, heard him discussing important questions like a great scholar, and saw that he really was a righteous son and a gentle child with a docile nature.
Then one night in a dream the venerable Abraham received this divine command from the Almighty Lord who is the Owner and Possessor of heaven and earth and all that is between: “Abraham, fulfil your vow!”  When he said: “My Lord, what is my vow?” he heard the words: “You once said: ‘If I had a son I would sacrifice even him for the sake of Allah.’  You were given a son and he has grown up.  The time has now come for you to fulfil your promise!”
The night of this dream was the 18th Dhu’l-Hijja.  The following day is called yawm al-tarwiya (the day of contemplation), for on this day the Prophet Abraham sank deep in contemplation and remembered that he had indeed said these very words and made this promise.  He finally reached the following decision: He would take for sacrifice 100 camels and implore Allah to accept them as a substitute for Ishmael.  The sacrifice was accepted but in a dream the following night he again received the command: “Carry out your vow!”  The following day Abraham again sacrificed 100 camels and the next night again received the same command.  He realised at last that his son must actually be sacrificed.  When he woke in the morning, the first day of the festival, he said to his revered wife, the venerable Hagar: “Come , Hagar, wash Ishmael, comb his hair and dress him in his new clothes.  Put perfumes on him and make him look nice, because I am going to visit my friend and I shall take Ishmael with me.”  Hagar did so and what a handsome sight was Ishmael that day.
He set off with his father, running and skipping in front of him.  Iblis tried to tempt Abraham from God’s purpose but failed, and failed likewise with Hagar and Ishmael himself who said “If such a command exists, my father is quite capable of carrying it out.  Nor am I one to disobey this command.  If every atom of me is an Ishmael, let each of them be sacrificed for the sake of my Lord! “ and picking up a stone he flung it right in the eye of the cursed Iblis and blinded him in that eye.
Eventually they came to a desolate place and Abraham said to his son “My dear son, I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you.  So look, what do you think?” [37:102].  Ishmael’s response was “My father, do as you are bidden; you will find me, if Allah wills, one of the steadfast.” [37:103]
“So when they had both submitted their wills, and he had laid him down upon his forehead, We called to him: ‘O Abraham ...’ [37:103-104].
He said: “O Fulfiller of all needs! O Answerer of prayers! O Lord of beauty and majesty, Most Generous of the most generous! O my Lord! Of Your grace and kindness, have pity and compassion for my old age, look with tender mercy on the condition of this innocent and sinless boy!”   Then he took the knife and was aiming it at the neck of the Prophet Ishmael, when the Glorified and Exalted Lord removed the veil of mysteries from all the angels of heaven and earth.  When they saw that Abraham, for the Lord’s sake, had laid Ishmael down for sacrifice and was applying the knife with all his might to the neck of his son, they all prostrated themselves at once.  The Exalted One said “My angels! Did you see?  Abraham, My special friend, did not shrink from sacrificing his own son in obedience to My command.  Did you see My Ishmael?  He did not shrink from sacrificing his own life to please Me.”  The angels wept and fell in prostration, saying: “Our Lord!  Your servant Abraham is truly worthy to be Your special friend, while Ishmael, on him be peace, is truly obedient and compliant to Your exalted command, a servant of Yours who accepts Your decree.  You are the most Merciful of the merciful.”
Although the knife was sharp it would not cut the tender flesh.  Abraham was amazed by this and struck it against a rock which split in two.  At that moment the knife was endowed with speech by Allah and said “O special friend of Allah!  You want to cut, but it is my Lord who enables knives to cut, fire to burn and water to drown, and He tells me not to cut.  Was Nimrod’s fiery furnace able to burn you?  How can I cut unless I am given permission?  I am incapable of cutting so much as one strand of his hair, let alone his throat.”
Allah created a ram as a substitute sacrifice for Ishmael, then commanded Gabriel to take it to Abraham.  Gabriel declared: “Abraham, greetings to you from the Lord of Heaven and Earth.  He has sent this ram as a substitute for the one and only Ishmael.  He says: ‘Let him slaughter this offering in place of his son, for I am pleased with them both.’  Father and son were filled with joy and happiness at having received the divine grace, the favour of the Lord and the approval of the Maker, so they slaughtered the ram with the declared intention of pleasing Allah.  The impeccable conduct of these two in “friendship with Allah and obedience to the divine command” has thus been presented by Allah to us, His servants, with the declaration: “Anyone who does not shrink from sacrificing his life and wealth for My sake, like Abraham and Ishmael, may rightly speak of My friendship.
Extracts from ‘Irshad. Wisdom of a Sufi Master’ by Sh. Muzaffer Ozak Al-Jerrahi.

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Allah's Messenger said 'If any man of the people of the scriptures believes in his own prophet and then believes in me too, he will get a double reward'.

Sahi al-Bukhari Vol 7 hadith 26.

Narrated from Abu-Busarada's father.