All of us are leaving footsteps behind, our traces in this world. And when we die, we will be remembered and judged according to those traces. They can be good or bad. That will be the legacy we leave behind.
Needless to say, this legacy should be powerful…inspiring! But what should it be? What can we do to outdo other common legacies? How about delving into one of the most brilliant legacies ever left behind? The legacy of Ibrahim alayhis salam. Because:
“Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Abraham and those with him” [al Mumtahanh 60:4]
A lot of people leave behind their stories which the world remembers and cheers on. But the legacy we are going to read about is unique. It is unique quite simply because it is not only a legacy of power and great vision, but more importantly, for me, it is a legacy of loyalty and pure heart-felt love. Yes you read it right – a legacy of loving Allah().
Ibrahim alayhis salam was a man of vision and deep insight. He not only thought of his immediate children, but also about his entire progeny. His concern for their spiritual well-being and his constant prayers to Allah() showed his deep vision: the vision of having pure tawheed alive amongst his descendants.
Listed below are five incredible points of his legacy:
*Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.*
“Abraham was indeed a nation, devoutly obedient to God, true in Faith, and he joined not partners with God” [An-Nahl 16:120].
2. True in faith.
3. No shirk, which meant absolute Tawheed by default.
This was Ibrahim alayhis salam!
And what were the fruits of this love that he saw in his life? Apparently, if you see his life in a quick glance, you see no fruits. Strange? Because what you find is: either struggle or sacrifice. But looking much more deeply, you find contentment behind those struggles and extreme love behind those sacrifices. He found (what all of us keep looking for throughout our lives), due to his love for Allah ()- peace!
As opposed to what Ibrahim alayhis salam had for Allah ( ) – pure love and firm belief in tawheed – what we have is another story. Simply put, we do not have that peace in our lives; we cringe at the very thought of separation with our loved ones, we cannot even begin to imagine the idea of sacrificing something small (like quitting smoking, for example) for Allah ( ) let alone sacrificing something big! Our lives revolve around obsessive love for one’s spouse, crazy children-centered homes, overwhelming lust for a boyfriend, excessive love for wealth, extra hope pinned in some human being… You can go on and on as the list is pretty much endless.
Do you see the fault with our theory of love? We seek love in all the wrong places and, hence, come back heart broken. The moment we love *anything* more than our Creator, that very thing we love more becomes the cause of our greatest pain. But Ibrahim alayhis salam found love in its right place, with Allah( ), and that’s why he had “qalb e saleem” – a sound heart.
We profess with our tongues that we believe in la ilaha illaAllah but our actions seldom actualize the kalimah. We claim we love Allah( ) the most but fail to give Him priority every time! (You delay fajr prayer for sleep, you miss dhuhr for work, isha for the World Cup, take interest based loans to please your wife, etc.)
We are taken over by the love of this world and that leaves us with less or no room for the love of the Creator in our lives. Pick up the famous novel “Twilight” and see how it teaches us about obsessive love for humans, which involves loving the creation more than the Creator, breaking all the boundaries of halaal and haraam in the name of love for some created being.
Know that people will continue their lives when you die. Indeed, when you die, they will stop calling you by your name: they will ask, “Where is the janazah? Where is the body?” Once you’re buried they will refer to you as “the grave” and will say, “I’m going to visit the grave of so and so.” So do not sacrifice your relationship with your Lord for the sake of your family and friends. Focus on a relationship that is for eternity: your relationship with Allah( ).
Look at this profound piece of writing:
“Allah( ) has decreed that he who loves something other than Him will surely be tormented by it; that one who fears something other than Allah ( ) will come under its control; that one who involves himself with something to the exclusion of Allah ( ) will find it a source of grief; that one who prefers another to Allah( ) will not be blessed therein; and that one who tries to please a fellow creature by anything displeasing Allah( ) will, without fail, bring His anger upon himself.” [Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyya]
And this love brought about submission towards Allah( ) for Ibrahim alayhis salam. Because, obeying and submitting to the orders is the natural consequence of love. If you can’t submit, you don’t really love. It’s that simple.
Every prophet has a specific quality. When it comes to Ibrahim alayhis salam, submission was his unique quality. He was submissive to his Lord.
“When his Lord said to him, “Submit”, he said “I have submitted [in Islam] to the Lord of the worlds.”” (Al-Baqarah 2:131)
The mufasireen say about this ayah: When Allah ( ) said to him to submit, there was no pause and no intermission and no questions asked. Allah ( ) said, “Submit,” and Ibrahim alayhis salam immediately said, “I submit to the Lord of the worlds.” When we check the life of Ibrahim alayhis salam and the rites of Hajj, we see the submission of Ibrahim alayhis salam. For that reason, Islam (which is submission and surrendering to the will of Allah ( )) goes all the way back to the original practice of monotheism of Ibrahim alayhis salam.
Whereas we, on the other hand, need to have a thousand questions answered, a hundred heart attacks, many motivational reminders and many sleepless nights before we finally take up some Quranic command and make a decision (wearing hijab, for instance).
But we have a hard time accepting that He is our Master. Because, that implies we are slaves and slaves are not free people; they are supposed to do everything the Master says. They are supposed to submit. And because our evil desires and egos are so inflated, we fail to accept Him as our Master. We might say it through our lips, but our actions prove otherwise.
And it was because of this over flowing love for Allah( ) that Ibrahim alayhis salam was ever ready to give up anything and everything for Allah( ). He left his father, his people, his homeland where he lived and grew up, his comfort and eventually, even prepared to literally slaughter his extremely beloved son, Ismael alayhis salam – all for the sake of Allah ( ).
But Allah( ) saved him from the great trial of sacrificing his beloved son. Because, the purpose was not to slaughter the son, rather the aim was to make the heart pure for Allah’s love. And Ibrahim alayhis salam had that pure love. If we are able to take this lesson of sacrificing everything for the love of Allah ( ) beginning with the act of sacrifice done on Eid alAdha, then we have achieved the essence of the message. Because, in the end, it comes down to whether or not we are ready to give up all that we desire for the One we believe in.
“O Ibraahim, will you go and leave us in this valley in which there are no people and nothing?” Hajar asked her husband, Ibrahim alayhis salam several times and he did not answer her. Then she said to him: “Is it Allah Who has commanded you to do this?” He said: “Yes.” She said: “Then He will not forsake us.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3184.
An unparalleled example of having trust in Allah’s plan. This reflects Ibrahim alayhis salam’s state of tawakkul. Is it easy to leave behind your family in a remote place like this? Definitely not. But when Allah ( ) tells you so, you do it without any hesitation and fear.
Can we do that? With our current state of faith, the answer will be obvious!
5. Hajj and building the ka’bah:
“And (remember) when Ibraaheem (Abraham) and (his son) Ismaaee‘eel (Ishmael) were raising the foundations of the House (the Ka‘bah at Makkah), (saying), ‘Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower’” [al-Baqarah 2:127]
The chapter of the establishment of Hajj is unique. Muslims are following the legacy of Ibrahim alayhis salam to this day. I want you to keep this mind: whenever you go for Hajj, you are the response of Ibrahim alayhis salam. You are the response of his call when Allah( ) told him to call the people to come for Hajj!
“And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. [ Allah ] said, “Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people.”” (Al-Baqarah 2:124)
*La ilaha illaAllah is not just a statement of the tongue; let the heart bear witness!*