The Meaning of Sacrifice ('Id Ul-Adha 1419)
This year, we are celebrating the sacrifice of the
Prophet Ibrahim Halil, the friend of Allah most high, with a heavy
heart. Our father Safer Efendi has left us orphans, and has gone to his
Beloved Lord. Indeed, this is our sacrifice this year. In the four
corners of the world, as in Kosova, our brothers and sisters are
sacrificing their homes, their land, and their lives for the sake of
their faith, and we have been trying to put balm on their wounds.
In surah Saffat (37:105) Allah addresses Hz. Ibrahim,
alayhissalam: "You have indeed proven your readiness to sacrifice
your life, your wealth, your son for our sake and We reward the ones who
do." Hz. Ibrahim broke the idols, risking his life. Nimrod, the
unbelieving tyrant, had him thrown into the fire. But by Allah’s will
the fire turned into a rose garden. As his expression of gratitude, Hz.
Ibrahim sacrificed 1000 rams, 300 oxen, 100 camels, his whole wealth.
When people were amazed, he said, "If I had a son, I would even
sacrifice him for my Lord." Allah gave him a son, although both he
and his wife Hajar were very old, a son whom he loved more than his
life, a gentle and a wise son, Hz. Ismail, alayhissalam, whom Allah
loved as well and called "Halim." However, as a final test of
love, submission, and selflessness, Allah asked Hz. Ibrahim, in a dream,
to sacrifice his son for Him, during these days before the ‘Id ul Adha.
Hz. Ibrahim was ready to shed his son’s blood, and Ismail was ready to
be sacrificed. Yet, as the fire did not burn Hz. Ibrahim, by Allah’s
will, the knife did not cut the throat of Hz. Ismail, and Allah sent a
ram from heaven by the archangel Jibril to be sacrificed instead of
Ismail , in exchange, as a substitute.
Our master, the Prophet, says: "Whoever has the
means and does not make a sacrifice is not one of us", and "on
the Day of Last Judgement, when the faithful will be raised from their
graves, Allah will order His angels to carry them on the backs of the
animals they have sacrificed." Any Muslim who has the equivalent of
20 miskals of gold, which today amounts to $760, is ordered to make a
"kurban" which in Arabic means to "approach," to
"come close to" one’s Lord.
The act of killing a healthy ram over a year old and
feeding its meat to the poor should not only be seen as an obedience to
the tradition, or as an act of concern for the hungry. Every act of
worship, indeed every action ordered by Allah in our religion, has an
outer and an inner meaning on many levels. As a drop from the ocean of
Islam, listen to this secret meaning of sacrifice. A drop of it is not
the ocean, but is from it and is not other than it.
When this creature stands on its feet, starts talking,
recognizes and calls the one who breast fed it as "mother" and
others around it as "man" like him, he realizes that he can
think. He loves the ones close to him, and realizes that he has
feelings. He chooses this over that and realizes that he has a will.
has crossed the threshold of being human. At that
moment "faith" is offered to him. when he starts questioning
"Who am I?, Where did I come from?, What is my purpose here?, What
am I to do?, Where will I finally go?", then answers start coming
to him. If he is sincere, unaffected by imagination, he will be able to
make a distinction between truth and falsehood. He will be raised to the
level of "faithful," for he will know his Lord.
When he knows his Lord, he will believe in eternal
life and he will hear his Lord’s order: "Taslim", submit,
and when he submits his little will to the greater will of Allah, he
will become a "Muslim." Submission is the character of Hz.
Ibrahim and his son Hz. Ismail. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: "Millata
abikum Ibrahiyma huwa sammikumul muslimin . . ." – raising us to
a level to be a member of the Nation of Hz. Ibrahim.
This is the development of a man as Allah meant him to
become, from a humanoid to a mu’min, a believer, to a Muslim who
accepts his Lord’s will, comes close to Him, and becomes "insan",
a human being. The word "insan" is related to the words
"anis" and unsiyyah" – to be a friend, intimate with
someone of the same temperament, a close friend of Allah, with the
divine attributes which Allah taught to our father Adam, alayhisselam.
From a drop of water we became a live piece of flesh
standing on its hind legs. We are given a mind to think, a heart to
love, a tongue to speak, with the ability to learn, seek and find our
Lord and become a mu’min. Then we will the will of our Lord over our
will and become a muslim, come close to our Lord and become a man –
insan. Now we are given five principles to follow: salat – worship,
sawm – fasting, zakat – paying alms, kalima’i shahada – the
confession of our faith, and hajj – the visitation of the House of
To pray is to talk to our Lord. We are called to His
presence five times a day. The Messenger of Allah says: "Prayer is
the ascension of my people, when they meet their Lord."
To fast during Ramadan is to exercise the divine
attributes within ourselves. We become patient, gentle, merciful,
forgiving, compassionate, caring, and loving, like our Lord.
To pay alms is to cleanse, purify the gifts with which
Allah has blessed us.
When we are thus cleansed, assume our Lord’s
attributes and talk to our Lord during our worship, and come close to
Him, we are invited to visit His House and go to Hajj. Only then truly
can we say: "Ashhadu an la ilaha illallah," -- There is
nothing but Allah.
If there is nothing but Him, then it is time to leave
ourselves and go to Him. Yet it is Allah’s will that we stay here
until we are called. that is why Allah orders us to send a "badal"
– a substitute in exchange for ourselves. That is the meaning of the
sacrifice of a ram. Allah knows best.
May Allah forgive our errors, increase our
understanding of the Truth of Islam and give us the strength to
sacrifice our egos, our will and all He has given us for His sake, amin.
Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi