First of all, Eid Mubarak to you all. This is the day of sacrifice where Ibrahim was ordered by Allah (swt) to sacrifice his own son, Ismail, but instead Ismail was replaced and this has led to many Qurbani’s today. It is a day to remember that moment and celebrate it peacefully amongst our peers. Unfortunately though there is a problem. And that is we Muslims are not living in full peace.
Islamophobia is more rampant than ever in the U.S. and around the world where Muslims are branded as terrorists and seen as hostile threats. A perfect example of this was the recent story of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14 year old boy who brought a clock he built to school to show to his teacher, only to get arrested by police for thinking the clock was a threat. A majority of people criticized the arrest– Mslims and non-Muslims alike such as Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Mark Zuckerberg, Hillary Clinton, etc. These people saw the incident for what it was: blatant Islamophobia. Because Ahmed is a Muslim and because he brought a device that seemed “like a bomb” was arrested for it. It was so criticized a trending hashtag #IStandwithAhmed was created and became extremely popular.
But even with the popularity for Ahmed, it still does not solve the problem of Islamophobia. This is something Muslims must face everyday. Many Muslims live in fear that they could be the next Ahmed where they get arrested for “suspicious” activity because of their faith and/or what they wear such as a hijab, niqab, etc. It is something that Muslims struggle to overcome and persevere against. So here lies the question: how can one Muslim fight through Islamophobia, debunk it, and still try their best to live healthy lives when it is such a rampant problem today? The answer may lie in the origins of the holiday Eid-ul Adha. I’m talking about the story between Ibrahim and Ismail.
The story between Ibrahim and Ismail was more than just Ibrahim willing to sacrifice his own son. There is a lot more to it then simply that. Here’s what I mean:
The reason Ibrahim did what he did is because he believed in Allah (swt). He believed in the teachings of Allah (swt). He believed that Allah (swt) was the creator of the heavens, universe, planets, and life. He believed that Allah (swt) was his creator and that Allah (swt) gave him the ability to live. He believed in Allah (swt) to the extent where he would sacrifice his own son–a son he had been waiting to come for decades. He passed this test, and, thus, Allah (swt) spared Ismail. The reason Allah (swt) let Ismail live is because they both believed in him. Ibrahim with sacrificing and Ismail, too, for letting his father sacrifice him. It showed courage, bravery and fortitude that only a few others could possibly have. Imagine having the courage to sacrifice your own child because Allah (swt) told you to.
Another key concept that can be taken from this story is to see how precious life really is. Ibrahim believed in Allah (swt) because he was thankful for the life he had given to him, and to Ismail. Ibrahim realized that he was given a life that he was supposed to make the most out of. One of the many ways he did this is following Allah (swt)’s word. He made the most of his life by not just believing in God, but also taking care of his own family. Making sure they are safe and they get the necessary resources for survival. Ibrahim strived for knowledge and wanted to learn. These are all main aspects of the Qur’an and Allah (swt)’s word. An example of this knowledge was displayed when he built the Kaaba. Overall, the main point is that Ibrahim made the most out of his life and never let it go to waste.
Finally, another key concept that can be taken from this is that if you believe in God consistently, then, most likely, good things will happen to you. Ibrahim believed in God and because of this, God was so merciful to let Ibrahim keep his own son. And this is not just that episode. It was throughout Ibrahim’s life. Ibrahim was poor and he did at times struggle for survival. But, because he believed in Allah (swt), he was eventually granted many resources. Some scholars argue that these resources were how the city of Makkah was built. And it took him quite a while to have Ismail. No matter how many times he prayed and how many years passed, he had not once did Ibrahim complain because of his faith in Allah and his resilience to it. The overall main point here is that he believed in God and God returned him the favor by awarding him for believing in God and believing in the good and moral principles Allah (swt) brought forth to him.
With all of this being said, it is clear that there are a lot of lessons that can be learned simply from the origins of Eid ul-Adha: the courage, bravery, and fortitude that both Ibrahim and Ismail displayed, they way Ibrahim conducted himself to realize how precious life is, but, most of all, his consistent and continued faith in Allah (swt). What is not to say that we Muslims today can not emulate the teachings that this story has taught us? If Ibrahim had the courage to sacrifice his own son, what is not to say that we should have the courage to fight through Islamophobia and not let it phase us? If Ibrahim was able to still believe in Allah (swt) despite living a poor life, despite taking a while to have a son, and despite the fact that Allah (swt), the God he believed in, ordered him to kill his own son, would still do it because he believed, what is not to say that we as Muslims should not abridge what we believe in simply because of the actions of a few? Life is indeed precious and it is time we looked up instead of down. We only have so many years in us that we can not let it go to waste. Do not let Islamophobic acts such as the one involving Ahmed Mohamed abridge you from your own faith. Like the prophets themselves, we must stand up for what we believe in, be comfortable with ourselves and not let others break us down in times of struggle. Gain more knowledge than you did previously so you can build this courage to combat Islamophobia and take it head on. You can still become a better Muslim in times of struggle, just like when Ibrahim and Ismail did.
Today, yes celebrate Eid ul-Adha. It is a day to be celebrated and enjoyed with family absolutely. However, recognize that Islamophobia exists, but do not let it deter you from your faith and who you are. Just look up to the words of Allah (swt), Ibrahim, and Ismail for how you can fight through Islamophobia and combat it.
By Salah Shaikh