Abraham inspires Muslims, Christians and Jews

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured Topics: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Prophet Ibrahim Values: Sacrifice Views: 6703

In the current climate, I hesitate to tell people that the biggest holiday of the Muslim year celebrates the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son at God's command. I worry that people will associate the observance with the political situations we are seeing and will miss the profound beauty and strength of the story. Told in both the Bible and the Quran, the episode is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, who all honor Abraham's example of righteousness and faith.

God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his only son. Out of devotion and obedience, Abraham was willing to do so. Before the deed could take place, a ram was substituted for sacrifice instead of the boy. The lesson in this great trial of Abraham's is that people should love and be faithful to God above everything else in their lives.

Some are uncomfortable with this story because of the reference to child sacrifice. Others spend time arguing over which son it was. Both miss the point. Of course God does not want us to kill our children. Both the Bible and the Quran are clear that the purpose of the event was to test Abraham's devotion to God, not to condone a human sacrifice. And which son it was is irrelevant.

The prophets throughout the ages have taught this same message of faithfulness as the most important imperative in worshipping God. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might," Moses urged his followers (Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus reaffirmed the same message, saying, "This is the first and greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38). A prayer from the Quran reads, "Truly my prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are all for God, the Cherisher of the worlds" (Qur'an 6:162).

The Prophet Muhammad taught that the most important belief in Islam is that nothing is worthy of worship, nothing is deserving of one's complete love, devotion and obedience, except for God.

Whatever we love of the gifts God has given us, these gifts should not be more important to us than their source. If they are, then we have strayed. And many such "idols" compete for our time and attention. Our devotion to pursuing material wants, riches, fame, desires, or even leisure activities can border on worship. But Abraham's example reminds us what should be most important in our lives.

During the Hajj pilgrimage and the Eid al-Adha holiday, Muslims commemorate the history of the Prophet Abraham and his family. This year, these events take place during the last week of December.

Pilgrims in Mecca retrace Abraham's footsteps and rededicate themselves to following his example. As part of the Eid celebrations, Muslims have a sheep, camel or goat slaughtered, share part of the meat with family and friends in holiday meals, and donate at least one third of the meat to the poor. The symbolism of the sacrifice commemorates the trial of Abraham.

Devotion to God is the purpose of the sacrifice, not the actual meat or animal killed. Sharing holiday meals strengthens ties of family and friends, and donating the meat helps remind Muslims of their responsibilities to people in need. Food banks in America have reported an increase in fresh meat donations as Muslims donate to the poor the meat from this commemoration.

Muslims return from the Hajj with a renewed closeness and commitment to God. They recommit to loving and serving God above all else, with all their hearts, souls and minds, because nothing else is worthy of this devotion.

The opportunities for reflection and rededication to one's priorities are part of the many holidays celebrated this season. As we choose our paths, we have a tremendous example in the firm and sure footsteps of the great Prophet Abraham, the true in faith, the friend of God.

 

Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin is a pediatrician and president of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Her upcoming children's book, The Best Eid Holiday Ever, is due to be published in the fall of 2007 and is about the Eid al-Adha holiday.


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  5 Comments   Comment

  1. Ahmad Rafick Chatharoo MBE from Mauritius

    We must understand the real and best meaning of the word

    SACRIFICE,then we can comment on the event which is venerated by the

    three worlds best Allah's religion.The word Sacrifice means,to offer

    to the Lord what we have best in life and that has been blessed to

    us by Allah SWA. What Abraham(AS) had as the best gift given to him

    by His Lord,was that son whom ,apart from Allah ,his Lord was the

    son himself.So, his lord wanted to test him and see whether he

    desired to give to Him,what he loved best.So Allah asked him to

    sacrifice the child.Who ever the child was, does no matter. What

    matters here is that whether Abraham(AS) would obey to his Lord. So

    he accepted and this is how,even today all believers are still

    practising the ritual and will continue, Insha Allah till the day of

    Judgement. What cruelty is there in this? Some people say that Islam

    is a barbaric religion and even child's sacrifice was

    practiced.There is nothing more stupid than this remark. Islam is

    Allah's religion and He knows how to protect it and to whom to give

    it. There is no jealousy in it.Many people say that the sacrifice of

    animals during the Eid Ul Adha festival is a crime,just the french

    actress, Brigitte Bardot .If this is inhuman and barbaric, what are

    bull fights ? Piercing an animal on its back with very sharp

    swords,till the poor animal is emptied of all its blood and dies.

    And the killer says "O LE" If this is not barbaric, what is it then.

    The only thing that we believers can make out is, simply and only

    the HATRED those people have for Islam and the Muslims through out

    the world. As I mentioned above, Islam is Allah's religion and He

    knows how to protect it. We don't have any lessons to learn from

    Kaafirs and specially people like Brigitte Bardot. We are all know

    what place Allah has reserved for her in the life here after.

  2. GC from United States

    Salam

    How is it possible for this author to believe that the actual son sacrificed is not relevant?

    Of course it is relevant.

    Scripture was changed to honor the Jews when this honor was for the descendants of Ishmael. Isaac bore Jacob, father of the Jews and this is how the Jews claim Abraham as one of their own when we all know that he was not Hebrew.

    I believe authors need to study the earlier books given to our prophets in order to make comments that are more in line with the actual truth.

    For this author to claim that it does not matter.....is a great disservice to all Muslims who may take this in actual truth.

    Wassalam

  3. Babandi A Gumel from U.K

    It is those who believe and confuse not their belief with zulum

    (worshiping others beside God) for them there is security and

    are guided.This is our proof which we gave to Abraham against

    his people.We raise whom We will in degrees. Certainly your Lord

    is All-Wise,All- Knowing.And we bestowed upon him Isaac and

    Jacob each of them We guided and before him,We guided Noah and

    among his progeny David and Solomon and Job and Joseph Moses and

    Aaron.Thus do We reward the good doers.And Zechariah and John

    and Jesus and Elias,each one of them was of the righteous.And

    Ishmael and Elisha and Jonah and Lot and each of them We

    preferred to the Alameen.And also some of their fathers and

    their progeny and their brethren,We chose them and We guided

    them to the straight path.This is the guidance of Allah with

    which He guides whomsoever HE wills of His slaves.But if they

    had joined in worship others with Allah all that they used to do

    would have been of no benefit to them. They are those Whom We

    gave the Book (understanding religious laws) and prophet

    hood.BUt if these disbelieve therein,then indeed We have

    entrusted it to as people who are not disbelievers therein.They

    are those whom Allah had guided .So follow their guidance.Say No

    reward I ask of you for this (true message) but it is only

    reminder to the whole world. MASHAAALAH what a beautiful

    Message.

  4. Fidel Christo from USA

    Eid speaks of GOD's provision of a sacrificial ram/lamb (a substitutionary gift) in the place of Abraham's son. It was not good deeds but Abraham's faith in God's provision which justified him before God. Eid points to the necessity of Abrahamic faith in God's provision (and not our good works) in place of the death-penalty we deserve for our sins - "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is..."

    God is HOLY and JUST, yet loving and merciful. God's perfect JUSTICE must punish ALL sin in full. Yet God also LOVES sinners and wishes to show us MERCY. In fact, God is SO HOLY that no sinner can stand before Him, and all our good deeds are as filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). And the TRUTH IS, every one of us has broken His Law. Jesus warned even anger will be judged as murder, and lust as adultery (Matthew 5:17-30) - "There is NONE righteous, no, NOT ONE...For ALL have SINNED and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:10,23). Jesus explained that there is an everlasting separation between the place of punishment (Hell) and Paradise (Luke 16:26).

    The ONLY way for God to show His mercy towards us and allow a sinner to enter Paradise (i.e. His Presence) is that God Himself must make a provision where His just punishment can be fully carried out as a ransom for sin. Just as God provided Abraham a ram/lamb to sacrifice in place of his son, God revealed to Moses that "the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls." (Lev 17:11)

    Prophet Isaiah foretold: "the LORD has laid on Him [Messiah] the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6). John the Baptist said of Jesus the Christ: "Behold! The LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sin of the world!" And Messiah said (John 3:16): "For God so loved the world that He GAVE His ONLY begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

    Dear friends,you will die in your sins if you do not accept Messiah as GOD's pro

  5. ahmed asgher from bahrain

    Abraham's devotion to The One God is a great story told many thousand years ago. Today each one of us can be an Abraham if we choose to. The feeling of Oneness experienced during Hajj can be an everlasting feeling. Muslim, Christian or Jew, any one of us can choose to be Abraham, one with God adn thus feel and act totally ONE with each other in an everlasting peace. None of us will ever hurt or say a bad word against each other and this is what God wanted for us ALL as testified in Torah, Enjeel (New Testament) and Quran and this is also what others like Budhists believe in. It this possible? Offcourse it is. You just have to believe in The One God AND LIVE it. For what good it is if we believe in Oneness but act totally in contradiction to our belief?!