The Sacrifice: Whose Love Is in Your Heart?

Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

`Eid of al-Adha is to honor the day that Allah (swt) ordered Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as) to slaughter and to give as a sacrifice his son to Allah (swt). That important day that Ibrāhīm (as) was being tested was the day of `Arafat, one day before `Eid. When Allah (swt) wanted to see if Ibrāhīm (as) would listen and obey or not.
In Tafsir an-Nisaburi it is said that Hājar, the wife of Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as), was not happy after Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as) married her. She was feeling that there was a problem with his wife Sara, the first wife, so she decided to leave. As she was leaving, she heard a message saying to her, “Where are you going? You are going to have a child. You are going to have too many offspring that are coming from you. Stay where you are, don’t run away!” She stayed and Allah (swt) made her pregnant with Sayyīdinā Isma`īl (as).
After the boy grew up, Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as) was taking care of that child and used to love him so much. One day, in a certain moment, Allah (swt) ordered Jibrīl (as), “Go, yā Jibrīl and tell Ibrāhīm to slaughter his son for Me!” And Jibrīl (as) said, “Yā Rabbīyy, I made a good relationship with Ibrāhīm. You were sending me with revelation to him. I will follow Your Order, but if there is a way he can get that news without me giving it to him directly, that would be great.”
Allah is the Merciful One, so He sent that ruya, dream, to Ibrāhīm (as).

فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْيَ قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ إِنِّي أَرَى فِي الْمَنَامِ أَنِّي أَذْبَحُكَ فَانظُرْ مَاذَا تَرَى قَالَ يَا أَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَاء اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ

Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: “O my son! I see in a dream that I offer you in sacrifice: Now see what is your view!” (The son) said: “O my father! Do as you have been commanded: you will find me, if Allah so wills, one practicing patience and constancy!156

The first time Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as) saw the dream, he sacrificed 100 sheep for the sake of his son. That is why sincere people today, when they have a serious sickness like cancer, they go and sacrifice 100 sheep and many times we observe that the patient was cured due to the sacrifice.
After that, he had the dream another time; he had thought that Allah (swt) would accept the slaughter of 100 sheep, but he saw the dream again and then a third time. Then he told his wife to put oil on the head of his son, and he would take him. His wife asked, “Where are you taking him?” He said, “I have been ordered by Allah (swt) to sacrifice my son.” She looked at her son and looked at Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as) and said, “If Allah ordered you to do that, you do it.” And then he took his son up to the mountain and told him, “We are going out to play.” He placed him on a big stone and covered his eyes.
Sayyīdinā Isma`īl (as) asked, “O my father, why are you covering my eyes?”
Ibrāhīm (as) replied, “Because we are playing.” His heart was crying for the love of his son! He could not bear to see his son looking at him while he cuts his throat.
Sayyīdinā Isma`īl (as) said, “O my father, why are you wasting my time? Do what you have been ordered. I am not afraid. If Allah (swt) wants me to be a sacrifice, let it be. O my father, be patient in difficulty, in problems. Don’t lose your temper. I am okay, take me and slaughter me, but first take off the shirt that is on me and take it to my mother before it gets blood on it. Take it to my mother so she will remember me with that shirt and tell my mother that I left my son to the One who is better than everyone. I left my son to Allah (swt)!”
Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as) said, “O Allah, be merciful with me!” They say Sayyīdinā Isma`īl (as) was seven or nine years old and the angels fell into crying and the Doors of Heavens opened.
As soon as that happened, he took the knife and put it on Isma`īl’s (as) neck, and in some narrations, they say that he smelled some meat barbecuing. He said, “O my father, what happened? I am smelling barbecue!”
He said, “O my son, this is the smell of my heart.” That was the heart of Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as) burning!
He said, “Yā abataa, O my father! Follow Allah’s orders. Don’t think that I don’t know. I am ready, cut my throat! There is no need to close my eyes. I am happy with what Allah (swt) wants, cut my throat!”
Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as) put the knife to his son’s throat and was crying out of love for his son, his flesh smelling like barbecue meat. He put the knife to his throat and recited, “Bismillah, Allahu Akbar!” and started cutting!
Look how Allah (swt) is giving us a good life and we are complaining. Then Allah (swt) ordered Jibrīl (as) to go quickly, saying, “If you don’t stop it I will take you away from My Presence!” and Jibrīl ordered the knife to stop. In the tafsīr of Imam an-Nasafi, Ibrāhīm (as) felt he didn’t fulfill the order of Allah (swt), so he took the knife and threw it as to him it had become a useless knife. Allah (swt) hid from him that He had ordered Jibrīl to prevent the knife from cutting.
His son’s throat was not cut, but the heart of Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as) was cut. So, he placed the knife on his son’s throat a second time but still, the knife would not cut. He tried a third time and still it would not cut.
Then he said, “O knife! Why are you not cutting?”
The knife said, “O Ibrāhīm! I am obeying Allah’s Order not to cut and I obeyed from the first time, but you did not! You waited to see the vision three times before you obeyed! If you are angry with me, why are you not angry with the fire of Nimrod that they threw you in and it did not burn you?”
He said, “Because Allah (swt) ordered the fire not to burn me.”
And the knife said, “And Allah (swt) ordered me not to cut your son’s neck. Jibrīl (as) ordered me 70 times not to cut! I was cutting and I was ordered not to cut.”
So why did Allah (swt) order Ibrāhīm (as) to sacrifice Isma`īl (as) in the first place? Because Allah (swt) does not like anyone of His servants to love anyone more than Him or share their love with Him. Allah lā sharīka lahu, you cannot put your children inside your heart together with Allah (swt). You have to choose: your children or Allah (swt)? Do you want your children? Look at the story of Sayyīdinā Isma`īl (as). Allah (swt) wants you to put only Himself in your heart:

ما وسعني أرضي ولا سمائي ولكن وسعني قلب عبدي المؤمن

Neither My Heavens nor My Earth contain Me, but the heart of My Believing Servant contains Me.157

When we put Allah’s Love and Prophet’s (s) love in our heart, then we will be able to fly, but when we share our love of dunyā in our heart with love to Allah (swt), we cannot fly.
A qasidah was recited in which the last verse read, qata`tu kabadee, “I have cut my liver into very small pieces to make it a rope in order for me to reach the love of Muhammad (s)!” These are the ones we need to follow: Allah’s Pious and Sincere Servants.
Then Allah (swt) ordered Ibrāhīm (as) to slaughter a ram for the safety of Sayyīdinā Isma`īl (as), who then said to his father, “Let me ask this question of you. Are you more generous, or am I?” Ibrāhīm (as) said, “I gave you, I gave my son!” Sayyīdinā Isma`īl carries the light of Sayyīdinā Muhammad, so how is he going to die? It was a test for Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as). It was a test for us. Are we going to sacrifice for the sake of the Prophet or not? Are we going to follow his Sunnah or not? Are we going to obey or not?
So Sayyīdinā Isma`īl (as) said, “No, I am better. You were generous to give me, but I gave my own soul! I am the one who was losing (his life); you were not giving your own soul, but you were giving me.” Sayyīdinā Isma`īl (as) gave himself for the sake of the whole Ummah, and he was carrying the secret of Sayyīdinā Muhammad (s).
So `Eid al-Adha is about sacrifice, which means not to spend on yourself, but what you can save from spending on yourself. Whatever you save, give to the poor, give them food, give them shelter, give them a home, anything. Remember on this day that there are poor people there, everywhere, who need your help. May Allah (swt) enable us to help each other and to be with those who help, and those whom their du`ā are never rejected, which is Sayyīdinā Muhammad (s)! And Let us try to fast on `Arafah and ask Allah, “O our Lord! Forgive our sins for the sake of Sayyīdinā Muhammad (s), for the sake of Sayyīdinā Ibrāhīm (as), for the sake of Sayyīdinā Isma`īl (as) and for the sake of those standing on `Arafah. Share their pilgrimage with us and write for us from those who went on this pilgrimage and on every pilgrimage, including the Prophet’s pilgrimage!


156 Sūratu ’s-Saffāt, 37:102.
157 Hadith Qudsi.

[Excerpted from the newly published book: Makkan Openings: A Pilgrim’s Guide to Divine Secrets]

Makkan Revelations: A Pilgrim's Guide to Divine Secrets