Tuesday, 20 December 2011


We Read in the Noble Qur’an, 3:92,
3:92  “You can never attain piety unless you spend (in the way of Allah) of what you love;  surely Allah will have full knowledge of what you spend.
As the door of virtue is shut against anyone who loves any worldly thing more than Allah,  the one who is not ready to sacrifice his or her beloved thing for the sake of God's love, cannot attain to real virtue.
Udhiyah or animal sacrifice is an act of worship which reminds us of the great act of sacrifice that Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and Isma'il (AS) were willing to do for the sake of Almighty Allah.
In the Annual pilgrimage of Hajj in Makkah, Muslims remember and commemorate the trials and triumphs of the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him).                                                                          In Surah Al-Hajj 22: 37, we read:

 "It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him." (Surah Al-Hajj 22:37)

The symbolism is in the attitude - a willingness to make sacrifices in our lives in order to stay on the Straight Path.  Each one of us makes small sacrifices, such as giving up things that are fun or important to us.  A true Muslim, one who submits himself or herself completely to the Lord, is willing to follow Allah's commands completely and obediently.  It is this strength of heart, purity in faith, and willing obedience that our Lord desires from us. 
According to Shaykh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi
It's the sacrifice of the Sahaba that made Islam spread in the East and in the West. It's the Sacrifice of Bilal (ra) that made him ascend over Al-Ka'ba to make his Adhan and call the prayer 'Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar' upon the conquest of Makkah. It was the sacrifice of the early Sahaba (ra) that established Islam in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Persia. It is the sacrifice of our ancestors and early generations that established Islam in Africa and the Far East. It is the sacrifice of those men of Allah and champions of truth that made Islam enter China and the Far Eastern countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. Their sacrifice brought the world in front of them and the way to triumph... the way to paradise is not paved by roses, it's a thorny way...
Shaykh Abdullah Adhami says:
This Ummah has seen many of its great works of scholarship suffer, be rotted, be burned, and be thrown in the Euphrates (a river near Baghdad) and other rivers and still the Deen continued and flourished... what you sacrifice for Him(Allah) is nothing but an outer manifestation of inner clarity and truthfulness... so, the first lesson from the Sunnah of our Beloved Prophet(saw) is the more you have, the more you have to calculate what you are going to lose as opposed to what you are about to gain by sacrificing for the sake of Allah. You start to manage things as if you own them, you start to invest things and the more possessions that you have the more they make you heavy to the ground...
What does the word sacrifice mean? In a wider sense, 'sacrifice' means giving up things which are valued or desired. Those things may be tangible, countable like time, wealth or life, or intangible that is immeasurable like feelings, attitudes, opinions or aspirations. They are given up for the sake of something that is more worthy or more important or more urgent. It is important to bear in mind, though, that primarily sacrifice means slaughter of animal (Udhiyah) or person as offering to God, and, hence, surrender to God of some possession.
It may be difficult to find in the Quranic vocabulary an exactly equivalent word for sacrifice, which also has as wide a literary usage. Nearest in meaning perhaps is nusuk:
The Qur'an says in Surah Al-An'am, 6: 162
'Say, my Prayer and my nusuk (sacrifice), my living and dying - all belong to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds' (al-An'am 6:162).
What is a good life for a Muslim?
'Giving', however, is a fundamentally important motif in the Qur'an, stressed again and again. Iman (the faith), says the Qur'an in numerous places, must lead to spending 'of what We (Allah SWT) have provided them'. Along with Salat, 'giving' suffices to support, encompass and symbolize a life based on Iman. Provision, given by Allah, and to be given away by man, includes everything that man has, whether it be concrete or intangible. In one place in the Qur'an, 'giving', along with taqwa (refraining from doing wrong) and tasdiq (accepting the truth), is all that is required to characterize a good life.
Sacrifice is the stuff of which good and successful, ordinary human lives are made. Without sacrifice, life will be devoid of peace, harmony and co-operation, full of conflict and discord, a prey to self-centeredness, covetousness (greediness or materialism) and immediate gratification of desires. Moreover, neither families nor communities can exist or achieve cohesiveness and strength without some sacrifice on the part of their members. Also, no human endeavour (attempt or venture) can, succeed in reaching its goal unless one sacrifices things valued or desired. A Mother feeds her baby with her milk; she is a symbol of sacrifice. She sacrifices everything so that her children can become something.
What is true of ordinary human life and endeavour, whatever its nature or importance, is certainly much more true of Islamic life. For, Islam simply means surrender to God of your whole being, not of just some possession. Put in the language of our present discourse, "Islamic life is a life of sacrifice par excellence". It entails a struggle that must be ceaselessly waged, to actualize Islam, inwardly and outwardly, to make it a living reality.
Sacrifice, as you can now see, is a vast subject. Closely intertwined with it is the equally vast and important theme of trials and tribulations (ibtila' and mahnah) and of patience (sabr).
Malcolm X (Al-Hajj Malik Al-Shabazz) said, “Revolutionaries are the children and young people…" "The young people are the ones who most quickly identify with the struggle and necessity to eliminate the evil conditions that exist.”  [Malcolm X]
"Blessed are those who struggle, oppression is worse than the grave,
it is better to die for a noble cause, than to live and die as a slave" (The Last Poets-The Last Poets was founded by a group of Afro-American Muslims in the 1960's.)
The Qur'an, 29: 2-3:“Do people imagine that they will be left at ease because they say 'We have faith!' and will not be tested? But certainly We tested those who were before them..”

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, “Whoever is not concerned with the problems of Muslims is not one of us.” [Hadith]

We read these and similar verses of the Quran, Hadith, and sayings of our leaders, yet often we  forget the implications of the powerful message contained in these statements: the need to sacrifice our wealth, time, pleasures, desires, comfort, and if need be, our life for Islam.  There are examples of Sahaba who sacrificed their lives.
Yasar and his wife, Sumayya, and their son, Ammar, had no tribal affiliation. Therefore they were "foreigners," in Makka, and there was no one to protect them. All three were savagely tortured by Abu Jahl and the other infidels. Sumayya, Yasar's wife, died while she was being tortured. Sumayya, an innocent woman, is cruelly torn into pieces with spears. She thus became the First Martyr (Shaheedah) in Islam. The First Martyr in Islam was a woman and not man. A little later, her husband, Yasar, was also tortured to death, and he became the Second Martyr (Shaheed) in Islam.
In this manner the wife and the husband made their choice in the eternal conflict between light and darkness, good and evil, truth and falsehood, right and wrong, and Islam and paganism. The choice was difficult but they had no hang ups in the matter, and gladly paid for it with their lives! They made their lives an oblation (religious or charitable gift) for Islam.  The Quraysh had stained their hands with innocent blood!
In the honor-roll of martyrs, Sumayya and her husband, Yasar, rank among the highest.
They were killed for no reason other than their devotion to Allah and their love for Islam and Muhammed Mustafa (SAW). Those Muslims, who were killed in the battles of Badr and Uhud, had an army to defend and to support them. But Sumayya and her husband, Yasar, had no one to defend them. They bore no arms, and they were the most defenseless of all martyrs of Islam. By sacrificing their lives, they highlighted the truth of Islam and they built strength into its structure.
Their martyrdom was a triumph of Faith over materialism. Friend and foe were flabbergasted to see them defy death. They made the "tradition" of sacrifice and martyrdom an integral part of the ethos of Islam.
Earlier, Sumayya, Yasar and Ammar had won the distinction of being the First Muslim Family in the ummah. Now they won another distinction: Sumayya and Yasar became the First Two Martyrs in Islam. Their son, Ammar, was also destined to wear the Crown of Martyrdom - though in later times.
If the Yasars were the First Family of Muslims, they were also the First Family of Martyrs. Each member of this blessed family died vindicating the principles of Justice and Truth enshrined in Islam. God was pleased to bestow upon them two of the greatest honors – Primacy (Pre-eminence) in Faith and Primacy (Pre-eminence) in Martyrdom.
Just imagine where we would be today without the heroic efforts, sacrifices, and patience of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his devoted Companions in building the vibrant Islamic society of Madinah? What would the Muslim community in the West be like without the outstanding struggles of our civil-rights activists, Islamic leaders, social workers and sincere scholars who laid the foundations of our existence here?

What allowed them to accomplish such monumental feats was their conviction that no matter how great the task, how steep the obstacles, how scarce their resources, and how few the people to assist them in their cause, they have to do the work! It was this burning desire to please Allah (SWT) that compelled them to believe: “If I don’t do the work today and if I do not take the initiative, who else will?” To them Islam was a responsibility, a passion, and indeed the totality of life! But how hesitatingly we walk in their footsteps today. For sure, each and every one of us has something extraordinary and positive to offer to the cause of peace and justice today!

It Ain’t No Piece of Cake

Nobody says Islam is easy. Nothing of any value ever is. Indeed it is not easy to wake up for Fajr prayer on a cold winter morning. It may not be convenient to cook food for your ill neighbour. Nobody thinks that going to Islamic classes or Halaqa is undemanding, when everyone around you is partying late during the weekends. Nor is volunteering at an Islamic congregation or conference or a local food bank effortless. It may not be pleasant to offer others your shoulder to cry upon when their personal or family life is in crisis. Sure, resisting the peer pressure at school, university, or work place is extremely challenging. And we know it requires real faith and guts to speak out against oppression, racism, and tyranny.

Therefore, Islamic life is a life of sacrifice par excellence. It entails a struggle (jihad) that must be ceaselessly waged, to actualize Islam, inwardly and outwardly, to make it a living reality.

Sacrifice: A Struggle to Surrender

Sayyid Qutb said, “There is no Islam without struggle, and there is no struggle nobler than sharing Islam with those deprived of its beauty and blessings.” [Sayyid Qutb]

Allah’s Best Gift

Qur'an, 5: 3, “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your way of life.” [Quran 5:3]

Indeed, today we take Islam for granted. Do we really treasure Islam as a gift? Islam is not just one gift among many; it is the choicest gift of God! Out of all the countless bounties of Allah, none can be greater than His gift of guidance and knowledge to us. How blessed and comforted we are to have certainty of the true meaning and purpose of our mundane life, while we see so many around us in our own communities, struggling with hopelessness, depression, and hollowness in their lives!

Not much comes to us in life without endeavour (attempt or venture). We gain only what we earn by our strivings. The soil is there, the water is there, the seed is there; but the soil will not turn seeds into crops unless we dig it, plough it, sow the seeds, water the plants, protect them and harvest the crop. Without sweat and toil, the gifts of God all around us will not yield their full treasures to us.

Collective Struggle

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, “You are a corner among the many corners of Islam, so don’t let  Islam be attacked from your side!”
It is obvious that while walking on your personal way to God, you will need to attain greater and greater heights of sacrifice and self-discipline to succeed in seeking His pleasure. But once you decide to come together with others to struggle, you stand in greater need of making sacrifices. Without them, neither your organized collective struggle can take a durable shape, nor can you aspire to be successful in your mission. Qur'an 61: 4, says: "God loves those who, fighting in His way, join ranks as if they are a wall of molten lead". What a beautiful and meaningful parable! Strong and solid, fused and welded, without cracks or divisions. That is how members of a Muslim community, joined together in bonds of love, marching to the beat of the ‘drums of hope and faith’, strive to invite people to do good and eliminate evil.

Building Our Communities Brick By Brick

As a wall is composed of many building blocks, so must our communities be built upon the strengths of individuals like you. As each brick supports and builds upon others, so must Muslims cement their bonds, and gain in height and strength at each step. When the wall is seen from a distance, the blocks may look indistinguishable due to their uniformity, but like human beings, each retains its inner individuality. No one is required to sacrifice this, as indeed it is the diversity of strengths that is the beauty of an Islamic community.

But if each block is unwilling to carry the burden of others above it or build upon those below it, it is impossible to construct a strong wall. Similarly, the most valuable bricks will have to go into the foundations below ground, never to be noticed or appreciated by anyone. Yet they are bearers of the greatest load, and without their sacrifice the building can not even begin to rise. Indeed many blocks may have to be broken in the process!

Similarly, without the help of the individuals in the Muslim community, through their unique and creative skills, their time for counseling of those in need, their activism and financial contributions, Islam cannot be expected to survive, let alone spread to the hearts of individuals of other communities. Every single one of us has something exceptional to offer to Islam and our communities, no matter how little it may seem, and whether we recognize it or not. Ask yourself today: “What little can I do to make a difference in the life of others?”, “What is so unique about me, my skills, and my personality that could be of benefit to Islam?”, “When was the last time I did some good action that truly required sacrifice on my part, which may be known to Allah alone?”, “What have I done to thank Allah for all His blessings, the greatest of which is the guidance of Islam?”                                                                 
In conclusion, that all sacrifices are required of us because we have to shoulder the immense responsibility of fulfilling the mission that Allah's Messengers were charged with.  It is to serve mankind that we have been constituted into an Ummah. That calling requires that we prepare ourselves for one of the most difficult tasks in life.
Without making sacrifices, the revival of Islam will always remain a matter of speeches or a matter of dreams. To actualize it, we will have to give up our time and wealth, our life and resources, our personal likes and dislikes.
Even our best efforts, however, may not be perfect. We may waver and falter, we may fail and despair. But this is only human. What Allah looks at is our intention and effort. So let us turn to Him (Allah-SWT) to help us lest our human frailties (Weaknesses) overwhelm (overpower or devastate) us when sacrifices are demanded of us, and to seek His forgiveness for all our shortcomings and failures.
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