“What effect will īmān not produce? We see here Ibrāhīm (‘alayhis-salām) in his old age, cut off in a foreign land, having deserted his homeland and his people, being given a child. The child turns out to be a model son, with his forbearance confirmed by Allah Himself. Hardly had Ibrāhīm (‘alayhis-salām) enjoyed his son’s company and seen his youth blooming so as to become his companion and assistant, when he sees in his dream that he should slaughter him. He understands that it is a sign from Allah requiring sacrifice.

What is his attitude now? He does not hesitate for a moment. The thought of disobedience does not even occur to him. He thinks only of submission… (The dream) was enough for Ibrāhīm (‘alayhis-salām) to comply, not to delay, and not even to ask: ‘Why should I sacrifice my only son?’

…That it was hard for Ibrāhīm (‘alayhis-salām) is beyond doubt. He was not required to send his only son to war, nor to put him to a task that would end in his death. Nothing of the sort. Instead, he was required to undertake the task himself, by his own hand. And what task was that? It was to slaughter his own son by way of sacrifice…

To Ibrāhīm (‘alayhis-salām), the question was one of obedience. Since his Lord wanted something, so be it, without hesitation. His son should also know and accept it willingly, with submission so that he too would earn the reward of obeying Allah and experience the pleasure of submission to Him. He himself had known that pleasure and now wants his son to feel it as the pure goodness that surpasses all else that life can offer.

What does the son say as his father proposes to slaughter him in fulfilment of what he saw in a dream? The son also rises to the sublime standard his father had earlier attained: “He said: My father! Do as you are bidden, and, Allah willing, you will find me to be patient in adversity.” (37:102)

This is an example of perfect humility before Allah, trust in Him, combined with complete obedience and submission to His will…

The scene moves further to show us the order being carried out: “When the two of them had surrendered themselves to the will of Allah, and Ibrāhīm laid him on his forehead.” (37: 103) Once more, obedience, faith and acceptance of Allah’s decree rise to a far nobler standard than anything known to humanity. The father lies his son down on his face, and the son submits and shows no resistance. All this takes place in reality.

Such is self-surrender, which is the essence of Islam: complete trust, obedience, certainty, acceptance, submission and action. Both father and son experience nothing other than pure faith…

It is to commemorate this great event which serves as a symbol of true faith and submission to Allah that Muslims celebrate the ʿEīd of Sacrifice, or al-Adḥā. This event serves as a reference point for the Muslim community to know their first father, Ibrāhīm, whose faith it follows and to whom it traces its ancestry. It thus understands the nature of its faith, based on submission to Allah’s will with perfect acceptance and reassurance. It will never need to ask Allah why.

(Fī Dhilāl al-Qur’ān)

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