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HomeKhutbaYour Abrahamic identity: 5 lessons from the best of creation

Your Abrahamic identity: 5 lessons from the best of creation

One of my teachers once asked the class what their mother tongue was. Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Swahili, French and English were the responses from the class. The teacher showed a look of surprise and said “I’m astonished you don’t know your mother tongue. Who are the mothers of the believers? Surely, your mothers spoke Arabic but you have forgotten that.” This incident reminded me of the importance of knowing our own back story.

Know your roots 

A people without a knowledge of their family, history, origin and culture are like a tree without roots – it has a very limited lifespan and lacks the ability to nourish itself fully.

Through it we connect with our core identity, we gain better understanding of the challenges they faced and it inspires love and compassion for their shortcomings. We learn resilience from their examples and selflessness through their tireless efforts.

Ibrahim (AS) was from the lineage of Nuh(AS) and from his children Ismail (AS) was the forefather of the Quraysh and the Prophet (SAW) while Ishaq was the father of Ya’qub and Yusuf. From the brothers of Yusuf (AS) came the lineage of Dawud and Sulayman(AS) and from Sulayman(AS) were descendants including Zakariya, Yahya and Isa(AS). At the end of the Prophetic lineage there was Isa(AS) from Ishaq and Muhammad (SAW) from Ismail.

Anas ibn Malik reported that a man came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, Yaa khayral bariyyah “O best of creation!” The Prophet said, “That is Abraham, upon him be peace.” [Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2369a] Despite being the best of all of mankind, Rasoolullah(SAW), said out of humility, that is my father, Ibrahim(AS). 

Only 2 people have been the Khalil, dearest friend of Allah(SWT), and that was Ibrahim(AS) and Muhammad (AS). Today, I want to reflect on Ibrahim(AS) as our forefather and 

And who is better in Faith than one who has surrendered his self to Allah and is good in deeds, and has followed the creed of Ibrahim, the upright. And Allah has made Ibrahim a friend. [Surah an Nisaa 4:125]

Hardly any Prophet has been praised like the Prophet Ibrahim(AS):

Ask good questions

During his early childhood Abraham saw his father making strange statues and he asked him about them. His father replied that he made statues of gods. Abraham was astonished and he spontaneously rejected the idea. Being a child he played with such statues sitting on their backs as people sit on the backs of donkeys and mules.

He noticed that these idols did not eat, drink or talk and they could not even turn themselves right side up if someone turned them upside down. How then, could people believe that such statues could harm or benefit them? 

Abraham ‘s people had a big temple full of idols, in the middle of which was a niche accommodating the biggest gods which was of different kinds, qualities and shapes. Abraham was surprised at how his people behaved when they entered the temple; they bowed and started to cry, begging and imploring their gods for help as if the idols could hear or understand these requests! 

Was it not astonishing that all those people could be deceived? 

Later as a young teenager, Abraham left his house to go to a mountain. He walked alone in the dark until he came to a cave in the mountain where he sat resting his back against its wall. He looked at the sky at the planets and stars which were worshipped by some people on earth and this pained him. 

He considered what was beyond the moon, the stars and the planets (i.e. Allah) and was astonished that these celestial bodies were worshipped by men when they had been created to worship and obey their Creator, appearing and disappearing at His command. 

So, Ibraham(AS) addressed these people with clear reason as recorded in Surah al-An’aam from ayah 76:

So, when the night enveloped him, he saw a star. He said, “This is my Lord.” But, when it vanished, he said, “I do not like those who vanish.”

Later, when he saw the moon rising, he said, “This is my Lord.” But, when it vanished, he said, “If my Lord does not guide me, I shall be among those gone astray.”

Thereafter, when he saw the sun rising, he said, “This is my Lord. This is greater.” Again, when it vanished, he said, “0 my people, I am free of whatever you associate with Allah.

I have, indeed, turned my face straight towards the One who created the heavens and the earth, and I am not one of those who associate partners with Allah.”

Remember, at this stage, Ibrahim(AS), prior to receiving revelation, used his own mind to come to the only sensible conclusion and had the courage to reject what his people stood for.

Allah(SWT) preserved this example for us to tell us something really important. The Muslim teenager is an intelligent, inquisitive, curious teenager. He doesn’t just go with the flow like a member of the cattle community, just because its fashionable or on Tiktok. No, he rises up above the challenges of his time, thinking critically using the intelligence Allah(SWT) has given him. Just because people are doing something, his purity of soul and intelligence led him to conclude there must be only One Creator – all Perfect, all Powerful, far above this idolatry.

After this, when his people leave to enjoy their celebration with fireworks and parties, he attends to the temple where all the idols were stored and as narrated in Surah as-Saaafat from ayah 91: 

‘And he made his way to their gods and said to them, ‘Why would you not eat? What is wrong with you that you do not speak?”

There are many lessons to take from this:

  1. Think critically and don’t just go with the flow
  2. Ibrahim(AS) had the courage to stand up and speak against what was wrong. This wasnt just him talk to his people, but in fact the popular culture of the whole world. He has no alibi – he excused himself and he was the only one who remained behind.

    Next time you feel isolated and uncertain. When you’re worried that others will make fun of you. Stand up to and reject the peer pressure. Stand on the truth even if you’re all alone.
  3. His Iman was so strong, he was willing to face the consequences. His people pressured him to leave his position and leave his principles. He was willing to sacrifice for the sake of His Lord and he did not know what was coming. He was not yet a Prophet.

    When you stand up for the sake of Allah(SWT), Allah(SWT) will bless you.
  4. Trust in Allah(SWT).

    After being detained, tortured and prepared for execution by his people, even his own family members, Ibrahim(AS) never gave up on his certainty about Allah. The fire which was prepared was so huge that even birds flying overhead were fried and even the elderly and sick contributed to its firewood, so much so they couldn’t approach it after setting it alight and needed to construct a catapult to send him through the air.

    He(SAW) was certain that Allah(SWT) would hear him. The armies of Nimrod have set his public execution. For days they are heating the fire, pressuring him to reject scaring him with the scorching heat of this fire. When he would not give in, they had to make an example of him.

    According to our scholars, it was at this stage, after he was catapulted into the air, that he became a Prophet.

    Allah(SWT) sent the Angel Jibreel (AS) who asked Ibrahim(AS) if he was in need of anything to which he replied “Not from you”. Even as he was being catapulted through the air, his reliance was entirely upon his Lord, the One who never sets because Allahu Akbar – He (SWT) is the Greatest and He has created fire and so his words as recorded in Bukhari from the Prophet(SAW) were “Hasbunallah wa ni’mal Wakil – Allah is sufficient for us and how excellent a Protector!” (Bukhari). Once, he came to the conclusion that there was none Greater than Allah(SWT), he placed his complete reliance upon Him(SWT) – this is Iman – belief in Allah(SWT)’s who is the Most Able (Al-Qaadir) and the Creator of all things (Al-Khaaliq) without rationalising how it was possible when fire is known to burn.

You are never too young or too old to workshop Allah(SWT). There is no age limit on worshipping Allah(SWT) and we all need to put our trust in Allah(SWT) and know that He(SWT) will give you what you need.

Surrounded by hostility and anger, vengeance and insult. 

Summary table for youth workshop

Thought leadershipDealing with difficultyDevotionWho do we talk toDealing with hate
Ibrahim(AS) questioned and reflected

Idols

Celestial bodies

Nimrod

Fear
UncertaintyFamily & CommunityConsequences of smashing idols

Feeling lonely

What do you give your time to?

What do you talk about?

What occupies your thoughts?

He talked to his people

Purpose & direction

Gave his life to submission

Friends

Connect with Allah(SWT)

The first and last he(AS) relied on

Bullying

Islamophobia/Racism

Win with good manners. Salaamun alaikum sa’astaghfiruka laka Rabbi

Anxiety is a natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. 

Depression

Self harm

Hopelessness

Stress /Time Mgt

Mental health

For the sake of your principlesFamily issuesBullying –  unwanted behaviour that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. Cyberbullying which has become more and more prominent over the years is the intentional use of electronic communication to threaten, harass, embarrass, and socially excluded. 

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