Path Towards Enlightenment (815)
Welcome to our weekly programme "Path towards Enlightenment" in which we present you a fluent and easy-to-understand explanation of the ayahs of the holy Qur’an. We start from where we left you a fortnight ago, and here are ayahs 103 to 105 of Surah Saaffaat:
“So when they had both submitted [to Allah’s will], and he (Abraham) had laid him (Ishmael) down on his forehead,”
“We called out to him, ‘O Abraham!”
“You have indeed fulfilled the vision! Thus indeed do We reward the virtuous!”
In the previous episode of Path towards Enlightenment we had explained the steadfast faith in God Almighty of both Abraham and Ishmael and their devotion to the carrying out of Divine Commandments with patience, even if it meant the aged father sacrificing his handsome adolescent son.
Here, the ayahs that we recited to you refer to the great trial of father and son. Abraham put the forehead of Ishmael on the dust according to the son’s own suggestion, lest his eyes might see the son’s face and fatherly affections hinder the fulfilment of the command of Allah. He then swiftly and powerfully moved the knife on Ishmael’s throat, but the sharp instrument had the least effect on the smooth throat. It is said Abraham tried again but without the least effect, since the sharp knife though in the hands of the father was obeying the commandment of Allah “do not cut”. The next two ayahs are short and expressive. God calls on Abraham to give him tidings of triumph in trial. God is All-Merciful and will never let a devout father kill an equally devout son. It was yet another tough test of the sincere intention of father and son, and both succeeded. It means that whoever submits completely to the Will of God, will attain the highest degrees and God will indeed reward the virtuous.
From these ayahs we learn that:
- God is aware of our sincere intentions, and at times He puts to test our intentions.
- There is no limit to spiritual perfection, as those who obey God attain the highest rewards.
- Readiness to sacrifice one’s own life and that of the dear and near ones in the path of God, is the sign of firm faith.
Let us listen to or read ayahs 106 to 108 of Surah Saaffaat:
“This was indeed a manifest test.”
“Then We ransomed him with a great sacrifice,”
“And left for him a good name in posterity:”
As is clear by the ayahs, this was indeed a manifest test, and God the All-Wise sent Archangel with a ram for Abraham to slaughter, and this tradition remains till this day amongst Muslims on the 10th of Zil-Hijjah, especially for Hajj pilgrims in Mena who sacrifice sheep.
The next ayah says that the intended sacrifice of Ishmael was ransomed by God Almighty with the Zibhin Azeem or the Great Sacrifice.
And what is the Great Sacrifice. This refers to the sacrifice offered in the path of God Almighty to save Islam and all humanitarian values by Imam Husain (AS), the grandson of the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), who was the direct descendant of Prophet Ishmael. This is evident by the next ayah that says Ishmael by the grace of God was blessed with a good name in his posterity.
As for Zibhin Azeem or the Great Sacrifice, as exegetes of the holy Qur’an note, and as is clear from the hadith related from the Infallible Imams, the courting of martyrdom in Karbala on the 10th of Moharram 61 AH by Imam Husain (AS), along with his brothers, nephews, loyal companions, and two sons – the youthful Ali Akbar and the infant Ali Asghar – is proof of the firm faith in God of these Immaculate personalities, as worthy successors of their ancestors, Abraham and Ishmael, who had passed the divine test in antiquity.
From these ayahs we learn that:
- The faithful are ever ready to provide practical proof of their faith in God, and they never hesitate to carry out divine commandments.
- The Eid al-Adha sacrifice of sheep is among the traditions of Prophet Abraham.
- Imam Husain and the heartrending tragedy of Karbala are manifest evidences of Zibhin Azeem or the Great Sacrifice that ransomed the endeavours of Abraham and Ishmael.