Here is a somewhat summarized written version:
It’s said that the worst enemy to religion is apathy. It’s when people show no interest or enthusiasm towards religion. It’s when people think that religion is no longer relevant. It’s when people think that religion does not solve their daily problems. Now, we know that this Eid is about Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). But, is the legacy of Ibrahim still relevant today? Of course, as Muslims we say that Ibrahim is relevant to us. In fact, the Quran tells us that Ibrahim is most relevant to Muslims:
The worthiest (or the closest) people of Ibrahim are his immediate followers, this Prophet (i.e. Muhammad) and those who believe (3:68).
So, from all the so-called Abrahamic faiths, Muslims are the closest to Abraham. But the question remains, what can we Muslims learn from Abraham that will help solve our problems today, living in the U.S. in the 21st century? Here, I will focus on 5 qualities of Abraham that I think are very relevant to us today.
1. Minority Status
Now, there is a lot of talk about minority status. Some Muslims feel powerless because they are in the minority. Some Muslims have developed a victim mentality. They speak like a victim, they act like a victim, and they live like a victim. But look what Allah said about Ibrahim (AS):
Abraham was a nation (16:120)
No doubt, Ibrahim was a numerical minority. Yet, he was the moral majority. Ibrahim never felt like a victim. Ibrahim had the confidence that a majority usually has. Ibrahim was equal to a nation of people. The lesson is that being a minority is not bad. In fact, if we look at Islamic history, we see that Muslims did best when they were a minority. The Prophet himself praised the strangers. That is when Islam or Muslims are such a small minority that they are considered strange or even weird. In a hadith, the Prophet said that Islam began as a stranger and will come back as a stranger, so glad tiding to strangers.
2. Loving God
The Quran says about Abraham:
God took Abraham as a khalil (4:125)
Khalil is usually translated as friend. However, a more careful look at the word khalil in Arabic reveals a deeper meaning. Khalil comes from the word takhallala which is when the love intermingles with the heart. So, Abraham loved God so much that such love penetrated his heart so they became inseparable. This is the highest degree of love. Nowadays, other loves are competing in the Muslim’s heart. Muslims need to make the love of Allah superior to all other loves.
3. Debate Mastery
One of the important qualities of Abraham is his debate skills and his possession of strong arguments. Allah said about him:
Such was the argument We gave to Abraham against his people (6:83)
Look, for example, at the following debate between Abraham and Numrood:
Have you not thought about the man who disputed with Abraham about his Lord, because God gave him the power to rule? When Abraham said, ‘It’s my Lord who gives life and death,’ he said, ‘I too give life and death.’ So Abraham said, ‘God brings the sun from the East; so bring it from the West.’ The disbeliever was dumbfounded. (2:258)
Muslims can learn a lot from this debate. If one argument doesn’t work, move on to another clearer argument. Overall, we should possess strong arguments. Right now, there are some arguments against Islam and Muslims out there. Muslims should be able to provide a counter-argument for every argument used against us.
4. Gratitude for Allah’s bounties
The Quran describes Abraham as:
He was thankful for the blessings of God (16:121)
Muslims in the U.S. have a lot to be thankful for. Just consider this; less than 30% of Americans have a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, American Muslims on average are well educated and well-to-do. Muslims should learn from Abraham to be always grateful to Allah. They also should think of the less fortunate in this country. It’s part of our religion to have mercy on everyone and not just Muslims. In an authentic narration, the Prophet tells us to show mercy to all the people on earth so that we may deserve the Mercy of the One above the Heavens.
5. Disagree Respectfully
Muslims should not be shy to say that they disagree with others. Yes, we disagree with the theology of Jews, Christians, and atheists. We disagree with the conduct of gays and lesbians. But we disagree respectfully. Again, look at our example Abraham, and how he disagreed with his own father:
Mention too, in the Quran, the story of Abraham. He was a man of truth, a prophet. He said to his father, ‘Father, why do you worship something that can neither hear nor see nor benefit you in any way? Father, knowledge that has not reached you has come to me, so follow me and I will guide you to a straight path. Father, do not worship Satan – Satan has rebelled against the Lord of Mercy. Father, I fear that a punishment from the Lord of Mercy may afflict you and that you may become Satan’s companion. His father answered, ‘Abraham, do you reject my gods? I will stone you if you do not stop this. Keep out of my way’ (19:41-46).