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Ramadan Confession: I’m Reclaiming My Ramadan By Saying “NO”

We’ve heard that the sahabah started Ramadan preparations six months before its arrival.  6 months – why is this number significant?  How did they prepare? Think about it.  Did they prepare by freezing kababs and spring rolls? Did they pre-order the crescent moon tree (yes, that’s a thing now)? Did they write long wish lists and spend countless hours on Eid shopping?  Did they frantically search for the perfect Ramadan journal for their 2nd grader while forgetting to open the Quran the rest of the year?

Once upon a time, when we heard the word “siyam,” we thought about the masjid, taraweeh, wondering which imam would lead this year, planning to take time off for i’tikaf, or how to increase the impact of Quran in our lives.  Then, a time followed when we thought mostly about iftar, daydreaming about the perfect suhoor, creating menus, stocking up the pantry, and taking out family recipes customized solely for this occasion.  Presently, we stand witnesses to a time in which the focus divides further into smaller fractions as our minds wander to the festive and feasting aisle, spending more time on planning Eid (and Iftar) outfits, decorations (Pinterest-worthy of course), eye-catching planners, presents galore, advent calendars, hijab tutorials, humorous Ramadan vines, hashtags, and all-nighters coupled with suhoor at iHop.

This year, the first thing that came to my mind upon remembering Ramadan was “Aw man, the summer heat!” Not so immediately, as I un-paused my Ramadan playlist on YouTube, I reprimanded myself.  That is not the point. Snap out of it!  The first things I should be pondering include the Quran, the burden of my sins burying me deeper into quick sand, the chance to get out of that quick sand, and the chance of rebuilding my relationship with my Creator.  Ramadan is becoming another ritual whose purpose is sluggishly being forgotten (it hasn’t been forgotten entirely yet!).  Stop and think: what are the (right) reasons for this month to be such an immense deal?

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The word of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). The tool that connects the Creator with the creation – the ultimate self-help book.  The Quran is what needs to be celebrated in Ramadan; not our taste buds.  If the majority of our focus fails to be on the Quran, we have missed the purpose of this holiday, for it is indeed a holiday.  It’s a chance to get away from the mundane and hectic, to rediscover one’s self and to enjoy the true blessing of life: guidance.  Celebrate this month like no other, but not the way you want to.  It must be celebrated in the way Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has meant for it to be adorned.

This Ramadan, did you memorize a single verse? Did you discover its essence and its call through tafseer?  Did you stand with others and simply listen, letting the rhythms vibrate through your heart?  Everything you do in this month, must be connected with the Quran, every action and intention needs to work towards achieving the exclusive purpose of Ramadan – attaining taqwa–  the way forward by consciously accepting Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will. How can we attain taqwa if we fail to discover what He is telling us though this miracle?

For me, the moment of no return, in which I broke free from the dangerously alluring trap of the modern Ramadan spirit, came as a jolt.  In those critical minutes, I realized it was now or never. If I didn’t say these words out loud, I might wholly drown in that quick sand: I am saying NO. I am being honest with *myself* this Ramadan.  As I called out these affirmations in the middle of the night, fearless of which little one I would wake up, a realization – one never before felt in the years that have long died – took hold of my heart:  This is MY month.  It does not belong to my children, my husband nor the kitchen.  It is MINE.

I didn’t plan for this.  Was I having a panic attack? Will I shut down for the rest of the month and miss out even more? My focus was painfully off when I was “planning” Ramadan 2018.  I planned for a festive, energy-laden, activity-packed Ramadan. SubhanAllah! I had planned my entire Ramadan for other beings and other things.  But what about the crafts…I still have to finish the Eid décor…

No! I am sick of that “Let’s make it memorable for the children!” jargon.  No, no, no.  What do I really want my children to get out of Ramadan? Yes, I admit that growing up, I wished and dreamt of the same holiday spirit to encompass our homes and communities as Christmas and Hanukkah.  Yes, I felt shy, preferring to remain a secret faster in school.  Yes, I wanted to decorate gingerbread mosques and get stuffed stockings.  Yes, I wanted a darn Christmas tree.  I never imagined that there would be books about kids like me at the library! I never dared to give my holiday presents during Ramadan instead of Christmas.  I never want my children to feel ashamed of celebrating their culture or feel their holiday holds less value than the rest due to a lack of wreaths, glitter and ornaments.

There is an imbalance within us; it is embedded in our fitrah and to ensure success, it must be rechecked frequently.  This religion of peaceful submission is adorned with guidelines paving the path towards perfect balance a human requires to thrive.  Within that deen is this perfect month; this yearly blessing which was gifted as the smaller stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of not only optimal human spirituality, health and performance, but of Jannah.  The greatest advantage of this holiday is that it replenishes balance for the rest of the year.

As a celebration, Ramadan lacked balance back in the day, being too dry and inactive, especially for youth surrounded by mouthwatering alternatives.  Today, I fear that the holiday spirit is reaching another point of imbalance in mimicking the commercialized festivities of others.  I love having options for my family that will truly optimize the Ramadan experience, but I ask again: what do I really want my children (and myself) to get out of Ramadan? Pakoras? Extravagant table settings professing the sin of gluttony while hoping for its erasure in the prayers that follow?

They say iftar is incomplete without pakoras (insert any other cultural food).  No, get these distractions out of your head and out of your daily Ramadan experience.  Extremes that defeat the purpose of fasting need to be weeded out of your life.  Say no to them. Remember, this month is about recreating that bond with the Creator, detoxifying.  That cannot be done if your focus is the thing that is guaranteed to distract you.

Take a hold of your nafs; there is no Iblees to blame.  In fact, Iblees did not have another Shaitan tempting him.  It was merely his own nafs, for its power is strong and almost unshakeable- almost.  Say no to the iftar parties, say no to breaking your fast at home if going to the masjid is possible, say no to all-nighters, say no to Eid shopping,  say no to recreating your special lasagna (if it takes more than 40 minutes to make, I’m ordering take out).  This all sounds insane, right? Why should I say no to all of these things? There is no fatwa against them. Ah, you see, you’re wavering again, tipping the balance.  Stop!  Refocus on your Ramadan priorities.  We don’t engage in haram, but we are drowning in the halal, like never before.

Looking back, I tremble with fear and regret.  The year I’ve wasted binging in the halal…but I force myself to look ahead now, with hope.  Half of Ramadan is gone, yet the other half remains.  I am reclaiming my one month of the year.  This is my month to ensure perpetual balance and I want it back.  Let me pose this question: What are you truly celebrating in this month?  The decorations look lovely on your Instagram, and hey! you’ve got a cool i’tikaf tent for your toddler, but what are *you* celebrating?  Let me be blunt (first to myself): I am supposed to be decreasing my luxuries in this month.  I love the concept of minimalism and zuhd, but this is the month to practice it! Those hunger pangs I feel…that’s exactly what I’m supposed to be feeling this month- not savagely replacing them at iftar.

All year, we don’t consciously care.  In fact, we could care less.  It’s all about ME and NOW -instant gratification.  This is not the month for concessions.  It is the month to become your cruelest judge when it comes to your relationship with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His Book.

Does this all sound extreme to you, dear Reader? Ponder this: If a celebrated life coach or motivational speaker (such as Mel Robbins) was paid to help you reset your life, wouldn’t you listen? Would you not heed her every word? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving you the ultimate self-control training for the whole year; a chance to train and control your heart and body.  Do the heart and body not want opposing things throughout the year?

Don’t be so extreme, you say.  It is not extreme to carry out your sole purpose in this life.  In fact, it is our behavior throughout the rest of the year that displays extreme imbalance.  What do *you* want from Ramadan? Be honest with yourself and reclaim this present as your own.


Fatima Asad is a an American-Pakistani Muslim Mama.   She is a writer, blogger and homeschooler.  You can follow her journey on her Facebook page: Homeschooling while Muslim or connect with her through her blog at www.homeschoolwhilemuslim.wordpress.com

Urdu speakers and listeners can benefit from her Podcast  on her Facebook page, where she shares her homeschooling journey and explores the concept of homeschooling one’s children in Pakistan. 

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Fatima Asad is a an American-Pakistani Muslim Mama.   She is a writer, blogger and homeschooler.  You can follow her journey on her Facebook page: Homeschooling while Muslim or connect with her through her blog at www.homeschoolwhilemuslim.wordpress.com

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sayeeda Shireen

    June 7, 2018 at 4:58 AM

    Subhanallah ! Much needed perspective !

    • Avatar

      Fatima Asad

      June 7, 2018 at 7:14 AM

      Thank you Sayeeda Shireen for the appreciation.

  2. Avatar

    Zafiirah Khodabukus

    June 8, 2018 at 7:49 PM

    Amazing…simply amazing! I was nodding my head “yes” the entire time!

    • Avatar

      Fatima Asad

      June 13, 2018 at 3:12 AM

      Jazakallah kheir Zafiirah Khodabukus for the appreciation.

  3. Avatar

    Muin

    June 12, 2018 at 2:40 PM

    Wait you don’t think we should all have Ramadan Trees that are shaped like a crescent? (sarcasm)

    Great piece.

    • Avatar

      Fatima Asad

      June 13, 2018 at 3:13 AM

      Thank you Muin for the appreciation (and joke).

  4. Avatar

    Mustaqeez Ahmad

    June 24, 2018 at 7:07 AM

    Subhanallah ; Fatima Asad you are doing well keep it up.

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#Islam

Help! I Can’t Make Dua For More Than 30 Seconds On The Day Of ‘Arafah

Much emphasis has been given on the importance of fasting on the day of ‘Arafah, but don’t forget, this was a day the Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) “made du’a from the time of Dhur til the time of Maghrib on the day of ‘Arafah while STANDING.” (Sahih Muslim)

He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said, “The best du’a is that which is made on the day of ‘Arafah.” (Sahih Muslim)

If we can develop the capacity to binge watch on Netflix 5-6 for hours a day, we can develop the capacity to make du’a longer than 30 SECONDS on the day of ‘Arafah.

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I used to be a person who couldn’t make du’a longer than 2 minutes.

3 things changed

1. I started writing my personalized du’as on a mini-notebook

2. I started reading du’as using Hisnul Muslim (The Fortress of the Muslim)

3. I started following the etiquettes of making du’a.

As an Imam, I have numerous meetings with members of my community. Sometimes, at the end of my meetings, I asked the community member to end our meeting with a du’a. It is surprising that many of them do not know the etiquettes of making du’a. By following the above etiquettes of making du’a, you can make du’a longer than 2 minutes inshAllah!

Here are 16 etiquettes of making du’a from the Qur’an and Sunnah

1) Have 100% conviction that Allah will answer you

2) Find a way to praise Allah before making your request

3) Use the proper names of Allah

4) Send salutations upon Muhammad (upon him be peace)

5) Raise your hand like a beggar

6) Face the qibla

7) Be in a state of wudu

8) Cry

9) Be a lone wolf (Be alone)

10) Ensuring that your food is pure

11) Acknowledge your sins (Privately)

12) Repeat the du’a 3 times

13) Start the du’a by praying for yourself

14) Expand your heart, pray for everyone (in particular those Muslims in China who wish they could fast on the day of ‘Arafah, but they are prohibited from doing so.)

15) Say Amin after making du’a.

16) Make du’a during the “prime-times” (From Dhur till Maghrib on the day of Arafah is primetime!)

Bonus tip: If you’re like me, you may get stuck when making du’a. An excellent tip given by our master Muhammad (upon him be peace) is to use the “filler du’a”. This “filler du’a” was actually what Muhammad (upon him be peace) and all of the Prophets made on the day of Arafat!

He said, “The best invocation is that of the Day of Arafat, and the best that anyone can say is what I and the Prophets before me have said:

Lā ‘ilāha ‘illallāhu

wahdahu lā shareeka lahu,

lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu

wa Huwa ‘alā kulli shay’in qadeer.

Translation:

None has the right to be worshipped but Allah

Alone, Who has no partner.

His is the dominion and His is the praise,

and He is Able to do all things. (Al-Tirmidhi)

To recap, here are 5 action items you and your family can perform on the day of Arafah.

1. Go over the following hadith with your family members.

“Allah frees far more people from Hellfire on the Day of Arafah than on any other day, and Allah comes closer this day and proudly says to the angels, ‘What do these people want and seek?’” (Sunan an-Nasa’i)

2. Say to your family members or whoever you have influence over,

“The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) made du’a on the day of Arafah from Dhur till Maghreb. How long do you think we can make du’a for on this day?”

3. Go over the 16 etiquettes mentioned in this post.

4. Challenge your family members to make a 10 minute du’a.

     Materials needed

  • Whiteboard
  • Markers
  • A Creative mind
  • Brainstorm with your family members what du’a you want to make and then write them on a whiteboard.

5. Whenever you get stuck and you can’t don’t know what du’a you want to make, make the “filler du’a” the Prophet (upon him be peace) made on the day of ‘Arafah.

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 19: My Mercy Encompasses All Things

Now that we have learnt about when the angels surround us, let’s now talk about how Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy encompasses all things.

We say بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ  (bismillah Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem) a lot, right? It means ‘in the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.’ 

We say it when we pray, before we eat, and we’re encouraged to say it before we begin any new task. But do we really understand what rahma (mercy) means? 

Question: What do you think rahma means?

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Do you know that the word rahma comes from the root word, رحم (rahim), which means womb? 

Question: Who can tell me what a womb is?

That’s right. A baby is usually in their mommy’s womb for 40 weeks. The baby gets all the nourishment it requires; the temperature in the womb is perfect, the nutrients are always administered, it is safe and warm. All the baby has to do is grow, and alhamdulillah all its needs are being met. 

Question: How do you think the womb relates to Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy?

Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy is constantly surrounding us like a safety net. That doesn’t mean that we’ll never experience any pain, but Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is constantly showing us mercy with every breath we take. Even blinking is a mercy from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that we don’t even have to think about. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) even has more mercy for us than a mother has for her own child! 

One day the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was walking with a group of his companions, and they passed by a woman who was frantically looking for her child. She would take any child to her breast and try to feed him/her. Then the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to the companions: “Do you think that this lady can throw her son in the fire?” We replied, “No, if she has the power not to throw it (in the fire).” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) then said, “Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is more merciful to His slaves than this lady to her son.”

And guess what? There’s even more mercy in the hereafter than we’re experiencing right now. 

Salman al-Farisi reported: The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Verily, on the day Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) created the heavens and earth, He created one hundred parts of mercy. Each part can fill what is between heaven and earth. He made one part of mercy for the earth, from it a mother has compassion for her child, animals and birds have compassion for each other. On the Day of Resurrection, He will perfect this mercy.” [Sahih Muslim]

99 parts of mercy on the Day of Judgment! That is one reason why it’s so important to have a good opinion of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)! Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) even tells us in Surat Al-A’raaf:

وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ ۚ

“My mercy encompasses all things” (Surat Al-A’raaf; 156]

And you all, my dears, are all encompassed by Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy, alhamdulillah. 

 

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The Inner Dimensions of the Udhiyah

Apart from Ḥajj, the greatest action a Muslim can do in the blessed days of Dhū al-ijjah is to offer the udḥiyah (qurbāni/sacrifice).

‘Āisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) reports that Rasūlullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A human does no action from the actions of the Day of Naḥr [slaughtering; refers to the day of Eid al-Adḥā] more beloved to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) than sacrificing the animal. On the Day of Judgement, it will appear with its horns, and hair, and hooves, and indeed the blood will be accepted by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) before it even falls upon the ground, so let your heart delight in it.” [Tirmidhī]

Although we all know that this is an action that is traditionally performed on Eid al-Adā, a lack of understanding of its reality has led some to question the importance of doing it in the first place. In past years, and increasingly during the current pandemic, many have been asking, “Can I give ṣadaqah (charity) instead?”

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To answer this, it is necessary to understand the following.1 Everything in this world is comprised of an outer form – an appearance and a desired outcome – a “soul.” These two are intertwined in such a way that separating them is impossible. One cannot survive without the other. The clearest example of this reality is in ourselves.

سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ

“Soon we will show them Our Signs in the horizons [external] and in themselves [internal] until it becomes clear to them that it is the Truth.” [Surah Fussilat; 53]

We are made of a body, which is comprised of several parts, and a soul, which fills the entire body and allows each part to fulfill its unique function. Without a body, our soul cannot survive, and without a soul, our body cannot survive. Additionally, if any part is missing, the whole person will be considered to have some deficiency. Likewise, the same principle applies to our n. Our n has an outer form, which is comprised of the actions that we perform, and a soul as well. The fact of the matter is that our goal in life is to achieve a complete connection with Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). The Quran identifies this quality with the word taqwā. The soul that permeates our entire n and therefore, all our individual actions is taqwā. All these actions display a different aspect of taqwā and together form complete n in a person. If anything is missing, a person’s n will be deficient.

For example, the soul of ṣalāh is the portion of taqwā that relates to expressing humility in front of Allāh. The soul of fasting is the portion of taqwā that relates to suppressing one’s desires for Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). The soul of is adaqah is the portion of taqwā that relates to curing one’s love for wealth by donating in the path of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Each of these things is necessary, and although they are all types of taqwā, they are not interchangeable. To expand on this, imagine that a person had $100 in cash, $100 worth of food, and $100 worth of furniture.2 The values of all three would be the same, but the functions they perform are different. None is more important than the other but all are necessary.

Similarly, a person cannot discard the outer form (different forms of ibādāt) and say that the only thing that matters is the soul (taqwā). If this were the case, our entire religion could be discarded. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

لَن يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَٰكِن يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَىٰ مِنكُمْ ۚ

“Neither their flesh reaches Allāh nor their blood (the udḥiyah animal); it is your taqwā that reaches Him.” [Al Hajj; 37]

There goes udḥiyah. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“Oh you who have believed, fasting has been prescribed on you as it has been prescribed upon those before you so that you may become people of taqwā.” [Surah Al-Baqarah; 183]

There goes fasting.

 إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ ۗ

“Verily ṣalāh prevents indecency and sin” (in essence, taqwā) [Surah al-‘Ankabut; 45]

Ṣalāh can also be put to the side.

لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ

“Virtue is that one sincerely believes in Allāh, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the Prophets and, out of His love, spend of one’s choice wealth for relatives and orphans, for the needy and the wayfarer, for beggars and for the ransom of slaves, and establish ṣalāh and give zakāh. And the virtuous are those who keep their pledges when they make them and show fortitude in hardships and adversity and in the struggle between the Truth and falsehood; such are the truthful people, and such are the people of taqwā.” [Surah Al-Baqarah; 77]

There goes our entire dīn.

The soul of udḥiyah is that portion of taqwā that expresses our total submission to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). “O Allāh, my life is in your Hands. Do with it whatever you wish!” The actual command was to sacrifice the thing that is most dear to you – a life. And in Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) case, the life of his only child. The life of the child who for decades, he prayed and hoped for. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) commanded Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) in a dream to sacrifice his beloved son, Ismā’īl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) said, “My beloved son, I have seen that I was sacrificing you in dream. What do you think?” Without hesitation, Ismā’īl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) responded, “O my beloved father, do as you have been commanded. Inshā Allāh, you will find me among the patient.” When Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) tried to push the knife on his son’s neck, it became dull and “We called on to him, O Ibrahīm! You have surely fulfilled your dream. This is how we reward those of excellence. Indeed, this was a clear test. We ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice.” [As-Saffat; 100-107]. From that day until the end of time, Muslims have and will continue emulate this sacrifice of Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) as a reminder of what true submission is.

When standing before Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), we will need to present all types of taqwā. If we were to have a surplus of one type, for example, ṣadaqah, we would be rewarded for it, but that would not change the fact that something else is missing. If we were to tell our child to make sure that their room is clean for Eid and, instead of doing that, they cooked a delicious meal, we would thank them for their gesture, but then say that there is a time and place for everything and this time is for cleaning your room.

The purpose of ṣadaqah is to cleanse our hearts from the love of wealth by giving it to the poor. Although it is recommended to give a portion of the sacrifice to the poor, it is not the purpose, nor is it a requirement for its validity. The purpose of udḥiyah is to follow the command of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), in the way that He commanded it. In the past, and even now in some agrarian societies, the most beloved belonging to many people was their animals. This is because unlike other wealth, animals serve many purposes. They are a means of milk and clothing, a status symbol, a means of breeding, and also can be sold or eaten. To sacrifice an animal was truly a great sacrifice.

However, times have changed. Yet due to this very reason, udḥiyah is still a sacrifice, especially in America. We are used to the comforts of our home and would much rather donate money than take a day off from work and spend time, money, and energy in going to a farm and performing the udḥiyah. This is our sacrifice. We cannot abandon this great act.3,4

May Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) preserve our pristine religion in the manner it was practiced by Rasūlullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his companions.

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“Surely my prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allāh alone, the Sustainer of Universe. He has no partner. This is what I have been ordered, and I am the first to submit.” [Al-An’am; 162]

و ما توفيقي إلا باالله عليه توكلت و إليه أنيب

[1] The concept of actions having an outer form and inner soul were expanded upon in the Khutbāt of Hakīm al-Ummah Mawlāna Ashraf Alī Thanvī (throughout volume 16 – Barakāt e Ramaḍān) and Hakīm al-Islām Qāri Muḥammad Ṭayyib رحمهما الله تعالى رحمةً واسعةً . Qāri Ṭayyib specifically spoke about this concept in relation to the udḥiyah (Sunnat e Khalīl ‘Alayh al-Salām, volume 3, page 211). I benefited from these works immensely in the course of writing this article and hope the readers appreciate the depth and foresight of our pious predecessors’ foresight.

[2] This general idea – actions of being of the same value but different types – is proposed by ‘Allāma Ibn Taymiyyah and mentioned by Muftī Rashīd Aḥmad Ludhiyanvi رحمهما الله تعالى رحمةً واسعةً  in Aḥsan al-Fatāwā in relation to another topic, but the concept fits here as well.

[3] This article is not meant to say that having someone else perform your sacrifice by sending it overseas is invalid. Its purpose is to explain that the sacrifice itself is an important part of our dīn, and its full benefit will be realized when we perform the sacrifice by ourselves. It should also be noted that perhaps the reason that there is confusion over why the sacrifice cannot be substituted with ṣadaqah and thus, the distinction between the two is not clear.

[4] This article was started before the current pandemic. In a situation like this, if someone does not feel comfortable from a health perspective to perform the sacrifice on their own, they can appoint someone else to perform it for them, whether here or overseas. However, the current situation does not allow for ṣadaqah to be given in place of the sacrifice. Many ahadith (Bukhārī, Ahadith 968, 984, 985; ‘Ilā al-Sunan 17:212-217) indicate that the sacrifice is wājib. A wājib act cannot be substituted based simply on our thoughts or opinions. For more details on the obligation of the sacrifice, please read Muftī Abdullah Nana’s upcoming article about the fiqh of the udḥiyah.

* Two more points should be kept in mind. First, despite the pandemic, people have not stopped eating meat. In the current climate, if one is not able to perform the sacrifice by themselves, having it done in another country will also be a means of helping others. In fact, for many, Eid al-Adhā is the only time of the year that they able to eat meat. Second, we must broaden our thinking about charity. Our charity should not be restricted to only those things that are obligated upon us by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) such as zakāh and udḥiyah. If Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed us with the means,  we should strive to give ṣadaqah above and beyond these obligated act.

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