On this day, I was asked again by the Sri Lankan Muslim Association to lead the eid prayer and give a sermon. Given the examination period, the sermon was not as intense as the 'Eidulfitr sermon. Nevertheless, the main thing was to convey the lessons learnt from 'Eiduladha.
The sermon took place at a community hall in Oakleigh.
Praise is to Allah who hath guided us to this; and we would not have been guided if Allah had not guided us. We praise Him, we seek His help, and we ask for His forgiveness. Whomever Allah guides, no one can lead him astray, and whoever is led astray by the will of Allah, no one can bring him back.
We bear witness that there is but one Allah, and Muhammad S.A.W. as his messenger, and the last messenger appointed by Allah.
O servants of Allah! Fear Allah! Fear Allah the way He deserves to be feared. And do not die as Muslims in full state of submission to Allah.
My dear brothers and sisters,
Today we celebrate the day of ‘Eidul-adha, in conjunction with two important things in Islam;
1. The ritual of hajj, which makes one of the five pillars of Islam
2. The ritual of sacrifice, to enliven the symbol that was performed by the prophet Ibrahim a.s.
With the conjunction of hajj which has been made compulsory by Allah to those who can afford so; they answer the call of Allah to perform hajj.
“…and pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, (upon) everyone who is able to undertake the journey to it; and whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is Self-sufficient, above any need of the worlds.”
Ever since the month of Shawwal, people have been on pilgrims to gather at the holy city of Makkah to answer the call of Allah, they answer with hearts of faith, performing what has been appealed by prophet Ibrahim a.s.; performing the hajj, worshipping the one Lord, facing in the one direction, following the path of prophet Muhammad S.A.W., and becoming an ummah that has been united under Islam, as how Allah S.W.T. has commanded:
“The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive Mercy.”
The prophet Muhammad S.A.W. is the last prophet appointed by Allah as the messenger to mankind, which comprises of different nations and descendants, of different backgrounds, rank, wealth, and knowledge. They have been called upon to unite in the name of Islam, as how Allah has advised in the Quran:
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”
From a distance everyone looks the same; they wear the same garments, each of them not revealing their racial background, be they Arabs, Africans, Europeans, or Asians. No one knows who is a president, who is a cleaner, who is a minister, who is a civil servant.
The ritual of hajj witnesses the mass gathering of Muslims from the far corners of the world, glorifying the oneness of Allah upon wearing their ihram clothings by chanting the talbiyah,
“Here I am at Thy service O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Thy service and Thou hast no partners. Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine alone is The Sovereignty. Thou hast no partners."
They gathered despite their differences in nationality and language, not being able to understand each other’s conversations, with different ways of life, with different cultures and situations; some being too rough, some being too soft, and some being mediocre.
And in those situations, they have been commanded to perform hajj with the spirit of brotherhood, which becomes a test for them.
“For Hajj are the months well known. If anyone undertakes that duty therein, Let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj. And whatever good ye do, (be sure) Allah knoweth it. And take a provision (With you) for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me, o ye that are wise.”
My dear brothers and sisters,
Today we are reminded again of the life of Ibrahim a.s., the prophet chosen by Allah, who became an example and role model to all of mankind. Allah said,
“And who would be averse to the religion of Abraham except one who makes a fool of himself. And We had chosen him in this world, and indeed he, in the Hereafter, will be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, "Submit", he said "I have submitted [in Islam] to the Lord of the worlds.” And Abraham instructed his sons [to do the same] and [so did] Jacob, [saying], "O my sons, indeed Allah has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you are Muslims."
[Al-Baqarah, 2:130 – 132]
Ibrahim’s state of Islam was shown with full submission to Allah, willingly prepared to face Namrud, king of Babylon, the strongest empire of his time. Ibrahim did not submit to Namrud and his government, nor did he submit to his father who supported Namrud to an extent where he was sentenced to death by fire, ousted from his homeland by Namrud and his father.
He was then ordered to send his family; his wife Hajar and son Ismail a.s. to a dry valley where there were no foliage, no living soul, no water, and no fire. Ibrahim fulfilled the obligation with total obedience.
When he left his wife and son, he was asked by his wife,
“Did Allah command you to do this?”
“Then Allah will not abandon us.”
Hajar too submitted to Allah, willingly left alone with her son in the valley without anyone to accompany them. Yet under such circumstances, she managed to hold steadfast while tending to the young Ismail. And when the situation reached its climax, Allah bestowed upon them the well of Zam Zam.
This goes to show that it is Allah who bestows upon us all that we have; wealth, health, scholarships, ease of life; not kings, nor governments, nor people with high ranks. They are but trust holders to all that belongs to Allah. It also shows that Allah’s bounty exists even in unthinkable places.
When Ismail reached an age where he could walk, and where he could help his father with his works, Ibrahim was tested with a command from Allah that he sacrifice his son.
“And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, "O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think." He said, "O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast."”
Ismail who was still young believed in his father’s prophecy, believed in Allah’ commands. And because it was Allah’s command, it must be fulfilled. We belong to Allah. It is He who has created us, who has given us the blessing of life, who has given us all the faculties that we have. All of it belongs to Allah.
Ibrahim knows that he belongs to Allah, and whatever Allah asks, he must fulfil, even though it meant sacrificing his beloved son.
When the command was about to be fulfilled, Allah commanded Jibril to nullify the command, stating that it was merely a test of faith. That is the meaning of Islam, the meaning of submitting to Allah; willing to sacrifice even the priceless of possessions for His cause.
Let us evaluate ourselves. Are we really Muslims who wholeheartedly submit to Allah; believing and accepting all the laws that relate to his Oneness even though we have never seen Him, the laws that relate to His angels, rewards and sins, and the hereafter even though we have never seen them?
The laws that relate to ourselves; Allah’s command that we cover ourselves, that we take only what is Halal and leave all those that are prohibited, that we marry and not commit adultery, and all the laws that define what is good and what is evil?
A true Muslim submits himself to all of His commands. Whatever He commands is beneficial for us, and whatever he prohibits is nothing but disadvantages for us in this life and the hereafter.
A true Muslim never doubts ever for a minute all the laws that Allah has prescribed even but a single letter.
Sadly though, there are many Muslims today who object to these laws, insisting that the teachings of Islam are not conducive in this time and age, insisting that the laws are discriminatory when they know and admit that all the laws found in the Quran and sunnah are authentic. For these people, Allah has questioned them in the Quran,
'Say, "Would you acquaint Allah with your religion while Allah knows whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, and Allah is Knowing of all things?"'
In this verse, Allah is asking them, “Are you trying to teach Me about how life should be led when you know very well that I know best of all the things I have created?”
We are all the creation of Allah, thus only He knows what is best for us.
My dear brothers and sisters,
Never even for once in your life think that just because we were born as Muslims, having inherited the religion of Islam from our ancestors that we have already a first-class ticket to enter Paradise. Just because we are readily Muslims does not give us the authority to live life as if there were no rules.
Even though we have been chosen by Allah to be in the right path, there are chances that somewhere along the way we will be led astray. An opportunity given to a student to enter university does not guarantee his leaving with a certificate. There are chances that he may drop out.
“Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, "When is the help of Allah?" Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.”
This life is filled with challenges. Whatever we wish to achieve, we must work for it. There are times when Allah grants us of what we seek, and there are times when Allah does not grant it to us, or postpones it to a later time. That is why we must always be in full state of submission to Allah, for He knows what is best for us, and what is not.
This day of Adha reminds us that we must struggle to achieve our goals in life, that life is full of obstacles, and that we must face it while not losing faith in Allah. Sacrifices will have to be made along the way. Remember what Allah has reminded us,
“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…”
Ibrahim faced the threats of being burnt alive and ousted from his homeland. Hajar willingly resided in the valley with his son. Ismail willingly let himself be sacrificed. All the trouble they went through, just to fulfil Allah’s commands and to gain His pleasure. Despite the harshness and complications they had to endure, they went through it, believing that Allah will never abandon them. They were the chosen ones, and the beloved of Allah. We ourselves are but ordinary people, thus we have to remind ourselves that we have no provision of being trouble-free.
Only Allah and He alone has the power of determining our fate, our wealth, and our tranquillity. No man, no king, no president, and no government have such power over us. Bear that in mind. Work for it, and submit to Allah that He may grant you of what you desire.
“Let them worship the Lord of this House, who provides them with food against hunger, and with security against fear (of danger).”
My dear brothers and sisters,
If a person loves someone he will do everything in his power to please the latter and hopefully achieve something in return. But if he hates the latter, he will do all that he can to fuel that sense of hatred.
If we love Allah, then we should submit wholeheartedly to him, and do everything in our capacity to gain His pleasure, and to abide by all his commands.
“Say, [O Muhammad], "If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful."
Let us on this day feel the greatness of the reward of Islam and Iman bestowed upon us by Allah. In fact, we should feel very proud of it. Only death while in faith and Islam will be acknowledged by Allah.
“O you who believe! Fear Allah the way he deserves to be feared. And do not die except as Muslims in full state of submission to Allah.”
Remember that on this day Muslims from all walks of life have gathered in the holy city of Makkah. Let this be living proof that despite coming from different backgrounds, we are but brothers; we submit to one Allah jalla jalaluh, we acknowledge that the prophet Muhammad S.A.W. is His messenger and our role model, we make the Quran and sunnah as our guide in life, and we prostrate the same direction.
Once we are Muslims, there is nothing that segregates us in any way, with the exception of our level of taqwa.
We ask Allah to keep us in the right path and avoid us from being led astray.