We are officially halfway through Ramadan! Only 15 days to go!
Every year is the same: The first fifteen days drag and feel so long, yet the last fifteen days go by so quickly. Fifteen days seems so short when thinking about Eid. I am so excited for Eid! Ramadan may not be the Christmas of Islam, but Eid is. 🙂
Today was a good day, alhamdulillah. I recorded another henna tutorial, got together with a friend who I haven’t seen in months, ate some really good food for iftar and dinner, and read one of my favorite stories so far in the Qur’an. Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah. (If you don’t know, “alhamdulillah” means “Praise be to God”) Good days are truly a blessing from God.
I’m just going to go straight into the story. I’ve made it to Surah 37 in the English Qur’an, called Surah As-Saffat. I have three different translations of the Qur’an, and they all give a different meaning for “As-Saffat”, but they’re all related: “Ranged in Rows”, “The Ranks”, or “The Rows of People (Arranged by their Rank)”. It tells the story of various prophets, and the one I want to focus on is the story of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (A) and Prophet Ismail (Ishmael) (A). I first learned this story in kindergarten and I’ve been awestruck by it ever since. It was so special for me to be able to read the story from the Qur’an itself. It’s not very long, so I’ll quote the whole thing. The story is told in ayahs 99-111:
“And he (Ibrahim) said: ‘Verily, I am going to my Lord! He will surely guide me!
Oh my Lord! Grant me (a progeny) of the righteous!’
So, We gave him the good news of a boy ready (ready to be born) to suffer and be patient.
And when (his son, Ismail) became (the age to) work with him, he (Ibrahim) said: ‘Oh my son! I see in a dream that I offer you in sacrifice (to God): Now see what is your thought!’ (The son) said: ‘Oh my father! Do like you are commanded: You will find me, if God so wills one who has (great) patience (and consistency)!’
Then, when they both had submitted their wills (to God’s Wish), and he (Ibrahim) laid him (his son, Ismail) to prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),
We called out to him, ‘Oh Ibrahim!
You have already fulfilled your vision!’ – Verily, thus We do reward those who do good.
Indeed, it was clearly a trial-
And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (with that of a ram):
And We left for him (this blessing) in the generation to follow in later times:
‘Peace be upon Ibrahim’
Verily, thus do We reward those who do good.
Indeed, he was one of Our believing servants”
(From what I’ve learned in school, because Ibrahim had the dream, he believed that it was an order from God to kill Ismail.)
As far as I can see, this is just about as devoted to God as it gets. Ibrahim (A) was willing to kill his own and only son because he believed it is what God wanted, and Ismail (A) was willing to let his own father kill him for that same reason. This level of faith is just something else. To be able to trust God and love him so much that you would be willing to kill the very son you prayed to have is just incredible. And, not being a parent, I’ve always connected more with Ismail in this story. He had so much faith in the afterlife, so much faith that God would reward him for following His command, and so much faith in his dad’s belief, that he gave up his life. Whenever I think of this story, I try to put myself in Ismail’s (A) position, and just can’t imagine letting someone kill me because he said that God told him to. If there was something more, some feeling Ismail (A) got that made him know that this was an order from God, it is still amazing that he had so much devotion to God to give up his life. With knowledge that there is an afterlife where we will be rewarded in a better way than we can even imagine as long as we follow God’s commands, a task like this should be easy. Yet when it really comes down to it, it requires so much faith to be able to give up this world in an instant for one we can’t see. The faith of Ibrahim (A) and Ismail (A) in this story just blows me away every single time.
And just to clarify, at the end of the story, before Ibrahim (A) actually kills Ismail (A), God sends down a ram for him to kill instead, conveying to them that they passed the test and Ismail (A) doesn’t have to die. I’ve heard people say that God is so cruel so making Ibrahim (A) kill his son, but that was never the plan. It wasn’t Ismail’s (A) time to die, so he didn’t. God always has a plan, and it is always for our own benefit.
*IFTAR PICTURE OF THE DAY*
Fruit Salad prepared by my sister and Samosas
For dinner, Pad Kee Mao from a nearby Thai restaurant