Muslims around the world are celebrating an Eid al Adha like no other. Due to COVID-19, this year’s hajj was limited to a very small number of people. Manny Muslim communities are unable to celebrate en masse due to the necessity of social distancing.
As a result, many of us are spending this Eid with only our closest family members. These are the same people we have spent countless hours with already in quarantine.
The nonstop togetherness of the lockdown has caused some friction in even the most loving of relationships. Muslim families are no exception to the phenomenon of family ties feeling suffocating, at times.
Relatives who have endured months of lockdown in close quarters tell similar stories of short tempers, complaints, boredom, anxiety, and restlessness.
If we are feeling stressed, worried, disappointed about another Islamic holiday being affected by the coronavirus, and simultaneously frustrated with being quarantined with our family members, how can we make the most of Eid al Adha?
A Family Tested
The story of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) is an example of family bonds that were put to extreme – almost unthinkable – tests. If we think living during a pandemic is tough, imagine the stress of being asked to sacrifice your beloved child. Imagine being left in a desert with a hungry infant and no source of nourishment!
These are the trials that the family of Ibrahim (pbuh) faced. Their remarkable responses to the tests still inspire and amaze us thousands of years later.
Throughout their difficulties, Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh), his wife Hajjar, and their son Ismail (pbuh) all demonstrated unshakeable faith in Allah (SWT) and each other. This Eid al Adha, let us reflect on their blessed family. How we should attempt to demonstrate even a fraction of their beautiful faith and resilience.
Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) was a very old man when Allah (SWT) finally blessed him with a son, Ismail. Imagine how delighted he was, after so many years of longing for a child! But Allah SWT tested Ibrahim and ordered him to leave his beloved wife and infant in a barren desert.
What would happen to them? How would they survive? It must have been a terribly difficult decision to abandon his loved ones, but Ibrahim (pbuh) obeyed his Lord.
As he walked away from his wife and child, Hajar called out, “O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?”
She repeated that question many times, but he did not look back at her. Then Hajar asked him, “Has Allah ordered you to do so?”
Her husband responded, “Yes.”
Hajar replied, “Then He will not neglect us.”
Imagine Hajar’s complete faith in Allah SWT! She did not despair, complain, or ask, “Why me?” And ponder on her beautiful trust in her husband. She did not blame him for abandoning her and her son. She knew that her spouse’s unexpected actions must be in response to an order from Allah (SWT).
In the marriage of Hajar and Ibrahim (pbuh) is an example of complete trust in Allah’s mercy, help, and sustenance. We see a woman who never doubted that her husband had anything the best intentions, and a man who loved his family deeply but obeyed Allah SWT completely, trusting His plan.
Of course Allah SWT did not neglect Hajar or her baby. He sent Angel Jibreel to make the water of Zam Zam flow from the ground, and Hajar and Ismail were nourished. They actually became part of a thriving community there at the new oasis, and Ismail (peace be upon him) grew up to be an outstanding man and a prophet like his father.
Prophet Ibrahim’s trials were not over, though. Years later when he was reunited with Ismail, he had a dream that he was supposed to slaughter his beloved son. At first he was disturbed and distraught. He loved and cherished Ismail and did not wish to kill him. He explained his upsetting dream to Ismail and asked his son for his opinion.
Ismail (peace be upon him) did not argue with his father, accuse him of being insane, run away, or even get angry at him! He firmly believed that his father would sacrifice his life only required by Allah SWT. So the brave young man said, “O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’Allah (if Allah wills), you shall find me of as-Sabirin (the patient ones).”
Compare Ismail’s composure and unbending faith to the attitude so many of us demonstrate when even slightly inconvenienced! It truly puts our own trials into perspective. Most of us are unwilling to do the simplest things for the sake of Allah SWT, but Ismail was willing to let his father slit his throat, if that was God’s will!
In Ibrahim and Ismail we see a father/son relationship that is firmly based on love and trust, with pleasing Allah SWT as the first priority. Their courage in adversity is astounding and we can hope that when we face trials (that are probably much less severe) we will demonstrate full certainty in Allah’s SWT wisdom and love for us.
This Eid al Adha as we celebrate together — even if the holiday is subdued compared to other years — let us cherish our families. Our relationships with each other are blessings from Allah (SWT). The bonds between us should be strengthened by love, trust, and a common goal of pleasing Allah (SWT) and being reunited in Jannah.