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Eid Khutbah: Timeless Lessons from Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH)

Allah is Great. Allah is Great. Allah is Great.

All glory and praise be to God, the Creator and Lord of all beings.

We thank Him for His blessings: for the gift of life, health, family, community, peace, and prosperity we enjoy and take for granted in our country, Canada.

I bear witness there is no god but God; He is One; and has no partner. I also bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and final messenger. May Allah bless him and his family and his companions and all those who follow their ways until the end of times.

Brothers and sisters,

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Today we are celebrating the great Festival of Sacrifice.

We join with millions of Muslims all over the world including the millions of pilgrims who are celebrating after completing the most important rituals of Hajj.

Eidul Adha is a time of thanksgiving and prayers; it is a time to express joy, share blessings and celebrate unity. 

It is also a time of reflection as we commemorate the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him).

We reflect on his message of faith, sacrifice, and trust in God.

Faith in God: The Pillar of Prophet Ibrahim’s Journey

The Quran tells us that Prophet Ibrahim discovered the meaning of faith in God by observing natural phenomena.

His reflections and critical questioning led him to realize the important truth that the Creator of the universe is One, Incomparable and Transcendent.

Therefore, it is a great folly to attribute divinity to created beings.

The creation is transient and vanishing, while God alone is eternally alive.

Tawhid or recognizing the transcendence of God is the most significant lesson we learn from the story of Prophet Ibrahim.

One of the greatest errors in religious history has been mixing up the two realms: the realm of the Creator and the realm of creation.

Abraham arrived at this truth after observing the transient quality of nature:

{And thus, We showed Ibrahim God’s sovereignty over the heavens and the earth, and thus he became one of those who attained firm faith (in God).} (Al-An`am 6:75)

He did not stop at his intellectual discovery; instead, he internalized it and transformed it into a way of life.

The Prophet Muhammad is called to witness this moral vision:

{Say, my Lord has guided me to the Straight Path, a perfect way, the faith of Abraham, the upright, who was not one of those who ascribed partners for God. And say, certainly my worship, my sacrifice, my life, and my death are all for God-Lord of the worlds.} (Al-An`am 6: 161-162)

Tawhid means accepting God’s sovereignty and rejecting the worship of idols and false deities, including one’s own whims and fancies.

Defying Anthropocentrism: Following Prophet Ibrahim’s Guiding Light

One of the greatest challenges facing humanity today is anthropocentrism, which places man at the center of the universe instead of God.

It has resulted in moral relativism; thus, the values and norms that humankind have cherished throughout history have been replaced by the ever-changing whims and fancies of fallible men and women.

Consequently, the distinction between good and bad, right and wrong, moral and immoral, virtue and sin have been erased.

These are no longer considered to be in the realm of God, as shared through various scriptures, with the final message being the noble Qu’ran.

Such a distorted worldview has been promoted today at the expense of authentic religious beliefs and practices.

Muslims as well as those who believe in God’s sovereignty should unite to face this challenge.  

In this struggle, let us take Abraham as our role model.

Complete Submission to Allah

Ibrahim’s faith taught him to surrender his will to the will of God. He was willing to go to any length to sacrifice for the sake of God. God ordered him to take his wife Hagar and son Ismaeel to settle them in a barren desert. He trusted in God’s promise. So, today, by a miracle, that barren place is a thriving city; it is the greatest site of pilgrimage on the face of the earth visited all year round by millions of people.

That city is Makkah where the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was born; his coming was the fulfillment of yet another promise of God to the Prophet Ibrahim.

Today we are called upon to relive the ideals of faith, sacrifice, and trust in God that Abraham, Ismael, and Hagar treasured and practiced.

One of the messages we learn from Ibrahim and Hajar is that we may not immediately see the fruits of our trust and struggle; that the yield may be down the line; that we may not live to see the day that it blooms but we continue living by the codes set by Allah always.

These codes include unchanging morals and values that may seem outdated and strange today.

While a commitment to do so includes unwavering firmness in the face of the moral ambiguity that arises from centering man and not God, it also includes a commitment to the values of generosity, compassion and humility.

The Beautiful Faith

In the struggle to live lives centering God, we must never lose sight of establishing the beautiful struggle.

Our Prophetic traditions are: “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty”

and “Gentleness beautifies everything.” 

This message is relevant today as the world is moving more and more towards senseless violence, hatred, racism, and warmongering.  

The ways of fascism, the exercising of irrational anger are not the ways of the Muslim.

As the Muslim philosopher, Ibn Rushd, said, “Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hate, and hate leads to violence.”

Ibrahim taught us to befriend strangers; he had a part of his tent always open to welcome strangers; he invited them over to partake in his feast.

Today we must open our hearts to others; we need to embrace human brotherhood. That is the message of hajj, and the core message of Islam: when struggling in God’s way, it is with the highest ideals of compassion and mercy.

A Religion that Erases the Race Problem

Malcolm-X learned this lesson. He went to Makkah as a Black nationalist and came back as a believer in the universal brotherhood of humankind. He sent this message to American friends:

“In my thirty-nine years on this earth, the Holy City of Mecca had been the first time I had ever stood before the Creator of All and felt like a complete human being.”

“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases the race problem from its society.”

Malcolm X was a man who experienced the bitter fruits of racism from which America still reels!

So much blood is spilled because of racism and prejudice, because of the refusal to recognize the other as oneself, of the refusal to understand struggles beyond our own.

Bigotry was the motivation behind the cold-blooded murder of the worshippers in the mosques in New Zealand and Quebec City, and took innocent lives in London, Ontario. In Palestine, Myanmar, India, Sudan and too many places; it has been unleashing violence against Muslims, Christians, and other minorities.

The root of this is the belief in the superiority of oneself over another.

Islam cuts at the roots of this ideology by teaching the sacred bond of shared humanity. This is the message that the Prophet Muhammad delivered in his farewell sermon:

“O mankind, your Lord is One, and your father is one.”

“Your lives and possessions are inviolable until you meet your Lord.”

This central message of peace and sacred space is the soul of hajj.

The Cost of Ignoring Nature’s Balance

Hajj also teaches us to treat the earth with respect; a hajji is not supposed to cut or touch or harm any living being, not even a blade of grass.

We need this message today.

The world is witnessing unprecedented calamities and tragedies because of our reckless plundering of the earth and its resources. As we speak now, wildfires are burning out of control in various parts of Canada.

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre says about 2,285 fires have burned 37,000 square kilometers so far this year! It is “unprecedented”.

The Quran warns us that we will reap the fruits of our recklessness when we fail to live in harmony with the environment.

{Corruption has become rampant on land and sea because of what people have earned by their acts, to make them taste some of what they have done, so that they may turn back.} (Ar-rum 30:41).

One of the most significant challenges facing us is to break free of those addictions that create a disconnect with nature.

Reuniting with God’s Creation and Each Other

Summer is a great time to reintroduce ourselves and our children to the natural world around us; to provide opportunities to interact with the environment; to let us and them develop and explore our spiritual and emotional connections with the living world of wildlife, of plants and landscapes, and the cosmos. 

Nature therapy is one of the key ways to wean us off our addictions to our devices and the online world. Such addictions have the most damaging effect not only on our abilities to read, analyze, and reason; more importantly, they also adversely affect our abilities to interact and connect with each other.  

Let us face this challenge by developing opportunities and creative outlets and programs to engage in projects that implant a love for nature and a love for God’s creation.

The change must start from our homes, masajid, schools and our communities.

The various challenges facing us today may seem formidable and insurmountable.

However, we must take to heart the lessons from Ibrahim and Hagar. They taught us to work hard by putting our trust in God. They taught us that in doing so, we will be assured of the light at the end of the tunnel.

Let us come back to God; and adhere to the essential truths of our religious traditions.

And let us learn to recognize the enemy within as we place our egos and desires as gods beside God.

Let us refuse to give in to human failings and weaknesses, and stand apart from supporting views of morality that don’t align with those values that humankind has cherished through God’s guidance throughout time.

Let us not leave this place except by committing ourselves to accepting all as our brothers and sisters.

To bring peace through caring for others, not through rejection of any soul.

To love God’s creation and treat the earth as our friend and as a sanctuary.

Let us not forget our dear ones who are not with us; many of them were with us in the previous years. May the All-Merciful One shower them with His mercy and forgiveness.

May the Beneficent Lord turn in mercy towards those who are suffering from ailments and health challenges; may He send down healing and cure upon them.

And may He grant them patience to overcome the difficulties.

Let us not forget the many millions suffering from wars of occupation and aggression and racism.

Let us never forget the people of Kashmir, Palestine, Rohingya, Muslims in Xinjiang, Sudan, the victims of brutal wars in Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere. Let us not forget the wildfire victims in Quebec.

Let us pray to Allah to guide us to the way of peace and harmony.

Let us pray that our children and grandchildren remain protected from the virus of racism, agnosticism, and atheism sweeping all over the world.

And may Allah guide those who are going astray to the straight path.

And may He guide us all and guide others through us and make us instruments of guidance.

About Sheikh Ahmad Kutty
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty is a Senior Lecturer and an Islamic Scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada