Ibrahim’s wife [Haajar] asked him, “To whom are you leaving us?” And in certain al-Bukhari narrations, she repeated this question or plea over and over again, yet throughout, he did not turn around to answer her; finally, she said, “Did Allāh order you to do this?” He ‘alayhi salam said, “Yes.” She said, “Then He will not allow us to waste away (or perish).” In another narration, she said, “I am pleased with Allāh (i.e., with His decree and with being placed in His care).” She did not, however, say, “There are priorities. Instead of leaving us in this barren desert, you should take us with you, for we can then help you in calling others to the way of Allāh.”
If we know that a command is from Allāh subhanahu wa ta’ala, we must only do as the mother of Isma’il did: answer and obey. Being pleased with Allāh’s decree, she began to move briskly from al-Safa to al-Marwa, now hoping to find water, and now fearing for her son who was on the verge of dying.
Some who have weak faith might say, “This was the calamity of near death for the child! What did this experience benefit him, his father, or his mother!” Such people do not appreciate the jihad and patience and sacrifices of Ibrahim alayhi salam and his family; instead, such people uphold a purely worldly view – the very view that has effectively struck down our Nation.
From a realistic and sensible point of view, let us ask, what were the fruits of Ibrahim’s and his wife’s obedience to Allāh subhanahu wa ta’ala? They are fruits that were reaped not just by Ibrahim ‘alayhi salam, his wife, and his child; rather they are fruits that every Islamic Monotheist on the face of the earth has reaped and will continue to reap until the coming of the Hour.
Muslims come to Makkah in throngs from both the east and the west. They are happy and contented because they are making circuits between al-Safa and al-Marwa, in the same place that the mother of Isma’il performed the same circuits. They come from far-off lands in order to train themselves to obey Allāh’s commandments. As they move briskly between the two said mountains, they reflect on how the mother of Isma’il raced back and forth in a state of pain and sadness, placing obedience to her Lord before all else.
Then, by the permission of Allāh, the water of Zamzam gushed forth, water that contains a cure to diseases and sickness and that is blessed and excellent. To this very day, Muslims are eager to drink as much as they can from that very same water and to transport it to their homelands, no matter the distance and the hardships involved.
And Ibrahim ‘alayhi salam built the Inviolable House.The rewards of praying there are many times greater than the rewards of praying elsewhere. People also achieve the rewards of performing tawaf around the Ka’bah, and their supplications are answered. These are the benefits that extend beyond those who obeyed to those that came after them.
Then let us too be obedient to our Lord, even if doing so apparently involves some fatigue, hardship – or even death. Let us forbid ourselves from disobedience and transgression. Will we not then consider and reflect?
A similar lesson can be found in the story of how Musa’s mother, by the command of Allāh subhanahu wa ta’ala, threw her child into the river.
وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى أُمِّ مُوسَى أَنْ أَرْضِعِيهِ فَإِذَا خِفْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَأَلْقِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ وَلَا تَخَافِي وَلَا تَحْزَنِي إِنَّا رَادُّوهُ إِلَيْكِ وَجَاعِلُوهُ مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ
And we inspired the mother of Musa, saying: “Suckle him [Musa], but when you fear for him, then cast him into the river and fear not, nor grieve. Verily! We shall bring him back to you, and shall make him one of (Our) Messengers.” (Al-Qasas 28:7)
When Allāh subhanahu wa ta’ala commanded Musa’s mother to throw her child into the river, she could only obey. If she had been seen by someone who knew not of her circumstances, her action would have appeared to have been precipitated by a fit of madness, for how would she or Musa ‘alayhi salam benefit from her casting him into a river? Yet in the end, the benefits of her action were beyond what any person could have imagined. Because she obeyed Allāh’s command, her child was safely returned to her. She was saved from sadness, and instead became pleased, knowing that Allāh’s promise is true. And her son, Musa ‘alayhi salam, became from “The Messengers of Strong Will.” (1)
When you are told to do something, do not ask, “What is the benefit of doing this?” But instead say, “Did Allāh order me to do this? Did the Messenger salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa salam order me to do this? Is there any established proof from revelation regarding this matter?” After all, our happiness lies in the obedience of Allāh subhanahu wa ta’ala, even though some acts of obedience seemingly involve a certain degree of fatigue or hardship. Conversely, utter and true misery lies in turning away from Allāh’s commands, even if doing so seemingly offers a life of comfort and happiness in this world.
One does well to reflect on the reason why stories like these are related in the Qur’an and Sunnah. They are not related to entertain, but rather to serve as a reminder and to strengthen the hearts of the believers.
وَكُـلاًّ نَّقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ مِنْ أَنبَاء الرُّسُلِ مَا نُثَبِّتُ بِهِ فُؤَادَكَ
And all that We relate to you (O Muhammad salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) of the news of the Messengers is in order that We may make strong and firm your heart thereby.
1. Refer to the Qur’aan: 46:35
- Transcribed from: Governing Yourself and Your Family According to What Allah Has Revealed| Shaykh Husayn al-’Awayishah