SACRIFICE - The Making of a Muslim: by Khurram Murad(View All Articles by: Khurram Murad)
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What does the word mean? In a wider sense, â€˜sacrificeâ€™ means giving up things which are valued or desired. Those things may be tangible, countable like time, wealth or life, or intangible, unmeasurable like feelings, attitudes, opinions or aspirations. They are given up for the sake of something that is more worthy or more important or more urgent. It is important to bear in mind, though, that primarily sacrifice means slaughter of animal as offering to Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala), and hence, surrender to Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) of some possession.
Cannot a person become a good Muslim without involving in a struggle that necessarily requires sacrifices? The answer is no. Being a Muslim requires becoming Muslim. Turning towards Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) requires both will and effort; it also entails turning away from all false gods besides Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala). It is a total change of direction, inner and outer. Progress, then depends on striving: â€˜Those who strive hard in Our way â€“ surely We shall guide them onto Our pathsâ€™
Struggle: The Indispensable Key
Not much comes to us in life without struggle. We gain only what we earn by our strivings. What purpose in life could be more valuable, more compelling, more important, more urgent, than that of bringing the whole human â€“ his inner personality, his environment, his society, the entire world â€“ to the path of Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala). Without struggling hard, merely by wishing, desiring, professing, making claims and statements, how can we ever reach our destination? If oneâ€™s daily bread cannot be earned without effort, will Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) give His greatest blessing â€“ success in this life and in the life to come â€“ unless we prove that we deserve to receive it?
Do you think that you should enter Paradise unless Allah establishes who among you have struggles hard and who are patient?
Do the men think that on their [mere] saying â€˜We believeâ€™, they will be left to themselves, and will not be put to the test? We certainly put to the test those that were before them â€¦
Sacrifice and Inner Resources
Sacrifice contributes to the success of our struggle in two ways. Firstly, they strengthen our inner spiritual and moral resources and develop qualities of character, which are essential to our struggle at every level. Secondly, they develop and reinforce cohesion and discipline within a collectivity, giving it the strength and resources to conduct struggle at a wider societal level.
Every act of sacrifice nourishes and increases our Iman; for it transforms a verbal confession and a mental conviction into a living reality. It confirms, and thus increases, our love for Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala); for at every step we give up something for the sake of this love. It reinforces our loyalty to Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala); for all other loyalties become secondary as they are sacrificed for the sake of this loyalty.
Sacrifices facilitate development of many morals but especially the development of patience, endurance, perseverance, fortitude, resolve and determination. These can be summed up in just one word: sabr. Every sacrifice reinforces the quality of sabr, making it grow in quality and strength. Sabr, in turn, sustains and increases the capacity to sacrifice.
WHAT TO SACRIFICE?
There are two types of sacrifices; tangible and intangible.
Time is our most precious commodity. Nothing we covet and desire in life can be obtained except by spending time, and spending it properly, in its pursuit. We spend our time to seek pleasure, to earn money and worldly possessions, to work, to enjoy, or we may simply idle it away â€” doing nothing.
Time is the first thing that Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) demands of us. It takes time to strive in the way of Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala). It takes times to pray. It takes times to do Dawah. It takes time to read the Qur'an. Every moment should be spent in seeking His pleasure, in fulfilling our commitment to Him.
But to give up your time for Islam, before anything else, you must be ready to sacrifice many other things which claim your time. Sacrificing time for the sake of Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) is the essence of Islam: whenever summoned, you must respond!
Worldly Possessions AND Money
The love and desire of worldly things, let us remember, is not bad or evil. Money and wealth are not despised; it is called the khayr (good). What makes this world evil is when we forget that all has been placed at our disposal for the duration of this world only, as a means to real and eternal goals. You must understand that;
Nothing belong to you; everything belongs to Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala)
Whatever great value you may attach to worldly possessions, these will become naught with your last breath.
Only by giving it away for Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) can you receive it back, increased manifold.
Think for a while: What worth can your commitment to Islam has if you spend more money on pleasures, like smoking and eating, than on your cause? Sacrificing wealth has never been easy, especially in the age when a better standard of living, enjoyment and pleasure, consumerism and material gains have become the purpose of life.
A time may come when you will be required to sacrifice your life for the sake of Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala). Not that everyone will be asked to give away his life, but the yearning to do so must burn in every heart.
Time, money, life and other similar things are no doubt hard to sacrifice. But making sacrifice of things that are intangible and abstract is not only more difficult, more important, more necessary, but also more likely to be overlooked. They include things like love and hate relationships, likes and dislikes, preferences and prejudices, desires and motives, pleasures and comforts, hopes and expectations, habits and customs, values and attitudes, status and roles, or merely the ego. Let us discuss some of these in more detail.
Familial love demands obedience to parents, to elders, to the ways of forefathers or customs and society. Such obedience, if contrary to the demands of obedience to Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) then must be given up. You must abide by your conscience, your faith, the guidance you have received from Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala).
Friendships are formed around common temperaments, interests, pursuits and goals. As Muslims you have only one goal and one pursuit: â€˜one who surrenders his whole being to Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala)â€™. Hence many friendships you will have to sacrifice. Equally significantly, many enmities and dislikes you will have to put an end to. Conversely, you will have to make new friendships: someone you may have always disliked may find a place in your heart and become dear to you.
Views and opinions
Your own views and opinions are always very dear to you. Your feelings of attachment to your views only grow stronger once you have become committed to a purpose in life. It may happen that your views â€” on a particular matter, strategy â€”- may not find acceptance by others. You may then be required to forgo them, withdraw them, or even act against them. Unless you view something as a clear matter of violating Allahâ€™s injunction, you must sacrifice your views. This may be more important for strengthening collective life than the sacrifice of wealth.
Feelings and Emotions
At times you should suppress your urge to speak, and fall silent, even if that urge is compulsive; at times you may have to overcome your desire to remain silent, and speak up. You may feel anger rising up in you, an urge to revenge, to speak evil â€” yet you must hold your tongue.
At times you may prefer solitude and quiet, yet you may have to plunge into intense social activities and contacts; at others, you may very much want to mix socially, but you may have to withdraw into solitude.
E G O
Your ego, your image of your own self, your love of this image may have to be sacrificed. Sometimes hidden, sometimes open, it lies at the root of so many evils. To annihilate â€˜selfâ€™ may be a desirable station on a mysticâ€™s path, but on the path of the prophets of Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala), the only thing required is to surrender your ego to the will of Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala). Our ego becomes so important to us that it breeds stubbornness, arrogance and contempt of others. To sacrifice it is one of the most difficult acts in life, but it has to be done.
We are required to make small sacrifices every moment of our life. For at every step we are faced with a choice. Every choice made to please Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) means taking a decision to sacrifice something. Even as you choose to offer Fajr prayer, you sacrifice your sleep and warmth of your bed. Here are some guidelines that may help;
Be alert and watchful and grab opportunities
Develop a steady and constant will
Small sacrifices can yield huge results
Donâ€™t look to sacrifice only in moments of crises
HOW TO SACRIFICE?
How to draw from within yourselves the inner resources which would generate, nourish and sustain your spirit and capacity to sacrifice? Following are some of the ingredients which will insha Allah facilitate you in this regard.
Love for Allah
Remembering Allah - Turn to Him & Seek Help
Living in His Presence
Meeting Allah - Remember Death
Grateful and Humble
Inner Urge - Drive must lie in Heart and Soul
Do it Willingly
In conclusion, many sacrifices are required from us because we have to shoulder the immense responsibility of fulfilling the mission that Allahâ€™s Messengers were charged with: â€˜That you be witnesses unto humankind.â€™ Without making sacrifices the revival of Islam will always remain a matter of speeches or a matter of dreams. To actualize it, we will have to give up our time and wealth, our life and resources, our personal likes and dislikes.
Even our best efforts, however, may not be perfect, We may waver and falter, and we may fail and despair. But this is only human. What Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) looks at is our intention and effort. So let us turn to Him to help us lest our human frailties overwhelm us when sacrifices are demanded of us, and to seek His forgiveness for all our shortcomings and failures.
Our Lord! Take us not to task if we forget, or make mistakes. Our Lord! Lay not upon us a burden such as You laid upon those before us. Our Lord! Do not burden us beyond what we have strength to bear. And pardon us, and forgive us, and have mercy on us. You are our Master; help us, then, against people who deny the truth.
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