Through the Legacy of Ibrahim (a), personified as a flourishing tree (14: 24 – 25), we find that, to live a balanced life, one must have firm roots in faith, nurture familial values, and cultivate communal success. By Inculcating Abrahamic values: obedience to Allah (swt), love for family, and a dedication to people, we hope to improve both our lives in this world, as well as the hereafter.
In this khutba the Sheikh illustrates the high Islamic principle of adab (loosely translated as ‘manners’) with examples drawn from the rich tapestry of prophetic stories woven into the Qur’an. We learn how Ayyub (Job) is exiled from his loved ones, how Ibrahim (Abraham) receives unexpected desert visitors, how Isa (Jesus) is questioned over that which others ascribe to him, how Musa (Moses) was met with unexpected rewards in exile, may Allah be pleased with them all. These ancient examples of profound adab before a breakthrough moment is what we are called on to emulate in this present day and age.
Of course such a khutba would not be complete without mentioning the last of the emissaries of Allah – after the tribulations of Taif, the death of his uncle and patron, his wife, his son and the persecution of his enemies, Prophet Muhammad – may Allah grant him His blessings and peace – was able to say “O Allah, I ask that you do not change your decree, but that you be gentle with it”. This is the maqam an-nubuwwa, the station of prophethood.
Why would Allah ask someone, who had suffered so much, to give up the only things he had in his life?
For Eid ul Adha 2010, Haroon Moghul delivered this khutbah (sermon) at the Islamic Center at New York University. This khutbah was prompted by the endlessly rich theme of tawhid as it connects Abraham’s life, peace be upon him, from his destroying the idols in his city, as a very young man, to his being asked by God to take the life of his son, an outrageous request whose very power derives from the fact of its unbelievable nature (God is asking him to take the life of not only an innocent, but his own flesh and blood).
Can we tell this story in a way that makes sense to us, as Americans and Westerners? What do King George, the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, and democracy, have to do with monotheism? How does Stephen Hawking fit in? What does this story of the great Prophet, peace be upon him, mean? Can a person take that most loved to him? Why would God ask anyone to do that, and what does it say about Abraham’s character, his faith, and our purpose in life?