Growing up, I’ve always loved the story of Ibrahim AS. It somehow felt like his story was meant to be taught to me at that age. A story filled with lots of magical happenings, picturing the moon, stars, sun, fire, etc. Everything was the type a child would love imagining about. The best part was being told ‘it’s a real story’. And so not only the part that it seemed so fictional and magical made me love it, the fact that I was young then and he was a young brave boy too, yet someone who pondered over the existence of God felt so relevant. I learnt that we had a Prophet who was so young and Islam wasn’t just for the elderly. Looking back at that now, I am at awe at how perfect such an introduction to Islam, tawheed and to Allah SWT that was, for a child like me.
But how do we relate to this part of his story as grown ups now? Do we enter temples and break idols? So that we would increase hate for Islam and make it harder on ourselves? Believe it or not, growing up, this story teaches us how to imbibe tawheed (the Oneness of Allah) in our hearts. But after that, it has a whole beautiful lesson to it for each and every one of us.
As grown ups, we build a lot of idols around our lives; sometimes way too unintentionally. An example: This morning, just while I was doing my morning adhkar, I was tempted to check my phone, switch on its wifi and surf through all its notifications. I thought to myself, ‘Ah before Saj returns, I’ll finish with surfing so that by the time he enters the room, I’d be back to my morning adhkar. That would be a smart thing to do for someone who doesn’t like to see me on my phone AND he would be impressed as well’
This type of thought process resonates in a lot of our minds. Unfortunately, in this social media stricken world, we have grown oblivion to it. Without realizing, somewhere in the corner of our minds, we crush our gigantic good deeds with our own hands by placing someone else on the scale we need to place Allah SWT.
In order to asses that, we can ask ourselves: Does our measure of eman count on the scale of how religious we seem on the internet these days? Do we count our likes and comments more than we count our blessings and thank Him in privacy? Are our deeds of getting closer to Allah SWT in secrecy, in any way more than those that are apparent public? Do we judge ourselves on the basis of Taqwa of Allah SWT or on the basis of our *religion coated* appearance outside? Are we really living the Qur’an or ironically, just sharing its verses and talking about it?
Time and again, we create these idols, and He breaks them and then we are heartbroken. For some, it’s money. For some, it’s fame. For some, it is success and achievements. For some, it’s in beauty. For some, it’s the love of a loved one. The mind is preoccupied 24/7 with love and commitment to these idols. Allah SWT narrates to us an example to break these idols. Yet at times, He breaks them Himself. For us to turn back to Him realizing that it is only in the complete reliance on Him that we can attain these ‘idols’.
What I did above while doing the morning adhkar, much to my own disappointment, is placing a greater value on someone else than on Allah SWT. Instead of intending to do the athkar for the sake of immersing myself in His remembrance and pleasure, I did something much more worldly, nasty and vain in fact.
And this is how we have grown oblivious to how we create and worship idols for ourselves. What Ibrahim AS did was establish Tawheed in its pure sense. By removing the idol worship of the heart.
In the story of Ibrahim AS we learn the importance of breaking the idols that we worship in our own selves and our own hearts. Whatever it is that we rely on in this life instead of relying on Allah swt: Jobs, careers, shops, people in power, family reputation, society, whether our own physical health and energy, we seem to believe that our success and happiness is based on one or more of these things. Whereas the Only One who decides to give or not to give is Allah swt. We make effort but we don’t consider the effort to be the reason for our success. That is the whole concept of our tawakkal and faith in Him SWT. We love people wholeheartedly, but we place them on a different pedestal than that of Allah’s SWT.
It takes one to be brutally honest to the self, in order to recognize these hidden desires of the heart. Are we connecting to Allah SWT the way He has asked us to? Are we placing Him in the pedestal of our hearts where He is supposed to be placed? Are we worried about His pleasure alone? Or of someone else’s?
When Ibrahim AS broke the idols, he was thrown by his people into a pit of fire to punish him. Yet this worldly punishment, only made him taste the coolness of being in Jannah! The sciences of the world failed, and the fire was made cool for him. Just as He worshipped in Allah alone, Allah alone ordered the fire to be coolness for him! Today, Ibrahim’s AS faith and actions are made acts of Ibadah for the entire ummah (hajj, Umrah). Such is the legacy one leaves by relying on Him alone, and establishing tawheed of the heart.
So dear heart, which of the idols must you break today, to enjoy that pure pleasure?
For sometimes, we’ve got to break these idols ourselves, before Allah SWT causes something to happen and breaks it for us to turn back to Him, heartbroken.
قَالَ أَفَتَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنفَعُكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَضُرُّكُمْ