By Imam John Ederer
Our beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him) has taught us that “There are no greater days nor are there any days in which good deeds are more beloved than in these first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.” (Ahmad 9/14)
So what makes these days so special and why is their value so great? It is a celebration of our forefather Abraham (PBUH) and his legacy. Almost all of the prophets mentioned in the Quran come from the lineage of Abraham (PBUH). Is this because God only revealed His message to them? In fact in the Quran teaches us –
“There are messengers We have surely told you their story and there are others we did not tell you.”(4:164)
“A guide was sent to all nations.” (13:7)
“There is no nations that was left without a warner sent to it.” (35:24)
Our scholars have commented on these verses with some narrations attributed to the Prophet (PBUH) that there were many thousands of prophets sent to mankind. So what is so special about Abraham? First of all he is the father of both Isaac and Ishmael (PBUT). Isaac is the father of Jacob Israel whose 12 children are the Israelites later known as Jews. Ishmael is the father of the modern Arab tribes of Arabia.
When we look in the bible we see that right after Ishmael was born God made a special covenant with Abraham and his progeny after him. (Genesis 17:7-10)
After Sarah got jealous and God decreed that Abraham’s wife Hagar and their baby boy Ishmael were to be taken to the desert of Paran where the following happened.
Lift up the boy, and hold his hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. (Genesis 21:18)
So the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was born in the same place as when God made this prophecy and he is the leader of that great nation that God prophesied long ago.
You may notice in our daily prayers we ask God to bless Muhammad (PBUH) and his family as He did Abraham (PBUH) and his family. The Quran is clear about the status of Abraham.
“There is no one with better religiosity than the one who has submitted himself to God in benevolence following the religion of Abraham who God took as his beloved friend.” (4:125)
Our Prophet taught us to recite daily, morning and evening, “We have embraced the morning/night on the innate reality of Islam, the word of sincerity and upon the religion of our prophet Muhammad and according to the way of our forefather Abraham who was never a polytheist.” (Albani 2989)
Abraham (PBUH) was mentioned in 73 places in the Quran from 25 different Surahs!
What are some important lessons we can take from the life of Abraham that make him so special to us?
- He was heavily reliant on his innate connection to God and purpose with rational thought! This becomes clear in his thought about the idols of his people, the interactions he had with them, how he thought about and explained the worship of the celestial bodies and how he argued with the king.
- He prayed a lot and it was mostly for the benefit of others. His forward thought caused him to pray for future generations. It was his prayer that brought the Prophet (PBUH) mashallah.
- He had audacity. He wasn’t scared to point out to his father and the people of his town how irrational it was to worship idols. Similarly when he was trying to understand the resurrection of life he didn’t shy away from asking God how it works.
- He was deeply forgiving. We see this as he swore to seek God’s forgiveness for his father’s polytheism until he died. It is also clear when he was begging God to give the people of Lot (PBUH) another chance.
- He was deeply reliant upon God. This was evident when he was being shackled and put into the fire. It also rings true with his many migrations.
- He was the ultimate example of submission to the will of God even when it meant sacrificing what is most beloved to him. We see this vividly when he was first commanded to leave his wife and only son in the desert and then when he was commanded to kill his own son.
There is no doubt that it is crucial we have a deep understanding and mastery of the life of Abraham and his family and the important lessons we learn from it. We must make a big deal of this as we read the Quran; especially in the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. May God guide us all on the path of our beloved Prophet Muhammad according to the way of our forefather Abraham (PBUT)!