Eid Al-Adha Today is a day of celebration: and as Muslims we should feel great joy today. But what is the reason for our revelry, the reason for our celebration, the reason for our joy? Today is Eid Al-Adha – the celebration of the sacrifice. And this is the season of Hajj – when the Muslims have come from around the world to the house of Allah in humility and submission. But let not the meaning of this great occasion be lost on those who have stayed behind. What does it mean that we commemorate an event when Allah asked Ibraheem to prepare to slaughter his only son? Why should there be joy in our hearts on this day? In Islam we have three Eids: three celebrations – the Eid of Al-Fitr after Ramadan, the Eid Al-Adha that we are in now, and the Eid of Jumuah every Friday. The Eid Al-Fitr is really a celebration that we were able to pass the test of Ramadan – that we submitted to our Lord, followed his commandments, even if difficult, and emerged gaining his mercy Insha'Allah. We realized during the days of Ramadan that the greatest pain is from a heart that is empty and preoccupied. We strove to rectify that – as we stood during the nights seeking Allah's mercy, imploring him for forgiveness. The Eid of Jumuah is a celebration that we were able to follow Allah's commandment to “come to the remembrance of Allah and leave off business and every other thing” (62:9) We are celebrating that no matter where we were and what we were doing we acknowledged that the remembrance of Allah was greater – and we came to that. The pattern that is emerging here is that we, as Muslims take joy in having held to the commandments of Allah and obeyed him with sincere obedience. And now we turn to the Eid that is upon us: Concerning the act of sacrifice, Allah(S) says: “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him.” (Al-Hajj 22:37) So Allah has qualified sacrifice as an act that demonstrates TAQWA (piety, godconsciousness). And why does sacrifice do this? How does the sacrifice of an animal demonstrate piety? The essential element here is that Allah asks man to give something up – an animal that he owns, for no reason other than Allah has commanded it. Now many of us would say that sacrificing a sheep does not take very much Taqwa, and this is where the story of Ibrahim comes in to play, because the sacrifice that we do, is really in commemoration of the one that he was commanded to do. Concerning what happened to Ibrahim, Allah says that “Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial.” (As-Saffat 37:106) So the trial that was placed on Ibrahim is very clear – and a story that we can gain much from. After his people tried to burn him in the fire, and Allah saves Ibrahim, Ibrahim asks Allah for righteous offspring. And then Allah grants him this child. And we all know that soon after Ismail is born, Ibraheem his commanded to leave the baby and his mother in the middle of the desert all alone. But Ibraheem would travel back occasionally to visit the family. And after sometime has passed, and Ibrahim has watched his child grow from infancy into a young lad that can now accompany his father – Ibrahim has a dream. Allah says: “And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: 'O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look what you think!' He said: 'O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha Allah (if Allah wills), you shall find me of As-Sabirin'.” (As-Saffat 37:102) And we know, as the Prophet Muhmmad(S) said, that the dreams of the Anbiya (the prophets) are true, so as soon as he had seen this dream, he knew that it was true and that this dream was revelation from Allah. What can we gain from this? We know that Ibrahim had a deep longing for a righteous son, and Allah gave him one – and yet, just as that son begins to blossom, begins to grow into a young man, Ibrahim is asked to give him up. And this is not the first time – as soon as Ismail was born Ibrahim was commanded to leave Ismail and his mother in the desert. So this is the second time that Allah has tested Ibrahim with his love for this child. But this trial is even more severe than the first, because previously, although Ibrahim had to leave them, he still had the comfort of knowing Allah would care for them, and he did have the chance to visit them. But this time he is confronted with the trial of actually separating himself permanently from his beloved son. What does this tell us? It reminds us that each of us will be tried in that which is most beloved to our hearts. For what is the purpose of a trial other than to test how attached your heart is to Allah. And one of the best ways to test that is take away whatever you love the most next to Allah. In this situation a person can have two responses – if the love they had for the created thing was greater than their love for the creator, they will fall into despair; because the thing that filled their heart has been taken away. But if their love for the creator is greater than anything and that is what fills their heart, they will find solace in knowing that the promise of Allah is true and that there will come a time that they will be rewarded for their patience. So Ibraheem's willingness to implement the command of Allah, in spite of the fact that it would separate him from what he loves shows the greatness of his love for Allah. If Ibrahim had been ruled by emotions or had valued his own intellect over the command of Allah he would have begun questioning – questioning WHY? or even Giving up thinking that the test was too hard and falling into disobedience. But no, this is Ibraheem The Khalil, the close friend of Allah. And the one who is close to Allah is the one that recognizes the greatness of Allah over his creation, and the one that submits to him without hesitation, without second guessing Allah's commandments. And this is the description that Allah has given to all true believers: "it is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision." (Al-Ahzab 33:36) And this is what Ibraheem knew. This is what Ibraheem understood. And This, this is what Ibraheem acted upon. This is what made Ibraheem the Khalil (The close friend) of Allah. This is what made Ibraheem an example for us. So the question I would pose to each and everyone of us here today, Brothers and Sisters is: Are we really believers when we find resistance in our hearts to the commands of Allah? * * * But their story does not end there – Allah continues: “Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead; And We called out to him: 'O Abraham! You have fulfilled the dream!' Verily! Thus do We reward the Muhsinoon.” (As-Saffat 37:103105) So the fulfillment of the dream was that both Ibraheem and Ismail submit to Allah and prepare themselves to carry out his command – once they did this, Allah informed them that they had what he wanted. From this, we see further evidence of what Allah has told us in Surah Ash-Sharh: “Verily, along with every hardship is relief, Verily, along with every hardship is relief” When they had both demonstrated the trait that was to be tested, the trial was lifted. This should tell us that in any trial our first instinct should be to ascertain what Allah wants us to learn, and then work to bring that change about in ourselves. The purpose of these trials is not to cause pain “Allah intends for you ease. He does not want to make things difficult for you.” (AlBaqarah 2:185) and yet at the same time, we will be tested, as Allah says: “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: "We believe," and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars.” And lest we think that the actions of Ibrahim and Ismail are something far removed from us, something we need not aspire to, look closely again at the verse we mentioned. “AND WHEN THEY HAD SUBMITTED (ASLAMA)” Brothers and Sisters this is the essence of our religion, this is Islam. If we call ourselves Muslims, this level of submission is something we must strive to posses. Although our tests will surely not be as great as those Ibrahim faced, we will assuredly have them, and we must pass them. So this Eid is a reminder of the essence of submission. What Ibrahim did is what we must do: Submit to the commands of Allah, and obey him. Wherever that command finds us, in whatever condition, the response of our hearts must be submission. And although the test of Ibrahim was one of bereavement – that is Allah tested him by commanding him to give up something, we might be tested with an increase in that which our hearts are attached to. This would be to test whether our hearts will become blinded by an abundance of what we love and neglect the commands of Allah – unfortunately I think many of us are failing this kind of test living in this country. If you feel as though you have not been tested, look again: because you may have been tested many times and never stopped to reflect on it. So being reminded that the essence of Islam is submission, how do we show our submission to Allah – surely it is not in the matters that we might choose. It must be in those matters that Allah has dictated for us. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Islam is built on five (pillars): testimony that there is no god except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, establishing regular prayer (salaah), paying the zakaah, fasting in Ramadaan, and pilgrimage to the House.” So while the obedience of Allah permeates all aspects of our life, this act of submission that we have undertaken with our life on this earth consists of five main parts that we must hold on to. And the head of these matters – the mast of the ship that represents our Islam is establishing the Salah. Indeed when Allah describes the believers in Surah Al-Muminun, the first thing mentioned is the Salah: “Successful indeed are the believers, those who offer their Salah with all solemnity and full submissiveness” (Al-Mu'minun 23:1-2) And Allah says that the people of Jannah will ask the people of Hell-Fire: “What caused you to enter Hell” and the FIRST thing they will say: “We were not of those who offered Salah” (Al Mudathir 72:42) Lest we think it is for poverty or meekness in this life that people enter the Hell Fire, Allah tells us that the people of Hell-Fire will witness that they did not establish prayer. And The prophet Muhammad said: “The covenant that separates us from them (the hypocrites) is prayer; whoever gives up prayer is a kaafir.” (al-Tirmidhi, 2621) We have all heard the expression actions speak louder than words. Prophet Muhammad(S) is saying that regardless of what you say, if you DO NOT PRAY, you cannot consider yourself a Muslim. And in another hadith, the Messenger of Allah(S) said: “Whoever does not pray ‘Asr, his good deeds will be annulled.” (Al-Bukhari 520) So the sin of not praying Asr prayer is enough to completely wipe out anything else good that you have done on that particular day. Brothers and sisters this is a stern warning. From the one who cares for us. And virtually every time prayer is mentioned in the Qur'an Zakah(giving alms) is mentioned soon after. Allah says: "And they were only commanded that they should worship Allâh [Alone], making the religion sincerely for Him, inclining to the truth, [that they] establish the prayer and give the zakaah. That is the upright religion." (Al-Bayyinah 98: 5) And Allah says: “and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah's way, announce to them a painful chastisement “ (At-Taubah 9:34) “On the day when it shall be heated in the fire of hell, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it; this is what you hoarded up for yourselves, therefore taste what you hoarded. “ (At-Taubah 9:35) And regarding the Hajj Allah says: “And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka‘bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allaah, those who can afford the expenses. Then whoever disbelieves, then Allah stands not in need of any of the Alamin ” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:97] And because of this verse, prophet Muhammad has said: “If anyone possesses sufficient provision and transportation to take him to Allah's House but he does not perform Hajj (in his lifetime), it does not matter whether he dies a Jew or a Christian.” (Tirmidhi) we must examine ourselves and decide whether we are finacially able to make Hajj RIGHT NOW. And if so, we must hasten to do that, because death can come upon any one of us, at any time. And we all know the importance of Ramadan, regarding which the messenger of Allah(S) has said that “The one who did not fast on a particular day of Ramadan without a valid excuse will not be able to make it up by fasting a whole lifetime, even if he were to do that” -- so this is the importance of Ramadan. Brothers and Sisters these are the MAIN terms of the contract we have entered with Allah – these are the terms we must fulfill, along with obeying in all else we have been commanded to do, and avoiding the prohibited. And after all of that you might be disappointed to know that there is only one thing that Allah must fulfill. But despair not, for that one thing, is greater than anything you can imagine. That one thing is Jannah (Paradise). As the prophet Muhammad(S) has said: “In Paradise there are things which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has thought of.” (Saheeh Muslim, #2825 ) Allah says: “And the Garden will be brought nigh to the Righteous,- no more a thing distant. (A voice will say:) "This is what was promised for you,- for every one who turned (to Allah. in sincere repentance, who kept (His Law), "Who feared ((Allah)) Most Gracious Unseen, and brought a heart turned in devotion (to Him): "Enter ye therein in Peace and Security; this is a Day of Eternal Life!" There will be for them therein all that they wish,- and more besides in Our Presence.” (Surah Qaf 50:31-35) And Allah also says: “Race one with another in hastening towards Forgiveness from your Lord (Allah), and towards Paradise, the width whereof is as the width of heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He pleases. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.” (Surah AlHadid 57:21) But this reward is only for those who are willing to submit to Allah, even if that means sacrificing what we love. Brothers and sisters we have heard the call of Allah – let us not fail in responding to that call.