When the Muslims stopped educating themselves on their rich Islamic History, they fell for whatever was presented to them. Muslims are to be blamed for leaving education behind and engaging in worldly pleasures. For many of us the goal is to make a good living and for that as long as you have a secular degree you are fine. Many of us have not felt the need to be educated in the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
When we detached ourselves from our History, the task was taken up by the non-Muslims. Many of the books on the Islamic History available today, and widely read are those written by non-Muslim philosophers and historians. To promote a certain agenda, we notice that the pre-Islamic Arabs are portrayed as war-hungry, barbaric people. When we hear the phrase “the days of Jahiliyyah [pre-Islamic days of ignorance]”, the images that conjure up in our minds are fathers burying their infant daughters, men having multiple wives, tribes engaged in war, etc. While this is true, it was not that the entire Arab world was engaged in this. Only the poor buried their daughters. Had all the tribes been doing this, the Arab population would have just ended. Likewise, only the rich and influential had more than one wife. If the poor man is burying his daughter both for shame and poverty, how could he afford a new wife? There were wars only during certain times and not all year round. While we know about the wars, we are completely ignorant of the generosity of the Arabs.
The Arabs were the caretakers of Ka’abah – the first House of worship to be built on earth. People would travel from different parts of the world to visit the House even before the advent of Islam (their rites of pilgrimage, however, differed from the Muslims); the Arabs took pride in serving them. Furthermore, in our limited knowledge we believe that perhaps all Arabs were illiterate; what we do not know of is that Arabs were known for their eloquence and literature. Therefore, they were presented with a miracle such as the Qur’an whose eloquence is unmatched – a fact that the Arabs knew very well. Their poems have been translated in many other languages and can be found in libraries both in Europe and the United States. We do not know that while today in some cultures, the Muslim woman is looked down upon for standing up for herself, the Arabs valued their women’s voice. They were allowed to speak for themselves and share their opinions.
Therefore, before we study the Seerah it is recommended that we read up the history of the Arabs. If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala chose the peninsula of Arabia to build His first House on earth, if Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala instructed His friend Ibraheem Khaleelullah ‘alayhi salaam to migrate to this piece of land, and if Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala raised His beloved Messenger Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from among the Arabs then definitely the Arabs had some specialty. It is our own lack of knowledge and laziness and the biasedness of the historians that we only know the negative side of the Arabs.
Prophet Ibraheem’s Exile from Iraq
Prophet Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam was born in the city of Urr near Kuffa in Iraq. He was born with a contemplative nature and did not follow trends just because other people were following them.
When he grew up to be a young boy, he observed his people carving idols with their own hands and then calling upon them for help and their needs. Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam argued with his people that their way of worship made no sense. How could a thing created by your own hands have the power to deliver you something mightier? The arguments were frequent and his people warned him to stop. He was later captured and presented in the court of Nimrod who claimed to be a god. Nimrod asked Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam about his God. Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam replied that his Lord was He who gave life and death. Nimrod asserted that he too was capable of doing that. He called for two prisoners where one was released and the other was killed. Without arguing with the king Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam said that his God raised the sun from the east and set in the west. He suggested if Nimrod was truly a god as he claimed to be then he should bring out the sun from the west and set it in the east.
Left speechless, Nimrod ordered that Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam be thrown in the fire. What else can the kings of this world do? Fearing nothing and asking help from no one but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam entered the fire saying the words: HasbunAllahu wa nimal Wakeel [Allah is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of all our affairs] and walked out of fire unaffected. Shocked Nimrod commanded that Ibraheem be exiled. He gladly left the people who harmed him and turned to his Lord with sincerity.
In this incident of Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam there is a lesson for us: When people are harming you or conspiring plots against you, do not worry. Recite the words that the Intimate Friend of Allah said and He will be sufficient for you. Be brave. This is worldly life; you will be tested by material wealth, children or the love of the people. Take Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as your Wakeel and your Helper. And then see how He opens up ways for you. If help does not come then we need to also remember that we need to work on our emaan and deeds and follow the footsteps of Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam. We cannot expect the help of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, if our actions continuously displease Him.
Prophet Ibraheem’s Migration to Egypt
Prophet Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam took his wife Sarah and nephew Lout ‘alayhi salaam and migrated to Harran – the birthplace of Imam Ibn Taymiyyah. From Harran, he traveled to Egypt which was ruled by an immoral king. Whenever the king saw a beautiful woman, he would instruct for her to be captured and brought to him. Lady Sarah ‘alayhi salaam was a beautiful woman and was hence detained. She was a Prophet’s wife and an honorable woman. She could not be appeased at the fact that she was held by an immoral man to satisfy his desire. She sincerely called upon Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and asked Him to become sufficient for her. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala answered the call of His pious servant and instilled fear in the heart of the king. Despite his corrupt intentions, he could not cause Lady Sarah any harm and allowed her to leave. His intuition informed him that this was a special lady. In awe, he presented his daughter Hajar to Sarah and let them go.
Prophet Ibraheem’s Marriage to Lady Hajar
It had been many years since Prophet Ibraheem and Sarah had been married but they had been childless. In the Qur’an, we do not come across any stage when they complain to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for depriving them of parenthood. When his du’a was answered one hundred years later, the only words that Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam uttered after expressing his gratitude were: Indeed! My Lord hears supplications. Another lesson for us to learn! Anyhow, it had been many years and Lady Sarah desired that the Friend of Allah to have children. She decided to give Lady Hajar to Prophet Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam. They got married and moved to Palestine where baby Isma’eel was born. Lady Sarah dearly loved her husband. While she herself suggested that her husband should re-marry, it was natural for her to be jealous. She instructed Prophet Ibraheem to take Lady Hajar and baby Isma’eel ‘alayhim salaam away. He took his family and moved in the direction that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala inspired which turned out to be Makkah. He brought his family and left them with a bag of dates and a flask of water.
We learn that even negative traits are natural. When someone is jealous of you do not think bad about them. It is a natural human emotion. However, we should not dwell over it because all negative traits are inspirations from Shaytan. If you dwell over them you might commit something evil. It is also important that we keep our hearts in check and keep reciting the adkhaar taught by the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. One such du’a appears in the Qur’an in Surah Al-Hashr Ayah 10: “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are full of kindness and Merciful.”
A Mother’s Single-Handed Upbringing
Raised as a princess Hajar was a cultured lady and therefore, we see that despite her husband’s leaving her in a barren, deserted place she makes no complaints. The only thing that she asked was that if this was a command from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and when she gets the answer, she settles down knowing that if He decreed this then He will not abandon His servants. SubhanAllah!
This is the emaan that we need to cultivate in ourselves. How strong her faith must be that (a) she does not start crying, complaining to her husband for leaving her (b) she does not badmouth Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (we seek protection with Allah from such an act) for decreeing something like this for her? She accepted her test and focused only on her “present” which was taking care of the infant Isma’eel ‘alayhi salaam – the son of a prophet and the father of a prophet-to-come.
Unlike us she neither reminisces the good old days of a palace life (Remember she was a princess. She was raised with tens of maids to do her tasks and to look after her needs. She was not an ordinary woman. Yet she was not spoiled.). Nor is she anxious about the future. She quietly settles down and looks after her son’s upbringing as a single parent. Here is a lesson for the mothers who often complain of husband’s almost zero contribution to parenting. If the husband is away for work do not complain that *only* you have to look after the children. While you are living in a comfortable house with roof over your head and food in your pantry, Lady Hajar had nothing and *no one*, yet she was complacent and understood that the husband was engaged in a greater mission – calling people to worship only One God. As a mother, she knew her child needs her attention the most, she did not say: What about my hobbies and interests? What about my “me-time”? Why do only I have to look after the boy? Who should I talk to? I have no friends here. I miss my husband, etc. There were absolutely no complaints.
Moreover, she does not fill the child’s heart with hatred for his absent father. Had she done so we would not have seen young Isma’eel ‘alayhi salaam ready to be slaughtered by his father in their very first meeting. This is a parenting lesson for both mothers and fathers – Stop feeding your children hatred. Stop telling them evil things about the other parent or the in-laws. Please nurture love not hatred. Don’t cause your child to carry an emotional baggage into adulthood.
The study of the Seerah of Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and other prophets and their companions should move our hearts. We must reflect on their character traits and compare them with our own. Where do we stand? Reflect on the fact that how many years of our lives we have wasted reading (immoral) fiction novels teaching us no lesson when we could have been raised with the books of the Seerah of the pious. Let us not repeat the mistake with the younger generation.