[ Note: The following is an edited version of a Friday Khutbah 9/16/16 at Toledo Masjid. The opening Hamd has been omitted, as has much of the Quranic and hadeeth quotes in Arabic.]
Building, not destroying
During the 'Eid ul Ad-haa, which just passed, our speakers usually focus on the willingness of Abraham [Ibrahim, 'alayhis salaam] to sacrifice his son because he saw that as being God's command. Indeed, the entire holiday centers around that premise.
However, there is yet another aspect we should ponder upon.
"And when Abraham raised the foundations of the House, and Ishmael as well [they prayed]: Our Lord, accept from us, surely, You are the All-Hearing, All-Knowing." [Q 2:127].
Abraham and his son [Ismaa'il, 'alayhis salaam] are associated here with building, and not destroying! They built [or re-built] the Ka'bah. That place is described as Baytul 'Ateeq or the ancient house, Baytun Naas which means the house for all people, and the Qur'an describes it as "a blessing and a guidance for all nations" [Q 3:96].
So Abraham and his son built something, and building something takes planning, thinking, mapping out appropriate strategies,
For a home, we have to plan our finances, and all of this takes time, patience. This is what Abraham [upon whom be peace] and his son did! This 'house' outlived them.
At every moment, thousands and often millions are circling the Ka'bah, reciting the Talbiyah, calling upon Allah, often in the very words used by Abraham himself "Our Lord, accept from us, Surely, You are the All-Hearing, All-Knowing."Rabbana Taqqabbal Minna, Innaka Antas Samee'ul 'Aleem.
So being organized and strategic in our religious priorities, indeed within all aspects of our lives, is arguably the most important lesson for us to take.
Going for job interview requires having prepared a resume', appropriate clothes and language.
So what about prayer [Du'aa]? When you make du'aa, you should think about who and what to make du'aa for.Ahadeeth. Take lessons from Soorah al Faatihah and from the other obligatory aspects of the Salaah as to what or who we should pray for. When we offer salaah, particularly alone, think about the meanings of what is to be recited.
What can we do or how can we benefit in our lives from what we are to recite in prayer, and how can we build upon that to create something wonderful and lasting as Abraham did?
The Ka'bah and Abraham's station
About the Ka'bah, Allah says "In it are clear signs and Abraham's station." [Q 3:96]. This teaches us that the Ka'bah is a blessed symbol and is itself a testimony to Abraham's position [Maqaam Ibrahim] with Allah. It is a symbol or a goal we can work to, and the important term here is "work". Work wisely, work sincerely, for Allah, not for ego or fame or wealth. To go against the philosophy of Abraham is actually to show foolishness [Q 3:109]. May Allah accept from us.
The Ka'bah as Qiblah and at Hajj
The great symbol called the Ka'bah becomes the focus during Hajj. In addition to this, it is the Qiblah, the direction we are to face during worship.
Allah says to the Prophet: " We [Allah] see you [O Muhammad] turning your face to the sky,,," [Q 2:144].
Before the revelation of the above statement, it is said that the Qiblah faced by the Muslims was that which was associated with the Prophets of old, i.e. Jerusalem. Here, we are told the Prophet [Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam] was facing the sky. The exact meaning of this is a debated point among the Mufassiroon.
Let us consider this as a possible meaning: after years of persecution in Makkah itself [the enemy capital] - The Prophet is now in stable Madinah, and he sees the need to become better focused, to be oriented correctly and to be organized spiritually.
God answers that concern by directing him not towards the sky, but rather to that symbol constructed by the great Patriarch, Abraham.
So the Ka'bah is our Qiblah because it focuses us. It's very existence encourages us to build, to build or to fortify our hearts, to fill our minds with useful information, to build in this world, to add, not to destroy!
The Prophet Muhammad [upon whom be peace and blessings] said that if you see the world ending around you while your planting a tree, continue to plant that tree!
So let us be intelligent in our lives, and intelligent in our Islam. Let us be like Abraham, willing to obey Allah even in the most difficult of circumstances.