An enormous catapult propelled a young Ibrahim (AS) toward a searing fire; a towering representation of the outside world’s distaste for his devotion to the one true deity. The catapult was needed because this fire was too intense for his idol worshipping enemies to approach, though they were the ones that built it. As he hurled toward the inferno, death seemed imminent to the thrilled onlookers, and likely to Ibrahim himself.
But similar to many who have faced death since him, time slowed down for the Friend of Allah (SWT). While repeating affirmations of Allah's Supremacy and Oneness, the seconds became minutes, perhaps even hours. Because Ibrahim found enough solitude and peace within himself in these fleeting moments to receive affirmation from his Creator. It came in the form of the angel Jibril, asking Ibrahim what he needed. Ibrahim replied to Jibril that he needed nothing from him. But Allah’s interjection can be found in Surah Anbiyaa, verse 69 where He conveys: “We said, ‘O fire, be cool and safe for Ibrahim!”
So the peaceful solitude that Ibrahim enjoyed while being flung toward raging flames increased when he landed inside of said flames. His response was not at all like mine would have been. I would not have been able to run out of that fire and gloat to my would be murderers fast enough. Not Ibrahim. He simply said, “For me Allah suffices and He is the best disposer of affairs” and enjoyed a few more moments in the soothing flames.
This literal grace under fire is what the Father of Prophets displayed time and time again, often in times of extreme isolation. This quality became a trend within his progeny, the greatest examples in the Qur'an.
Prophet Yusuf (AS) experienced extreme isolation twice in his lifetime. In the well after incurring the jealousy of his brothers and in prison after invoking the lust and subsequent shame of a powerful woman. Prophet Yunus (AS) experienced it in the belly of the beast after giving up on the mission that was prescribed to him by The One Who Heals. Maryam’s entire life, a testament to chaste abstinence and worship, shows us that our Sisters can reach the heights of piety and produce greatness without the aid of anyone other than Allah. Much of her life was lived in isolation. And of course our beloved Muhammad SAW often took long walks to be alone with nature before and after he received revelation. It was during one of these excursions, inside the cave of Hira that the angel Jibril first gave him Allah’s command to “Read!” Later, during a pivotal battle in which he was wounded, Muhammad took some time to heal in the cave of Uhud.
Socialization as a Crutch
We live in a time where it is very easy to be a face in the crowd of Muslims, whether in person, or online. There is no shortage of scholars and Imams with the gifts of knowledge and speech. If we were to relate our experience to a prophetic one, it would that of Sulaiman, the prophet who ruled the entire world and owned a majority of its riches. He spoke many languages, including those of the birds, the jinn and even the ant.
For many of us though, we are the ant in this scenario. We use the ease of socialization as a crutch, comfortably living in the shadows of great leaders, picking and choosing which beautiful coattail to ride on, accepting whatever wisdom they deem necessary for us to learn, never feeling the need to seek knowledge on our own. Never searching within.
The Most Important Ramadan of Our Lives
Allah has catapulted each of us toward facing our own personal jihad. For some of us, that may be the fire of rage or drug abuse. For others it may be the worship of false idols. Or prison. Or the cave of our repressed urges or memories. We may realize that we have neglected our true calling and been swallowed whole by the beast that is this world, neglecting our piety and relying on man to do for us what only we can do for ourselves with the mercy of Allah.
For the first Ramadan of our lives, we cannot count on our brother to Read for us during tarawih. For the first time we cannot bury ourselves in work in order to lose track of time until after Asr prayer. For the first time, it is undeniable that Allah is giving us the time to heal from this pivotal battle that we have been fighting as Friends of Allah in hostile territory. That is why this is the most important Ramadan of our lives. May we all accept the challenge with the grace of Ibrahim and say with our hearts and actions, “For me Allah suffices and He is the best disposer of affairs.”
Masood Abdul-Haqq is business strategist, speaker and writer. A graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in Business Law, Masood also teaches Qur’an and serves as Chairman at his local masjid. Masood resides in Oklahoma City with his wife and three children.
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