As-salamu ‘alaykum, beloveds, everyone at SSC prays that you are well. The month of Dhul Hijjah is almost upon us and that got me thinking again on why we give a sacrifice at ‘Eid al-Adha, or at any time for that matter. It’s such a holy opportunity for all of us, but on the outside it can feel difficult and it’s easy to get caught in voices around it. Insha’allah, in this post we’ll explore the reasons for giving a sacrifice and how doing so benefits us.
What Is Making or Giving a Sacrifice?
To make or give a sacrifice means to make a financial donation that provides food, shelter, clothing, or medical care to those in need.
When you make or give a sacrifice through SSC, the money goes to help the needy in the Holy Land, using the charitable networks established by Sidi during his lifetime, or it goes to help community members in the U.S. who are in financial crisis through our Beloveds In Need program.
Giving a Sacrifice Was Part of Being Sidi’s Student
Sidi introduced the concept of giving a sacrifice to our community as part of the bayah (the process of taking hand with him and becoming his student). After giving the bayah (also called “the promise”) Sidi would often say, “Give sacrifice for your walking.” For several years I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant. How was giving a sacrifice for MY walking? It seemed that giving a sacrifice really helped Sidi in his efforts to help the poor in the Holy Land. I later began to understand the significance of giving a sacrifice and how deeply it cleanses us. More on this below…
When Sidi was alive in body, he also had us send khalwa (prayer retreat) and Hajj (pilgrimage) sacrifices to the Holy Land and we continue to do so. For zakah, fidya, and zakat al-fitr (annual charity, charity you give when you miss required fasting, and charity for ‘Eid al-Fitr) you can choose which program your donation benefits,
Allah, Most High, Teaches Us Through the Prophet Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam
Sidi gave a teaching in Florida in 2010 in which he describes the life of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), peace be upon him. There are so many amazing lessons in the story of the life of this beloved prophet and messenger. For the purposes of this post we’re only going to focus on the story of Ibrahim and Isma’il and the reason for making a sacrifice. However, the teaching we’re referencing contains many important lessons from Sayyidina Ibrahim’s life, and we lovingly encourage you to read it. The complete teaching is contained in the book How to Travel in the Deep Way to Understand the Truth, pp. 363-375. You can purchase the kindle version of this book for $.99 on amazon.com
Sidi begins the teaching by greeting the beloveds present:
Peace be upon all the messengers and all of the prophets, alayhim as-salam. Peace upon all the beloveds and all the followers of Allah, Most High. I am asking Allah, Most High, for all of you to be stable and firm on this path and to love all the prophets, alayhim as-salam. I am asking Him to provide you with love and mercy for the whole world, your families, your sons and your daughters. It is my great pleasure to be among you.
This is the last day with you. I will not leave you. My spirit is with you. My supplications are always for you. I can feel all of the people who are suffering and who need prayers. I am asking Allah, Most High, to send happiness to everyone. I direct my face to Allah, Most High, asking Him to protect our world from the hurricanes, volcanoes and disasters. This is a great year with many events in the world. We are asking Allah, Most High, to protect all people, all children and to heal the sick. He is the Healer, the Knower..
A moment later Sidi begins to tell us of the life of the Prophet Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam:
Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam, was born in Ur, Iraq close to (Badin) Babel. When this noble prophet was twelve years old, his father would take him to his workshop. His father was a carpenter. The king at that time was named Nimrūd. He was a bad king who treated people like slaves without any mercy. Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam, was thinking a lot about who provided for him and who gave him life. Could those idols do this?
Sidi describes how Ibrahim even as a child understood that idol worship was misguided because it didn’t recognize that God is the True Creator and that his father’s occupation (a maker of idols) was also misguided. Ibrahim attempted to educate his father and the people of his village but they were not open to his message. Eventually, the people and their king tried to kill Ibrahim by setting him on fire and catapulting him. And in this part of the story Sidi mentions offering a sacrifice for the first time.
They asked him, “What should we do to Ibrahim, who destroyed our Gods?” The devil, Iblis, came looking like a man to the horrible king Nimrud and said, “I will tell you what to do with Ibrahim. Gather a lot of wood, light the wood, and put him in the fire.” This was the judgment of Iblis.
This is faith. [Those in the station of] the Sun of the Truth will never be frightened. They do not fear anyone except Allah, Most High. They believe Allah, Most High, will defend them…All the prophets, ‘alayhim as-salam, offer their selves, their souls, and their hearts as a sacrifice for Allah, Most High. This is the mercy of Allah, Most High. They are strong and brave. [Those in] this station, the Sun of the Truth, do not fear anyone except Allah, Most High. They are sure that Allah, Most High, will send His victory to them.
Here Sidi is telling us that all of the prophets, may Allah bless them all with peace, give everything of themselves as a sacrifice to Allah, Most High. And doing so enables them to be strong, brave, have unshakable faith, and live without fear. And it is from the Mercy of Allah that this is so. After offering more inspiring teaching stories from the Prophet Ibrahim’s life, Sidi asks for a reading to begin.
Who is Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam? He is the father of all the prophets and Allah, Most High, once inspired him in his sleep. Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam, explained to his son that he saw a vision in which he was slaughtering him. He did not see him in a dream or vision, but it was a true state of seeing.
He said, “I see that I am slaughtering you,” but it did not mean slaughtering in the way that people think. It had a deep meaning. It had a very deep meaning, which meant, “I am slaughtering all of the animal qualities within myself. I am slaughtering the physical diseases; I am slaughtering the psychological diseases and all the selfish and non-godly qualities.”
Here Sidi is describing the beginning of the part of Sayyidina Ibrahim’s life during which he sacrifices what he loves most, his son, for the Face of Allah, Most High. He is already giving us some of the keys to understanding what it means to give a sacrifice. It has a very deep meaning. Giving a sacrifice is a method of eradicating all of the animal qualities within ourselves, and by doing so we transform the physical and psychological diseases remaining within us. We give the parts of our small selves (the lower ego / nafs) that are not yet in complete surrender to Allah, Most High. The reading continues:
“And, when he (Isma’il) was old enough to walk with him, he (Ibrahim) said, ‘Oh my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offering you in sacrifice to Allah), so look, what do you think!’ (37:102)”
His son Isma’il, alayhi-s-salam, told him, “Oh my father! Do that which you are commanded, insha’a-llah (if Allah wills), you will find me to be one of the patient ones.”
The child of Ibrahim, Isma’il, alayhim as-salam, was also a prophet. He was around nine years old and…he understood that what Ibrahim was telling him was, “I want to purify you.” So he said, “Purify me; do as you were commanded,” because he believed that the one who commanded his father was Allah, Most High. Because the prophet’s vision is a godly vision, it is direct knowledge from Allah, Most High. Isma’il knew that Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam, was his father biologically speaking, but he was Ibrahim’s very soul when we talk from the spiritual perspective.
When Sidi says that spiritually speaking Isma’il is Ibrahim’s very soul from the spiritual perspective he means that Isma’il is a symbol and representation of the state of Ibrahim’s lower ego/nafs.
Next we approach the moment where Ibrahim tries to sacrifice his animal nafs, his human attachments, to Allah, Most High:
Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam, took his son [to Mount Arafat], put him on the altar, and took the knife in his hand. What happened to the sharp knife at this point? It became water. It was moving as water moves. This was a purification operation, it was not a true killing. He kept trying to use the knife, but it turned to water. When the knife turned to water, it could not really kill his son.
Allah did not make Ibrahim kill his son. It was enough that Ibrahim and Isma’il both were in the state of surrender necessary to do anything for their Beloved. In that moment, Ibrahim would have sacrificed the child he loved more than himself and Isma’il would have sacrificed his own life for Allah, Most High.
Now to clarify: is Allah going to ask any of us to sacrifice our children? No. We are not prophets in the station of Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam. And this is in no way a justification for behavior that harms others. During his lifetime Sidi said many times that Allah will ask us about anything we’ve done that’s harmed others.
However, this teaching could lead us to consider other possibilities. For instance, what would it mean, as parents, to truly trust that Allah is walking our children in the perfect way in every moment of their lives? This is the true sacrifice of a parent–giving our children into the keeping of Allah, Most High. Knowing that we cannot control much…and Allah controls everything. We can, insha’allah, strive to be like Maryam’s mother Hannah, may Allah bless them both, when she dedicated what was in her womb in service to Allah, Most High, before her daughter was born. And we can be like Maryam, mother of ‘Isa (Jesus), knowing her child was a prophet from the day he was born and watching him go through his life journey in order to teach others.
Sidi goes on to explain Ibrahim’s and Isma’il’s station and the mystical understanding of why the knife turned to water.
Ibrahim’s name, alayhi-s-salam, has two syllables. Ib-rahim. It means to become the merciful father, which means to become absent from everything except Allah. It means to be absent from your animal self and to get in touch with your divine essence. The divine essence is far from the animal essence; it is the godly essence.
In this instance Ibrahim’s hand, alayhi-s-salam, was a divine hand. His hearing, his seeing, all of his senses were luminous. He was full of light. All of his senses were full of light and he was a luminous being.
Isma’il, alayhi-s-salam, his son, was also full of luminous light. Can a knife really slaughter light? It cannot go through light and hurt it. So they became light, and that is why the knife couldn’t slaughter him.
And we now go deeper into the heart of the essential meaning of the sacrifice:
The son is very precious to his parents. When Allah told Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam, to kill his son it meant: give the dearest thing to you for the face of Allah, Most High. In giving a sacrifice Allah, Most High, does not want you to kill your son. He wants you to give Him the dearest things to your heart.
Allah, Most High, is The Rich (al-ghaniyy).
Allah wants you to walk from the world of ad-dunya
to the world of al-fana’, annihilation into God,
to the world of al-baqa’, subsistence in God,
and to be with Allah, Most High, and nothing else.
Behave yourself and carry the qualities of Allah, Most High.
Do not be attached to this dunya.
Be straight and be honest and do not lie.
Do not kill.
You should walk and obey Allah, Most High, in your eyes, in your intellect, in your heart, and in your spirit.
This is the meaning of the pilgrimage, the Hajj. Leave everything behind and remember Allah, Most High.
You must give a sacrifice. What is a sacrifice? It is to kill a sheep, which means to behave well in your self, your heart, and your soul. Come humbly toward Allah, Most High, and carry the message of Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam, and the message of peace and mercy. Do not cause any pain to anyone. Then you will establish your pilgrimage.
If you go on Hajj one hundred times, Allah, Most High, will not accept any of them if you cause pain to others upon your return. Allah, Most High, will not accept your offering. Purify yourself from all your sins and give your heart as a sacrifice, your soul as a sacrifice, and your body as a sacrifice. Giving a sacrifice is like saying to Allah, “You created me and I will use all of Your provision to obey You and to obtain Your love so that You will accept me and be satisfied with me.” If a person goes to Mecca and comes back to act like a devil, this is not Hajj. If a person starts to steal and kill, then this person is worse than the devil.
Promise Allah, Most High, that you are His servant and obey Allah. Give everything as a sacrifice to Allah. Come here, my beloveds. The coming days are the time of the pilgrimage and the ones who can do it can pay a sacrifice to protect your families. When Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam, intended to slaughter his son and Allah prevented it, the Angel Jibril (Gabriel), alayhi-s-salam, came down with a sheep as a substitute sacrifice and told Ibrahim to give the meat to all of the poor people. This is the meaning of the sacrifice, to protect and guard you and your families and your fathers.
This sacrifice exists in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam, is the prophet of all those religions and all of us believe in him. You will be holy and noble if you follow these holy and noble prophets, alayhim as-salam. This is the reality of unity.
We are the children of Sufism. This is the faith of all the prophets, alayhim as-salam. If anyone wants to pay a sacrifice at the special time of Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam, it is a great thing. Anyone who wants to slaughter a sheep and pay a sacrifice, we can do this in the Holy Land and feed the poor and needy people. This is sunnah until the Last Day, and no one can remove this sunnah. It is in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. It is for poor people and you can feed your family from your sacrifice, also.
In another teaching from the book Secret of the Spirit, Sidi says:
This way of purifying oneself (the sacrifice) became the accepted way, from that time until today, until eternity. It became the way of purification that we must follow. But it is not as people understand; it is not to just kill an animal and eat it. It is a way of granting sacrifice and purification.
The Angel Jibril, alayhi-s-salam, said to Ibrahim, “You believed in the divine vision and so We will ransom you. We will save you and your son; we will purify you.”
This is why anyone who wants to walk this path must also offer a sacrifice on behalf of his physical being, his heart, his soul, and his spirit. This is the first step to walking the path of purification, the path toward Allah, in the way of the people of Allah, the people who walk in the way of purity. We have to offer a sacrifice to purify ourselves.
The door is open if you want to pay a sacrifice. This is the sunnah of Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi-s-salam, Sayyidina Musa (Moses), alayhi-s-salam, and Sayyidina Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. You can write your name on a piece of paper. When we kill the sheep we will ask Allah, Most High, to accept the name of the person and family making the sacrifice. I will sacrifice it with my own hands, insha’a-llah. Give what you can.
If you’d like to give a sacrifice to protect yourself and your family and to purify your body, your heart, your soul, and your spirit, you can do so through SSC. We work with Sidi’s family to ensure your donations reach the people who need it most in the Holy Land.
How to Make a Sacrifice
To Help Your Walking, Purify Yourself, and Protect Yourself and Your Family
Help Those in Need in the U.S.
Click the button below to help people in our Sufi community who are in crisis and need emergency financial assistance at any time and in any amount. For over 15 years we’ve been helping beloveds who need it, when they need it. Alhamdulillah. Learn more about the Beloveds In Need program.
If you’d like to make your sacrifice with a check, make your check out to SSC and mail it to:
5500 Military Trail
Jupiter, FL 33458
If you’d like to dedicate your sacrifice to a loved one, write it in the memo line of the check or attach a note.