The Prophet of Meditation
In Massalikal Jinan, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba (r.a) refers to Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) as the Prophet of Meditation. In fact, Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) initiated humankind to meditation and divine love through his son Ismael. For example, it is through the action of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) that God says: “You will truly reach divine love when you accept to give that which you cherish and love the most.’
“You will never attain true Piety until you spend in the Way of Allah out of what you love so dearly. And whatever you spend, it is surely known to Allah”
Quran Sura 3, V 92.
God has always taught Mankind through experience. And He used the example of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) as a means to teach humanity, for examples are the only means to create awareness amongst people. In fact, God did the same during the apostolates of all Prophets (pbut) in order to awaken His Creatures’ consciousness.
The Sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh): A Testimony of Love
Let us remember that all teachings from the lives of the Prophets (peace be upon them) are about divine love. God does not need any human sacrifice to be made to Him, for He is the Creator. Even in the absence of sacrifice, we will all die and return to Him. Through the experience of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh), there is a profound meaning for us to seek, discover and, above all, to embody within us.
Through his quest of the Eternal, Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh), calls upon all creatures in their quest of God. There are different paths available to the seeker. When we look carefully at the question of sacrifice in the case of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh), what exactly does it mean?
The question of human will and divine will has arisen in the individual. How, then, can we resolve the shock of these two wills in order to allow divine will to prevail and manifest in us?Sheikh Aly N’Daw
The story of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) is a testimony of Love, for he loved his Lord, while manifesting and embodying the Divine within. Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) demonstrated this through his travels and by the very fact that he did not adhere to his parent’s beliefs, nor those who worshipped idols, until he became the friend of God. He then came back to his Lord, only to ask for an offspring. This offspring meant everything for him, for in his prayers he did not cease to mention offspring and heir.
LOVE, DETACHMENT AND ACCEPTANCE
From the family relationships legacy to the planetary family
Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) developed an attachment for this wish, which would therefore compromise his love of God. This is a phenomenon that everybody experiences in their relationships with their parents and children. In fact, Khalil Gibran says, regarding the parent and children relationship:
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they do not belong to you.”
If we look closely at what made the experience of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) so significant for humankind, we can see that both the mother and the son had agreed to it. This experience was the foundation of what God refers to as the “Abrahamic religion”, a religion that is rooted in monotheism. The question is, how can we reach such a symbiosis in a couple and in a family?
THE QUEST OF THE DIVINE
With the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh), the question of family and society arises. On which foundation can we establish a thought which parents and children will all adhere? In this perspective, the approach of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) is very important in the sense that his starting point is the quest of God.
How do we define the Divine? Some describe the Divine as the universal spirit or the cosmic force. Others refer to the Divine by many other names. In essence, it is that on which we can focus all our attention. Jesus gives a definition more relevant to human nature, in the sense that it evokes the entire question of love when he says: “God is really what we love the most, that for which we are ready to forsake everything else. This is one’s true God.”
This refers to the higher dimension of love, and Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) demonstrated this. In his approach, he left the realm of the family as well as an entire civilisation, to head towards the desert in his quest of the Lord, for whom he had boundless love. Subsequently, he faced the fundamental question of family ties in relation to the love of God.
Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) repositions the question of what we, human beings, truly love. It is on the basis of what we love that we build our family. This is first and foremost, our own imaginary world that we establish and through which we bring forth the elements necessary to its accomplishment.
Hence, we discover another dimension, that is the human being as a microcosm in relation to the macrocosm. Through the experiences that we live, there is a clear part, which symbolises the day and an obscure part which corresponds to the night. This shows that we do not receive anything from the external world capable of shedding light on our own belief.
What can we resort to, other than our past experience, to guide us through the tunnel? In this context, we find that many people turn back when it comes to living the obscure part of the journey. What this surely means is that they want to go through another part of the journey representing the day. However, the night still remains. And one must necessarily go through both day and night in order to reach a state of balance in the ultimate reality.
This is the ultimate reality that Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) experienced by showing God that he placed his love of God above all other forms of love.
This is what religion truly is.
We must grasp the symbolism, understand it fully and view it in the current context. This is what enables us to understand the eternal nature of the teachings of the Prophets (pbut) and see their relevance to our current context, despite their constant evolution with the passage of time.
DIVINE LOVE, THE BRIDGE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH
God enables Mankind to discover Love through the experience of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh), and makes the experience of divine love a reality by saying:
“You will experience true love when you accept to give that which you cherish and love the most.” So, there is no compulsion to give that which you love the most, for you are in the state of acceptance.
Divine love, in fact, is a bridge between life and death. Through love, death gives a sense of purpose to life. However, it is only through divine love that death can give meaning to life.
The acceptance of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) and his dialogue with God
The example of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) and his acceptance is most significant for the whole of humanity till the end of times. God could not have taken a better example to teach the whole of Mankind what divine Love is about. It was the most beautiful, poignant and relevant example to illustrate the capacity to accept and the power to offer, that was the driving force of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh).
God says: “When you accept…” This implies that we have a choice to make, about what we truly love and cherish. What do we all cherish?
This is something that touches the innermost depth of the human being, so that he can converse with himself, and in complete secrecy with his Lord.
The example of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) is that of a secret dialogue between him and his Lord.
This article contains extracts from the conferences and speeches of Sheikh Aly N’Daw.