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Stories of Sacrifice

by Musa Bukhari

Sacrifice is a virtue that is lost on many of us living in the modern age of convenience and fast service. We like everything to be fast and easy, and any kind of challenge is perceived as an obstacle that gets in the way of our development or achievements. However, there are challenges and hardships that some people choose in order to attain something greater, or something of considerable value. This is what is at the heart of sacrifice—a decision to willingly choose hardship or difficulty or to give up something dear, knowing that it will help you in the long run. A mother who sacrifices her sleep taking care of her children is giving up some of her needs, but she is doing it for a long-term benefit, which also brings her a sense of fulfillment. Students who sacrifice their social life during the college semester may be giving up “fun,” but they are gaining something of value—an education.

There are stories in our tradition about people who sacrificed their nafs (ego/desires) or their wealth, and Allah gave them victory. Allah gave them His Pleasure, His Acceptance. As we read these stories of sacrifice, we should ask ourselves what are we willing to give up for the sake of Allah? How much do we want to give of ourselves to earn Allah’s Pleasure?

The Story of Dawud (alayhis salam)

Making sacrifices requires restraining the ego. It requires doing something you don’t want to do in favor of doing the right thing. When Allah told King Talut and his army to fight the tyrant Jalut, he put together an army to go into battle against him. Young Dawud (A) was part of this army. Allah gives us the account in Surah Al-Baqarah:

“And when Saul went forth with the soldiers, he said, "Indeed, Allah will be testing you with a river. So whoever drinks from it is not of me, and whoever does not taste it is indeed of me, excepting one who takes [from it] in the hollow of his hand." But they drank from it, except a [very] few of them. Then when he had crossed it along with those who believed with him, they said, "There is no power for us today against Jalut (Goliath) and his soldiers." But those who were certain that they would meet Allah said, "How many a small company has overcome a large company by permission of Allah. And Allah is with the patient." (2:249)

As the army marched, they came across a flowing stream. The tired soldiers wanted a drink. Talut warned his men against drinking the water, lest they became lazy. He also wanted to test them. The majority of them chose to drink the water and they were told to turn back. They were not allowed to continue on with the army. Dawud (A) chose to restrain himself and he did not drink the water. He sacrificed his desire for the water to obey the command of Talut, who was the appointed leader, and by extension, to obey the command of Allah. And then Allah gave victory to Talut’s army through Dawud (A).

“So, they defeated them by the will of Allah, and Dawud (David) killed Jalut, and Allah gave him the kingdom and the wisdom and taught him what He willed…” (2:251)

There is a connection between the ability to restrain your desires and courage and victory. When you obey the commands of Allah, you open yourself up to receive special gifts from Him. Everyone receives rizq from Allah in the form of health and provision. But Allah sometimes gives special gifts to those who do the right thing when it matters most. Courage is a gift that Allah gave to Dawud (A) at a young age because despite his age, he had the maturity and the self-control to do the right thing when it mattered. And then when he used this gift of courage for the sake of Allah, Allah gave him more gifts: the kingdom (rule) and hikmah, or wisdom (understanding and judgement).

The Story of Abu Talha (r.a.)

The story of Abu Talha (r.a.) is a remarkable one on personal sacrifice for the sake of Allah that brings tears to one’s eyes. In what is now one of the courtyards of Masjid An-Nabawi, there used to be a garden by the name of Bir-ha that belonged to Abu Talha (r.a.). Its fruits were abundant and the water from its well was sweet. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) himself loved to visit this garden and drink water from its well.

When Allah revealed the ayah, “You will not attain righteousness until you spend of that which you love” (3:92), Abu Talha went to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and said, “O, Prophet of Allah! I love Bir Ha very much. As Allah wants us to spend from that which we love, I make over that garden to be spent in the path of Allah as you please.”

The Prophet (ﷺ) was very much pleased, and remarked: “What a fine present (to Allah)! I think it would be best utilized if you distribute it among your own heirs.” Abu Talha (r.a.) went and acted upon the Prophet’s advice.

Here, Abu Talha won in two ways. One, he earned the reward for his intended action through his beautiful intention. Second, he was able to give the garden to his own heirs, but he also got the reward of obeying the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam).

So many people are afraid of giving up things (or people) for the sake of Allah. But Allah shows us time and time again that sometimes even the intention of sacrifice is enough, as Allah is the Most Generous. He rewards us way more than we can imagine. This is what happened in the case of Ibrahim (A) as well. Ibrahim (A) intended to sacrifice his son for the sake of Allah, but Allah saved him! The sacrifice only ended up killing an animal, and not his beloved son. Intentions are very powerful when it comes to the action of sacrifice for the sake of Allah. Even if we don’t have wealth, or knowledge, we should make the intention, O Allah, if I had it, I would give it, O Allah if I knew it, I would teach it. Then look at how Allah opens His doors for you. Allahu Akbar!

The Story of Uthman ibn Affan (r.a.)

At the time of Uthman (r.a.), water was scarce in Madinah and water wells were controlled by a few, powerful men who owned them. There was a man who owned one of these wells, and he charged the people for it. Uthman (r.a.) wanted to do something for the Muslims so he offered to buy the well from the man, and the man refused. Uthman (r.a.) then said to him to let him rent the well for one day. The man agreed. Uthman (r.a.) would pay for use of the well on this appointed day and would allow the Muslims to use it for free. What happened as a result is that the Muslims stopped going to the well on the other days to avoid paying for it. The man was upset and said to Uthman (r.a), “You have spoilt my business. Now buy it from me!” So Uthman (r.a.) bought the well and gave it as a waqf (endowment) to the Muslim community for the sake of Allah.

Uthman (r.a.) could have kept the well for himself and profited off of it like everyone else used to, but he chose not to. He decided to sacrifice some extra wealth for the sake of Allah and for the benefit of the Muslim community. What opportunities do we have to benefit the Muslim ummah? What are some things we can give for the sake of Allah? What areas in the world need our help? If you have trouble identifying a need, no problem. You can browse the Human Appeal website to see which areas are in need, and how you can help with your generous donations. Human Appeal works with the most vulnerable and needy communities around the world. Whatever you give for the sake of Allah is never lost. It is always recorded for you and multiplied for you by Allah, inshaAllah.

May Allah make us among those who love to sacrifice for His sake, and May He accept from us our intentions and our actions. May Allah make us among those who can make the right choices when it matters, and those who hasten to do good. May Allah forgive us and bless us and our families and communities abundantly with all types of wonderful rizq. Ameen.

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