Willing to sacrifice is considered as one of the most important aspects of a Muslim’s life and a vital Islamic moral. Since the beginning of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) was mainly concerned with teaching and disciplining Muslims to have the best manners and personal characteristics. His personal life and behaviour were reflective of his teachings, which were revealed to him by Allah. In the Noble Qur’an, Allah describes Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) saying:

“And indeed, you are of a great moral character.”
(Quran, 68:4)

‘sacrifice’ means giving up things، which are valued or desired. Those things may be tangible, countable like time, wealth or life, or intangible, immeasurable like feelings, attitudes, opinions or aspirations. They are given up for the sake of something that is more worthy or more important or more urgent. It is important to bear in mind, though, that primarily sacrifice means slaughter of animal as offering to God, and, hence, surrender to God of some possession.

Sacrifice is the stuff of which good and successful, ordinary human lives are made. Without it, life will be devoid of peace, harmony and co-operation, full of conflict and discord, a prey to self-centeredness, covetousness and immediate gratification of desires. Moreover, neither families nor communities can exist or achieve cohesiveness and strength without some sacrifice on the part of their members. In addition, no human endeavour can succeed in reaching its goal unless one sacrifices things valued or desired.

Islam is not merely the confession of a faith, which is made once in a lifetime. The faith is of cosmic dimensions. It requires a radical reorientation of entire life and the world. The confession is not merely verbal; it is an act of witnessing, which must transform life into a living and continuing testimony of faith. You enter Islam by saying shahadah i.e. bearing witness that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Taking shahadah will bring you in ceaseless confrontation with false gods inside you, and with those outside you. It will also require a ceaseless striving to reshape self and society to attest to your testimony.

The path of Islam cannot therefore be anything other than the path of struggle, and therefore sacrifice. Is not Islam, one might say, a gift of Allah? It surely is. Without His help and His enabling hand, we can take no steps on the straight path, the path of Islam. Yet only through our sincere intention and devoted striving can we deserve to receive this most precious gift, to retain it, to grow in it, to derive full benefit from it. That is why the Qur’an says that Allah

“Guides unto Himself him who turns unto Him”
(al-Shura 42:13).

Turning towards Allah requires both will and effort; it also entails turning away from all false gods besides Allah. It is a total change of direction, inner and outer. Progress, then, depends on striving:َ

“As for those who strive for Us-We will guide them in Our ways. Allah is with the doers of good.”

Islam is not just one gift among many; it is the choicest gift of Allah. Out of all the countless bounties and the blessings that Allah has given us to enable us to live our lives in this world, the greatest and the most important is that He has guided us to the true meaning and purpose in our lives. That purpose and that meaning is to live for Him, to strive to seek His Pleasure, and even to die in His way. If ordinary things in this world cannot be obtained without effort, obtaining meaning and purpose in life, which is Islam, must surely require utmost endeavor. The nature and magnitude of struggle, and of sacrifice, must be commensurate with the nature and value of the goal we want to reach.

And what purpose in life could be more valuable, more compelling, more important, and more urgent, than that of bringing the whole man – his inner personality, his environment, his society, the entire world – to the path of Allah. Without struggling hard, merely by wishing, desiring, professing, making claims and statements, how can we ever hope to reach the destination that we have set for ourselves? If one’s daily bread cannot be earned without effort, will Allah give His greatest blessing – success in this life and success in the life to come – unless we prove that we deserve to receive it? Unless we demonstrate that our profession of faith is rooted in our hearts, that we are truthful in our claims of loyalty, that we are prepared to offer sacrifices required of us.

Allah, the exalted says:

“Or do you expect to enter Paradise, before Allah has distinguished those among you who strive, and before He has distinguished the steadfast? ”

“Have the people supposed that they will be left alone to say, “We believe,” without being put to the test?
* We have tested those before them. Allah will surely know the truthful, and He will surely know the liars.”

Sacrifices contribute to the success of our struggle in two ways. Firstly, they strengthen our inner spiritual and moral resources and develop qualities of character which are essential to our struggle at every level. Secondly, they develop and reinforce cohesion and discipline within a collectivism, giving it the strength and resources to conduct Jihad at the wider social level.

Sacrifices are essential for the development of all moral qualities, but especially for the development of patience, endurance, perseverance, fortitude, resolve and determination. These can be summed up in just one word: Sabr. Every sacrifice reinforces the quality of sabr, making it grow in quality and strength. Sabr, in turn, sustains and increases the capacity to sacrifice. Again, the process is dialectic. All promises of help from Allah, all assurances of success in this world and rewards in the Hereafter, have been made conditional upon the attainment of Iman and Sabr.

{**Q3:139,125 ; Q8:46 ; Q7:137 ; Q39:10}