What does it mean to be ‘Islamic’?


On Eid al-Adha, the Eid of Qurbani let’s reflect on what we are doing. It’s a great outward display of our Islam, commitment, dedication and surrendering to the divine will. It’s time to reflect on how ‘Islamic’ we are. But what does it mean to be ‘Islamic’? Here I explore the meaning of being ‘Islamic’ through the life of Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام .

When someone is ‘Islamic’, I imagine them having a beard, a white robe with a hat and if it’s a woman then someone with a full black hijab. Is that all? I would also expect them to be living by the religious rules, obeying the laws of sharia. I imagine they are strict, straight and strongly opinionated (dogmatic). But what I’ve described is an outward show, dress, harshness, simply a culture. Is that ‘Islamic’?

I think not, ‘Islamic’ is more of an attitude of the heart and mind; full of the love of God and sense of serving others. The Messenger (may peace and blessings of God be upon him) said: “Allah does not look at your faces or your bodies but looks at your hearts and minds, what are they thinking and yearning for”. This is a person who believes firmly in the power and the Majesty of Allah and truthfulness of The Majestic Quran.

Allah says: “The believers will succeed: Those who are humbly focused in their prayers; who turn away from meaningless activities, who give zakat. Who guard their modesty, sexual purity… Who honour trusts placed in them and their covenant; and regularly perform their prayers. Such people are the true heirs, they will inherit Paradise, living in it forever” (Al-Muminoon: 1-11).

You can be wearing denim jeans or a t-shirt, be a Liverpool or Man Utd supporter none of that matters. What really matters is how much you serve your Lord and how you live with others and how you treat them.

Ibrahim as an example of most ‘Islamic’ person
The Majestic Quran provides us with many examples from the lives of prophets and righteous people on how to live as a true Muslim and how to be ‘Islamic’. For example, the Quran tells us about Ibrahim’s dream: “Ibrahim said: My son, I saw in a dream, I slaughtered you; tell me what you think?” He replied, “Father, do as you were told; you’ll find me patient, Allah willing.” When both submitted themselves, Ibrahim laid him face down. We called out, “Ibrahim you have fulfilled the dream. This is how We reward the righteous.” It was a tremendous test of faith. We saved Ismael in exchange for a slaughtered ram and left his tribute among future generations. Peace be on Ibrahim. That’s how We reward the righteous. ” (Saffat: 103-109)

The Quran doesn’t tell us it shows us, so “when both submitted themselves” the Arabic is ‘Aslama’ meaning they were being ‘Islamic’. The father’s wish to sacrifice his most valuable and precious son and the willingness of the son to be sacrificed. Allah instantly stopped Ibrahim from going any further. His mere desire and wish to accept the divine will wholeheartedly was enough, a mark of his faithfulness and him being ‘Islamic’.

Making a sacrifice of an animal is an outward display of submission (Islam). So, this year when you give your Qurbani you are expressing your willingness to surrender your will to the will of Allah and to make every sacrifice to please the Lord Almighty.