Dr. Ruhul Amin

MSU photo by Kelly Gorham

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Last month, 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide celebrated their second annual holiday known as Eid-ul-Adha. This event coincides with the annual pilgrimage for Muslims called Hajj, which takes place during the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which is obligatory for those who can afford it financially and physically. Every year, more than three million Muslims from around the world gather in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and its surrounding areas to perform the Hajj rites. However due to the current COVID-19 pandemic for last two years the Hajj was restricted to local residents only. Those who do not go for Hajj celebrate Eid-ul-Adha in their hometowns. Both occasions commemorate the sacrifices of Prophet Abraham. In the Quran, God refers to Islam as “Millata Abeekuum Ibrahim” meaning, “the religion of your father, Abraham” [Quran 22:78].

Followers of the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam call themselves “the children of Abraham.” Islamic scripture states that Prophet Abraham was born in Babylon, Iraq. However, due to the constant persecution from its people, he migrated to different lands. When life became intolerable in Babylon, he migrated to a place called Harran located in present-day Turkey. From Harran, he was forced to migrate to the land of Sham, which constitutes present-day Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. From Sham, he migrated to Egypt. From there he migrated back to Sham and eventually died in Hebron, in West Bank, Palestine. In between, he made several trips to Mecca, Saudi Arabia and built the first house of worship in the world which the Muslims call the Kaaba, the black cubical currently in the center of the grand mosque. Prophet Abraham was a refugee who was forced to flee from his place of birth, migrating from place to place, before eventually changing the history of this world forever.

The tests from God on Prophet Abraham, as described in the Quran, were unprecedented. While most youth in society strive to blend in with their peers, Abraham chose to oppose the status quo, starting from idolatry to injustice and oppression. Abraham even stood up against his own father, whom he loved very much, because he did not accept his life of idolatry. Abraham’s opposition to the evils of his society earned the community’s wrath so much so that they threw him into a fire, but he came out unharmed. God tells us in the Quran: They said, “Burn him and protect your gods if ye do.” We (God) said, “O Fire! Be thou cool, and (a means of) safety for Abraham.” [Quran 21:68-69]. God tested Prophet Abraham again later in life by commanding him to leave his wife Hagar and their son Ishmael in the middle of the desert. A few years later, God would put him through another test when He commanded Abraham to sacrifice the same son.

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Dr. Amin is a professor of mechanical engineering at Montana State University and is the President of the Islamic Center of Bozeman.

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