Prayer and Sacrifice: Ibn Taymiyah

In part of his commentary on surah al-Kawthar, ibn Taymiyah included the following beautiful points:

وقوله‏:‏ ‏{‏فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ‏}‏ ‏[‏الكوثر‏:‏ 2‏]‏، أمره الله أن يجمع بين هاتين العبادتين العظيمتين، وهما الصلاة والنسك الدالتان على القرب والتواضع والافتقار وحسن الظن، وقوة اليقين، وطمأنينة القلب إلى الله، وإلى عدته وأمره، وفضله، وخلفه، عكس حال أهل الكبر والنفرة وأهل الغني عن الله الذين لا حاجة في صلاتهم إلى ربهم يسألونه إياها، والذين لا ينحرون له خوفًا من الفقر، وتركًا لإعانة الفقراء وإعطائهم، وسوء الظن منهم بربهم؛ ولهذا جمع الله بينهما في قوله تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏قُلْ إِنَّ صَلاَتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ‏}‏ ‏[‏الأنعام‏:‏ 162‏]‏،والنسك هي الذبيحة ابتغاء وجهه‏.‏ ـ

Allah’s statement:

فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ

So pray to your Lord and sacrifice [108:2]

Allah commanded the Prophet to perform both of these great acts of worship, the salah and ritual sacrifice, both of which indicate drawing closer to Allah, humility towards Allah, need for Allah, good thoughts of Allah, utmost certainty in Allah, and a heart at peace with Allah, His promises, His commands, His bounty, and His creation. This is completely opposite to the state of the arrogant ones, the rejecters, those who do not consider themselves in need of Allah, who do not ask Allah for their needs in their prayers, those who do not sacrifice for Allah out of fear of poverty, those who do not help the poor or give to the needy, who have bad expectations of their Lord.

That is why Allah mentioned these two acts of worship together in His statement:

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. [6:162]

And the sacrifice here is slaughtering an animal, seeking Allah’s pleasure in doing so.

والمقصود أن الصلاة والنسك هما أجَلّ ما يتَقَربُ به إلى الله‏.‏ فإنه أتي فيهما بالفاء الدالة على السبب؛ لأن فعل ذلك -وهو الصلاة والنحر- سبب للقيام بشكر ما أعطاه الله إياه من الكوثر، والخير الكثير، فشكر المنعم عليه وعبادته أعظمها هاتان العبادتان، بل الصلاة نهاية العبادات، وغاية الغايات ـ

The point here is that salah and sacrifice are the most wonderful ways to draw closer to Allah. And the preposition faa here – “so” – is used here to indicate the reason for that: i.e. performing these actions – prayer and sacrifice – is done to show gratitude for the Kawthar and great bounty that Allah has given the Prophet. And the greatest forms of showing one’s gratitude to Allah for His blessings and worshiping Him are those two forms of worship, for salah is the ultimate and utmost form of worship.

كأنه يقول‏:‏ ‏{‏إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ‏}‏، الخير الكثير، وأنعمنا عليك بذلك لأجل قيامك لنا بهاتين العبادتين، شكرًا لإنعامنا عليك، وهما السبب لإنعامنا عليك بذلك‏.‏ فقم لنا بهما، فإن الصلاة والنحر محفوفان بإنعام قبلهما، وإنعام بعدهما ـ

It is as if Allah was saying:

‏إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ

Indeed, We have granted you al-Kawthar [108:1]

that is, a great bounty, and We have blessed you with that so that you would enact these two acts of worship towards Us out of gratitude for Our having blessed you. These acts of worship are also the reason for Us having blessed you with al-Kawthar, so enact them for Our sake. For salah and sacrifice are surrounded by blessings both leading up to them and following them.

وأجل العبادات المالية النحر، وأجل العبادات البدنية الصلاة، وما يجتمع للعبد في الصلاة، لا يجتمع له في غيرها من سائر العبادات، كما عرفه أرباب القلوب الحية، وأصحاب الهمم العالية، وما يجتمع له في نحره من إيثار الله، وحسن الظن به وقوة اليقين، والوثوق بما في يد الله أمر عجيب، إذا قارن ذلك الإيمان والإخلاص‏.‏ ـ

The most magnificent form of financially-based worship is sacrifice, and the most wonderful form of physical worship is salah.

The goodness that comes together for a person in salah does not all come together for him in any other form of worship, and this is something that people with living hearts and high aspirations know to be true. And the goodness that comes together for a person when he is performing the sacrifice – such as giving priority to Allah above his own self, having good thoughts and expectations of Allah, certain faith, and trusting in Allah – all of this is truly amazing when it is paired with faith and sincere devotion to Allah.

وقد امتثل النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أمر ربه، فكان كثير الصلاة لربه كثير النحر، حتى نحر بيده في حجة الوداع ثلاثًا وستين بُدْنة، وكان ينحر في الأعياد وغيرها‏.‏ ـ

And the Prophet complied with his Lord’s command, for he was prolific in his prayers to his Lord and prolific in sacrificing, so much so that he sacrificed 63 animals by his own hand during the Farewell Hajj, and he also used to sacrifice on the ‘Eids and at other times as well.

[Majmoo’ al-Fatawa 16/293-294]

See also: The Objective of Hajj: Ibn Taymiyah

See also: Hajj is ‘Arafah: Tafsir ibn Kathir

2 thoughts on “Prayer and Sacrifice: Ibn Taymiyah

    • Alhamdulillaah, glad the relevance of the post to this season of the year was clear. We hope that the relevance of tomorrow’s post related to the very next surah, surah al-Kafiroon, to this season will also be noticed by our readers.

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