Beloved Ones of God,
Abraham is considered by the pious as the father of three great religions: of Christianity, of Judaism, and of Islam.
The Old Testament stands as a backbone behind the New Testament. The Qu’ran is the interpretation of the Hebrew religion, and the Hebrew religion continued the message which was first given by Abraham. And therefore in these three religions there is the influence of this great master, of whom so little is known to the world. His initiation took place in the old school of Egypt; and when coming back from Egypt after his initiation he felt intuitively the place where his message was going to culminate, and was going to be a world message. In that place he put a stone, and that stone was called the Ka’ba. A stone which attracts thousands and millions of people for hundreds of years, where they go and offer their homage. A place which was visited with respect and reverence, with that sacred stone in view by the great prophet of Beni-Israel.
Since this generation has so much to learn from the past traditions, it is not wise to overlook something that has been the foundation of religions. Abraham’s great mission was to take away the religion of superstition, and the religion of many gods. Abraham’s mission was to remove from the minds of the people the idea of (sun God) some God, and to establish in their minds the idea of the Infinite Being. Abraham was the great prophet; at the same time a teacher of esotericism, a great initiator and a mystic. There is much to be learned in the religion of Abraham about mysticism.
And the symbology of Abraham’s story of sacrifice is narrative of Sufi principle. The Sufis of the ancient school, which now exists in different parts of Asia, trace their origin from the time of Abraham, which makes a link of the Sufi school with the ancient school of Egypt. The story is that God asked Abraham, to test his devotion, that he must bring his son a sacrifice to God. And he obeyed, and he brought his son to the altar. And then they saw that instead of his son there was a sheep, and the son was standing on one side. Abraham thanked God for His great mercy, and at the same time passed through that test.
Today many will be very shocked at this story. In the first place they will say, ”Why had God such a cruel test for His prophet, for His messenger, for the worker of humanity? To put him to such a terrible test. And what pleasure will God have by the death of His beloved son?” But that is another way of looking at it. To give all one has, even his son. In the path of God apart, have they not given their sons in the battlefield, the most devoted mothers and fathers, and wives and sisters and daughters? How much they have offered. And yet that was the thing to do when the moment came that the occasion demanded a sacrifice; they had to do it. If life asks for such sacrifice, it is not out of place, it is not to be surprised. The one who brings the message of God, one who teaches the path, shows the path of God, if of him great sacrifice is asked, it is not to be surprised.
But the story is one thing and the symbolism is another thing; it is a symbolism. The animal part of man is called Nafs; it is the false ego. And the human part of man is called Ruh; it belongs to the higher spheres. Man has two aspects. He is composed of two things: what he has borrowed from the earth, and what he has got from heaven. What is in him of heaven makes him human; what he has got of the earth is the animal part in man. What was asked of Abraham was to annihilate the Nafs of his son, to make him, to prepare him for the service of God. No one can serve God fully unless that part which is called Nafs, that material part, is crushed.
Therefore this sacrifice is a symbolism, a symbology, expressing the main object there is in developing the Sufi ideal, which is called Fana. Fana means annihilation, the annihilation of the false ego. That is the picture. This story is a lesson to every soul, that after one has annihilated one’s own false ego, then those who are devoted to him, those who give themselves in his guidance, to annihilate that part in them, in order that the real life may manifest to its fullness.
The message of Moses was of the greatest importance, especially at the time when it was brought. The people were far away from order and peace. There was avariciousness, there was greediness, there was falsehood, there was great treachery; one killed another, just in a little quarrel. At that time what was most necessary was not only a form of worship or a message of wisdom, what was most necessary was the divine law. And it was a most difficult thing to make people abide by the law. If it was not the prophet’s message it would not have been easy to make that law known. Besides, during all different civilizations, the law of Moses has been behind them. Their laws were constructed on the law of Moses, the standard of righteousness was built on the message which Moses gave.
Today there is a tendency to say, ”But the law is different; but kindness is different.” But there must be a law. If there was only kindness, where would the world end? We cannot only live on water, we need food also. Only kindness cannot suffice the purpose, the law is necessary. If not, today, the world as it is, people would be very glad to have no law at all. But at the same time, what difference is there between the law that a prophet gives and the law that man makes? In America, since the law has been made that people must not drink, they say people drink more than they have ever done before. Paper has given it to them, not the prophet. This makes a difference between the dead law and the living law. And there comes the dead law from the paper; people look at the paper and then shut the book and go on doing whatever they like; they do not care for it.
Now we come to the life of Muhammad. He said to his people, ”Never touch liquor.” They have obeyed for many centuries. And some who would like to have a glass hide themselves. They do not want to give the example to the others. And next day they say, ”Toba, toba,” which means, ”God forbid.” They are very sorry, they are ashamed of themselves. They do not stand and say, ”We do not care for the law the Prophet has given.” They don’t say, ”We like to drink.” Never. They say, ”We are sorry.” They will go on drinking perhaps all their life, but at the same time never with that boldness, that ”What do I care, let them keep the law in the court.” Never. It is the sacred law, and they take it as sacred.
They did not know what kindness meant. Besides, all the imagery that the Prophet has given to his people, the people were of that particular evolution. He could not have told them about the soul’s greatness and a natural evolution. He had to tell them, when they said, ”What is paradise, what is its life?” he had to tell them, streams of honey and fountains and milk they will find in Paradise. Because honey and milk to them was dearer than wisdom. He had to frighten them with the fire of hell; if not, they were ready to fight. But imagine that the words of the Prophet could fight with swords. What can be a greater miracle? It is not true that the Prophet always used his sword. The sword has in the cover. It was the Prophet’s personality which won. No one but a soldier would have made impression on those people, who were ready to fight; who showed himself to be one among them, and at the same time God’s messenger, together with the courage and bravery and strength and power that the Prophet showed.
The charm of the Prophet’s personality was so Feat, his tenderness, his gentleness, the mildness was so great. Once his pupils said to the Prophet, ”This man who came here, he always talked against you, Prophet, and he is always working against you. He is not worth anything. Why did you rise when he came?” That consideration, that thoughtfulness, even to his enemies. When the daughter of the Prophet was killed by an accident, but the Arab was brought, the Prophet said, ”I forgive you; God may forgive you.”
The Prophet’s manner was so gentle with people that one day (every day when he used to go to offer his prayers in the mosque a woman who was very antagonistic wished to throw garbage on the Prophet, every day, and he used to shake the dust off his robe; he never looked back, he never stopped) but one day the dust was not thrown on him. That day he went to the house and knocked at the door, and the man came and said, ”Is you wife very well?” The man looked at the Prophet, and said, ”She has been so bad and so unkind against you, and called you so many names, how have you come?” ”I have never taken any notice of it, only today I thought she has not appeared; is she well?” That was his manner with his enemies.
And there are many disciples of that nature: a hundred times they came to him, a hundred times they ran away. Every time they came again, even after having fought with him, and he received them with open arms, saying, ”You are my own.”
In the end there was an opportunity given for him to be the king of Hijaz. He was the conqueror, conqueror of his own people. They had none among them so great and good; they all wished, they considered it their greatest privilege and honor, to have of them their sultan. The Prophet refused; the wealth of the earth was nothing to him. His whole life was given to the cause of humanity, to the work of God. The day when he conquered, the enemies were brought, especially those who had killed his relatives, his pupils, his most devoted disciples, those who worked shoulder to shoulder with him and saved his life with many difficulties, who had opposed the Prophet in every way for many years, throwing him out of his country three times in his life, putting out every one of his followers, and giving no opportunity for him to spread his message in his own country.
And in the end he is the conqueror, and those people are brought before him. And when there was a question what to do with them he said, ”God forgive them.” That is all. ”I forgive you, my brothers.” The humanity is never too evolved to follow that principle, the principle of forgiveness, to forgive one’s bitterest enemies. The Prophet was an example, an example of the art of humanity, the art of personality. Both sides of nature, Jelal and Jemal, equally balanced: ready to handle the sword, ready to defend his country, toil on the land, march like a soldier, take interest in the affairs of the nation; and meditative of such a great, kind, and wonderful capacity that he would go in the forest and live there without food for months and months, meditating and communicating with his Lord, living in the midst of the world, proving not to be of the world.
It is that impression which has conquered the followers of the Prophet. If by the sword they had been converted, today they would have been indifferent to him. There is no influence of the sword just now. It was not the sword, it was charm of personality, kindness of spirit, that even today hundreds and thousands of Muslims, when you mention the name of the Prophet, their eyes bring tears, nothing else in the world then manifests before them than the picture of the Prophet.
This shows that every time when the message of God has been given to the world, there was a certain peculiarity in the way it was presented to the world because every messenger was made fit for his own time, and his message suited to that particular time. But behind it all there is one Truth, and one Divine Wisdom in all religions; and it is to spread that Divine Wisdom throughout the world that the Sufi Message has been destined.
God Bless You.