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Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.)

He is Ibrahim (Abraham) son of: Tarih, Nasoor, Sarough, and his descent goes to Sam, son of Noah, as stated in the Torah. However, the Holy Quran had mentioned that his father’s name was “Azar”. There has been a debate about this issue.

Genealogists differed about whether Azar was really the father of Ibrahim or not. One opinion suggested that Azar was not the father of Ibrahim because Allah says in his Holy Quran that Ibrahim refrained from asking forgiveness for his father whose name appeared as “Azar” in the Quran, and that he has disavowed him after discovering that he is an enemy of Allah. Others are of the opinion that Azar was the grandfather of Ibrahim (on his mother’s side), which suggests that his grandfather was an unbeliever. Moreover, historical sources differed about the birthplace of prophet Ibrahim. Some historians mentioned that he was born in a village near Damascus named “Barzah” in the Qassiyoon Mountain. Others suggest, he was born in Babel, Iraq, and the reason why his birthplace was said to be born in Barzah was because he had prayed there after he came to help his nephew Lut.

Ibrahim was born after his father reached seventy-five years of age; he was the eldest son of Azar. As he became a youth, Ibrahim got married to Sarah, who was barren. He then migrated with his father and his wife to the holy land and settled in Har’ran, a village near Al-Sham whose people used to worship idols.

The circumstances that Ibrahim (a.s.) lived in:

A – Idolatry:

The environment that Ibrahim was born in did not differ from the one that Noah lived in with respect to idolatry, which was then prevalent in Babel so that every city, rather every province, had its own deity and all the deities were joined to one big deity.

In such an environment and circumstances, Allah bestowed upon Ibrahim and gave him conscious awareness and gave him the belief in one God Who is dominating the whole universe “And certainly We gave to Ibrahim his rectitude before, and We knew him fully well.”(21: 51). So Ibrahim was resolved to guide his people and to dismantle nulls and voids and the superstitions that they believed in from their grandfathers. He went to them with advice, asking them about their gods: “When he said to his father and his people: What are these images to whose worship you cleave?” (21: 52).

Ibrahim wanted to liberate his people from idolatry by showing them the path of consciousness and guidance and that what they are doing is delusion and against human natural disposition which is based on monotheism, and that idolatry is false and misleading, and because Allah Who created everything is alone the healer and the One who gives life and takes it away; He is the Provider, the Forgiving “Who created me, then He has shown me the way: And He Who gives me to eat and gives me to drink: And when I am sick, then He restores me to health. And He Who will cause me to die, then give me life; And Who, I hope, will forgive me my mistakes on the day of judgment.” (26:78-82).

B - Ibrahim warns his father:

Ibrahim started his call by talking with the closest to him. So he started with his father who was on top of the idol worshippers. He even used to carve and sell idols. It was hard for Ibrahim to see his father doing this, so he urged him to stop while warning him of the consequences of his disbelief in Allah. So with kindness and tenderness as well as with a language of disapproval, Ibrahim approached his purpose and addressed his father “O my father! why do you worship what neither hears nor sees, nor does it avail you in the least” (19:42). In return, Ibrahim did not describe himself as a well-informed scholar, but all what he has is a knowledge he acquired from Allah. So, he was hopeful that his father would follow him - so as to guide him to a straight path-, and not to follow Satan who is the enemy who leads to aberration and eventually to torment “O my father! truly the knowledge has come to me which has not come to you, therefore follow me, I will guide you on a right path: O my father! serve not the Shaitan, surely the Shaitan is disobedient to the Beneficent Allah: O my father! surely I fear that a punishment from the Beneficent Allah should afflict you so that you should be a friend of the Shaitan.” (19:43-45).

But the father did not listen to his son’s advices but rather scorned him saying “Do you dislike my gods, O Ibrahim?” (19:46). He also threatened to stone him if he does not desist from doing so. But Ibrahim despite this harsh treatment faced his father with magnanimity and peaceful acceptance “He said: Peace be on you” (19:47). He also promised him to ask Allah forgiveness for him, and if his mission would harm him then Ibrahim would be ready to isolate himself from him and his people and the idols they used to worship. Facing his father’s stubbornness and insistence to worship idols, Ibrahim decided to disavow himself from his father “surely He is ever Affectionate to me.” (19:47).

C - Ibrahim breaks the idols:

After he faced his father’s renunciation for his mission and after he realized that his father was an enemy of Allah, Ibrahim decided to pursue his mission. So, he went to the idols themselves with an intention to destroy them so as to establish the evidence to his people that these idols would neither harm nor avail them.

Ibrahim waited for an opportunity to carry out his objective. It was a holiday in their traditions, and his father tried to take him out with him to participate in the ceremony perhaps this would bring in happiness to him. So Ibrahim accepted his father’s invitation. But as he went out, he came up with an excuse to be left behind. So, he looked at the stars and told his father that he was going to have the plague. The people got scared of him and left him alone. He then went to where the idols were with food and drinks in front of them (as people claimed they eat and drink).

When he reached the temple, Ibrahim went to the idols, saying with mockery “What! Do you not eat?” (37:91). And since these idols were speechless they did not reply, then he heaped them up with an ax and turned them into small pieces and left the chief idol with the ax in his hand and then left the temple.

People’s reaction of the idols’ destruction:

When the people returned and saw what happened to their idols, they asked themselves about who would the perpetrator be. Some of them indicated that there was a youth named Ibrahim who used to fault the idols and mock at them. The news about the destruction of the idols reached the rulers and Ibrahim was brought forward and asked “Have you done this to our gods, O Ibrahim?” (21:62). But Ibrahim, being wise and tactful was able to deny his relation to the incident, and referred them to the chief idol who got angry of the others and destroyed them “He said: Surely (some doer) has done it; the chief of them is this, therefore ask them, if they can speak.

Ibrahim’s words had great influence on the people. They started blaming one another for accusing Ibrahim as they realized that these idols could not speak. But soon they were wide-awake and shameful of their ignorance; how can they ask speechless idols.

After realizing that they were in trouble, the people tried to minimize the effects of their defeat. Thus, they stopped arguing and disputing and resorted to power and issued a death sentence (by burning) on Ibrahim. But Allah’s will was stronger than their intrigues. By His command and will the fire that the people kindled turned into “acomfort and peace to Ibrahim.” (21:69)

The continuation of the mission; the proof of Allah’s oneness:

Despite the use of force against him, Ibrahim never lost a chance to argue with his people using all kinds of means to abolish the worshipping of planets, the sun, and the moon. For this he employed a very precise and subjective method so as not to degrade their idols and stultify their beliefs because if he does so they will antagonize him. And for his words to have the ability to penetrate their hearts “And thus did We show Ibrahim the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and that he might be of those who are sure. So when the night over-shadowed him, he saw a star; said he: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: I do not love the setting ones. Then when he saw the moon rising, he said: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: If my Lord had not guided me I should certainly be of the erring people. Then when he saw the sun rising, he said: Is this my Lord? Is this the greatest? So when it set, he said: O my people! surely I am clear of what you set up (with Allah). Surely I have turned myself, being upright, wholly to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth, and I am not of the polytheists.” (6:75-79).

Ibrahim kept pace with his people and addressed them according to their minds and perceptions so as to nullify their beliefs. He then turned to prove Allah’s divinity with the exclusion of all other creatures. This was the conceitedness of that king (Nimrod) who claimed divinity. After he asked to meet Ibrahim there had been a dialogue endowed with profound significance that also revealed the extensiveness of Ibrahim’s awareness and perception. So the king asked him about his god “My Lord is He who gives life and causes to die” (2:258). The king found himself in an embarrassing situation “he said: I give life and cause death” (2:258), I take two men who deserve death so I kill one and by this I am causing death and pardon the other and by that I am giving life. But Ibrahim replied with firmness and confidence “Ibrahim said: So surely Allah causes the sun to rise from the east, then make it rise from the west; thus he who disbelieved was confounded; and Allah does not guide aright the unjust people.” (2:258).

After successfully wining this debate with the conceited king whereas Ibrahim has proven that divine might is infinite, he asked Allah to show him how He gives life to the dead. This issue did not lessen Ibrahim’s faith but was to restore his heart to confidence “And when Ibrahim said: My Lord! show me how Thou givest life to the dead, He said: What! and do you not believe? He said: Yes, but that my heart may be at ease. He said: Then take four of the birds, then train them to follow you, then place on every mountain a part of them, then call them, they will come to you flying; and know that Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (2:260).

Ibrahim’s marriage to Sarah and his migration to Egypt:

Ibrahim had settled for some time in Hirran where got married to his cousin Sarah. And because of his people’s renunciation of his mission, with the exception of Lut, which widened the gap between him and his people, Ibrahim decided to migrate “I am fleeing to my Lord, surely He is the Mighty, the Wise.”(29:26).

Ibrahim headed towards Al-Sham known then as the Kanaan Land where he stayed there for s short time. He was then forced along with some people to leave Al-Sham due to severe distress that afflicted him. So he moved to Egypt that returned from to Palestine along with his wife Sarah and a female slave called Hajar.

Ibrahim’s marriage to Hajar:

Sarah was a barren old woman and Ibrahim wanted to have a son. So, he called Allah to bestow upon him a pious son and Sarah felt what was in his mind. She asked him to marry his female slave Hajar, perhaps Allah would endow him with a son. In deed Ibrahim got married to Hajar and was blessed with a son whom he named Ismail (Ishmael).

Hajar started to brag about her having a child something which evoked jealousy in Sarah’s soul who could not withstand Hajar’s behavior. So she asked Ibrahim to take her away .

Ibrahim fulfilled Sarah’s wish, which was also supported by the divine auspices which revealed to him to take Hajar and Ismail to Mecca. So, he walked with them until he was ordered to stop in an empty space away from inhabited areas in the place where the Kaaba will be built. Then he decided to return to Egypt and leave Hajar along with Ismail there, where there was no water and food. But Hajar followed him and tried several times to win over his sympathy, but he went on his way back. Hajar finally realized that Allah has ordered Ibrahim to leave her there and was contented.

Ibrahim went back and his heart was broken but he yielded to his God while supplicating these words “O our Lord! surely I have settled a part of my offspring in a valley unproductive of fruit near Thy Sacred House, our Lord! that they may keep up prayer; therefore make the hearts of some people yearn towards them and provide them with fruits; haply they may be grateful: O our Lord! Surely Thou knowest what we hide and what we make public, and nothing in the earth nor any thing in heaven is hidden from Allah.”(14:37-38).

Hajar used all the food and water that Ibrahim left with them and thirst started to creep into them. Thirst writhed Ismail, so Hajar rushed to look for water in this barren land.

She climbed an elevated place known as “As-Safa” but she couldn’t find a trace of water. Weary, she descended it as thirst started to wear them out. She then climbed another elevated place called “al-Marwa” and also could not find any water. So she went back and forth from As-Safa to al-Marwa seven times. She then stopped and rushed to her son as she saw the birds hovering over him. She rushed to where her son was, and she saw the water gushing out so she scooped up the water and gave her son to drink and drank herself.

It happened that there was a group of people from the Borhom tribe passing-by who saw the birds and wandered why they were hovering over that place. Because this usually does not happen unless there is water and they know beforehand that water is not available in that area. Thus, they sent one of them to find out what is happening there, and he rushed back to bring the good news to them. And then the people went to Hajar and asked her to accept their presence nearby her provided that water remains hers. Hajar welcomed them, and they settled there until Ismail grew up and got married to a woman and learned Arabic from her.

Ismail consent to his father’s request:

Ibrahim did not forget his son, but kept visiting him from time to time. Once Ibrahim dreamed that Allah was commanding him to slaughter Ismail, and Ibrahim decided to carry out this divine command. So, he put forth this to his son to test his faith. Ismail agreed and told him to do whatever he is commanded to do and that he will be loyal and content.

As they both surrendered to Allah’s fate and divine decree, Ibrahim began to slaughter him from his nape but the knife did not cut. Miraculously, Allah redeemed him with a great slaughtering (ram), and so Ibrahim passed Allah’s test with flying colors .

Ibrahim stayed away from his son for a long time, then he went back to him when he was commissioned to carry out one of the greatest tasks in the history of mankind , that is when Allah commanded him along with Ismail to build the Kaaba. So they started building the Kaaba, Ibrahim building and Ismail passing to him the blocks. They wanted to have a burrow at the corner, so Gabriel suggested to him the Black Stone. As they were building they were supplicating to Allah “And when Ibrahim and Ismail raised the foundations of the House: Our Lord! accept from us; surely Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing”(2:127) until they completed building the Kaaba’s walls.

After finishing building the Kaaba Allah favored him with his care and commanded him and Ismail to purify the place for the visitors and Ibrahim called on Allah to make Mecca a safe place full of good and subsistence “And when We made the House a pilgrimage for men and a (place of) security, and: Appoint for yourselves a place of prayer on the standing-place of Ibrahim. And We enjoined Ibrahim and Ismail saying: Purify My House for those who visit (it) and those who abide (in it) for devotion and those who bow down (and) those who prostrate themselves. And when Ibrahim said: My Lord, make it a secure town and provide its people with fruits, such of them as believe in Allah and the last day. He said: And whoever disbelieves, I will grant him enjoyment for a short while, then I will drive him to the chastisement of the fire; and it is an evil destination. And when Ibrahim and Ismail raised the foundations of the House: Our Lord! accept from us; surely Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing.”  (2:125-127).

Ibrahim was distinguished with certain characteristics that are rarely found in prophets since he is the grandfather of the prophets particularly the great prophet Mohammed (p.). Allah took him up as a servant before making him a prophet and coupled his prophecy with trueness so he was known to be very truthful “And mention Ibrahim in the Book; surely he was a truthful man, a prophet.” (21:41). And truthfulness was made to be one of the foundations that prophecy rests on. Allah then took him up as an apostle to communicate his God’s mission. “Then he took him up as a friend “and Allah took Ibrahim as a friend.” (21:41), then as an Imam “And when his Lord tried Ibrahim with certain words, he fulfilled them. He said: Surely I will make you an Imam of men. Ibrahim said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the unjust, said He.” (21:41). Indeed, with all these exalted and noble characteristics Ibrahim has turned into a nation in itself who held all the virtues and who has devoted himself to the worship of Allah “Lo! Abraham was a nation obedient to Allah, by nature upright, and he was not of the idolaters.” (16:120).