Ibrahim, the friend of Allah

STORIES OF THE PROPHETS (قـصـص الأنـبـيــاء)

PROPHET IBRAHIM (إبراهيم)
(Aleyhis Salam – peace be upon him)

Who was he?

  • His full name was Ibrahim Ibn Tarikh, Ibn Nahur, Ibn Sarough, Ibn Raghu, Ibn Phaligh, Ibn Aher, Ibn Shalih, Ibn Arfghshand, Ibn Sam, Ibn Nuh
  • He had the title of Khalil-Allah (the intimate friend of Allah). “For Allah did take Ibrahim for (an intimate) friend.” [An-Nisa 4:125]
  • Chapter 14 of the Qur’an was named after him, with 52 verses
  • One of the Ulul Azmi Minar Rusul (the messengers of high status), the second in chronological order

His childhood

  • It was said that during his mother’s pregnancy, King Namrud was informed by his astronomer that a child will be born and will be against idolatry and will fight him. So the king ordered his agents to kill all children to be born at that time. His mother escaped unnoticed to a far-away cave in the dessert and delivered him there.
  • While his mother went back and forth to the town, without anyone noticing her. She closed the cave’s entrance with a stone so it won’t be noticed. He gradually grew up in this cave and stayed there until his early childhood.
  • When the situation cooled down, his mother brought him secretly to the town. Ibrahim stayed with his Ab (may mean either a biological father- Walid, or an ancestor or even an uncle).

His family

  • They were 3 brothers: Ibrahim, Nahor and Haran. Haran had a son named Lut
  • Born in the land of the Chaldeans (Al-Kaldaniyin), also known as Babylonia, an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital
  • At that time some people worshipped idols of stone and wood; others worshipped the planets, stars, sun and moon; still others worshipped their kings and rulers
  • The head of the family, Azar, their father, was not even an ordinary idolater, but was one who totally rejected Allah and whose means of living is making idols.

Ibrahim’s contemplation

  • During his early childhood Ibrahim realized that his father made strange statues. One day, he asked him about what it was he made. His father replied that he made statues of gods. Ibrahim was astonished and he spontaneously rejected the idea.
  • Being a child he played with such statues sitting on their backs as people sit on the backs of donkeys and mules. One day his father saw him riding the statue of Mardukh and he became furious. He ordered his son not to play with it again. Ibrahim asked: “What is this statue, father? It has big ears, bigger than ours.” His father answered: “It is Mardukh, the god of gods, son! These big ears show his deep knowledge.” This made Ibrahim laugh; he was only seven years old at that time.
  • Ibrahim’s people had a big temple full of idols, in the middle of which was a niche accommodating the biggest gods which was of different kinds, qualities and shapes. Ibrahim, who used to go to the temple with his father when he was a child, greatly despised all that wood and stone. What surprised him was the way his people behaved when they entered the temple; they bowed and started to cry, begging and imploring their gods for help as if the idols could hear or understand these requests!
  • At first, such a sight seemed funny to Ibrahim, but later he began to feel angry. Was it not astonishing that all those people could be deceived? What added to the problem was that his father wanted him to be a priest when he was grown.
  • One night Ibrahim left his house to go to a mountain. He walked alone in the dark until he chose a cave in the mountain where he sat resting his back against its wall. He looked at the sky. He had hardly seen it when he remembered that he was looking at planets and stars which were worshipped by some people on earth. His young heart was filled with tremendous pain. He considered what was beyond the moon, the stars and the planets (i.e. Allah) and was astonished that these celestial bodies were worshipped by men when they had been created to worship and obey their Creator, appearing and disappearing at His command.

Ibrahim’s invitation

  • These celestial bodies cannot be worshipped as partners. They are created, fashioned, controlled, managed and made to serve. They appear sometimes and disappear at other times. These celestial bodies are unworthy of worship and they are among the signs of Allah. “And from among His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Prostrate not to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate to Allah Who created them if you really worship Him. [Fussilat 41:37]
  • He did his best to make his people heedful to the belief in the oneness of Allah and to the worship of Him alone. He bade them to firmly renounce the worship of idols. He said to his father and his people: “What are these images, to which you are devoted?” they said: “We found our fathers worshipping them.” He said: “Indeed you and your fathers have been in manifest error.” They said: “Have you brought us the truth, or are you one of those who play about?” He said: “Nay, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Who created them and of that I am of the witnesses.” [Al-Anbiya 21:52-56]
  • Allah does not lose sight of anything, and nothing can be hidden from Him. He is without end, everlasting without disappearance. There is no other deity but Allah. Then his people began arguing and threatening him.
  • He stood against all kinds of polytheism. Allah enlightened his heart and mind and gave him wisdom from childhood. Indeed We bestowed aforetime on Ibrahim his (portion of) guidance, and We were Well Acquainted with him( as to his Belief in the Oneness of Allah, etc.).” [Al-Anbiya 21:51]

Ibrahim’s duty to his father

  • The most amazed and furious was his father (or his uncle who had raised him). He not only worshipped idols but sculpted and sold them, as well. Ibrahim felt that it was his duty as a good son to advise his father against this evil so that he could be saved from Allah’s punishment. Being a wise son he did not make his father feel foolish, nor did he openly laugh at his conduct. He told him that he loved him, thereby hoping to generate fatherly love. Then he gently asked him why he worshipped lifeless idols who could not hear, see or protect him. “And when Ibrahim said to his sire, Azar : Do you take idle for gods ? Surely I see you and your people in manifest error.” [Al-An’am 6:74]
  • Before his father could become angry he hastily added: “O my father! Verily! There has come to me of knowledge that which came not unto you. So follow me. I will guide you to a Straight Path. O my father! Worship not Satan. Verily! Stan has been a rebel against the Most Beneficent (Allah). O my father! Verily! I fear lest a torment from the Most Beneficent (Allah) overtake you as that you become a companion of Satan (in the Hellfire). He (the father) said: “Do you reject my gods, O Ibrahim? If you stop not this, I will indeed stone you. So get away from me safely before I punish you.” Ibrahim said: “Peace be on you! I will ask Forgiveness of my Lord for you. Verily! He is unto me, Ever Most Gracious. And I shall turn away from you and from those whom you invoke besides Allah.” [Maryam 19:43-48]

Ibrahim’s debate with his people

  • His father’s harsh treatment did not stop him. Angry and sad, he was determined to stamp out these practices and went to the town to debate with the people knowing full well that he might suffer harm. He asked them: “Do the idols see you when you prostrate before them? Do they benefit you in any way?” They quickly tried to defend their beliefs. They argued that they knew the idols were lifeless but that their forefathers had worshipped them; to them this was proof enough for their belief.
  • Ibrahim explained that their forefathers had been wrong. This angered them and they retorted: “Are you condemning our gods and our forefathers? Or are you just joking?” Ibrahim replied: “I am serious. I come to you with a true religion. I have been sent with guidance from our Lord Who alone is worthy of worship, Who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and Who regulates all affairs of life, unlike the dumb idols which are just stone and wood.”
  • To convince them that the idols could not harm him, he challenged: “I have already condemned them; of they had any power they would have harmed me by now!” He explained to them the beauty of Allah’s creation, His power and wisdom. [Please read 26:69-82, 22:16-23]

Ibrahim showed them a practical proof

  • He decided to do something about their state of disbelief, but did not reveal it. He knew that there was going to be a great celebration on the other bank of the river which would be attended by all the people. He waited until the city was empty, and then came out cautiously, directing his steps towards the temple. He went there carrying a sharp axe. He looked at the stone and wood statues of the gods and at the food laid in front of them as offerings. He approached one of the statues and asked: “The food in front of you is getting cold. Why don’t you eat?” The statue kept silent and rigid. Ibrahim asked all the other statues around him:Will you not eat of the offering before you?” [As-Saffat 37:91]
  • He started smashing all the idols except one on whose neck he hung the axe. After this his anger subsides, he felt at peace. He left the temple. He had fulfilled his vow to show his people a practical proof of their foolishness in worshipping something other than Allah. When the people returned, they were shocked to see their gods smashed to pieces, lying scattered all over the temple. They began to guess who had done that to their idols and Ibrahim’s name came to their minds.
  • Who has done this to our gods? He must indeed be one of the wrongdoers.” They said: “We heard a young man talking against them who is called Ibrahim.” They said: “Then bring him before the eyes of the people, that they may testify.” they said: “Are you the one who has done this to our gods, O Ibrahim?” Ibrahim said: “nay, this one, the biggest of them (idols) did it, Ask them, if they can speak! So they turned to themselves and said: “Verily you are the Zalimun (polytheists, and wrongdoers).” Then they turned to themselves (their first thought and said): “Indeed you (Ibrahim) know well that these idols speak not?” Ibrahim said: “Do you then worship besides Allah, things that can neither profit you nor harm you? If upon you, and upon that which you worship besides Allah! Have you then no sense?” [Al-Anbiya 21:59-67]

Ibrahim arrested

  • Furious, they demanded that Ibrahim be arrested and tried. Ibrahim did not resist. This was precisely what he had been aiming for, so that he could show them up in public for their foolish beliefs.
  • At the trial they asked him if he was responsible for breaking the idols. Smiling, he told them to ask the biggest idol which was still whole. He told them that he must be the culprit! They replied that he knew well that the idol could not speak or move which gave Ibrahim the chance to prove the foolishness of worshipping these lifeless objects.
  • They then realized the senselessness of their beliefs; however, their arrogance would not allow them to admit their foolishness. All they could do was to use their power of authority as tyrants usually do to punish Ibrahim. They kept him in chains and planned their revenge.

The idolaters’ revenge

  • They decided to throw Ibrahim into the biggest fire they could build. All the citizens were ordered to gather wood as a service to their gods. Ignorant, sick women vowed that if they were cured they would donate so much wood to burn Ibrahim. For several days they collected fuel.
  • They dug a deep pit, filled it with firewood and ignited it. They brought a catapult with which to cast Ibrahim into the fire. Ibrahim was put on the catapult, his hands and feet were tied. The fire was ready with its flame reaching the sky. The people stood away from the pit because of the great heat. Then the chief priest gave his order to cast Ibrahim into the fire. The angel Gabriel came near Ibrahim’s head and asked him: “O Ibrahim do you wish for anything?” Ibrahim replied: “Nothing from you.”
  • The catapult was shot and Ibrahim was cast into the fire. But his descent into the blaze was as descent on steps in a cool garden. The flames were still there, but they did not burn for Allah the Almighty had issued His command: “O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Ibrahim.” [Al-Anbiya 21:69]. The fire submitted to the will of Allah: It became cool and safe for Ibrahim. It only burned his bonds, and he sat in the midst of the fire as if he were sitting in a garden. He glorified and praised Allah. There was not any vacant space therein for fear, awe, or worry. IT was filled with love only.
  • Those who love Allah as Ibrahim do did not fear. Those (believers) unto whom the people (hypocrites) said: “Verily! the people (pagans) have gathered against you (a great army), therefore, fear them.” but it only increased them in Faith, and they said: Allah Alone is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs for us.” So they returned with Grace and Bounty from Allah. No harm touched them; and they followed the good Pleasure of Allah. Allah is the Owner of Great bounty. It is only Satan that suggests to you the fear of his Awliya (supporters and friends, polytheists, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger Muhammad) so fear them not but fear Me if you are true believers.” [Ali Imran 3:173-175]

The idolaters were amazed

  • The idolaters were watching the fire from a distance. It was burning their faces and nearly suffocating them. It kept burning for such a long time that they thought it would never be extinguished. When it did burn out, they were greatly amazed to find Ibrahim coming out of the pit untouched by the fire. Their faces were black from the soke, but his was bright with the light and grace of Allah. The raging fire had become cool for Ibrahim and had only charred the ropes which held him. He walked out of the fire as if he were walking out of a garden. Cries of astonishment were heard from the heathens. “They wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers.[Al-Anbiya 21:70]
  • This miracle shamed the tyrants, but it did not cool the flame of anger in their hearts. However after his event many of the people followed Ibrahim, although some kept their belief a secret for fear of harm or death at the hands of the rulers.
  • King Namrud: When the king heard of Ibrahim’s safe exit from the fire he became very angry. He feared that the status of godhead he had proclaimed for himself was now challenged by an ordinary human being. He summoned Ibrahim to the palace and held a dialogue with him. “Have you not thought about him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord (Allah) because Allah had given him the kingdom? When Ibrahim said to him: “My Lord (Allah) is He Who gives life and causes death.” He said: “I give life and cause death.” Ibrahim said: “Verily, Allah causes the sun to rise from the east; then cause it you to rise from the west.” So the disbeliever was utterly defeated. Allah guides not the people who wrongdoers.” [Al-Baqarah 2:258]

Ibrahim became famous

  • Ibrahim’s fame spread throughout the entire kingdom. People talked about how he had been saved from the blazing fire and how he had debated with the king and left him speechless.
  • In the meantime, Ibrahim continued calling people to believe in Allah, exerting a great effort to guide his people to the right path. He tried every means to convince them. However in spite of his love and care for his people, they felt angry and deserted him.
  • Only one woman and one man of his people shared his belief in Allah. The woman’s name was Sarah who later became his wife. The man’s name was Lut who later became a prophet.

Ibrahim’s migration

  • When Ibrahim realized that no one else was going to believe in his call, he decided to emigrate. In another narration, King Namrud exiled him after he lost to him in a debate. He left his people and traveled with his wife and Lut to a city called Ur, then to another called Harran, and then to In Harran, he saw people worshipping celestial bodies – stars, moon, sun. So he pretended to be like them and gave them a practical example
  • “Thus did We show Ibrahim the kingdom of the heavens and the earth that he be one of those who have Faith and certainty. When the night covered him over with darkness he saw a star. He said: “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said: “I like not that those who set.” When he saw the moon rising up he said: “This is my lord.” but when it set he said: “Unless my Lord guides me, I shall surely be among the erring people.” When he saw the sun rising up he said: “This is my lord, This is greater.” But when it set, he said: “O my people! I am indeed free from all that you join as partners in worship with Allah. Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth Hanifan (Islamic Monotheism, i.e. worshipping none but Allah Alone) and I am not of the Al Mushrikeen (those who worship others besides Allah).“ [Al-An’am 6:75]
  • “So Lut believed in him (Ibrahim’s message of Islamic Monotheism). He (Ibrahim) said: “I will emigrate for the sake of my Lord. Verily, He is the All Mighty, the All Wise.” [Al-Ankabut 29:26]
  • After Palestine, Ibrahim traveled to Egypt, calling people to believe in Allah wherever he traveled, judging fairly between people, and guiding them to truth and righteousness

Ibrahim did not tell a lie except on 3 occasions

  1. “I am sick,” (when his people were holding a festival in honor of their gods, Ibrahim excused himself by saying he was sick.” [As-Saffat 37:89]
  2. “(I have not done this but) the big idol has done it.“ [Al-Anbiya 21:63]
  3. While Ibrahim and Sarah (his 1st wife) were on a journey (to Egypt), they passed by the territory of a tyrant. Someone said to the tyrant that he is accompanied by a very charming lady. The tyrant asked about Sarah. Ibrahim said: “She is my sister.” The tyrant then called Sarah, and when she went to him, he tried to take a hold of her with his hand, but his hand got stiff and he was confounded. He asked Sarah: “Pray to Allah for me and I shall not harm you.” So Sarah asked Allah to cure him and he got cured. He then called one of his guards who had brought her and said: “You have not brought me a human being but have brought me a devil.” The tyrant then gave Hajar as a maid servant to Sarah. Ibrahim, gesturing with his hand, asked: “What has happened?” She replied: “Allah has spoiled his evil plot and gave me Hajar for service.” Ibrahim had aged and Sarah was sterile. Sarah offered her husband her servant Hajar in marriage. Hajar gave birth to her 1st son Ismail.

A sample of resurrection

  • Ibrahim lived on earth worshipping Allah and calling people to monotheism. One day he begged Allah to show him how He brought the dead back to life. Allah commanded Ibrahim to take four birds, cut them up and mingle their body parts, divide them into four portions and place them on top of four different hills, then call back the birds in Allah’s name. Ibrahim did as he was told. Immediately the mingled parts of the birds separated to join their original bodies in different places and the birds flew back to Ibrahim.
  • Remember when Ibrahim said: “My Lord Show me how You give life to the dead.” Allah said: “Do you not believe?” Ibrahim said: “Yes I believe, but to be stronger in Faith.” He said: “Take four birds, the cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces) and then put a portion of them on every hill and call them they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All Mighty and All Wise.” [Al-Baqarah 2:260]

[Source: Stories of the Prophets/Darussalam]

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