Who could have a noble religion than someone who submits himself completely to Allah, does what is right, and follows the religion of the Saintly Ibrahim whom Allah took to be His intimate friend? (Surat an-Nisa’, 125)
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) was a messenger whom Allah “took as an intimate friend”. In numerous verses of the Qur’an, Allah praises the high moral qualities of the Prophet Ibrahim (as). He, whose decent character has been an example to all believers, was a tenderhearted, forbearing, brave and true person who sincerely turned to Allah. Allah thus describes his character in a verse as follows:
Ibrahim a paragon of piety, an upright man, obedient to Allah. He was no idolater. He rendered thanks for His blessings, so that Allah chose him and guided him to a straight path. We blessed him in this world and in the Hereafter he shall dwell among the righteous. (Surat an- Nahl, 120-122)
The Prophet Ibrahim (as), whose moral excellence is praised in the Qur’an, was sent to a people who worshipped idols that they themselves had made and were obstinate and persistent in worshipping them. He was charged with calling his people to worship Allah alone, but they declined to accept the true religion, as they believed that it conflicted with their worldly interests, and plotted against the Prophet Ibrahim (as) to kill him. Allah, however, thwarted the plot they devised and saved him from the wrongdoing of his people:
They [his people] said, “Burn him [Ibrahim] and avenge your gods if you must punish him.” We said, “Fire, be coolness and peace for Ibrahim!” They desired to trap him, but We made them the losers. We delivered both him and Lut to the land which We had blessed for all beings. And in addition to that We gave him Ishaq and then Ya’qub [for a grandson] and made both of them righteous. We made them leaders, guiding by Our command, and revealed to them how to do good and perform prayer and give alms, and they worshipped none but Us. (Surat al-Anbiya’, 68-73)
As is seen in the story of the Prophet Ibrahim (as), as a reward for his sincerity, Allah put an end to the cruelty of his people towards him. Then He inflicted a punishment on those who desired to hatch plots against him and laid them low. He settled the Prophet Ibrahim (as) and the believers who followed him in a better place than before and showed them His mercy by granting various blessings in abundance.
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) Turned To Allah With Sincere Reflection And Advised His People That He Was Not An Idolater
Although he lived among a people who worshipped idols by the workings of his own conscience, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) comprehended that Allah was the one and only god. He believed in and turned to Allah alone. In the following verses of the Qur’an, how he became a certain believer in Allah is set forth:
Because of that We showed Ibrahim the dominions of the heavens and the Earth so that he might become a firm believer. When night drew its shadow over he saw a star and said, “This is surely my Lord!” But then, when it faded in the morning light, he said, “I will not worship gods that fade.” Then when he saw the moon come up, he said, “This is my Lord!” But then when it set, he said, “If my Lord does not guide me, I shall surely go astray.” Then when he saw the sun come up, he said, “This must be my Lord! It is greater than the other two!” But then, when it set he said, “My people, I am done with your idols!” (Surat al-An’am, 75-78)
Certainly there is an important lesson for the believers to learn from the story of the Prophet Ibrahim (as): One can easily grasp the existence of Allah. Everywhere one looks, one can readily see the innumerable signs of creation. Even if he does not have any knowledge or has not been given any advice, one who is governed by his conscience can clearly conclude that there is a Creator of the universe just by giving the matter his earnest consideration even if it is only for a few minutes. He can grasp the power and greatness of Allah and the fact that He rules over everything. This is how the Prophet Ibrahim (as), who had probably not been communicated with earlier, grasped the existence and sublimity of Allah through sincere and conscientious reflection. He told his people that he separated himself from the false gods they worshipped:
“I have turned my face to Him, Who brought the heavens and Earth into being, and will live a righteous life. I am no idolater.” (Surat al-An’am, 79)
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) Summoned His People To Worship Allah
As will also be seen in the following pages, the messengers try by every means to guide their people to the path of Allah. Messengers who communicate the message of the religion to their people, explain the same topic with different examples to urge people to ponder, give a detailed account of the morals of which Allah approves, forbid them wrong actions, communicating the wickedness of these actions and the loss that they will suffer on account of them. In short, they try to show them the truth and appeal to their conscience in various ways.
Likewise, the Prophet Ibrahim (as), first summoned his people to the path of truth and instructed them to abandon their idols and to turn to Allah. In many verses of the Qur’an, his communication of the message of religion to his father and to his people is related. The Prophet Ibrahim (as) summoned his people, who worshipped idols, to worship Allah alone and to fear Him:
Ibrahim said to his people: “Worship Allah and fear Him. That would be best for you if you but knew it. Instead of Allah you worship only idols. You are inventing a lie. Those you worship besides Allah have no power to provide for you. So seek the beauty of Allah and worship Him. Give thanks to Him for it is to Him you shall be returned.” (Surat al-’Ankabut, 16-17)
As seen in the above verses, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) explained to his disbelieving people the supreme power of Allah with a number of examples. He made comparisons to make this truth clear to them, reminded them of the fact that it was Allah Who gave them all the things they possessed and warned them of their meeting with Him. As well as his people, he also warned his relatives, and told his father, Azar, that he was mistaken:
Remember when Ibrahim said to his father, Azar, “Do you take idols as gods? I see that you and your people are clearly misguided.” (Surat al-An’am, 74)
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) Warned His People Against Obeying Satan
Man’s worst enemy is Satan. When Allah created the Prophet Adam (as) as the first man, He commanded Satan to prostrate himself before him, yet Satan became arrogant and disobeyed Allah’s command. On account of this, Allah cursed him and expelled him from Paradise. After being driven out, Satan asked to be reprieved till the Day of Judgement. His aim was to hinder mankind, whom he considered to be the cause of his expulsion from Paradise, from treading the path of which Allah approved and thus to guide them to Hell.
Consequently, Satan has tried to approach every person since the Prophet Adam (as) and to deflect them from the true path by hatching various plots. It is only over those who have unshakeable faith in Allah and who put their trust in Him, that he does not hold any sway. However, as Allah has stated in the Qur’an, such people form only a minor group. For this reason, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) warned his father and his people, who were remote from the path of Allah, against following Satan and told them to obey him, saying:
“Father, knowledge which never reached you has come to me, so follow me and I will guide you to the right path. Father, do not worship Satan. Satan was disobedient to the All-Merciful. Father, I am afraid that a punishment from the All-Merciful will afflict you, and turn you into a comrade of Satan.” (Surah Maryam, 43-45)
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) Advised His People Not To Take Each Other As Gods And Not To Associate Any Partners With Allah
Characteristically, idolaters attach more importance to other beings than Allah, and they fear them more than they fear Allah. One would be mistaken in limiting the beings valued by these people merely to the statues they carved out of wood or stone.
Loving and valuing another person more than Allah, preferring that person’s contentment over the approval of Allah or fearing that person more than Allah is also idolatrous. There were also those who loved and prized some other beings more than Allah among the people of the Prophet Ibrahim (as). On the Day of Rising, however, such people will understand that there is no power other than Allah and will see that the beings they valued higher than Him are merely weak servants before His might and do not actually deserve to be valued at all. For this reason, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) instructed his people not to adhere to any gods other than Allah, and warned them that they would curse these gods on the Day of Rising and would be thrown into Hell if they did not obey this command:
He [Ibrahim] said, “You have adopted idols instead of Allah but your love of them will last only in this life. But then on the Day of Rising, you will reject and curse one another. The Fire will be your shelter. You will have no helpers.” (Surat al-’Ankabut, 25)
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) Communicated To People The Greatness And Might Of Allah
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) gave various examples to his people in order to enable them to grasp the existence and greatness of Allah. When one who boasted of his wealth, forgetting that it was Allah Who granted him all his possessions, disputed with the Prophet Ibrahim (as) about Allah, he gave him a reply which emphasised both this person’s weakness and the power of Allah as follows:
“My Lord is He Who has power to give life and to cause death.” The other said, “I too have the power to give life and to cause death.” Ibrahim said, “Allah makes the sun come from the East. Make it come from the West.” And the disbeliever was dumbfounded. Allah does not guide the wrongdoers. (Surat al-Baqara, 258)
As is pointed out in the verse, the disbeliever had nothing to say in reply to this wise and sound explanation offered by the Prophet Ibrahim (as). It is appropriate for believers to follow the Prophet Ibrahim’s (as) example, to emphasise the greatness and infinite might of Allah, and to explain the faulty reasoning of the disbelievers to them while communicating the message of the religion.
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) Stated That The Only Power To Trust Is That Of Allah
The Prophet Ibrahim’s sincere advocacy of the truth, his people, who persisted in worshipping their idols, disputed with him, desiring to deflect him from the right path and to hinder his preaching. Thereupon, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) told his people that he feared only Allah and that the real security and salvation could be attained only by being submissive to Allah:
… He [Ibrahim] said, “Are you arguing with me about Allah when He has guided me? I have no fear of any partner you ascribe to Him unless my Lord should will such a thing to happen. My Lord encompasses all things in His knowledge, so will you not pay heed? Why should I fear what you have associated with Him when you yourselves apparently have no fear of serving idols not sanctioned by Allah? Which of us is more deserving of salvation? Tell me if you have any knowledge. Those who believe and do not taint their faith with any wrongdoing, shall surely earn salvation for they follow the right path.” (Surat al-An’am, 80-82)
The possessor of everything in the world is Allah. No one can either do good or cause harm to another without Allah’s permission. The powers that one may rely on, hoping for help from them, can be of help only if Allah permits. For real salvation and safety however, what one should do is to submit oneself to Allah. Allah has informed us in the Qur’an that He will protect His servants who turn to Him. Therefore, as the Prophet Ibrahim (as) did, all believers should know that those who believe in Allah will be safe and should inform others of this.
In Response To His Father’s Hostile Manner, The Prophet Ibrahim (as) Answered In The Best Way
Despite all the methods of communication he employed, his father opposed the Prophet Ibrahim (as) and became hostile towards him saying:
… “Do you dare renounce my gods, Ibrahim? Desist from this folly or, I will stone you. Begone from my house this instant!” (Surah Maryam, 46)
But the Prophet Ibrahim (as), who did not lose his temper under any circumstance, responded to his father’s threatening attitude in a very respectful and wise way:
… “Peace be upon you. I will implore my Lord to forgive you. He has always honoured me. I will separate myself from you and all you call upon besides Allah. I will call upon my Lord and it may well be that, in calling on my Lord, I will not be disappointed.” (Surah Maryam, 47-48)
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) Declared To His People That The Idols They Worshipped Could Not Be Real Gods
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) asked his people a number of questions about their idols in order to lead them to reflect that the idols they worshipped could not have any independent power and that the only god was Allah. This method of communication is influential in terms of making the unbelievers themselves witnesses to the unfounded nature of their system. In this way, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) made them verbally acknowledge the falseness of their own system. A part of the dialogue between the Prophet Ibrahim (as) and his people is as follows:
When he [Ibrahim] said to his father and his people, “What do you worship?” They said, “We worship idols and we remain constantly in attendance on them.” He said, “Do they hear you when you call or do they help you or do you harm?” They said, “No, but this is what we found our fathers doing.” He said, “Have you really thought about what you worship, you and your forefathers?” (Surat ash-Shu’ara’, 70-76)
Allah informs us in the Qur’an that everybody is aware of the mistakes he makes. That is, every self, even if he wants to avoid thinking by making up excuses, in fact “testifies” against himself, inwardly knowing what is right and wrong. If he conscientiously considers, one who worships and hopes for help from beings other than Allah will readily comprehend that in reality his idols cannot benefit him. He will realise that the beings he associates as partners with Allah cannot hear his prayers and do not have the power to harm or benefit him. But he may not want to reflect on these facts for certain sentimental reasons. However, this still remains an evident fact.
By the questions he posed to his people, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) tried to make them reflect on what they worshipped and see how misguided they were.
Again while advising his people to abandon the idols they worshipped, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) reminded them that these idols were merely some “figurative statues” that they themselves had made and did not have any independent power. How the Prophet Ibrahim (as) instructed his people to abandon the false gods they worshipped and to turn to their real God is related as follows:
When he [Ibrahim] said to his father and his people, “What are these statues you are clinging to?” they said, “We found our fathers worshipping them.” He said, “You and your fathers are clearly misguided.” They said, “Have you brought us the truth or is this but a fest?” He said, “Far from it! Your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the Earth, He Who brought them into being. I am one of those who bear witness to that.” (Surat al-Anbiya’, 52- 56) He [Ibrahim] said, “Do you worship something you have carved with your own hands, when Allah created both you and all that you have made?” (Surat as-Saffat, 95-96)
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) Declared That Everything Is Under Allah’s Control And That Everything Takes Place By Allah’s Will
As seen in the above verses, like many other disbelieving nations, the people of the Prophet Ibrahim (as) used to worship idols, not because they thought it was right and proper, but merely because that was what they found their fathers doing. In other words, this false system was an evil heritage to them bequeathed by their forerunners. The Prophet Ibrahim (as) explained to them in detail that the system which they had been following was erroneous and detrimental to them. He informed them that their idols had no power at all and that everything was under Allah’s complete control. The above quoted speech of the Prophet Ibrahim (as) continues as follows:
“They [the idols that you worship] are all my enemies—except for the Lord of all the worlds, Who created me and guides me; Who gives me food and drink; and when I am ill, Who heals me; Who will cause my death, then give me life; Who, I sincerely hope, will forgive my mistakes on the Day of Reckoning.” (Surat ash-Shu’ara’, 77-82)
By Means Of Wise Methods, The Prophet Ibrahim (as) Aroused People’s Conscience
When his people, despite all his calls, persisted in worshipping their idols, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) tried new methods to urge them to reflect and thus to arouse their conscience. He waited until his people had departed from their idols and then broke them into pieces, except for the biggest one, in order to reveal to his people how imprudent they actually were. When his people asked him “Did you do this to our gods, Ibrahim?” (Surat al-Anbiya’, 62), he answered:
“No, this one, the biggest of them, did it. Ask them if they are able to speak!” (Surat al-Anbiya’, 63)
This strategy of the Prophet Ibrahim (as) caused his people to appeal to their consciences and then they realised that they had been seriously mistaken. However, since the truth conflicted with their personal interests, traditions and their established order, they denied the truth, although they had approved of it as a matter of conscience. The relevant verses of the Qur’an read:.
Then they turned to themselves and said, “It is you yourselves who are wrongdoers.” But then they relapsed back into their disbelief: “You know full well these idols cannot talk.” He [Ibrahim] said, “Do you then worship, instead of Allah, what cannot help or harm you in any way? Shame on you and what you worship besides Allah! Will you not use your intellect?” They cried, “Burn him and avenge your gods, if you must punish him.” We said, “Fire, be coolness and peace for Ibrahim!” They desired to trap him, but We made them the losers. (Surat al-Anbiya’, 64-70)
The Prophet Ibrahim (as) Set An Example For The Believers By Putting His Trust In Allah And Being Submissive To Him, Even Under The Most Difficult Conditions
The struggle that the Prophet Ibrahim (as) bravely and prudently carried out alone against his people set an example for the believers. At such a difficult time, when he was threatened by his people with being thrown into a fire and when plots had been hatched against him, he, whose trust in and submissiveness to Allah had never been undermined, replied to his people:
… “I am going towards my Lord; He will be my guide.” (Surat as-Saffat, 99)
These words of the Prophet Ibrahim (as) remind all believers of an important fact: that it was Allah Who created all human beings, and that every single one of them will return to Allah at a time that He has predetermined. By saying “I am going towards my Lord”, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) reminded his people that death is one’s return to Allah.
Therefore, what Muslims should do is express their unswerving trust in Allah on every occasion and summon others to do the same.
Allah Has Shown The Prophet Ibrahim (as) And His Companions As A Model For Believers
The moral excellence of the Prophet Ibrahim (as) set an example both to his own people and to succeeding nations. Allah informs us that there is a good example for the believers in him, “who submitted to his Lord with an unblemished heart”, and those with him:
You have an excellent example in Ibrahim and those with him, when they said to their people, “We wash our hands of you and all that you worship apart from Allah, and we reject you. Between us and you there will be enmity and hatred for ever unless and until you believe in Allah alone.” But do not emulate Ibrahim’s words to his father: “I will ask forgiveness for you but I have no power to help you in any way against Allah.” “Our Lord, we have put our trust in You and have repented to You. You are our final destination.” (Surat al-Mumtahana, 4)
Verses Of The Qur’an Relating To The Superiority And High Morality Of The Prophet Ibrahim (as)
Who could have a noble religion than someone who submits himself completely to Allah, does what is right, and follows the religion of the saintly Ibrahim, whom Allah took to be His intimate friend? (Surat an-Nisa’, 125)
… Ibrahim was tender-hearted and forbearing. (Surat at- Tawba, 114)
Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but a man of pure natural belief—a Muslim. He was not one of the idolaters. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 67)
Ibrahim was a community in himself, exemplary, obedient to Allah, a man of pure natural belief. He was not one of the idolaters. He was thankful for His blessings. Allah chose him and guided him to a straight path. We gave him good in this world and in the Hereafter he will be one of the righteous. (Surat an-Nahl, 120-122)
One of his [Nuh’s] followers in faith was Ibrahim when he came to his Lord with an unblemished heart. (Surat as- Saffat, 83-84)
You shall also recount in the Book the story of Ibrahim. He was a saintly man and a prophet. (Surah Maryam, 41) Ibrahim was forbearing, compassionate and penitent. (Surah Hud, 75)
… We bestowed on him the praise of later generations. Peace be upon Ibrahim. That is how We recompense the righteous. He truly was one of Our believing servants. (Surat as-Saffat , 108-111)
Who would deliberately renounce the religion of Ibrahim except someone who reveals himself to be a fool? We chose him in this world and in the Hereafter he shall abide among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, “Surrender!” he said, “I have surrendered to the Lord of all the worlds.” (Surat al-Baqara, 130-131)
We gave Ibrahim his right guidance early on, and We had complete knowledge of him. (Surat al-Anbiya’, 51)