The Story of Abraham (Ibrahim)
Imam Ibn Kathir Ad-Dimashqi
eBook: Stories of the Prophets
Some of the People of the Book stated that his name was Abraham Ibn Tarikh, Ibn Nahur, Ibn Sarough, Ibn Raghu, Ibn Phaligh, Ibn Aher, Ibn Shalih, Ibn Arfghshand, Ibn Sam, Ibn Noah.
They said that when Tarikh was seventy five years old, he had Abraham, Nahor (Nohour) and Haran. Haran had a son named Lot.
They also said that Abraham was the middle child and that Haran died in the lifetime of his father in the land where he was born, the land of the Chaldeans (Al Kaldanieen), also known as Babylonia. 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.
Abraham was born into that atmosphere, into a typical family of that ancient time. The head of the family was not even an ordinary idolater, but was one who totally rejected Allah and who used to make the idols with his own hands. Some traditions claimed that Abraham's father died before his birth and he was raised by an uncle whom Abraham called father. Other traditions said that his father was alive and was named Azer.
Into that family Abraham was born, destined to stand against his own family, against the entire system of his community. In brief, he stood against all kinds of polytheism.
He was endowed with spiritual understanding from an early age. Allah enlightened his heart and mind gave him wisdom from childhood. Allah the Almighty stated: Indeed We bestowed aforetime on Abraham his (portion of) guidance, and We were Well Acquainted with him( as to his Belief in the Oneness of Allah etc). [Ch 21:51]
During his early childhood Abraham 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. Abraham 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.
Abraham 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 Abraham laugh, he was only seven years old at that time.
Years passed and Abraham grew. Since his childhood his heart had been full of hatred for these idols. He could not understand how a sane person could make a statue and then worship what he had made. He noticed that these idols did not eat, drink or talk and they could not even turn themselves right side up if someone turned them upside down. How, then could people believe that such statues could harm or benefit them?
Abraham'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. Abraham, 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 Abraham, 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. He wanted nothing more from his son that that he revere those statues, yet Abraham never stopped displaying his hatred and disdain of them.
One night Abraham 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.
Therefore Abraham, addressed his people who worshipped celestial bodies as Almighty Allah revealed: Thus did We show Abraham 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)."
His people disputed with him. He said: "Do you dispute with me concerning Allah while HE has guided me and I fear not those whom you associate with Allah in worship. (Nothing can happen to me) except when my Lord (Allah) wills something. My Lord comprehends in His Knowledge all things. Will you not then remember?"
"And how should I fear those whom you associate in worship with Allah (though they can neither benefit nor harm), while you fear not that you have joined in worship with Allah things for which HE has not sent down to you any authority. So which of the two parties has more right to be in security? If you but know."
It is those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and worship none but Him Alone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong, i.e. by worshipping others besides Allah), for them only there is security and they are the guided. And that was Our proof which We gave Abraham against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees. Certainly your Lord is All Wise, All Knowing. [Ch 6:75-83 Quran].
In that debate, Abraham clarified to his people that these celestial bodies do not serve as deities and cannot be worshipped as partners with Allah the Almighty. Indeed these bodies are created things, fashioned, controlled, managed and made to serve. They appear sometimes and disappear at others, going out of sight from our world. However, Allah the Almighty 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.
Abraham made clear to them, first that the celestial bodies are unworthy of worship and second that they are among the signs of Allah. Almighty Allah commanded: 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. [Ch 41:37]
Abraham's reasoning helped to reveal the truth, and then the conflict between him and his people began for the worshippers of the stars and planets did not stand mute. they began arguing and threatening Abraham.
Abraham replied: "Do you dispute with me concerning Allah while HE has guided me, and I fear not those whom you associate with Allah in worship. (Nothing can happen to me except when my Lord (Allah) wills something. My Lord comprehends in His Knowledge all things. Will you not then remember? How should I fear those whom you associate in worship with Allah (though they can neither benefit or harm), while you fear not that you have joined in worship with Allah things for which He has not sent down to you any authority. So which of the two parties has more rights to be in security? .....if you but know! It is those who believe (in the oneness of Allah and worship none but HiAlone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong by worshipping others besides Allah), for them only there is security and they are the guided." [Ch 6:80-82]
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