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Abraham in Islam

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

category: Prophethood


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Allaah sent His Prophet Ibraaheem (peace be upon him) and ordained among his offspring Prophethood and the Book. [cf. al-‘Ankaboot 29:27]

"And mention in the Book (the Qur’aan) Ibraaheem (Abraham). Verily, he was a man of truth, a Prophet." [Maryam 19:41 – interpretation of the meaning]

Allaah guided Ibraaheem and honoured him with virtues and praiseworthy characteristics:

"Verily, Ibraaheem (Abraham) was an Ummah (a leader having all the good righteous qualities), or a nation, obedient to Allaah, Haneef (i.e. to worship none but Allaah), and he was not one of those who were Al-Mushrikoon (polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah, and those who joined partners with Allaah)."

"(He was) thankful for His (Allaah’s) Favours. He (Allaah) chose him (as an intimate friend) and guided him to a Straight Path (Islamic Monotheism — neither Judaism nor Christianity)."

"And We gave him good in this world, and in the Hereafter he shall be of the righteous." [al-Nahl 16:120-122 – interpretation of the meaning]

Ibraaheem (peace be upon him) was the father of the Prophets; no Prophet was sent after him but he was from among his descendents. He had two sons whom Allaah chose to be Prophets. They were Ismaa’eel the grandfather of the Arabs, from among whose descendents Allaah sent the Prophet Muhammad SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and Ishaaq whom Allaah blessed with a Prophet called Ya’qoob, who was also known as Israa’eel, after whom Bani Israa’eel (the Children of Israel) and their Prophets were called.

The Qur’aan refers to the fact that Ibraaheem was the father of the Prophets, when it says concerning Ibraaheem (interpretation of the meaning):

"And We bestowed upon him Ishaaq (Isaac) and Ya‘qoob (Jacob), each of them We guided, and before him, We guided Nooh (Noah), and among his progeny Dawood (David), Sulaymaan (Solomon), Ayyoob (Job), Yoosuf (Joseph), Moosa (Moses), and Haaroon (Aaron). Thus do We reward Al-Muhsinoon (the good-doers)."

"And Zakariyya (Zachariya), and Yahya (John) and ‘Eesa (Jesus) and Ilyaas (Elias), each one of them was of the righteous."

"And Isma‘eel (Ishmael) and Al-Yasaa‘ (Elisha), and Yoonus (Jonah) and Loot (Lot), and each one of them We preferred above the ‘Aalameen (mankind and jinn (of their times))" [al-An’aam 6:84-86]

Ibraaheem called his people in Mesopotamia to worship Allaah alone and to stop worshipping the idols which could neither bring benefit nor cause harm. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"And (remember) Ibraaheem (Abraham) when he said to his people: ‘Worship Allaah (Alone), and fear Him: that is better for you if you did but know."

"You worship besides Allaah only idols, and you only invent falsehood. Verily, those whom you worship besides Allaah have no power to give you provision, so seek your provision from Allaah (Alone), and worship Him (Alone), and be grateful to Him. To Him (Alone) you will be brought back’" [al-‘Ankaboot 29:16-17]

Ibraaheem (peace be upon him) wanted to free his people from idol-worship and rid them of myths and legends. He asked his people about these idols, as Allaah tells us (interpretation of the meaning):

"And recite to them the story of Ibraaheem (Abraham). When he said to his father and his people: ‘What do you worship?’ They said: ‘We worship idols, and to them we are ever devoted.’ He said: ‘Do they hear you, when you call on (them)? Or do they benefit you or do they harm (you)?’ They said: ‘(Nay) but we found our fathers doing so’" [al-Shu’araa’ 26:69-74]

Then he explained to them that they should not mindlessly follow others like dumb animals and clarified for them the ultimate reality which is that they should worship Allaah alone, in Whose hand is the dominion of all things:

"He said: ‘Do you observe that which you have been worshipping. You and your ancient fathers? Verily, they are enemies to me, save the Lord of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists), Who has created me, and it is He Who guides me. And it is He Who feeds me and gives me to drink. And when I am ill, it is He Who cures me. And Who will cause me to die, and then will bring me to life (again). And Who, I hope, will forgive me my faults on the Day of Recompense (the Day of Resurrection)’" [al-Shu’araa’ 26:75-82]

The father of Ibraaheem was one of the idol-worshippers. He used to carve them and sell them. His father’s kufr troubled Ibraaheem, so he singled him out for advice and said to him:

"O my father! Why do you worship that which hears not, sees not and cannot avail you in anything?"

"O my father! Verily, there has come to me of the knowledge that which came not unto you. So follow me, I will guide you to the Straight Path." [ Maryam 19:42-43 – interpretation of the meaning]

But his father did not respond to him, rather he threatened to stone him and forsake him. He said:

"Do you reject my gods, O Ibraaheem (Abraham)? If you stop not (this), I will indeed stone you. So get away from me safely (before I punish you)." [Maryam 19:46 – interpretation of the meaning]

So Ibraaheem had no choice but to leave him, and he said to him:

"Peace be on you! I will ask forgiveness of my Lord for you. Verily, He is unto me Ever Most Gracious." [Maryam 19:47 – interpretation of the meaning]

Ibraaheem continued to ask for forgiveness for his father and to ask his Lord to guide him, but when it became clear to him that he (his father) was an enemy of Allaah, he disavowed him and stopped asking for forgiveness for him. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"And Ibraaheem’s (Abraham) invoking (of Allaah) for his father’s forgiveness was only because of a promise he [Ibraaheem (Abraham)] had made to him (his father). But when it became clear to him that he (his father) is an enemy of Allaah, he dissociated himself from him. Verily, Ibraaheem was Awwah (one who invokes Allaah with humility, glorifies Him and remembers Him much) and was forbearing." [al-Tawbah 9:114]

When the people of Ibraaheem persisted in worshipping idols, Ibraaheem wanted to prove to them in practical terms that these idols could not cause harm or bring benefit, after his preaching and teaching had had no effect on his people:

"Then he cast a glance at the stars, And he said: ‘Verily, I am sick (with plague). (He did this trick to remain in their temple of idols to destroy them and not to accompany them to the pagan feast)).’"

"So they turned away from him, and departed (for fear of the disease)."

"Then he turned to their aalihah (gods) and said: ‘Will you not eat (of the offering before you)? What is the matter with you that you speak not?’"

"Then he turned upon them, striking (them) with (his) right hand." [al-Saaffaaat :88:93]

Ibraaheem broke all the idols except the biggest one, which he left so that they could ask it who had done this:

"So he broke them to pieces, (all) except the biggest of them, that they might turn to it." [al-Anbiyaa’ 21:58 – interpretation of the meaning]

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