The Prophet Ibrahim
(Peace be upon him)
The Prophet Ibrahim
In a city, long, long ago, there lived a very famous man whose name was Azar. He was famous because he was a seller of idols.
In a huge building in' the middle of the city, the people kept lots of idols and bowed down before them. Azar was no different. He also would bow down before these idols, and worship them.
Azar had a son called Ibrahim who was very intelligent. Ibrahim would see the people bowing down before the idols. He knew that the idols were made of stone and could not speak or hear.
He knew that the idols could neither help nor harm anything. He saw flies sit on them without being driven away and mice eat the food left for the idols without any trouble.
So Ibrahim would ask himself, 'Why do people worship the idols? Why do they ask the idols for things?'
Ibrahim would say to his father: 'Father, why do you worship these idols? Why do you bow down to them?
'Father, why do you ask these idols for things, when they can neither speak nor hear? They can neither help nor harm anything, so why do you put food and drink before them? Why, when they cannot eat or drink?'
Azar became angry and did not understand what all these questions meant.
Ibrahim tried to give his people the same advice, but they became angry and did not understand what he meant either.
Ibrahim said, 'I will smash the idols when the people are away. Then they will understand me.'
Ibrahim breaks the idols
When the day of their festival came, the people rejoiced and set out for the celebrations along with their children.
Ibrahim's father, ready to set out, asked Ibrahim: 'Why don't you come with us?'
Ibrahim replied: 'No, I am not feeling well.'
So, when Ibrahim was left alone at home, he went out to the huge building where the idols were kept, and spoke to the idols. He said: 'How is it that you don't speak? How is it that you don't hear? There is food and drink here. Why don't you eat? Why don't you drink?'
The idols were silent because they were stones which of course cannot speak.
Ibrahim said, 'What is stopping you from speaking?' (Quran 37: 92) When the idols remained silent, Ibrahim became angry and grabbed an axe.
He hit the idols with the axe and smashed them all except one. He left the largest idol standing there and hung the axe round its neck.
'Who did this?'
The people came back and went into the building where the idols were kept. They were especially keen to bow down before the idols because it was the day of their big festival. They were amazed and dumbfounded, bitter and angry at what they saw.
'Who has done this to our gods!' they cried. Then some of them said: 'We heard a young man called Ibrahim talking about them.' (Quran 21: 59-60)
When Ibrahim was brought to them, they said, 'Are you the one who did this to our gods?' (Quran 21: 62)
Ibrahim, pointing to the largest idol, answered calmly: 'But this, their chief has done it. Question them if they are able to speak.' (Quran 21: 63)
The people knew that the idols were made of stone and that stones cannot hear or speak. They knew that the largest idol was made of stone and that it could not move, so it could not have broken the other idols.
They said to Ibrahim, 'You know that idols cannot speak.' And so he asked them: 'So how can you worship idols when they can neither help nor harm anything? Don't you understand anything? Don't you have any sense at all?' The people were as silent as the idols, and ashamed.
A cool fire
The people met and said, 'What shall we do? Ibrahim has broken the idols and humiliated the gods. How should we punish him? How should we pay him back for what he has done?'
The answer was, 'Burn him and stand by your gods.' (Quran 21: 8)
That is what they did. They lit a fire and threw Ibrahim into it.
But Allah helped Ibrahim and said to the fire, 'Fire, be coolness and safety to Ibrahim.' (Quran 21: 8) And so it was. The fire was coolness and safety for Ibrahim. The people saw that the fire did not hurt Ibrahim and they saw that he was not harmed by the smoke and the flames.
Once again, they were amazed and confused.
'Who is my Lord?'
That night Ibrahim saw a star and he said, 'This is my Lord.' When the star set, Ibrahim exclaimed, 'No! This is not my Lord!' Ibrahim saw the moon and he said, 'This is my Lord.' When the moon set, Ibrahim exclaimed, 'No! This is not my Lord!' The sun rose and Ibrahim said, 'This is my Lord. This is greater.' (Quran 6: 78) When the sun set, Ibrahim exclaimed, 'No! This is not my Lord! Allah is my Lord, He is always living and does not die. The light of Allah shines always and never dims and never sets. Allah is All-Mighty, nothing can overcome Him. The light of the stars is weak, morning overcomes it. The light of the moon is weak, the sun overcomes it. The light of the sun is weak, night overcomes it and clouds overcome it. Stars cannot help me because they are weak. The moon cannot help me because it is weak. The sun cannot help me because it is weak. Allah alone can help me.'
'My Lord is Allah'
Ibrahim knew that Allah was his Lord, for Allah is always living and does not die; His light shines always and never dims nor sets. Allah is All-Mighty, nothing can overcome Him.
Ibrahim knew that Allah is the Lord of the stars, and the Lord of the moon, and the Lord of the sun, and the Lord of all the worlds that may be.
Thus Allah guided Ibrahim and made him a Prophet and His close friend. Allah commanded Ibrahim to call his people and tell them not to worship idols.
Ibrahim carried out the command of his Lord. He asked his people: 'What do you worship?'
'We worship idols.' (Quran 26: 71) they said.
Ibrahim asked them: 'Do they hear you when you call? Or help or harm you?'
They said, 'We found our fathers doing that.' (Quran 26: 72-4)
Ibrahim said: 'I do not worship these idols. Rather, I am the enemy of these idols. I worship the Lord of all the worlds, the One who created me and who guides me, the One who gives me food and drink, the One who heals me when I am ill, and the One who makes me die and brings me to life. (Quran 26: 78-81)
'But idols do not create and do not guide. They do not give anyone food or drink. When someone is ill, they do not heal him. They do not make anyone die nor bring anyone to life.'
Before the King
A great king ruled that city, and he ruled like a cruel tyrant. People had to bow down before him. When the King heard that Ibrahim prostrated himself only before Allah and would not prostrate himself before anyone else, he became angry and sent for him. Ibrahim came straight away: he did not fear anyone except Allah.
The King asked: 'Who is your Lord, Ibrahim?'
Ibrahim said: 'My Lord is Allah.'
The King asked: 'Who is Allah, Ibrahim?'
Ibrahim said: The One Who gives life and death.' (Quran 2: 258)
The King said: I give life and death.' (Quran 2: 258) Then he had a man brought before him and had him killed. Then he had another man brought before him and let him live. After that, very proudly, he said: 'You see! I give life and death. I killed one man and let the other man live.'
The King was very silly. All idol-worshippers are foolish in such matters. Ibrahim wanted to make the King understand.
He wanted to make all his people understand. He said to the King: 'Allah brings the sun from the east. Now you bring it from the west.'
The King was confused and silent. He was ashamed and could think of nothing to say.
Calling his father to Allah
Ibrahim also wanted to call his father to Allah. He said to him: '0 my father, why do you worship something that does not hear or see? Why do you worship something that cannot help or harm anyone? My father, do not worship Satan! (Quran 19: 44) Worship the Merciful!'
Ibrahim's father became angry and said, 'I will beat you. Leave me alone. Do not talk to me.'
Ibrahim was patient. He said to his father, 'Peace be upon you. I will leave this place and call on my Lord.'
Ibrahim was very sad. He wanted to go to another country only so that he could worship his Lord and call people to Allah in peace.
Ibrahim's people had become angry. The King had become angry. Even Ibrahim's father had become angry. Ibrahim decided to travel to a different land where he could worship Allah and call people to Allah in peace.
He said good-bye to his father and left his land.
Ibrahim made for Makka with his wife Hajar. There were no plants or trees in Makka, no well or river, and no animals or people.
Ibrahim reached Makka and stayed there for a time. After that, he left his wife Hajar and his son lsmail. When he was about to leave, his wife asked: 'Where are you going? Are you going to leave us here? Are you going to leave us here when there is no food nor water? Has Allah commanded you to do this?'
Ibrahim said, 'Yes.'
Hajar said, 'Then He will not let us die.'
The well of Zamzam
Isma'il became thirsty and his mother wanted to give him some water. But where was there any water? There was no well in Makka! There was no river in Makka! Hajar looked for water; she ran from Safa to Marwa and from Marwa to Safa.
Allah helped Hajar and lsma'il. He created water for them. Water sprang out of the ground and lsma'il and Hajar drank from it. The water remained there and became known as the well of Zamzam. Allah has blessed the water of Zamzam. This is the well from which people drink during the Hajj. They take the Zamzam water back to their own countries to share with their families and friends. Have you drunk Zamzam water?
Some time later Ibrahim returned to Makka and rejoined lsma'i] and Hajar. Ibrahim was very happy with his young son lsma'il. He ran and played and went about with his father who loved lsma'il deeply.
One night Ibrahim had a dream. He dreamt that he sacrificed Isma'il.
Ibrahim was a truthful Prophet. His dream was a true dream. Ibrahim was a close friend of Allah and he decided to do what Allah had commanded him to do in the dream. But first he asked of lsma'il.' I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you. So what do you think?'
He said, My father, do what you are commanded. Allah willing you will find me one of the steadfast.' (Quran 3 7: 102)
Ibrahim took lsma'il with him, and a knife.
When Ibrahim reached Mina, he made ready to sacrifice lsrna'il. Isma'il lay down on the ground and Ibrahim was about to sacrifice him. He put the knife against Isma'il's throat. Allah wanted to see if His friend would do what he was commanded to do. Did he love Allah more or did he love his son more?
When Ibrahim had passed the test, Allah sent Jibril with a ram from the Garden. He said: 'Sacrifice this ram. Do not sacrifice lsmail.'
Allah liked what Ibrahim had done. So He commanded the Muslims to make a sacrifice in remembrance on the 'Id al-Adha.
May Allah bless Ibrahim, the close friend of Allah and grant him peace.
Ibrahim left Makka a second time and returned a second time. He decided to build a house for Allah. There were many houses, but there was no house for Allah where He alone was worshipped.
lsma'il wanted to help build this house for Allah. So father and son both worked, carrying stones from the mountains around Makka, and built the Ka'ba with their own hands.
Ibrahim would always remember Allah and call on Him. He said: 'Our Lord, accept this from us! You are the All-Hearing the All-Seeing!' (Quran 2: 127)
Allah accepted it from Ibrahim and Isma'il, and blessed the Ka'ba.
We Muslims face the Ka'ba in every prayer. We travel to the Ka'ba during the HaJJ, and go around it in tawaf and pray there.
May Allah bless Ibrahim and grant him peace! May Allah bless Isma'il and grant him peace! May Allah bless Muhammad and grant him peace!
Ibrahim had another wife whose name was Sarah.
By Sarah, Ibrahim had another son whose name was Ishaq. Ibrahim and lshaq lived in Palestine. Ishaq built a house for Allah in Palestine just as his father and brother had built a house for Allah in Makka.
This mosque which Ishaq built in Palestine is in Jerusalem. It is the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Allah blessed the land around it.
Allah blessed the sons of Ishaq as He blessed the sons of Isma'il. There were Prophets and kings among them. Ishaq had a son whose name was Ya'qub. He was a Prophet. Ya'qub had twelve sons, including Yusuf ibn Ya'qub. The wonderful story of Yusuf is in the Qur'an.